Monday, May 26, 2008

A Bittersweet Celebration

We attended a celebration yesterday. A celebration which, to be honest, brought me back to a chapter of my life that I had for the last three years not really wanted to flip through again. A lot of very bitter memories were in those pages. However, that particular book did have a very happy ending.

A couple of months ago we received a card in the mail inviting us to a 25th anniversary party. We were curious, and interested in hearing a living pioneer speak. There was a promise of games and activities for the kids and a buffet lunch. And to top it off, the party was taking place in a banquet hall about 5 minutes from our home. So why not? We rsvp’d our intentions to attend the Silver Anniversary Celebration of IVF Canada.

We arrived at the event and were quite impressed with the setup. We registered and got our name tags; we were asked whether we would be willing to talk to media as they were to be in attendance at some point. I agreed that I would I’m quite open with anyone who asks or even doesn’t ask and am now putting it out there on the internet.

Inside they had fun hoops and minigolf for the children. They had a band of clown musicians (well, they were a little creepy) playing Dixieland tunes, and popcorn and drinks as well as a huge jumping tent rounding out the carnival atmosphere. Balloons and other clowns were plentiful, and people were milling around with their children. The girlie had a couple of balloon animals made for her; the boy some balloon swords. We found a seat with another couple with cute 10 month old twins, a beautiful boy and girl.

As we sat down with our drinks, sitting near the stage where a slideshow of baby photos was being shown, we made conversation with the couple about their children, and their experiences. I kept my peripheral vision on the screen in case I would see little G - I had sent the clinic a birth announcement with our thanks. I wondered aloud whether the first children born from IVF in Canada would be in attendance; they would be around 25 years old now. And my boy asked us what IVF was. I was hesitant as to how to answer that… Ian just replied that it was when a baby was conceived in a test tube or Petri dish. I doubt that the boy understood any of that, but it seemed to satisfy him as he continued to munch on his popcorn.

I looked around the room to see if there were any familiar faces. But to be honest, I may have subconsciously erased many of them from my mind. It is really a blur now. I did however, recognize all of the doctors. I'm not so much of a hussy that I don't recognize the faces of all the men who have peered directly at my nether regions, for one reason or another. I actually remembered which doctor performed which consult, which ultrasound, which procedure. I don't think those memories will really ever escape me.

They opened up the line for the buffet lunch and I got right in there (given the number of people, I thought I'd better lest we be waiting an hour later with two very hungry children). The food was standard filler (burgers, fries, chicken fingers etc...) but it gave us something to do while waiting for something to happen. And finally one of the doctors took to the podium to say a few words.

And they didn't really amount to much. He touched on the number of years that IVF Canada and the Life program have been in existence. That they don't really keep records of how many births they have had from their program, but estimated about 4000 in the last 25 years. He then introduced Dr. Robert Edwards, whose work led to the birth of the first test tube baby Louise Brown, in 1978. Dr. Edwards, who got up to say that he was happy to be here to celebrate this milestone, but that he was really here to visit his brother (remember, this fellow is quite OLD now).

It was a bit anti-climactic. We decided to leave after the speeches, not wanting to wait another hour for a large group picture to be taken. The first boys born from the program did show up and were cutting the massive cake that was to be served.

Our curiosity satisfied, we took the kids out to enjoy the rest of the beautiful Sunday afternoon. It was too lovely a day to stay inside any longer.

But I'm glad we did it. To see so many families together in one room, those who had success stories, children ranging from babies to young adults. People not so different from us. The lucky ones.

My blog has been focused on my shiny, happy family. It likely appears sickeningly sweet sometimes. And perhaps it is so for a reason; it is an ode to my family, my children, my life with my family. But it is ultimately a blog for me.

I've been following another blogger and his journey with his wife through infertility. It is not an easy journey, and Xbox is capturing it all with humour and wit, but there are some very sad, frustrating moments. Through his words, I have thought about sharing my own story. I did not have this space when we were struggling, and I wish I had. I've decided to write a bit about our own roller coaster ride, a little at a time. I'm not sure how far I'll go with this, but it is important.

If my words can help even one person with their infertility struggles, and give them hope, then that will just be icing on the cake.

And as has been my tradition to use music in my Monday posts, here is one of my favourite songs that happened to come out the year that we started our very unexpected journey on the infertility train...yeah, it started that long ago...


April said...

I hope that sharing your story is beneficial for you, as I'm sure it will be very beneficial to others struggling/coping with this same issue. I'm glad you're telling it.

C said...

Oh my goodness, Karen! What a post! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. You are indeed blessed with such a beautiful and special family. XOXO

donna said...

How wonderful that the clinic had the event.

I'd love to hear about your IF journey whenever you are ready to share. I'm happiest this way because I KNOW it has a happy ending already!

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Today I'm probably at my single most frustrated point in our journey so far, and we haven't even gotten near the point of ART.

I can only imagine what it must be like to sit in a room full of wonderful achievement, surely the best that this miserable human race of ours has ever managed to achieve.

