A year ago I was getting ready for our first IVF and I would have filled in the blank with words like 'dreaded', 'terrible', 'isolating', and 'heartbreaking'. You see, every baby shower was a reminder how HOW MUCH I wanted a little baby of my own and how EMPTY my arms were. The fear and uncertainty of our future as parents made me a shell of a woman, who was hurting so badly and far too insecure and afraid to celebrate another woman who had what I so desperately wanted. I was terrified that that would never be me, and I was even more terrified about not being able to control the tears at such a 'joyous' celebration. It wasn't because I wasn't happy for that glowing mommy-to-be! I almost always really was thrilled for my friend/family member/etc... but I couldn't contain my saddness for us. That may sound selfish, and it may as well be, but in a time where your greatest fear plagues you every moment of every day it was all I could do to get out of bed.
The uncertainty is over and I am a beaming mother-to-be expecting a bouncing baby boy! Sending baby shower invites is now the highlight of my month and I spent hours talking to my best friend about my ideas and hopes for them. My baby shower has now grown to be bigger than my bridal shower, with a guest list that is the size of most weddings. I can't go a day without thinking and talking about how awesome that day will be! My 'gorgeous', 'elegant', and 'vintage-inspired' invites have come together perfectly. Sending them out has been very 'long-awaited'.
So what about the 365 days in between? What changed?
Hope was built up and hope was crashed. Tattered and torn, we put our hope back together and tried again. Hope grew again. I grew (in more ways that one lol) and I learned that I needed to put my hurt aside and celebrate with others in the best way I could. I worked hard to find the right balance for me. I would go to the baby showers, but leave before all the gifts were opened and we were expected to coo at the 101 different onesies. My gift always consisted of a book or something special for momma because I couldn't bear to force myself down the pastel baby aisles. I learned to politely refuse to play the baby games, and I found myself keeping to myself and not taking part of the baby chit chat at my table. I wasn't rude. I just wasn't the life of the party either. I learned to blend into the walls. I would give my support to my friend, and I would stay strong until I was able to be home. Walter learned as well. He took extra special care of me those evenings and held me as I cried and wished it were me. I was thankful to have learned the 'right' way to go for me.
It wasn't easy and it came at a cost. There are still baby showers I regret not being able to have attended, and I especially regret one friend who I lied to about being sick to not attend. I later confessed and took her out to pedicures... and maybe I needed that mistake to learn what to do. However, I'm still sorry.
Now instead of my husband getting the mail and shuffling through to look for anything 'baby suspicious', I anxiously sit by my phone to get updates from my best friend about who is attending my shower. Getting together the invite list was really rough. I sat and prayed about it over and over, and I really had to try to put myself back into the hardest of places when I was thinking of my friends who are still TTC. Was it more offensive to ignore their names and try to spare the pain of getting an invite, or was I being inconsiderate to send them one like I had crossed over somehow and forgotten the pain of TTC?
Again I was trying to find the right balance.
Now, the invites are sent and the comforting phone calls have been made and I await to see the responses on what my friends decide is right for them. There is no right answer and there is nothing I want more than for them to do what they feel the need to do.
In the end, I hope they know that I'm praying for them and can try to hold on to what a difference one year can make! I understand the pit, and the feeling of never being able to crawl out of it. It's the worst part of trying to your first baby- never knowing on IF or WHEN it will be your turn.
But it will be if you don't give up.
The last 365 days (almost EXACTLY) I have prepared for IVF and had it fail. I got another dog to help me cope with the loss. I've struggled with feeling if I'm 'SO young' and 'still have so much time' then why have I already done the most aggressive fertility treatment AND failed it?! Walter and I went on a hideaway vacation to a B&B to try to gather ourselves. He encouraged me to try again, and I agreed... but only simply because I knew it would fail and I would be able to prove to him how 'broken' I really was. We prepared for IVF again, and began to grieve the loss of embryos, and then found out I was pregnant! We worked through all the ultrasounds to make sure baby was growing healthy, and we have finally become that married couple who is expecting a sweet baby of their own. Now our concerns are if we have enough candy for the candy buffet vs if we will forever be childless.
Worries still abound as a 'new mommy' and I am almost brave enough to say I worried just as much during my pregnancy and I did TTC. Once you're hit with loss it changes you forever. However, it's been 365 days and I have gotten to do a complete 180.
I pray that for every single one of my TTC friends every single day.