A Reflection on Time: An IVF update for my future self
Time. I am blown away by how simultaneously slow and fast time is passing right now.
We’ve all felt this irrational dichotomy in our lives before. Usually at one of life’s temporal landmarks. A graduation. A wedding. A first day of school. A holiday. When past, present, and future are all at once forced into our line of sight. We reflect on what brought us to that moment. We wonder what comes next. We think thoughts like, “I can’t believe it’s already (insert event, holiday, date),” while also feeling the weight of all the individual trials and hours that led to that moment. Like a cheetah riding on the back of a turtle. Such a befuddling paradox (but such a cool National Geographic cover photo, right?).
I especially feel this contradiction during this IVF season of life. The calendar is like our harsh governess, dictating what and when and for how long. I have never been so acutely aware of time’s ever-changing tempo. Lento, then allegro…but mostly andante. Yes, mostly andante.
On one hand, I feel like Atreyu, pulling myself through deep, thick mud in the Swamps of Sadness in The NeverEnding Story. The start of the IVF cycle is my destination, and the journey is slow.
On the other hand, I feel like it was only just yesterday that I received my unicorunuate uterus diagnosis. May 22, 2018. Exactly three months ago. From the emergency room to the fertility clinic in a blink. My sense of self flipped upside down instantly. From a generally healthy, probably fertile, normal-life-living me to this new, multiple-diagnoses, infertile, unicorn-loving, blog-writing, self-identity-discerning me. (I’ve been having a lot of Jean Valjean “Who am I?” moments lately.)
Time. It baffles me.
And then there are times like tonight. One of those precious “seemingly timeless moments,” as C.S. Lewis likes to call them. Time ceases to grip my existence as I sit here in my dining room. Large windows to my right reveal the sleepy night sky slowly fading to a hazy gray. I hear Cory watching TV upstairs. My sweatpants snuggle up against my full belly. The day’s stress slips to the background. I am still, and so is time. Neither fast nor slow. Only now.
It is only fitting that I pause to soak in this “seemingly timeless moment” by reading the entire C.S. Lewis quote about time (one of my all time favorites):
“Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest? It suggests that we have not always been or will not always be purely temporal creatures. It suggests that we were created for eternity. Not only are we harried by time, we seem unable, despite a thousand generations, even to get used to it. We are always amazed by it--how fast it goes, how slowly it goes, how much of it is gone. Where, we cry, has the time gone? We aren't adapted to it, not at home in it. If that is so, it may appear as a proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home.” C.S. Lewis
My joy in “seemingly timeless moments”…being blown away by time’s ebbing and flowing…all of this leads me to believe in a something bigger. Something bigger than time. Something bigger than this. But that’s a different topic for a different day.
Tonight, as I reflect on time and share this update on our fertility journey, I choose to write to my future self. To Kristen as I see her in August 2019, one year from now. I want her to be able to remember what now feels like then. All of these little moments that led to her future. A future that she’ll shake her head at in wonder. How did it all happen so fast? But how did it also feel like it took forever?
In August 2019, I imagine myself sitting in a rocking chair in our almost finished nursery, one hand on my convex stomach. I am eight months pregnant. My unicorn baby is due in September, but we expect her any day now – my half-uterus will probably only make it to 36 weeks! It’s tight in there! I feel grateful that our IVF transfer in December 2018 was a success. I reflect on my pregnancy, the pregnancy I was originally told I’d never have. The baby inside me I’d never grow. I’m brought back to reality by a little kick. “Hey Mom, pay attention to me!” I smile and think about how I can’t wait to meet our baby girl. (By the way, Cory has a strong feeling that we’ll be having a curly-haired, free-spirited little girl.). As I sit in the nursery, the sun sets similarly to tonight. Cory is in the basement finishing up the music for his second musical. In the nursery, I sentimentally play “Who am I” softly in the background (my daughter will definitely love Les Mis, whether she likes it or not!). I take a deep breath, pick up my iPhone, scroll to this blog post from August 21, 2018, and start reading.
