In the spirit of cleaning out the clutter that has taken over my house since we started our IF journey and now further solidified by the presence of a toddler, I decided to venture into that corner of my house that is filled with stacks of papers and files that would put any hoarder to shame.
Sifting through the towers upon towers of papers, I found myself surrounded by my past. In one corner I had all the brochures and pamphlets handed out during the "Welcome!" meetings at the countless IF clinics we'd visited. Whether it was to find a clinic to start a cycle or a clinic to get a second opinion, they seem to contain the same information immortalized by the cliché family and baby pictures. I used to work in advertising, so I can appreciate the importance aspirational imagery, but I personally always found those pictures tough to look at (Will that ever be us?). And somehow, even today, as the picture perfect families were staring back at me, they brought back all of the sadness that they used to stir up in me.
Then in another corner were my medical records, dating back to my first visit to a new OB/Gyn. We had moved out of the city and purchased a house to fill with children (Ha!). The basic medical information quickly turned into extensive test results, ultrasounds, semen analyses, surgeries, IUI and IVF cycles. I had made meticulous notes of each cycle -- I guess treating that chapter of my life as the biggest PhD thesis helped me stay as sane as possible. Amongst the pages after pages of notes, time tables and consent forms were the pictures of the embryos that were at once my only tangible hope, only to always become the sources of my greatest despair. There they were, our first two embryos; DH even has arrows pointing at them with each of their names. Eventually we got wiser and never named them again, but after every transfer, I would keep that black and white print out of our embryos by my bedside and wonder what kind of kids they'll become.
In the final pile were the receipts from the clinics, the labs, the anesthesia, the freezing of embryos, and of course the medications. As if it weren't bad enough that IF rips a hole through your heart, it also rips a hole in your pocket. When we bought our house, we knew it would need all sorts of repairs, but once the cost of IF treatments became an undeniable reality, we put everything on hold. Being the optimist that he is, DH would want to keep things moving along with our house (It's going to happen! Let's just fix these windows), but I would sternly stop him; reminding him that we don't know when our treatments will end and that we need to hold on to this money for our baby. Well, today we do have our miracle boy, and yes, our bathrooms are still outdated, but it was the best money we'd ever spent (and unlike the housing market, things around here only trend upwards).
So now, almost 3 years since my BFP, I only have two piles: one for recycling and the other for shredding. Somehow I think I'm going to have a hard time letting the pictures of the children (embryos) that never were slip through the sharp blades of my shredder. I think in the end, I'll have to stash them somewhere deep in my desk drawer to be rediscovered many years from now.
That corner of my home office looks tidy and clean now; yet empty somehow.