My second, and last, IVF baby turns one year old this week. And I’m feeling all the feels. It’s been a whirlwind of diaper changes, marathon nursing sessions, little sleep, cries, smiles, and firsts. I stare at my baby and my heart overflows with love. And as most say, I can’t believe it’s already been a year. Where has the time gone?
For once, my time has not gone to injections, doctor appointments, acupuncture sessions, or healing from surgeries and egg retrievals. Not once have I researched fertility supplements, ERA test implications, methods for managing inflammation, or the merits and risks of PGS testing. I have not ordered, mixed, or recycled any medications or related paraphernalia. I have not lost sleep, nor daytime hours, to the all-consuming anxiety of pinning over the welfare of my embryos. I have not missed or rescheduled work meetings, or pretended that I knew what someone was saying when my mind was so very far away. I have not touched a pregnancy test.
My stomach and rear are free from bruises. My mornings do not involve intimate moments with an ultrasound wand and paper sheet. When I cry, it’s from feeling overwhelmed in the moment – not from feeling like my heart has been ripped out of my chest once again. I think there are even whole days that go by where I don’t think about IVF even once.
How strange this is, given how much IVF used to consume my entire being?
So while I navigate being a mom of two littles, I’m also forging a new me. I know how lucky I am to be on the other side of IVF with two healthy daughters. So many don’t get here and my heart aches for them. Still, there is no denying how much my experience with infertility has changed me. I know I’m not the same person who decided to start trying for a baby nine years ago. And sure, who really is the same that they were almost a decade ago, infertility or not? But infertility took a spontaneous, fun-loving, spirited, energetic, somewhat naïve, newly minted Ph.D. graduate and changed the course of her path 180 degrees.
Now, I am more calculating, cautious, introverted, and serious. I have fewer friends. I miss parts of me that I’ve lost along the way, the parts that used to laugh more. I’m also braver, stronger, and a better advocate for myself. I know more about reproduction and the conditions that impact fertility than I ever thought I would. Likely more than my OB/GYN. I know I can handle more than I ever thought I could. I can ask for help, and I can help myself.
While the trauma of infertility is dulled now, having left most of it in the past, a touch of it lingers on. It will always be a part of who I am now. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Again, I know I’m one of the lucky ones that found the golden egg. Twice. And that also colors my perspective. So for me, I will always identify as “infertile with kids,” which I know will sound strange to many. But to those of us who have walked this path, we understand.
Happy birthday little one, from your Mom who loves you with her whole heart.