There are some experiences in life that change everything. IVF has brought that momentous change to my life, giving me my greatest joys and my biggest heartbreaks.
After a successful first IVF round that resulted in healthy twin girls two years ago, we were excited to go through the process again, hoping for another set of twins. Unfortunately, we’ve had two failed IVF rounds since then. While the last few months have been some of the hardest of my life, I also learned some beautiful truths.
My body is different now (and who knows what else may have happened). That’s nature. That’s life. But it’s still a hard lesson to learn. Once I accepted it though, I refused to stress about it because I can’t control it.
Your Body Will Do Its Own Thing
We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were so blessed with how well our first IVF experience went. It was emotionally and physically hard, but we didn’t have major complications. And so we thought it would be the same the next time around. Not so. We experienced things I never knew were even possible, including fluid in my uterus (twice) and an ectopic pregnancy.
I learned that even if the treatment worked once, that’s no guarantee it will again. My body isn’t the same. I’m older. I’ve carried twins to term. I gave birth. My ankles are still swollen from my last pregnancy years ago. My body is different now (and who knows what else may have happened). That’s nature. That’s life. But it’s still a hard lesson to learn. Once I accepted it though, I refused to stress about it because I can’t control it.
You’re Stronger Than You Think
IVF isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the committed and dedicated. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s emotionally exhausting. I admire those women who can go through it over and over again, their bodies strong and their hope even stronger.
But I also think it’s a strength to know your limits.
After our most recent experiences with IVF (coupled with the memories of my first traumatic ectopic pregnancy eight years ago), my husband and I have decided that we are done trying to have more children. We are done with IVF. We are done with the heart pain. We just want to move forward and live beautiful lives with the children we have.
These losses will affect me forever, but they won’t define me. I am not my loss. I am more than that.
Your Body, Heart, and Mind Can Align When It’s Time
There will come a time where you have clarity. You can see the path in front of you clearly, even if it’s not what you had hoped for. That doesn’t mean you can’t be sad or upset or frustrated. You can be all those things and still have your body, heart, and mind align. But if they haven’t yet, be patient with yourself. Everyone is on a unique journey.
The hard, soul-crushing parts of this journey have helped me look at my beautiful twin toddlers and see them for what they are. Absolute miracles.
IVF isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the committed and dedicated. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s emotionally exhausting. I admire those women who can go through it over and over again, their bodies strong and their hope even stronger. But I also think it’s a strength to know your limits.
When I look at my girls, I’m amazed that the treatment worked once, enough to get them here and change our lives forever.
My body must have given everything it had to bring my twins into this world. It was a champ, but now I think that part of it needs to be retired. My body has nothing left to give to new babies, and that’s OK. We are done. Our family is complete. And there is some solace knowing that.
I’ve learned hard lessons, but with my body, heart, and mind aligned, I can move forward.
I’m not giving up. I’m letting go.
Charlene Jimenez is a mother of twin toddlers, an adjunct writing professor for two colleges, and a freelance writer. When she’s not doing any of that, she’s trying to squeeze in a nap, because, gosh darn it, she’s happily exhausted.
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