A year ago today we saw Ross as an embryo for the first time via a live video feed from the adjacent embryology lab. Moments later he was loaded into a catheter and we held our collective breath as he was ceremoniously carried into the room for transfer. In the past twelve months, the photo of him as a microscopic ball of cells has only left our fridge temporarily between moves and an appliance upgrade. Sometimes I hold him up in front of that photo of himself and tell him how special he is, how most babies are completely unknown prior to their implantation whereas he was already so deeply loved. Sometimes I still stop to stare at it and reflect on how such a big miracle sprang from such a tiny beginning.
It’s a question I’ve asked myself countless times over the last several years. Why did we have to suffer from infertility? Why did we have to endure so much loss? Why did we have to fight so hard for what comes naturally to everyone else?
Once Ross was here I thought I’d stop asking that question, but I haven’t. The same query still runs through my mind, but now the reasons are different: why did we get to have a child? Why was our treatment successful? Why did we get to move on when there are others who have waited longer, lost more? I still don’t have any answers, but I know that it was not because we were the most deserving. I’m sure there are many couples who are more deserving than us. We also weren’t the ones who prayed the most, cried the most, or hoped the most. We weren’t the ones who made the best choices or worked the hardest. For some reason I don’t understand, we just got lucky. And for some reason I don’t understand, others are still suffering.
Last year our embryo transfer happened to fall two days before Mother’s Day. That Sunday became part of our two week wait, and for the first time ever I felt able to make my excuses and spend the holiday struggling privately at home instead of publicly in a restaurant. For so long it had been one of the most painful days of the year, one I began to dread as the failed months and then years stacked up against us and I learned that my body would never be capable of carrying a child. Year after year I’d close my eyes before walking by the pink card aisles at Target, I’d change the channel at each emotional commercial, I’d avoid Facebook at all costs with its endless stream of mom-and-baby photos. Year after year I felt lost in the fray and forgotten in my pain.
As we waited and wondered whether we would ever be given the privilege of having a child, I promised myself I would never forget that not everyone is celebrating on this day. I would never forget that simply being a mother is an incredible gift.
This year my life is different, but I haven’t forgotten that there are so many still hurting. Maybe they are battling infertility or have lost their child(ren); maybe they have had to say goodbye to their own mothers, as Kyle has this past year. I’ve thought about each of you today. You haven’t been forgotten.