Sunday, November 3, 2013

Magic in the Midst of IVF

It's been almost two weeks since I started doing injections for IVF.  As I expected, the drugs have messed with my hormones, and I have had some bizarre outbursts of emotion lately.  For example (and I can't believe I am relating this humiliating story on a public blog), when we were doing a little photo shoot of Noah's Halloween costume last weekend and things weren't going very smoothly, I let out a frustrated "Ugh!," stomped into the bedroom, and shut the door forcefully behind me.  (Okay, I slammed it.)  I immediately felt embarrassed by this adult temper tantrum and sheepishly opened the door and asked Ryan to forgive me.  Fortunately, he was willing to comply.  Unfortunately, Noah witnessed this dramatic scene, and later that day, he threw down a toy he was frustrated with, shouted "Ugh!" and slammed his bedroom door.

Wow.  I am a great role model.  How is it that I slam the door once in my son's entire lifetime, and he commits it to memory and will probably be reenacting the scene for the next 16 years to come?!  I am awesome!

Luckily for me, there's a great PBS cartoon called Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood that is based on the delightful old classic Mr. Rogers, and Daniel the Tiger has taught Noah better ways of dealing with frustration than his mother has.  Noah and I watched an episode the other day that featured a song that we have both sung over and over this week: "When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four!"  It's a pretty catchy little ditty, and both the tantruming toddler and the tantruming adult in this house have utilized the count-to-four technique since learning it.  

So yes, I've had occasional uncharacteristic flashes of anger and impatience while on these drugs, but the biggest symptom that I've noticed is a general sense of overwhelm.  I feel completely and totally overwhelmed by the daily tasks of life that usually just stress me out a little--things like doing dishes, cooking meals, grocery shopping (Costco nearly did me in the other day), feeding Noah, and cleaning up his mashed food after meals.  I never like doing these things, but they usually don't make me feel paralyzed with inadequacy like they have this week, so I'm guessing it's the drugs.  Or at least that's what I'm going to blame it on.

I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, and it's okay if I have to cut some corners for a while.  I've given myself permission to get almost nothing accomplished on my to-do list during the day if I'm not feeling up to it.  We've been using paper plates for most meals, we've ordered take-out much more often than is normal for us, and Noah and I have been spending lots of time snuggling and watching educational cartoons (that are surprisingly effective at teaching us how to manage our emotions!) during the day.

As long as I'm not pushing myself too hard, it hasn't been too bad.  I'm feeling okay--not the best I've ever felt in my life, but not as bad as I feared I would feel, which is such a blessing.  (I had huge fears going into this process.)  I have felt the effect of your prayers, so thank you for that.  I truly, truly appreciate it.

Another thing that I decided to do in order to make it through this emotional time is to start writing in my gratitude journal again.  It's been a while since I have really put effort into that habit, and I figured now is a great time to isolate those "magic moments" that occur during even the most stressful and difficult of days, those moments that make all of the work that goes into becoming and being a mother worth it.  As I've been looking for those moments throughout the day, knowing that I would write them down later, I've been shocked by how often they occur.  I try to let time stand still when I realize that a perfect moment is happening, and it fills me with gratitude, joy, and awe for the blessings I've been given.

So I thought I would share a few of my gratitude journal entries from the past week, just to prove that life right now isn't all slamming doors and near panic attacks in grocery superstores. :)

Friday, October 25th
Sitting next to Ryan at the kitchen table tonight as he painted Noah's Waldo shirt, holding my mug of hot cocoa and talking with him about life and our marriage.

Saturday, October 26th
Looking over my shoulder as I wiped down windows at the church this morning and seeing my little Noah, still in his skeleton pajamas, following along behind me, carrying his own rag and trying so diligently to clean the doorknobs.

Sunday, October 27th
Listening to Ryan as he whispered to Noah during the Sacrament, telling him about the special bread and water that remind us of Jesus and listing off all of the good things Noah had done during the week that made Jesus happy. Sweetest.

Monday, October 28th
Taking a rest on my bed after dinner and being joined by my little snuggle bug, who generally doesn't lie still for very long but stayed in my arms for several minutes.  I looked at his perfect face, just inches from mine, and whispered, "I love you, Noah," to which he responded in his cutely loud whisper, "I love you too, Mommy!"

Tuesday, October 29th
Sitting on the sidewalk outside our home with Noah on my lap in the dark, cool evening, watching our pumpkin glowing and telling him the story of "why Persephone the Pumpkin has such a big smile" (because she loves her best friend Noah so much).

Wednesday, October 30th
Taking Noah to the assisted living facility near our house to pass out Halloween treats and talking with 95-year-old Miss Nellie (who always calls Noah a "dandy boy!") about her deceased husband, whom she was married to for 75 years and who she says is still watching over and taking care of her.

Thursday, October 31st
Sitting around the kitchen table with Noah and Ryan after trick-or-treating and sampling Noah's loot.  Noah insisted on praying over it (I guess he's used to prayers at the dinner table), and he said, "Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you bless this candy!"  Amen to that!

I am so grateful for my life and especially for the opportunity to be a mother.  Every day is magical with Noah in it.  He says or does something every single day that makes me laugh or delights me due to his cuteness and cleverness.

I don't know how the rest of our children will join our family--maybe the next one is practically on his/her way through this IVF attempt or maybe he/she will join our family through adoption.  It truly doesn't matter to me how our children get here--I just can't wait to love them and to experience this world with them.


  1. You are wonderful, Rachel! I sure think you are amazing and I love hearing all about your life.

  2. I just weep my way through your posts! You are an amazing person and I love that you are also so very real and "tell it like it is" even when it is difficult. I love the little peeks inside your day to day moments with Noah. What wonderful parents you and Ryan are.

  3. You are awesome! We all lose our temper every once in a while, and those hormones are no joke! Noah and Ryan are very lucky and blessed to have you! (So am I!) xoxo

  4. I like your tantrum story. Don't we all do things like that sometime? And Noah still thinks you are perfect.

  5. Rachel, you are coping so well! I love the idea of the gratitude journal-- what a great way to get through hard times!

  6. I'm proud of you for putting yourself out there to try IVF. I'm sure it is really hard, and I pray it works- I know you have a few kiddos waiting to come to your family, somehow! Oh, and I am guilty of the occasional temper tantrum...and I totally can't blame it on hormone shots. Maybe I should start watching Daniel Tiger??? I've got 4 kids who like to tag team being naughty, so I need something!

  7. Rachel, as you know, I so adore your blog. I have also recently been given the opportunity of writing a series of articles for the website I would love to quote some of the things you and Katie have written about Noah's adoption story but would like to do so with your permission. If you are interested, would you please email me at rkskousen at gmail dot com so we can discuss the details? Thanks. :)


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