• Ashley

It's Not "Just an Embryo"

It's a lifetime of love, hope, and dreams.

Especially when you're doing IVF and an embryo is all you have.

Let's make this visual - easier to grasp for those who've been lucky enough to never have to love "just an embryo".

Imagine that you are a little kid again. You carry around invisible buckets everywhere you go. In these buckets, expectations - messages - images start to pile in. Each message about what your life will be like adds another drop. These expectations - messages - images develop into your hopes and dreams as you get older.

*Every "you're gonna be such a good mom someday"

* Every time I saw a pregnant woman caress her growing belly

* Every bottle I fed my cousins when I babysat

* Every "that comes so naturally to you"

* Every daydream with childhood friends about how many kids you'll have

* Every "wait until you have kids"

* Every baby doll marketed to the little-girl-wanna-be-grown-up

* Every "it'll be your turn next"

* Every daydream about what our child would look like: blonde hair, blue eyes, tan skin, her dad's dimples

* Every time I see my husband play with our dog in the backyard

* Every time I walk past the empty bedroom in our home

* Every time I took a supplement

* Every time I took a shot

* Every physically painful medical procedure

* Every tear shed

* Every prayer prayed

* Every time I watched a sister or friend become a mom and knew I wanted that too

* Every time someone asked "how many kids do you have?" (as if that's a given)

* Every time grandparents talk about their grandkids (as if that's a given)

Each individual experience, plus thousands more that could never even be listed, adds a drop into our buckets. Over the years, these buckets become more and more heavy. But when you're living with anticipation and hope, adrenaline kicks in and you don't mind the heaviness. It'll be over soon. Like physics, once your buckets become too heavy, they'll tip over and empty. You'll empty them into the child you've been waiting for. You'll empty them with love and nurturing for this new being you've been told your whole life is coming to you.

You don't mind the heaviness until anticipation and hope - and adrenaline - run out. The physics don't add up. You find yourself left with a lifetime of drops in these impossibly heavy buckets with no way to pour them out.

Now, instead of hope, you can only imagine a lifetime of heaviness. You become bitter and jealous of the people who are able to empty their buckets, the way it's supposed to be.

So the question for us becomes: what do I do with the massive volume of these buckets? I was supposed to be able to pour this out. Now what do I do?

I have full trust that the answer to those questions will become clear, in their own time. But while I sit in the muck and uncertainty, I want challenge others:

If you have children please take some time to be grateful. Grateful that you have an outlet for all the love - drops in the bucket - that you've accumulated over your years. Grateful that you've never had to face carrying this heaviness for the rest of your life. Grateful that you've never had to sit in this type of muck and uncertainty. Grateful that it went the way it was supposed to.

Think about the daydreams and images you may have had of your children long before they met you on Earth. Imagine what it would be like if you never met your child - never had a chance to pour out your bucket.

And then be gentle, knowing that there are some of us who will carry these buckets our whole lives. Sure, we'll find ways to temporarily put them down. We'll find ways to manage. But inevitably, there will also be times when they become even heavier. The drops keep adding up. The messages, images, and daydreams don't stop accumulating.

So no, it's not Just an embryo. It's a lifetime of hopes, dreams, and love. And when that embryo doesn't make it's way to meet us on Earth, those buckets don't just go away.

We learn to carry them differently. We develop a new strength. But it doesn't go away.