1 in 8 

Years ago I woke up in the middle of the night to excruciating pain. The pain continued to get worse and by morning time my brother had found me on the bathroom floor unable to move. Come to find out I had an ovarian cyst that had ruptured and messed me up like no other. I spent days in the hospital. The Dr. told me that the cyst had caused some damage inside and I may or may not struggle to pregnant, when that time came. Back then, I really didn’t mind and wasn’t saddened by the news. I never wanted children. 

Years passed and as you all know… I fell in love and wanted a baby. We knew that my husband shoots blanks (sorry to put your business on blast babe) and we knew that it may be difficult for me to get pregnant. My problems with my reproductive organs had continued up to this point. We knew it would be a process in every which way. Emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially. It was something that we decided was worth going for. We started to line stuff up and work on turning that dream into a reality. Which meant looking for a lot of money. 

We chose to move to move to Los Angeles for work. For a job that would require a lot out of both of us. James would be a slave to the job and I would be alone in a new city. A gigantic, packed, loud, city. We knew the sacrifices that were going to come, but we felt ready. We had our vision board, our plan, etc. We were on a mission. Thankfully this journey took us to Los Angeles. We were able to find one of the top fertility treatment centers.

Our first round of IVF was exciting, scary, and painful all at once. I had spent the years prior rehabilitating my mind and body. I was in great shape. I was in a good place mentally. Well that all went to shit. Hormones overtook me and I was ballooning up and crying and happy and mad and in pain. Not to mention alone in a new city. Yep, hot mess express. I figured since I was young and in decent shape that it would be smooth sailing. I thought the procedures would be uneventful and it would be an easy case. That wasn’t the case for me. When it came time to retrieve the eggs from my ovaries, we found that they weren’t great quality. After all the pain, blood work, procedures, etc., we only had one embryo survive. A boy. A boy that my body would reject. That was painful. 

James and I were crushed. When you’re going through infertility problems, it seems like everyone around you is pregnant. You also tend to focus on the 13 year old that could have a child, but you can’t.  You see fake pregnancy announcements and want to punt the laptop or the person that posted it. You try to not to take to heart the pregnant women complaining about it.  You think about the babies you read about that have been abused or abandoned, but you can’t have a child. You get asked about having babies or told its time to have a baby as if a baby just gets dropped on your door step. A lot of self loathing starts to kick in. It’s horrible to feel like you’re not in control of your body. It’s horrible to know that your body isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. However, we weren’t done with this dream. We knew we had to try again. We believed in this. We couldn’t just walk away. We did what we had to do and decided to try again. It was brutal. My body hated me. My Dr put a new plan together and it worked. My eggs looked better and thankfully we had four embryos survive this round. My Dr. decided to transfer two embryos and we froze the other two. During the waiting period (time after transfer, until you go back to see if you’re pregnant), time goes by incredibly slow. I think since we had the memories of the first round, it made everything go by in slow motion. I was paranoid about every pain, twitch,wipe,drop of blood, etc. During this time, I’m still pumping myself full of hormones. We learned during the first round that not only does my body reject pregnancy, but it also doesn’t make the hormones to carry the pregnancy. So I took hormones all day long in all forms. Pills, shots, suppositories (sorry tmi). (I would continue to do this, until the pregnancy was viable.) It was horribly painful and made me so sick physically. The first round I waited for the pregnancy test at the clinic. The second round was different. Before it was time to go get tested, I was feeling different. I was super sick and just felt something else.  So you know my impatient self tested at home. There was a power outage and there I was peeing on a stick in the dark. I shined my phone flash light and waited for that line to pop up. It sure as heck popped up. Super super light, but it was there. Pregnant. 

My pregnancy would be anything, but easy. It was traumatizing. I would eventually run out of skin that didn’t have hot welts and bruises and I still had to give myself multiple shots throughout the day. I was so sick I couldn’t stand up or ride in a car. Lifting my head would make me want to be sick. Eventually we found out Bells’ twin didn’t make it, but we still had one strong heart beat. As we entered the second trimester, I reluctantly put together my pregnancy announcements and had them ready to go out. Later that same night  I started bleeding profusely. We were terrified. I thought for sure this was it. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Please, God. No. My little girl held on. When we heard her heart beat, I can’t even tell you what it felt like. Tears flowed. My cervix had torn. Leaving me to be on bed rest now. I didn’t care as long as my baby stayed put. Here was the ultrasound from that scare. She was like, “heyyyy, I’m still here!” 

