THIS IS US: Introducing RILEY
I Had a Challenging Childhood
My childhood wasn’t easy. My mom was a single mom and she fought hard to provide for all of my needs. She gave me opportunities like traveling abroad. To do that she had to start working when I was just six weeks old. During the day, I was with a day foster mom. Somehow I always thought that something was wrong with me. I met my dad, but only a couple of times. At the age of two, he disappeared completely. I met him just recently and I was able to make some peace with him and my feelings of abandonment. He was very sorry and he said that he always loved me. I know (intellectually) that every person does his/her best with the knowledge they have at the time. But a two year old child does not know about such wisdom. That is why I still hold a lot of hurt feelings inside... feelings of not being okay... of not being lovable.
Fears of Repeating History
When I was still very young, I remember someone telling me that "marriage is bad." For some reason, I still hold on to that belief. I thought that it meant I should never get involved with men... that men are dangerous somehow. Maybe that is the reason I never wanted to be a mom. I always played "family" with my Barbie, Ken and kid dolls. But walking around with baby dolls I found a bit ridiculous. For me, having a child was always connected to a happy, strong and safe relationship, which I didn’t have until now with my current partner. I was (and I guess still am) anxious that I could end up being a single mom, and I did not want that to happen to my child as well. I did not want to repeat my own history. The strange thing about life is that you have to accept that anything can happen and it is better to believe that you will be able to cope with whatever comes along instead of trying to avoid certain things. Life listens to your thoughts, so it's important to have positive ones.
From Germany to the USA
My partner and I met in Germany at the company where we working. We are both Germans. We had a project together and things became clear pretty quickly. A year later, we chose to work in the United States for three years.
As I was 39 when we met and we both were sure (enough) about each other, we started trying to conceive. We were thinking that it wouldn't work right away because I was a little older. When nothing happened after eight months, I talked to my gynecologist who referred me to an infertility clinic in Brighton, MI. I read good things about this clinic so we made an appointment for a consultation. Afterwards, things developed pretty quickly. Only a couple of months later, we went through our first (and only at this point in time) IVF.
Our First IVF
So much has happened from the time we decided to do IVF. There are many issues to face: insecurities, tears, anxiety, discussions. Not to mention the language barrier, which should not be underestimated. The IVF was in February 2018. It was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced in my life, and it is so hard to explain. It was tough in terms of the intensity of emotions. It is physically, psychologically and emotionally so challenging and hard. I know that only someone who endured an IVF would know just how it feels. You can read everything about IVF. I did. But nothing can prepare you. Especially not for the day when they tell you that none of your embryos made it to a reasonable stage. It was as devastating as if someone had tried to kill me! Right now, we do not know what is going to happen next. Another IVF seems to have very little chance, since my embryos don't seem to progress to the right stage of development. The only two options we see are donor egg or adoption. At the moment, it is so unbelievably hard to accept that I might not be able to have my own children. I think I am not yet there. However, we have not decided what to do yet. I don’t want to frighten couples away from IVF. Really I don't. It can work and has for many people. It is a luxury that we do have such medical opportunities today.
The Highs and Lows of Infertility
The lowest part of my journey was when they told us that none of our embryos made it. I thought I was going to die. I could not stand the wave of emotions that came over me. I was at work. I shouted at my partner and blamed him. I still feel bad about it. All hope was suddenly destroyed. Afterwards, I asked myself if we were allowing ourselves to be too hopeful. But hope overcomes you when you go through IVF. It is all you have. We tried to be realistic and tell ourselves that it might not work. But our hope was stronger, and we were devastated when our IVF failed.
The highest point of my journey was when I knew they retrieved five eggs. As I have low AMH, which at my age, is an indicator for low ovarian reserve, we were not sure if there were even enough eggs to do an IVF. So, for us, five eggs was really good.
I am inspired by other women in the same, or even what I think may be tougher, situations. The women in my RESOLVE Group are the ones who inspire me most. Many of them have gone through so much and they do not give up. They are real warriors!
The Fruits of My Fertility Journey
Honestly, many of my beliefs came into question when it comes to infertility. But what I know for sure is that everything helps us to grow. Looking back, I have learned the most from my biggest challenges, like getting separated and loosing a friend. When in the midst of those "bad“ situations, you cannot imagine any good that can come from them. But then, years later, you look back and realize. Wow, I grew so much in this situation. It was transforming!
At least for me that is 100% true. I am deeply convinced that my infertility journey, whatever the outcome, will be one of these transforming journeys. I can already see the first fruits. I am learning to have a happy life... even though being in this situation is so threatening. I can have a happy life. I am adjusting my thoughts. I frequently listen to Louise Hay and her positive affirmations.
Connect With Others and Trust
The most important thing to do for yourself is to connect to other women in your situation (try RESOLVE). For me it "game changing." I walked into this room and suddenly I knew I was understood. There was no need to explain anything. I felt pure compassion and understanding, which is so comforting and empowering.
The other thing that helps me on a daily basis is to have trust. I remind myself again and again as often I loose trust. Have trust in life. Trust that you will grow stronger on this journey. Be positive. I know that can be so hard... sometimes it's almost impossible... but try it. Listen to Louise Hay affirmations on Youtube. You deserve a happy life and you can make a happy life, no matter what. There are so many inspiring stories out there from women and their transformations on their infertility journeys. A friend once told me that life wouldn’t throw such a big obstacle my way if I wasn't able to cope with it.
Wishing you all the best on your journey...