The Nine Day Wait
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Disclaimer: I can’t count how many times I’ve sat down to write this blog. Each time, instead of writing, I’ve just stared quietly at the computer screen, not knowing what to write or where to begin. Each instance when I’ve blocked out time to devote to this post, something (anything) would come up and I would drop everything for that super important, must be attended to immediately, new task. (OK, it was never that urgent, but I convinced myself that it really, really was.) Alternatively, I would start typing, then immediately follow it by hitting the delete key over and over because nothing I wrote felt like it was expressing what was in my heart. To be completely transparent? I was afraid of making our results public because I did not want to hurt anyone who is still struggling with infertility nor did I want to risk upsetting anyone.
It took me over a month to get comfortable with settling down to write this entry. Thank you to RMACT's Patient Advocate, Lisa Rosenthal, for her encouragement along the way. She helped me to realize that I should write what was in my heart because that is what Dan and I have done (or tried to do!) all along.
So, following the need to be true to ourselves and to all the wonderful supporters we’ve had along the way, I felt that I needed to finish our story- with the intention of offering you hope for your own fertility journey. I want you all to know that your love, support, and encouragement throughout this process has meant more to us than we can ever properly express. Dan and I started this blog in the hopes that we could help at least one person struggling with infertility feel less alone, less isolated, and more supported and in return, that is exactly how we felt because of the outpouring of encouragement you’ve offered, so thank you to everyone who has reached out to us and please know that we are rooting for you too!
Nine was the magic number. Nine days, that is, that stood between us and knowing our fate with this fertility treatment cycle. What would the test results be? Positive? Negative? And how would we feel if we got bad news, again? All this hard work and energy just had to pay off sometime, didn’t it? I renewed my vow to do everything in my power to keep thinking positive thoughts. Anytime a negative thought tried to rear its ugly head, I ignored it. I couldn’t let negativity take over, I kept returning to feeling hopeful. If thinking positively would do it, I’d will this test to be positive.
Luckily, most of the days between our transfer procedure and pregnancy test were work days so I was able to throw myself into my job and all that it entails.
I did my best not to think about what lay ahead for us, reminding myself that “what will be, will be”, that I had done everything I could to make this fertility treatment cycle a success, and that the rest was up to fate.
Believe it or not, these reminders really helped me get through this waiting period because they eased the enormous amount of pressure I would typically place upon myself about succeeding. Oddly enough, I felt a sense of peace, and of calm that was completely unfamiliar to me. Certainly, peace and calm were two especially challenging feelings during fertility treatment! I can’t really explain it, but the best way I can describe it is that it felt like something had come over me and all of a sudden, here I was, a strong woman who could handle whatever was going to come my way. I knew I had to have faith that our time as parents would come eventually and I did my best, using all the tools that I had to get through this waiting period as if we weren’t waiting for anything at all.
As the test day approached, however, the thoughts swirling around in the back of my head became louder and more strident. The fact that our fate being revealed to us was so close…well, I just couldn’t help but feel an uncomfortable mixture of excitement and nervousness. I wanted to be hopeful, but I was frightened about possibly being disappointed YET AGAIN. And wow, these thoughts were especially hard the nights that Dan was traveling for work.
I mean, I did everything in my power to try to distract myself. I did laundry and cleaned the house (so boring!) I tried to talk to Ralph, but he just wasn’t having it (imagine that!), and as much as I am a Bravo fanatic, even I can only watch it for so long. Nothing seemed to be helping, and the mind games I was playing just added to the chaos in my mind. Recurring thoughts reared their ugly heads because with every headache, cramp, or mood swing, I would get excited and think, “OMG! Maybe this is a sign!”, but then I’d consult with Dr. Google (I do not recommend it!) and of course, every time the answer would be clear- completely ambiguous. Ugh! I just wanted to know! I even contemplated buying a pregnancy test and taking one at home before our scheduled blood test, but Dan and my bestie, Rachel, talked me out of it, luckily. Considering that you could get an inaccurate result, it seemed counterproductive. So, hard as it was- I let the rest of the time pass and waited…and waited. And waited.
Time shifted into high gear and the day before the big day arrived, which also happened to be my mom’s birthday (a good omen, perhaps?). While at work, I bumped into my nurse, Christina. She checked in with me about how I was doing sensing what lay below the surface of how I appeared. Describing my dual feelings of excitement and nervousness and my complete readiness to know the outcome, (and hearing about my anxiety), she suggested I take the test a day early.