I hope this is just the opening credits to your story, I really really do. Maybe It's just me, maybe I'm weird, but I can positively eat up every word you and others can write about these times in you lives.

I can't go as far as to say it drive me onwards, but it certainly stops me from giving up. Which at times, is very tempting.

A bittersweet symphony indeed.

Ginaagain said...

Karen, Your blog is never sickeningly sweet. It's a beautiful celebration of your family. The joy your children give you just shines through. I look forward to reading about your journey to motherhood.

Badness Jones said...

Great post Karen - I always feel a little twinge of guilt when I read about someone's experiences with infertility...our babies came so easily. But those stories always remind me to be extra thankful for my babies, to go and give them some extra love.

Your babies are beautiful, and I love reading about them.


Family Adventure said...

Mike's sister and hubster just announced their pregnancy (14 weeks and counting) after the third IVF attempt. We are very grateful that this option was available to them and will always be thankful for modern science. I cannot imagine a world without the L boy and the G girl, and even if the doctors were not eloquent speakers, they will be our heroes forever.


PS: B boy very sad to have missed L today at the park...he ran back too late. Maybe tomorrow, weather permitting?

Maureen said...

Great post Karen! I'm glad your story had a happy ending; and here's hoping it helps others to see that it can happen to them too.

Kimmylyn said...

I thought this was an amazing post.. and I have never once thought that you seemed to shiny.. :)

Meg said...

That was such a great and inspiring post!

In case no one has told you lately sweetie, YOU ROCK!

Kellan said...

So many people do struggle and I think anytime they hear someone else's story, it help them! Thanks for sharing part of your story.

Take care - Kellan

melissa said...

what an amazing post...and an awesome song!!

i was lucky and i've always known that...pregnancy came easily. i've had waaaaaay too many friends on that infertility train. and watching them was heartbreaking!! back then, when my friends were trying to get pregnant, there weren't blogs to network with. and i know that during that time, they had felt so no one understood what it was like. i wish that they had been able to read posts like this...and xbox4nappyrash...maybe it would have given them some sort of comfort!
thank you for sharing this post!!

OHmommy said...

I would love to hear some more. I think it is important to share the stories that define who we are. Thank you for this.

louann said...

Thank you for sharing this. I didn't know...
But look at how beautiful and blessed you and your family are right now.

Jeff said...

Karen... I totally can't believe what I just figured out...
After all these months of you commenting on my blog, I have been "returning" your comments on ANOTHER blog called A Day in the Life - and thought it was yours the whole time! The other author has a name that really didn't give me a clue that it wasn't you.

Wow, do I feel like a schmuck.

Please accept my apology for being such a dumbsh*t and not figuring this out sooner.

Anyway, you're on my feeder now. Needless to say, I've got some archives to catch up on!

Huckdoll said...

Nope, I've never thought of your blog to be sickeningly sweet, girl. However, sharing more personal and raw things - for whatever reasons - helps us all relate to you better. I love it when bloggers put things out there and share. Much respect, Karen.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Sickening sweet? Nope, never caught that theme, sorry. What I like is that I feel like you're sitting in the room speaking to me when you write. And you're candid. and you're real and happen to like who you live with ;-)
This was a great example.

Karen said...

I think it's important to share the whole story, not just the sunshiny parts. Thanks for sharing.

Kami said...

Thank you for sharing a bit of your story and I am so glad yours has a happy ending though that makes the struggle no less painful.
If sharing it helps but one person, it will be worth it. Plus we get to know you even more and that is never a bad thing, my friend.

And yes, J and Apple are even cuter in person. I had Apple grinning huge happy baby grins. Those? They warm my heart no matter whose baby it is. Pure unadulterated joy they are.


Kat said...

Wow, I had no idea, looking forward to your story!!

Sandy C. said...

I admire you for not only opening up about this but going through your journey. Such a wonderful post. I've only seen from the outside the highs and lows of IVF, and can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions for any family enduring the process.

Maggie, Dammit said...

This is a wonderful post.

The Internet is an incredible place. I'm so glad you feel brave enough to begin to tell that part of your story. I'm so glad you've found Xbox, and I'm so glad I've found both of you.

dkuroiwa said...

I read this the other day and thought that I had commented...sorry to be a bit late!!!

This was a beautiful post...and no, "sickenly sweet" would not be an adjective I would use to describe your thoughts....I'd go more on the other end of the spectrum!!
How lucky for you and your husband that you found this organization and that everything worked out for you. Your kids are just beautiful...what treasures they are.

McMommy said...

This is what I love about blogging...the "real life" of it all. Thank you for being so honest about a subject that affects so many.

amanda said...

thank goodness there are mommy's out there like you.

honest, tell it like it is. even when it hurts.

thank you. truly an amazing post.

btw happy POW :)

Don Mills Diva said...

This is an amazing post Karen. I had no idea - no idea. This is a subject so close to my heart as I have struggled and continue to struggle with infertility as well...


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