Hi future me. I bet you’re frickin’ glowing, huh? Pregnancy looks good on you. Oh, random question about pregnancy: do you have an outie now? I’m really sorry if you do because I know how much you love your innie. Okay, back to the point of all of this. As you sit in the nursery reading this post, I want you to remember some things that have been happening lately:
You have a lot of acne right now (I'm going to start with the less than flattering facts). But don’t worry, you find great joy in taking pictures after popping them and sending them to your sisters. They don’t appreciate it like you do. I don’t know why.
You’re usually very bloated and your pants are tight. But you’ve been super cool about it (minus a few freak-outs to your mom and Cory about your changing body). You bought new large leggings at Old Navy because “treat yo self” and “accept yo self” and all that jazz.
Your acne and bloated belly are probably because you started taking the pill 16 days ago. I know, you’re trying to get pregnant and they started you on birth control. It’s weird. I get it. They’re trying to regulate the start of your cycle. You took your first pill at The Bachelorette Finale in front of your Craig friends on August 6 (boo Becca!). You took your last pill tonight. You never missed a day, and you always took them exactly at 7:45 PM. Nice work!
A couple weeks ago, you found out that you carry two recessive genetic disorders, and that really freaked you out. You carry Tay-Sachs Disease and Bloom’s Syndrome. Tay-Sachs is a rare, inherited condition affecting the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord and usually results in death in childhood. Bloom’s Syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by short stature, predisposition to the development of cancer and genomic instability. The nice genetic counselor you spoke with told you that carrying these two rare recessive disorders probably means you are of eastern European Jewish decent. She quoted crazy statistics confirming this genetic heritage. For people with eastern European Jewish descent, the likelihood of carrying Bloom’s Syndrome is 1/140. For the rest of the world’s population: 1/1,756. For people with eastern European Jewish descent, the likelihood of carrying Tay-Sach’s Disease is 1/27. For the rest of the world’s population: 1/250. Carrying both of these rare, recessive genetic disorders almost certainly confirms that you have Jewish background. (Mazel tov!) Super crazy…super cool…and also super scary at first. You found out that Cory isn’t a carrier of anything, so your children will not inherit any recessive genetic disorders. (But you also found out that there may be an increased risk for you, a carrier of Bloom’s Syndrome, to develop cancer yourself. Scary too. But noted. Get screened early.)
You’ve been dairy-free for a couple of weeks to fight inflammation for your RA and little eggs in your ovaries. You know it’s probably good for your joints and fertility, but you really miss cheese. Like really bad.
You start IVF injections in 5 days, and you’re feeling scared. You’re afraid you’ll mess something up and do something wrong. You’re afraid it won’t work, and you’ll “waste” so much money. You feel mad at yourself for thinking it won’t work because you’re supposed to be thinking positively right now. You feel tired for thinking about how you’re thinking and what you should be thinking instead. Bottom line, you’re thinking a lot.
To help stop thinking so much, you have started watching Castle Rock on Hulu and it’s cool.
You’ve received a lot of unicorn love lately from your friends and family: unicorn socks, unicorn sticker, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue perfume (can you believe?!), unicorn swimming suit, unicorn notebook, unicorn headband! People are good, and people love you.
You find respite in writing and developing your Embrace Your Unicorn blog. You love connecting with amazing people and publishing guests’ stories. This blog breathes life into your soul.
You’re tired. It’s 8:45 PM, and you’ve been writing for over an hour. It’s time for this reflection to stop and for you to go to bed.
Thanks for reading, future pregnant Kristen of August 2019.
Do me a favor, okay? After you’re done reading this, go write a new blog post about your day and what’s been going on. Reflect on how quickly your pregnancy has gone but also how slow some days have felt. Sit in the dining room, open your laptop, and take a deep breath as your fingers hit the keys and you enter into another seemingly timeless moment.
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