Already a Momma
**Transferred to my new site from it's original location. Written in September 2016.***
A week or so after my husband and I learned we’d need IVF to get pregnant, we took a walk at our favorite park. There’s a path around the perimeter, one that winds around the amenities without putting them on pedestals. The park’s design allows it to be organically beautiful, no extras or fountains added, and you can still find couplets of people fishing, biking or hiking throughout the day.
We go there for a reprieve from whatever we are facing, starting out because we needed to feel centered in nature while the construction crews built up the houses surrounding us. Now, whenever I feel a little overwhelmed by the appointments, the blood draws, or the fears, I go on walks alone, thankful that in the moments I am there – whether in solitude or partnership – I feel like the me I was before our infertility journey began.
It’s a reprieve, a shelter for my sanity, a self-care sanctuary.
On the aforementioned trip we walked around the pond when Joe noticed a kit (baby raccoon) coming down the side of a tree. We stopped and watched as the little one noticed us and decided to keep descending anyway, fearless in his departure from the nest. He was small enough that we couldn’t see him once he reached the ground and, as he unintentionally ducked under the brush around him, we could hear his little clicks and curious whimpers growing closer and closer until he was just a few feet from us on the path.
Unsure what to do, we began walking away so he’d continue on his own hike, but he decided to follow us back toward the other side of the pond, near the shelter and parking lot. For about a third of a mile this little guy tailed us until we reached the lot. That’s when we figured out it wasn’t us he was chasing.
It was me.
Joe could stop in his tracks and tape this little guy chasing after me, and while I wanted to stop and pet him, I wasn’t sure if he was healthy or if he’d be received back by his momma if he carried the scent of a human, and those two concerns were big enough that I kept moving along until I could find a park ranger who might be able to help.
The ranger told us he’d been searching for this baby for over 24 hours and he thanked us for helping him find him.
I haven’t stopped thinking about that raccoon since we had this moment. Mostly, I think my dying-to-be-a-momma heart wanted (and still wants) to believe he knew I was a mother already. That through all of the turmoil of infertility and all of my time in the classroom, I’ve learned how to give myself up for something much larger than me.
That’s the thing about the challenges we face along the way:
We either learn and grow from them or we shrink back into ourselves and let the lessons be lost in our own grief, sadness or frustration. Sometimes that means we look for signs of affirmation in seemingly irrelevant moments; other times we stick ourselves with needles every night to be sure we are moving toward our dream.
Four days of stims down and a few more to go, really. I have to be honest; I promised that much:
The most exhausting part of this entire journey is NOT about the needles, the hormones or the side effects. The headaches I’ve been getting are completely manageable. Annoying? Absolutely, without a doubt. I’ve felt a few little pangs in my lady bits that are pesky but also exciting because with every single symptom I know the medicine is working. I don’t know how well it’s working, but I definitely know it’s doing something.
The hardest part of this journey is the patience it requires. One minute you’re dying to start stims and then you want them to be done right away. You want to get in for your retrieval (even though you’re terrified of the pain) but you also want to skip ahead five days after to see how many embabies are waiting for you.
Never in my life have I wanted to fast forward so very, very much.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that this mixed bag of complicated, sometimes exhausting emotions has shown me something I tend to overlook about myself: that I’m doing this for a bigger reason, for a chance to realize another dream.
Every night when it’s time for Gonal or Menopur and I look down at my belly and see the tiny scabs from the last few injections, I realize I’ve already given up my body for a baby that’s yet to be, but one I can’t wait to bring home with me.
Tomorrow morning, I go back to MCRM for another blood draw and then, three days later, for an ultrasound, more blood work and the scheduling of my retrieval. I’m ready: mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for what’s next (in every step of this process), but tonight I can’t stop thinking about that raccoon and the joy he brought me for the few minutes he was mine. I wonder if he’s okay, if I made the right decision in telling the park ranger about him or if that was a mistake. Regretting a decision without actually having any reason to.
A mother’s guilt.
I am already a momma in my heart and soul, and each new difficult moment I face will teach me so much more about life and living and loving.
They already have.