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I was looking around Twitter last night and realized that most of the infertility/TTC people I follow have either gotten pregnant, had a baby or moved on to a childfree existence or adoption. While I’m thrilled for all of them, it makes me remember how long we’ve been on this road…how long these scars have marked my emotions.
IVF is totally different the second time around. I don’t feel as militant as I was the first time. If that makes sense. I’m not hopeless, but I just don’t feel the same fire in me. Maybe it’s because this IVF has not gone according to plan. Maybe it’s because the last one resulted in loss followed by loss and failure with the FETs. Either way, it’s different.
Maybe these emotions are all real, but they’re certainly made more heightened by the meds I’m on. I was cranky as all heck last night. And that crankiness turned into melancholy. Then I fell asleep.
Today is a new day.
Do you guys ever feel this way?
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The end of 2011 was very, very, VERY hard. Christmas was rather hellish because I could not get my emotions together. I’ll admit that I had childish outbursts more than once. Then I got that together only to be faced with pink balloons on my neighbor’s porch—right outside my window—they had their baby. And it was a girl. Yes, I was jealous as all hell.
But by mid-week I was sick of feeling so angry and sad. I decided to start getting things together. I went to therapy twice last week. I had several talks with The Mister (and several arguments, but I was in a mood so it was expected). And although I didn’t get the rest and relaxation I wanted from this break, I did come away feeling a bit more prepared to move forward…yet again.
We have a second opinion appointment on Thursday with a new doctor. I actually was able to pick up my records (actually The Mister did) from the old clinic. There were a few things in there that disturbed me and now I at least have the information to address them. Nothing life threatening or earth shattering, but concerns that should have been addressed before.
I haven’t been taking my medicine as I should have. It’s hard to admit that. I do this when I have issues with the medical establishment. I fight back the only way I know how—by refusing to engage. It’s stupid and childish and harmful, but it’s what I do. I’m remedying that this week.
I just hope that 2012 is the year I’m finally able to become a mother. I cannot explain in words how much it means to me.
For the past couple of months my emotions about the miscarriage have been pretty calm. It felt like the nerve ends that were on fire earlier in the spring and summer had stopped aching and burning so strongly. I was finally moving forward.
I knew that because the pregnancy was a twin pregnancy, that the actual due date meant much less. If the twins had survived gestation, they’d almost certainly be here by now. But if they hadn’t, my due date was November 18, 2011.
Now that it is finally here, it seems like every emotion I’ve felt in the past six months has been amplified and condensed into this ball of confusion and hurt in the pit of my stomach. This week has been beyond tough. I’m extremely emotional. I’m taking everything personally. I can’t seem to move beyond my immediate concerns. And what’s more than that, I feel bad focusing on the past when I should be focusing on the two frozen embryos I plan to have transferred into my body in a couple of weeks.
But it’s hard to let such an important date pass by without recognizing it. And I think that’s where I am struggling. How do I allow myself to appropriately grieve when I feel like I should be and have been moving forward? I’m not in the same place I was this summer, but it’s normal for the impending page on the calendar to signal some sort of sadness, right?
My amazing friend, Ms. MM, told me earlier this week that I’d know the way to honor the day when it got here. I’m still hoping for some sort of revelation to fall down from the sky into my lap. I think I’m imagining some grand gesture for a day that, in the end, does not mean anything.
I think what I should do is live my life. I think I should try to keep myself from dwelling on it to the extent possible. I think I should smile. I think I should laugh. I think I should just be myself.
Maybe tonight I’ll allow myself to be sad and cry it out. God knows I could use a good tear-fest right about now. But tomorrow, I’m going to be focused on remembering the joyful part of carrying the twins and the amazing things ahead. I’m going to allow myself to shed tears when necessary, but I’m also going to allow myself to be happy whenever possible.
And I hope that there’s some happiness I can help share.
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Last night I was the self-appointed Halloween candy czar at The House. Mr. CVD came over and we ordered pizza and he made fun of me and others and played with Siri on my phone. It was nice and relaxing, even though it wasn’t the typical veg out in front of the TV relaxation I could use right about now.
When he left, there were still a few kids coming by, so I continued to sit outside. Soon thereafter, the neighbors from across the street came over to chat. We don’t often get to talk for any length of time and it was nice to catch up with them. I really want to have neighbors that we can do things with and enjoy and they expressed the same thing, so it was all cool.
I noticed it fairly quickly and it confirmed an odd feeling I had for the past couple of months. She is pregnant. She says she is due December 17th (my mother’s birthday), but she honestly looks way smaller than that, so it’s a surprise I even noticed it from across the street before. I ended up mentioning the miscarriage during part of the conversation and even though I know it makes people uncomfortable, I didn’t allow myself to censor too much because it’s my truth and my life to share.
