We’ve all heard the saying, “life is a journey, not a destination.” Well, to put it mildly mine has been a roller coaster. I’ve had some pretty great “ups” and some pretty punch you in the gut “downs.” And through all of these hills and valleys, sometimes endless ravines, I’ve learned that I am the strongest person I know. Sure, sometimes I want to sit on the cough and never get up, I’m sure we all feel like that from time to time. But then I remember that as much as something hurts, there’s always a lesson from it to be learned. Cheesy, right? Yeah, but it’s true. Every life experience gets you to where and who you are now.
That’s how I found myself rolling out my mat at Citizen. Not just a yoga studio, but a community and a home. A “Cheers” of sorts, without Norm, if you will, where everyone knows your name. I had recently gone through my most recent rounds of heartbreak- a breakup after a 3 year long relationship that I thought was going to last forever, and multiple failed rounds of IVF. POW! Right in the kisser!
But I’ve been knocked down a few times throughout my life, to say the least, so I got back up. That’s what I do; it’s sorta my super power. You may think it’s weird that I did IVF as a single woman. Let me back track and fill you in the details of why.
I was a flight surgeon with a Marine Corps helicopter squadron, HMLA-169, based out of Camp Pendleton, CA. Shortly after checking in we deployed to Afghanistan for 8 months in 2009. As strange as it might sound I had a great time. That is until 10 days prior to returning home when my world turned upside down. Two of our helicopters crashed into each other in midair in the dark of night. Four of my Marines were dead and two survived. As the squadron’s flight surgeon it was my duty to ID the bodies and attend to the survivors. These were my friends, my brothers, my family.
I had experienced the deaths of multiple friends prior to this, but this was a completely new experience. One that I do not recommend or want to repeat. It was the most horrific and life altering event in my life. I will never be the same person and I will battle waves of PTSD for the rest of my life.
But there were two survivors. They were where I needed to focus my attention. They were immediately flown to Germany and then to Bethesda. Ultimately they both survived. One of the men was my best friend over in the desert. After waking up and being taken off the ventilator he proposed. Deep in my soul I knew this was not what I wanted, but how could I be so selfish as to say “no” to a man who had just lost a leg and the ability to walk? So, I said yes.
As we were both still active duty and in the process of getting out of the military I figured while it’s free, as any physician about to be wife probably would, that we should both get the fertility process going. I knew, with his injuries, we would most likely need assisted reproductive technologies to help us create a family. I assumed the trouble would lie with him, not with me.
After a few appointments with the fertility specialist I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have kids. Literally. the well was essentially dry. And if there was a miracle egg left inside my body, and it was magically fertilized, I wouldn’t be able to carry it to term. POW!
So, that’s how I found out I couldn’t have kids. Add that news to the PTSD and combat stress and it’s a recipe for disaster. My husband and I quickly realized we were triggers for each others PTSD and our relationship wasn’t healthy so we divorced. When my residency took me to Detroit I sought a second opinion and the Doc thought it wouldn’t hurt to try egg retrieval and IVF. So, I did. I have two very precious embryos in a freezer after my first attempt, but all subsequent attempts failed. And then this…
And after three years of dating a man I was so utterly in love with, he chose his career over us and left. Roller coaster “down”, again. I was pretty comfy on my couch at this point. Very comfy in fact. But, as I told you before, getting back up after being knocked down is my super power. So, I got back up. On my mat. That’s where home is after all.
And I couldn’t have found a better place to call home.
You can’t say goodbye to someone or something that has become part of your soul.
That’s what it means to be a CITIZEN.