I carried her for 41 weeks, before I made her get out. She’d probably still be in there, if I hadn’t made her come out. 

People constantly tell me I need to give her a sibling. People constantly tell me it’s time for another. People constantly ask when I’m having another. People tell me I’m waiting too long in between kids. Not knowing the amount of sacrifice, pain, and struggle that we have gone through to even have one. At first it would make me angry. Now I just realize that most people are completely oblivious to the fact that 1 in 8 people struggle with infertility. Not that it’s anyone’s business to comment on someone having children, but most people truly don’t think about infertility. 

My Dr isn’t too sure that my body could handle another pregnancy. I’m not sure my mental/emotional well being can handle it either. We are so beyond blessed to even have Bells. Truth of the matter is that I have more than I ever believed I could or would have. We have our miracle. My heart is so full. I can’t imagine taking from these moments or missing anything. 

Infertility is real and it’s common. I can promise that you know someone struggling with infertility. It’s shameful. It’s hurtful. It’s hard. It’s heart breaking. It’s not understandable. It’s not fair. It’s secretive. It’s judged. It’s not taken into consideration. It could be the person next to you at work, your brother or sister, your cousin, your best friend. You never know who. We are 1 in 8. 

Right beside me 

At 32 years old, I am working on not being scared of everything. We all have our fears. Some more rational than others. Most people are not controlled by these fears. However, as previously stated, my brain is not like other brains. This year I found out that I suffer from panic/anxiety attacks. Come to find out I’ve been suffering from them for years.  I always thought it was something else. I thought I would get motion sickness, fear of heights, my stomach was upset, etc. Then, I was flying alone with my daughter. I started to feel off and uneasy like I had felt so often before. She was sleeping in the seat next to me and I was just getting worse by the second. I looked over at her and remember asking myself what I was going to do. I was alone with my daughter and not well. It went from bad to worse instantly it seemed. No matter how I tried to control my brain, breathing, etc., I continued to spiral. I was dripping sweat like a faucet, my entire body was tingling, I couldn’t breathe, etc. I remember praying telling God to please let someone take care of my baby. I remember thinking about who was going to get her, when she woke up and I was dead next to her. I honestly believed this was it for me. This was how I would die and leave my daughter alone. It started from nothing. I’ve flown countless of times alone with my daughter. That’s how this goes. I’m aware of certain situations and things that will give me anxiety. I’m also aware that it can be nothing that gives me this anxiety. This isn’t anxiety that makes someone bite their nails and be hesistant. This is crippling anxiety that makes you feel physically ill. Have you ever had anxiety so bad that it makes you say a final prayer and black out? 32 years old and I’ve been suffering with anxiety as far back as I can remember. 32 years old and I just find out that I suffer from these anxiety/panic attacks? Wow, that was embarrassing. 

When I learned about panic/anxiety attacks, I tried to think back to the first time I could remember feeling this way. It took me a while. As mentioned previously, my memory is shot and takes some work to sort through. I traced it back to my grandparent’s house. I remember it was storming outside and my grandma had sent me upstairs to shower. I was afraid of storms, but I was even more afraid of my grandma. I went upstairs and let the shower run. I can feel it right now. My heart starting to race. My skin getting clammy. I sat still, because the floor squeaked and I didn’t want her to know I wasn’t in the shower. I remember being so scared that she would find out I didn’t shower. I made myself get in the shower. I cried as I told myself to just let the water wet my hair. As I tried to go back in time to find anxiety or fear, I remembered a lot of similar stories. I remembered every time I had a runny nose, I was so scared to sniff around my grandma that I would let it run into my mouth and down my face. I remembered gagging down food that I didn’t like. Literally gagging and convincing myself, “just one more bite.”  I was a little girl. How could I have been feeling like that? How could a little girl be so scared? How could I still be feeling like that now? 

I’ve always considered myself a pretty chill person. Turns out that I’ve been tightly wound this entire time.  I’ve been in knots for years. It was never “nothing” causing my attacks. I had been on edge my whole life. I never let that go. I knew that my grandma had messed me up. Sounds mean, but it’s the truth. I have a lot of scary and hurtful memories with my grandma. Years ago I chose to take all that and forgive her. She has been one of the biggest healing points for me in my life. She made me cry, fear, panic, and hide. She took the little self esteem I had then and threw it out. Little did I know that what she would give me in return would be invaluable and one of the greatest lessons of my life thus far. She taught me to truly accept people just the way they are. She taught me that I am capable of loving all, even if they have hurt or are different than me. She taught me to forgive. She was the first person I truly forgave. 

