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  • Renee Burns

Learning to Tell My Story: Pausing, Reflecting, Re-emerging



It feels timely to take a moment to pause, to reflect, to sit in, and to understand what the past little bit has been like for not just me, but for all of us, as we’re entering the “post-COVID” world. For me- it’s been taking time alone, and away, to truly reflect.


I’ve been quiet for the past few weeks after my last update on our travels to Michigan in April partly because I’ve been focused on my parents and brothers visit (the first guests who have met the girls via plane travel), my knee recovery (which has plateaued at an annoying ability to walk without a brace, but that’s about it), my husband’s 1st business trip since the babies were born (which I will you remind you is also pre-COVID), welcoming a babysitter into the home for the 1st time (she’s amazing- and we’re all in love), and taking on a larger client load and returning to work myself…..so it’s been a pretty full transition for us recently.


However, throughout all the noise of the above-mentioned “to-do” lists that have kept the heart beat of life ticking along for us- I have also been silent in reflection of how I have re-emerged into the world that has apparently deemed COVID practically over. Thus back to life “as usual”. However, as most of you know, our life was far from ‘usual’ even pre-COVID.


When the rest of the world went into “isolation/quarantine” a bit over a year ago when the pandemic was first declared - I was just getting ready to emerge after feeling like I had just been in isolation! My pre-COVID world had been filled with the quiet, lonely world of infertility. I had spend the better part of my year pre COVID learning about different fertility options after having undergone numerous hormone treatments, resulting in our hospital/NICU/isolating experience.


To be honest, my story to parenthood, and feeling isolated at times, really started WAY back in April of 2015. I know this because this is the year after I got married and also ran the Boston Marathon. My decision was to not go off birth control until I had completed that ‘little’ run. It would take four more years after crossing that finish line to welcome our girls into the world.


Anyway, fast-forward to spring of 2017. I was finishing graduate school and was looking at what was ahead of me. I was overcome with the urge to take on motherhood like nothing I had experienced before. It would be two more years of hormone treatments on-and-off, as well as failed IUI procedures (kinda like a step before IVF), before we took the leap and met with an IVF doctor. This is what I remember learning. Acronyms:


FHS- Folicle-stimulating hormones

LH- Luteinizing hormones

HCG- human chorionic gonadotropin

IUI- Intrauterine Insemination.

Hysterosalpingography

Sonohysytrogram

Uterine Ultrasound

Clomiphene citrate

Gonadotropins

Metformin

Letrozole

Semen analysis

Transfer, harvest.

Gentic testing

Highest rate of variability

Lowest rate of genetic malformality

Trigger shot

Sit and wait

Don’t stress

Eat healthy

Get good sleep

No jumping, jolting, jiggling

Only have sex when we tell you….


That story in and of itself would probably be worth millions of ‘hits’ on any number of social media applications…


However, here I am today- my IVF/fertility story a distant past compared to my birth/NICU story, and I am currently wading through the weird push-pull of “yay we’re vaccinated so we can all hug and hang out!” to the “this is weird- this doesn’t really seem right, oh and btw I’ve been totally isolating for so long now that I don’t know how to get back out there and socialize”…. I am realizing how empowered I am FINALY feeling to own my WHOLE messy story!


I was recently reflecting on my weekly therapy appointments when the girls were still in the hospital. My therapist at the time was helping me process what my transition of leaving the NICU, and returning home, or "coming out of quarantine", would be like. We practiced how I was going to answer questions, hold boundaries, not be re-traumatized when I returned home; when I “re-emerged” into my community after going through something so difficult. Little did I know it would be another year before I would be putting many of those coping skill to the test…


And now here I am, possible more ready, yet also re-re-traumatized (?) at the same time, as I listen to, see, and absorb the collective “how to we get back out there?” discussions that are happening in the post-COVID world around me.


It hit me just the other day, after having the experience of being interviewed on a friend’s podcast about my journey to motherhood, specifically how I've coped with not being able to do a lot of the outdoor activities the way I had imagined during my pregnancy/the girls infancy. As I have continued to be challenged to find the words, both written and verbal, regarding my journey- I have been able to own it with more confidence. If you deeply know me, it’s truly such a small part of my story, but it’s been a hugely impactful one.


In my silence I have realized that my ability to “re-emerge” along with the masses has, in large, been a part due to really owning this chapter. I do not yet know where it will lead, but I know fully that I am not going back to a pre-COVID ‘normal’, because my pre-COVID life was, well, far from ‘normal’, especially looking back at the “quarantine” I felt I was in dealing with fertility issues.


So - I am in a sense "re-emerging" here as well, and a, excited to share the link to this podcast where I was asked to share a bit of my story. It is produced by a friend who I met pre-kids, while living an “outdoorsy lifestyle” in the mountains of north Idaho- long before I could even conceptualize what being a mom to twin NICU warriors would mean. I invite you to listen; as it really is one of the 1st times I’ve publicly shared my voice to reflect on that part of my story. It's also an just an amazing podcast about how the ups-and-downs of getting outside as a family, from the simple going on a walk, to the epic white water paddling with kids.


Overall, my silence and reflection over the past month has led me to learn how to really own the story- and how telling it has been such a large a part of my healing process. I feel more grounded in myself “re-emerging” in who I am today post-COVID, as ever before.


Oh- and PS- yes, both girls are now walking- so our life is nuts! More on that later


-x0x0- mama Burns


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