But the odd thing was that even while we were talking to them and after they left, I didn’t have that usual “I’m so jealous I cannot see straight” type moment. I was genuinely happy for them. In fact, the first and only thing I told The Mister about it afterwards was that it was sad that we weren’t having the twins for another reason—they’d have a friend across the street a month apart from them. It wasn’t like a very sad moment, it was just a realization that things had happened that way and there was no changing it. Like when you order something off the menu and realize there was something way better as a special that you didn’t order.
And that’s when I realized I think I’m in a much different place of hurt and healing than I have been before. I think this was the first time I was able to think about the twins, let alone talk about them (however brief), without tearing up. It’s not that I’m not sad about it and it’s not that I don’t wish we were in their place…it’s just I don’t feel so damn angry.
I finally get to go back to the doctor on Friday to see if we can get this cycle started. Just having a game plan is going to impact my life in so many good ways. But at least I know that I’ve let go of some of the anger now. Or at least I’m able to control it better.
No matter what the case may be, it’s a start.
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I’ve had a few bouts of the Not Fair Fairy coming around and punching me in the stomach recently. This is compounded by the fact that I can’t even seem to get to the point of trying without having complications…like random scar tissue hanging out in my uterus.
The best part of today’s visit from the Not Fair Fairy is that I get to be weirdly nauseous at odd times because of the estrogen I am taking. Mind you, this estrogen is just to help my uterus heal and is, therefore, not even part of a cycle.
I know that when the Not Fair Fairy comes around I should just ignore her or kick her in the teeth, but it’s really hard to do when she seems to have a point. I mean, it’s less than a month away from my due date with the twins and I can’t seem to get crap started. Meanwhile, Facebook is filled with pregnancy announcements, ultrasound pictures and newborn babies. I try to repeat some calming thought to myself when I get this way, but it’s only effective 42% of the time.
The other 58% of the time I just get angry.
On the whole, I’m doing okay. I just get lost in a moment sometimes where I think about how ridiculous all of this shit truly is and can’t seem to shake it off in any concrete manner. I feel like that if at least I were in a cycle, I’d be able to feel like I’m doing something instead of just waiting around.
I know…I know…patience. And yes, this healing is part of doing something. Valid points. But during a woe is me moment? About as useful as screen doors on a submarine.
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Last week’s news that I had a MTHFR mutation was apparently exactly what I needed to hear. Don’t get me wrong, it sucks to have yet another thing to contend with in this infertility journey, but I feel vindicated in some way. It’s like a curtain has lifted and I’m able to focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past.
IVF is one of those things that nothing can truly prepare you for no matter how much you read or research or anything. Not that it’s bad to do those things, but the stress that you go through physically and mentally is indescribable. When you succeed at IVF, it feels like all of that was worthwhile and that you’ve finally done something right. Having a miscarriage after IVF is like a snap back to reality where you are convinced that nothing can go right ever again.
I had so much hope going into IVF in February and March. I was done with hoping and onto believing. It was GOING to happen. And by hard work and chance and luck it did. It was hard to convince myself that it was actually a success at first. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall. Every single time we went for an ultrasound or a blood draw, I was just waiting for them to tell me something was wrong.
Until that last time. Somehow, I finally managed to convince myself that this was going to happen for me after all.
And then it didn’t.
That kind of weirdly reassuring disappointment is hard to bounce back from. And although I knew there had to be some reason for it, all I could think was “that just figures.” I was so blinded by my disappointment and grief that I couldn’t even get to the part where I was asking the right questions. And when the karotyping came back as perfectly normal, I started placing a lot of the burden on myself for any little thing I may have done wrong. It wasn’t intentional and some of it wasn’t even done consciously. It certainly wasn’t right, but there was no way I could stop.
We went into June/July’s FET with some hope, but to be honest I was just going through the motions. It was as if treatment was a job and I was just coming in, punching my time card and going home. There were a few glimmers of commitment here and there, but I never had the will power that I had the first time around. I was still blaming myself for everything that had happened.
I wasn’t ready.
When the FET turned into another (albeit much earlier) loss, I was not only grieving again, but I was angry and frustrated and unable to ask anything other than WHY. And apparently the WHY is what I needed to be pushing for all along.
Last week, the MTHFR mutation revelation wasn’t great in that I was happy I had some other potential infertility cause. It was great in that I finally had the answer I was looking for. Now maybe my losses were more complicated than just that, but maybe they weren’t. And now I have things to do and a plan in place.
And more than that, I have some distance between me and that place of grief and despair that I occupied for so long this year. About a month ago, a co-worker had a baby and I was forced to look at this newborn’s picture and hear about how the mother and baby were doing. All I could think about at that point was how much I missed my babies that never were.
I wasn’t ready to move on because I hadn’t yet found any answers as to why they weren’t still with me.
I wasn’t ready to move on because I hadn’t come to terms with what had happened.
I wasn’t ready to move on because I wasn’t ready to let myself believe again.
