The old saying “Be Happy with what you have” was my mantra today!
This morning I went to our filing cabinet to find an old email regarding insurance and came across a bulging file labeled “Savannah/IVF”......I wanted to read the emails in that file! And I knew it might be like ‘curiosity killed the cat’ however, I know when to pick my battles these days…I felt strong enough to open up a piece of my past.
After our daughter Savannah died, Peter and I tried to have another child through IVF pre-genetic diagnosis. So for a few minutes, I stared off into space and imagined what our family dynamic would be like if we had Savannah here with Dempsey and maybeeeee, just another one or two kids? It wouldn’t be Brady Bunch perfect, but it would be different to my present reality.....the house wouldn’t be as quiet, my saucepans bubbling with more food, and maybe the dinner table a scene of sibling squabbles.
We had 6 attempts at IVF in Australia. And I am grateful for the opportunity. You see through some sheer chance of fate…Peter and I share a faulty gene in our DNA…the same one! What are the chances of meeting another person with that same faulty gene, of falling in love with them and marrying them and having a one in four chance of producing a child with a deadly disease because of one shitty rogue gene? Well it happened to us. And I’ve given up looking for the answer as to ‘why’…I’ll never know.
Before Savannah died, the pre-genetic testing through IVF wasn’t available anywhere in the world. So we were fortunate to have had Savannah’s DNA tested so the Murdoch Institute in Australia could determine exactly what her DNA chain was made up of....so the IVF lab could create a probe to test our embryos for her terminal disease.
I remember sitting in the geneticists office a few years after she died like it was yesterday…..and being told with such sterility that I gave her this faulty gene, and Peter gave her that faulty gene….and I remember the burning in my throat and my eyes and the pain in my heart at the tragedy and my guilt of it all….how through an instant at conception, Savannah had been doomed because of two faulty genes we’d given her. I felt like a failure as a mother…why Savannah? Why couldn’t she have only 1 faulty gene, like Demps does? But I’ve found it destructive and exhausting to mindlessly go over and over the ‘whys.’ All I know is the ‘what is.’
And for anyone going down the route of IVF, it’s a rollercoaster ride. It’s a foreign way to try to be blessed with a baby. You’re pumped full of drugs and injections and invasive ultrasounds where they stick probes inside you to study how many eggs your ovaries are dripping with……like some alien grape vine. But it’s worth every second of pain and heartache if you are one of the lucky ones!
But for some reason another child wasn’t to be for us….. and there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough, no more tries, no more wishes….just an impossible dream that you have to accept. And decide to be happy with what you have…
So yes, I’m at peace now that we tried to give Dempsey a sibling….however, there is often a twinge of regret and envy when I do see families of 2 or 3 or 4. I know how lucky we are to have Demps…things could be different and I could be grieving the death of both my children. I saw desperate mothers at the IVF clinic with medical files as big as a bible….and still no baby!
At our last IVF attempt, two happy, attractive young scientists entered my cubicle to show me a Polaroid of the two embryos they would implant….they pointed out Savannah's mutations on a graph in my medical file and compared it with the embryo's, which were different. And it hurt me that they saw Savannah as some data on a piece of computer print out. I mulled over and over it for the next hour while waiting in that cubicle. And when it was time to leave I asked the nurse if I could see those same two pretty young scientists….from out of my wallet I handed them a photo of Savannah.
And I told them with tears how she loved books and swimming and honey on her toast...that she had such a happy spirit! I told them in hope that next time they deal with an anxious Mum, as they study the mindless medical DNA, they see a little girl or boy, who was precious, who was on this earth and made a difference in their short time here.
However my reality now is I do have Dempsey, and she is enough. She will always light a spark of gratitude inside me of just how blessed I am.
Being alive is full of risks and maybes! However, being happy is connected to learning to cope and accepting life as it is….like a connect the dot drawing in one of Dempsey’s coloring books. To make the best of it!
Yes, “Be happy with what you have” often whispers to me like a long lost friend. However, I can always imagine……as long as I’m content with our little family, just the way we are!