This is the epilogue of my book Looking for Easter Eggs.
Saturday 2 August 2014
Sharing my personal story was the most meaningful and rewarding thing I have done in my life (besides giving birth to Felicia of course). It was also quite exciting to share our story with people we knew and didn’t know. How would they react? My neighbours, friends and family, and others.
Thank God, everyone loved my book! I have received the most beautiful reviews, I was told people had to both cry and smile when reading my story.
I received the first copy of my book on Felicia’s first birthday. I remember the big truck that drove into our narrow street, and the postman handing over a small package with the first two copies. It was three o’clock in the afternoon, the birthday cake had just been delivered and our guests were about to arrive. I felt so proud, I had finished my book and now it was so real! We celebrated the birth of my book and the birthday of our little girl. She had no idea that book was all about her, and everything that had happened before she filled our lives with joy and happiness.
It was a hectic period. Two days before the book launch, my oldest sister gave birth to her third child, a baby girl named Jolie. The day of the book launch I had my first visit again at the IVF clinic, to start with a new round as we were hoping to have a little brother of sister for Felicia one day. Although she had only just turned one, you never know how many years it might take for yet another miracle to take place – if at all.
The book launch was a great party at the fancy North Sea Jazz Club in Amsterdam. The director of the IVF clinic handed over the first copy of my book, together with the doctor who had transferred the Felicia-embryo and who had showed us her very first heartbeat.
Then, all of a sudden, I found myself in this roller coaster ride, I was invited for tv shows (which is a bit too scary I think), I got interviews in fancy magazines, photo shoots and started blogging on several websites. How I loved all the beautiful and professional photos I received from Felicia and me.
The ‘Moeders voor Moeders’-organisation embraced my story, and gave away thousands of books to early pregnant women. It was amazing how many people read my book that first summer.
Ever since the day my book came out, I have received the most touching messages. Women were inspired by my story; they found comfort in my words. They praised me for my openness and thanked me for sharing my personal story with them. They didn’t feel so alone anymore. They were no longer the only ones. They read my story and knew there were so many others with similar feelings and fears and thoughts. They told me I spoke their minds and lent my book to family and friends to make them understand what fertility problems are all about.
Those women tell me they feel inspired to deal with this long road in a different way now, celebrating life like I do, talking about it, instead of keeping it a secret. They feel lighter, like they no longer have to carry their heavy burden alone anymore. My book is a tool that people use to talk about their deep and uncertain wish to be parents one day. I once got a letter from a man, his wife had gone through the IVF roller coaster with her previous partner. He thanked me, because thanks to my story he was able to understand better what his wife had gone through. They are now blessed with three children.
There are women who read my book over and over again. Someone read it five or six times. Personally I never read a book twice, or watch the same movie again. It feels amazing and very fulfilling that my book has a deeper meaning to them.
I hear so many beautiful but just as many sad stories around me. Not everyone has a happy end. I find it hard to accept that some dreams don’t come true. Or to accept that some women finally do get pregnant and then lose their baby. I feel the pain of those who have done everything they can and are still left empty-handed. Life is not fair. I talk to them, and keep asking myself ‘Why not?’ I have met really great couples, and they are definitely worthy of having a baby, their kid would have such wonderful parents. Sometimes it makes me cry when I hear their stories.
I decided to send my book in pink gift boxes, similar to the birth announcement box we made for Felicia. People like to be surprised with my little box filled with love and luck and a personal touch. It is not just any book in a white envelope. I decorate it with ribbons and put little hearts on the box, I always write a personal note in my book and include chocolate Easter eggs and a ’gelukspoppetje’, which is the Dutch word for lucky doll, a little talisman. It is truly unbelievable, but so many women got pregnant after receiving my little ’lucky doll’. All those emails I have received with happy news, I cannot count them anymore. I think I give hope to people and try to share my luck, let them believe miracles do happen, sometimes the miracle appears at that moment.
My dear sister Kim (‘Emma’), who has translated my book, turned out to be pregnant at my book launch (she told me afterwards), and last year she gave birth to a beautiful son called Liam. She is so grateful and feels so blessed to have a healthy little boy.
In November 2012, I also got pregnant myself for the second time in my life, after the third embryo transfer. It was an embryo from the Felicia batch we had saved in the IVF tissue bank. We felt it was a little gift from Felicia, like a twin sister or brother, conceived in the same lab at the same moment, but born at a different time. We could hardly believe I was pregnant again. Once we started to realize Felicia was going to have a little brother or sister, I miscarried. It was a difficult time in our lives having to say goodbye to this miracle. We were optimistic, and remained optimistic and confident. It had been another confirmation that I was indeed fertile. It is so different now I know I can get pregnant. I was so hopeful; we really believed it would happen again. I started a new IVF round and we got twenty-two embryos! The top embryo was put into my womb, and the fifteen embryos were put in eight straws to be stored at the tissue bank. I felt blessed having so many embryos in stock, there would have to be one to make me pregnant again. I even seriously considered embryo donation, to help others.
Meanwhile a fancy magazine asked me to write a weekly column about our wish to have a baby – part two. Thousands of people were reading our story, everywhere in the Netherlands people were burning candles to help us conceive again, they were sending me cards and charms and keeping their fingers crossed. Embryo after embryo got transferred, but the miracle did not happen. The total of embryo transfers doubled compared to how many we needed to conceive the Felicia- embryo.
After the ninth embryo transfer, I got a phone call from the hospital again: ’I am sorry Mrs Tel, we have not found any pregnancy hormones in your blood.’ I felt devastated. I could not bear to hear those words again. Every time, my period was late, and every time we were hopeful.
In the week of the ninth transfer, I had a job interview. I was working as a writer and freelancer from home, but I was really eager to have a regular job again outside the house. On Wednesday I got a job offer. On Friday I heard the bad news I was not pregnant. When one door closes, a window apparently opens. I believe in that saying. My new job is exactly what I could wish for, the right challenge for me. So I decided to stop with IVF. I have to move on with my life and my career. I am thirty-eight years old now, and I have been distracted from work by my child wish for eight years now: it is time to let go. It must be a sign that I got this new job opportunity.
Coincidentally, it was also my last column in the national magazine. It was a period of hello and goodbyes, of endings and new beginnings.
I felt the courage to quit and to say it out loud. Everyone knew I had chosen a new direction in life. I felt completely happy with our Felicia. She is three years old now, and so funny. She makes us laugh every day. She’s our everyday bundle of joy and happiness, the gratitude and love we feel is immeasurable.
Our happy and charming girl, I cannot even believe to ever have such a wonderful child again. She is exactly what we have dreamed of, or even more, she makes me feel so proud.
Still, I have cryos left in the freezer and still I have the right to two more IVF treatments covered by our health insurance. Months went by, and then it was the first day of a new cycle. I asked Frank: ’What shall we do? Shall we give it one more try?’
It is almost impossible to stop when there are still chances. So we tried one more time. We did not tell people. This time we were lucky! This week I had a Big Fat Plus on a pregnancy test! Today I am pregnant for the third time in my life. Tomorrow we’ll see. We hope for the best and keep on dreaming to one day have a little brother or sister for Felicia. Miracles do happen…
Good luck to you & don’t forget to celebrate life! Love,
Today I am 20 weeks pregnant and expecting a baby boy!