What? Now, luckily, this thought had never crossed my mind, for a few reasons: one… I’m a rule follower and two… Dan and I had meticulously planned our week: he would travel to PA for work on Monday and Tuesday and then be home on Wednesday, the day we were scheduled to get our results. We even pre-decided that whatever news we received, we would go out to dinner that night. We figured, if it was good news, we’d be celebrating and if it was bad news, well, we’d drown our sorrows in a glass (or two!) of wine. When Christina mentioned I could take the test that day, I hemmed and hawed for a bit. Eventually, I said to myself, “Let’s do it! It’s going to be what it’s going to be.” Rachel tried to convince me to wait until the actual test day, especially because she knew Dan wasn’t going to be home that night and she didn’t want me to be alone and sad if the news was negative, but honestly, at that point, I didn’t care.
I was ready. I just wanted to know, and I wanted to know ASAP - was I pregnant or not?
As for Dan, my horrible wife side roared out, leaving him out of the equation. I didn’t even consult with him, which, in hindsight, I probably should have since this was OUR journey, not just mine, but there are times when my mind is made up, it’s a done deal. I do have to give credit to my amazing work sis, Dina, who literally put her foot up against the desk, blocking me in, and said, “Before you do this, you really should call Dan to make sure he is ok with this”, but I knew no matter what anyone said, I was taking that test come hell or high water! Plus, as I mentioned, that day was my mom’s birthday and as you know, I’m all about signs and so I felt that carrying me and went with it.
I grabbed Rachel (who I think was more nervous than me-she kept saying, “I can’t believe you’re doing this. I’m so nervous for you.”) I told her, “The outcome isn’t going to change, and I’d rather just know now. Why prolong the inevitable?” and I made her stay with me throughout the blood draw. Her mantra was, “I can’t believe how calm you are” and to be honest, I couldn’t either, but I was just really, really ready to know one way or the other.
Once my blood was drawn, I finally called Dan and informed him about the choice I had made. I think he was a little taken aback, especially since I hadn’t included him in my decision, but he was also a bit excited too. Knowing that we’d be getting our results that afternoon, the plan was to call him, so we could find out the results together, even if we weren’t in the same room. He made me swear to him (because I don’t believe in making promises as they’re just meant to be broken) that I wouldn’t find out before him. I told him of course not, that I wouldn’t want to find out without him anyway! Phew! What a relief and what an amazing husband I have…he really could’ve gotten upset with me about my choice, but instead, he went with it. Yet one more reason, among many, that I love that man.
Seemingly, the day went on as normal: I did some work, had lunch with a few of my coworkers, and then before I knew it, I was back at my desk and there was a knock on the door. It was Rachel. She had my results. UH OH. I remember her popping her head in and saying, “Can you come with me for a second?” In that moment, I could feel my heart start pounding, my knees start shaking, and my hands start trembling. I asked her if she had the results, even though I knew she did, and she said, “Just come with me”. Oh man.
I tried to read her facial expression and interpret her tone of voice, but even though she’s my best friend, I couldn’t tell one way or the other…that girl has a fantastic poker face! She brought me into an office where both Christina and Robin were waiting for us. Christina said, “We have your results” and I immediately called Dan, who didn’t answer. AHHHH, you’ve got to be kidding! Come on, Dan! I called him back two more times, dialing one call right after another, before he finally answered. I put him on speaker phone and Christina told us the results: the test was positive, we were pregnant!
We were pregnant? What? Come again?!
Did I hear her correctly? Was it possible? Pregnant?! She said we’re pregnant?! I was in complete and total shock. I didn’t believe it, it wasn’t registering. I must have asked her, I don’t even know how many times, “Are you serious? Really?” I just didn’t believe it, and there was no crying or jumping up and down. I just kind of stood there and let the news slowly sink in. I mean, after all this time, we finally got a positive result and I didn’t even know what that was supposed to feel like- there was a disconnect from my ears to my heart.
Truly, I think I turned inward and immediately started processing this very real, very big, very amazing news. We were going to be parents! Dan, on the other hand, had the most beautiful reaction. The line had gone quiet and I said, “Dan, are you there? Did you hear the news?” and all he said was, “Yea…” and right away, I could tell he was trying to compose himself. My husband, the strongest, most patient man I know, the one who is always consoling me, especially throughout our fertility journey, finally needed me to support and console him. His immediate and heartfelt reaction meant the world to me and although it had been a long road, we finally did it, we saw that our path had opened up. Our dedication and hard work had paid off and, in that moment, we let our reality wash over us. It is a moment and a feeling we will never, ever forget.
We are on our way to becoming parents.
About Justine Houle- "Where’s the F%&$#!ing Stork?!"
Justine Houle loves a great pair of shoes, and her boys Dan (husband) and Ralph (a very handsome pup hailing from Tennessee which must be where he gets his southern charm). She began her career in childcare and then joined the RMA of CT team in 2011 as a Patient Coordinator. She's served several roles in the organization since then but most recently as the Marketing Operations Coordinator. She is well known for her impeccable style - and recently became an independent stylist for Stella and Dot. On the weekends, she can be found tooling around with her boys in Fairfield, CT where she grew up and currently resides.