I don't even know how to describe this past week. Yet, as I sit here quietly, I pray that the words find me, that they pour out of me.
I find the inspiration and the words in those quiet moments. Like when I'm in the shower and don't have anything to write with. Unfortunately, sometimes within a few minutes the words are lost. I haven't had a lot of time to devote to this blog, which I hope to change. IVF itself is like a full-time job. On top of all the bloodwork and monitoring appointments at my clinic, I also do acupuncture (once a week at the start of a cycle and twice during stimulation leading up to egg retrieval). And then there's work, plus spending time at night with my husband watching TV before bed.
Last Monday, I wrote a short blog providing an update on my journey. I was struggling with a lot; my sister-in-law, Erica (yes, we had the same first and last name) had been admitted to the hospital earlier that week, and all week, I had this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, feeling like this time was the worse since I'd known her. The day before I wrote that post I had learned just how dire the situation was. And after seeing a doctor earlier that day for monitoring who spoke in a monotone voice, I began to worry that this cycle would be just as poor as my last. Between the two, I felt somewhat hopeless that day.
However, when I woke up Monday, I felt a sense of drive and purpose that I hadn't felt in awhile. I woke up determined to put it all behind me and move forward to start the week fresh.
The next day, I went to work at my one job, and just after I came home, my husband, Jared, walked up the stairs leading from the basement to the main level, his footsteps heavy. With tears in his eyes, told me that his dear sister, Erica, had passed. I was heartbroken and just held him tight, wondering how God could do such terrible things to such good people. That night I went to sleep with an emptiness in the pit of my stomach, a feeling I had not felt in a very long time -- a feeling that I really had not felt since I met my Jared. I hardly slept.
The rest of the week was a blur of tears and deep conversations, amid logistical considerations surrounding the timing: My next egg retrieval was tentatively scheduled for that Sunday or Monday, basically the same exact time as the funeral was planned -- in South Florida where my in-laws lived. The fact that we're still in the midst of a pandemic and that I had not yet been vaccinated was another concern. I was sad and angry that I even had to think about "whether" I could join
my husband and the family for this pivotal moment in our lives. We discussed different scenarios regarding how we could make the trip work around the timing of my cycle. Do we fly? Do we drive? From when to when? I called my clinic and told them the scenario, taking it all one day at a time. I decided to have Jared wait until Friday -- the day I'd see my doctor and get my next monitoring update -- to book a flight.
That morning, I prayed that he'd give me the okay to go and that we could work the trip around my cycle without "screwing" anything up, as I put it. Dr. Martin was concerned and asked me what happened -- in his genuinely caring way (one of the reasons why I switched from my previous clinic). When he told me that he'd be triggering me on Sunday for a Tuesday egg retrieval, I breathed a sigh of relief. He told me to go and said I needed an extra day for my follicles to grow anyway. This meant that, with the funeral scheduled for Sunday afternoon, we'd be able to book a flight for Saturday and leave Monday.
The next day, we flew to Ft. Lauderdale, our IVF meds in tow. Our flight was delayed (the plane's air conditioning needed fixing), and we had the pleasure of being seated next to someone whom I like to refer to as "Florida girl." We seriously learned this chick's entire life story while she talked loudly on her phone before the plane took off, bitching to her jailed boyfriend about his baby mama drama, while taking off her shoes and resting her head on the tray in front of her -- during a pandemic, no less, but I digress. My in-laws, affectionately known as Mom and "Pops," picked us up at the airport after midnight and unsuccessfully tried to find a 24-hour restaurant to grab some food. We could feel their frustration, their anger, and their sadness as we drove around and around.
After getting a quick bite to eat at their Pompano Beach condo, we settled in for the night right downstairs in what was my sister-in-law's condo, the smell of marijuana smoke still evident from Erica's use of the drug to help ease her Crohn's disease symptoms. The condo was a mirror of her spunky, fun, feisty personality, and girly but edgy style -- her glamorous bedroom complete with a deep purple (the same color as the bridesmaid dresses for my August 2018 wedding) accent wall against her gray, studded fabric headboard adorned with rhinestones. My kind of look.
The next day the sun shined as we said our goodbyes in tears, amid the most beautiful display of bright pink and purple flowers -- Erica's favorite colors, which matched her personality. Family and friends poured in to the funeral home, marking the first time I had hugged anyone for quite awhile other than my husband and my mom. The day felt surreal.
In lieu of holding Shiva at my in-laws' condo, they chose a catered, buffet meal at the Farmer's Table in Boca Raton -- everything ironically delicious and gorgeous on such a sad day.
While eating, always up on everything -- he's like my project manager -- Jared reminded me to check my phone for a voice mail message, since my clinic would be calling to give me the trigger shot and egg retrieval prep instructions. When I didn't get a message, I checked the patient portal, where I found an email with the instructions (they tried calling but couldn't leave a message since my mailbox was full -- oy, so like me). We spent that night with my in-laws, looking at old photo albums and talking and headed downstairs so Jared could give me my trigger shot in the butt at 9:45pm on the dot.
The next morning, my in-laws drove us to the airport for our 6:45am flight. We had a big day on Tuesday, my fourth egg retrieval and Jared's second dose of the COVID vaccine. Although my in-laws will be coming up to Pennsylvania in September to stay with us while they attend a wedding, we promised to come down again soon and have more time to spend. The visit was way too short. Luckily, "Florida girl" was not sitting with us on our flight home.
I've been at home today, resting and recovering from the procedure, my symptoms a bit more pronounced than the last time, but nothing to really complain about. I've become a warrior with this -- despite the needles and the emotional rollercoaster, I keep going. Honestly, it's nothing compared to what my sweet sister-in-law had endured over years of hospital stays and surgeries from being chronically ill most of her life. She was truly a warrior and an inspiration to us all.
My brother stopped over to give my mom an early birthday present -- the first time I'd seen him in months -- but probably the best gift he could've given all of us was his presence and his concern for us all and a seemingly renewed appreciation for his own little sister, after Jared lost his.
While reflecting on the weekend, I felt so grateful that I was able to be by my husband's side. At one point, I witnessed my typically emotionally stable husband cry his eyes out for the first time since I've known him. He needed me, and I needed him, and whatever will happen with this cycle will be. I'd like to think that out of this loss of a life will be the development of a new one. What's crazy -- and the Rabbi pointed this out during the eulogy -- is that Jared and Erica's cousin's wife gave birth to their second child on the morning of March 23rd, just a few short hours before Erica passed.
I pray that this time is different. Our family seriously needs something to celebrate. I hope that out of loss there may be light.