I like to believe that people do the best they can with what they have… most of the time. My grandma never left my side. To this day, she is right beside me. Through my mistakes and triumphs, she has stood beside me. As a baby and now as a 32 year old wife and mother, she has stood beside me. She has loved me. She has never turned her back on me. She has never stopped sending me cards on every holiday and birthday. She never stopped praying for me.  No matter how bad things got with me, she stood right beside me. I’m sure I’ve hurt her feelings too. I’m sure I’ve let her down too. She stood right beside me. She’s one of the most important people in my life. She plays such a huge role in the person that I am today.  I’m so lucky to still have her by my side. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a anxiety attack, since the one I had on the airplane. 

Finding myself at 32

I was around 10 years old and at my brother’s basketball game. I remember being at the very top bleacher. I also remember thinking to myself, “blend in and act like everyone else,” before we all arrived at the gym. So there everyone was cheering, watching the game, acting normal, when the moment that accurately describes me happened. I fell off the top bleacher. Yes, in the middle of an ongoing basketball. Do you know what the sound of chubby 10 year old hitting the gym floor sounds like? The ENTIRE (yes, including the players and referees) gym stopped and looked at me. For those wondering, I was fine. Perhaps it was because I was chubby that I was left undamaged… physically. I still get some anxiety on bleachers. Haha

I’ve always thought of myself to be shy. When I was a young girl, I remember being scared of people and things. I also had three brothers, a busy mom, and a grandma that was pretty rough around the edges that helped take care of us. My first memory is of my father getting mad at me and then never seeing him again.  So most of the times I found myself doing things I didn’t want to do, saying things I didn’t want to say, eating things I didn’t want to eat, etc., because I was too scared to say or do otherwise. I’ve always told myself to blend in, act like everyone else, act normal, don’t attract attention, etc. I’ve continued to tell myself that into my 30’s, until recently that changed for me. 

Recently we attended a birthday party for my friend’s 3 year old daughter. They had great live music, incredible food, family and friends had filled the home, and a piñata. We watched and sang as the kids took turns swinging at the piñata. After all the kids took their swings, a full piñata hung. So adults turns right? “Just blend in, Gabi.  Act like everyone else. Look what the other moms are doing. Play it cool, Gabi,” says my head. It was too late. I was already sprinting to get the stick to hit the piñata. It had rained and was a little misty that night. Well it’s Houston and still warm outside (yes, in January outside in the rain.) So I thought it was a good idea to wear sandals. You all know where I’m going with this. I’ve attached pictures so you get a full effect. Before I started swinging, “blend in me” was acting like Babe Ruth. Circling my bar with my fierce batting stance. Then, it was game time. I swung like I was at the World Series. I felt  everything that moment. Both of my feet lifted off of the ground. I felt my feet moving forward and up. I mean, I caught good solid air. I remember feeling my shirt fly up and my belly jiggle. Bam, I hit the ground. What part of blend in didn’t I understand? 

My whole life I’ve thought I was this shy girl. However, moments like falling off the bleachers and the piñata fall have followed me my entire life. I’m definitely scared of things and people, but I’m most definitely not shy. I’ve told myself to blend in my whole life. I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in. I knew that I was different, but I was scared. Scared to be myself, scared to talk, scared to be left, scared to be unliked, scared of everything. 

That night after a lot of laughter with my husband (who took the pictures and stayed married to me), everything hit me.  I’ve been telling myself to blend in and act like everyone else for decades. Not anymore. I needed to stop lying to myself. 

I’m not scared of being myself anymore. I no longer care if I blend in. I’m not scared  to tell the truth about myself anymore. I’m not scared that people will know I’m not like them. No offense, but I don’t care what anyone thinks about me anymore. I can have an unpopular opinions, fall off bleachers, make bad decisions, get stuck in trees,  babe Ruth the piñata, etc., and it’s me. This is me y’all. I’m a mess. I feel like I’m forever working on my shit. I attract unwanted attention. I’m no longer trying to blend in and I can’t tell you how liberating that is for me.