It seemed to me that believing again was somehow betraying their memories. It’s silly and makes no sense, but that’s the distinct feeling I had every time I tried to muster up some strength. I just wasn’t able to identify it until now…until the spot in the rearview mirror became smaller and smaller in the distance.
I will never fully lose sight of those losses. They were too jarring to the soul for me to forget. But in the past couple of weeks, and the past week in particular, I’ve been able to start putting together a plan for the future and actually be excited about it again. I still have a few more steps to take emotionally, but I don’t feel like I’m being rushed to take them.
And while I still miss my babies, my embryos, more than I can even explain, I can now differentiate that pain from the pain of infertility in general. A month ago I could care less about being a mother, I just wanted to be a mother to my twins. I wasn’t ready to move forward because all I wanted was to have them back. Now, though I’d love to have them back, I feel like my soul is comforted by the fact that I have found my way back to wanting to be a mother in general again…that there’s room in my heart once again to risk it all at another chance at this dream.
It doesn’t mean I still don’t have tears. It just means that I’m able to see through them a bit more clearly now and start to believe again.
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Note: This post is cross posted on Perfectly Cursed Life.
Infertility is not for wimps. It takes a toll on every part of one’s life. Physically you become drained from being pumped full of synthetic hormones and poked and prodded. Spiritually you start falling prey to every possible route to enlightenment just to answer the question of why. Mentally, you crumble a bit every time something new and devastating hits whether it’s another negative pregnancy test, a new diagnosis or a miscarriage. Infertility is a medical condition and like so many medical conditions, it takes your whole life and turns it upside down and shakes it for lunch money.
Last night, Ms. JM sent me a link to a column at the Huffington Post by Melanie Notkin called “The Invisible Infertility.” Naturally, I was drawn to it right away. It was clear a few paragraphs in that the writer just simply didn’t get infertility at all. Despite the fact that she didn’t get it, she claimed to be suffering from “circumstantial infertility.”
To her, “circumstantial infertility” exists when the timing or situation isn’t right to have a child, yet a woman (or a man, I suppose) desperately wants a child. For Ms. Notkin, her “circumstantial infertility” exists as a result of her being unmarried and single. She doesn’t wish to have a child on her own, but she wants one and wants to be part of a couple trying to have a child. Let me make it clear that neither in this article nor in her previous article (“The Truth About Childless Women”) does she state that she has a medical condition that prevents her from conceiving naturally. In fact, she admits that she does not know.
…a disease of the reproductive system. One third (30%) of infertility can be attributed to male factors, and about one third (30%) can be attributed to female factors. In about 20% of cases infertility is unexplained, and the remaining 10% of infertility is caused by a combination of problems in both partners.
You may have noticed that this is a medical definition. That is because infertility is a medical condition.
When I got done reading, I sat back and wondered how to react. I’m trying to make an effort in life to be more accepting of people’s feelings. I don’t want to diminish one woman’s sadness or emotional turmoil. I’m sure she has her fair share. But it still ate at me until I figured it out: she has every right to her emotions, but she does not have every right to the term “infertility.” And by using that term, she disenfranchises every infertile woman who is or ever has been struggling with the medical condition of infertility. Simply putting the word “circumstantial” in front of it does not make it okay. That’s like getting a buzz cut and associating with people who have cancer and have undergone chemo because you both have short or non existent hair.
In her first article, Notkin says:
While I have not suffered from biological infertility (as far as I know), I imagined my grief was at least as deep as couples trying to conceive as I didn’t have a love who shared the grief. Heck, I often didn’t even have a date to get closer to trying! Every month that passed, I grieved a loss. But I grieved alone. I have no husband (or male partner) to grieve with me. And lamenting my infertility to close friends who are parents or to family was never well-received.
This paragraph misunderstands not only the basic parameters of infertility, but also misunderstands the role of the egg in reproduction. She was lamenting a loss each month? She imagines that her grief “was at least as deep as couple’s trying to conceive as I didn’t have a love who shared the grief,” but I doubt she ever took hormone pills or shots, was prodded day after day with an ultrasound wand or poked by needles. Furthermore, she never had to sit through the dread-inducing two week wait and wonder whether all of her efforts worked this time or not. The fact is that even on the emotional side, her grief (while it can be still very real) is not comparable because she wasn’t getting her hopes up month after month.
In her second column she talks about having her grief disenfranchised:
And not only do we grieve childlessness alone, with no partner to console us or share the grief, but society as a whole won’t let us grieve, as if we’ve brought it on ourselves by being unwilling to settle in love.
Again, she confuses childlessness with infertility. Infertility means that one has made many attempts at conceiving and bearing a child and has been unsuccessful. Childlessness means that you have no child. There are many different reasons for both conditions and while some overlap, in her instance they do not. Furthermore, she keeps harping on this issue of having someone with whom to share her grief. While I appreciate her grief and recognize it, I have trouble equating it with infertility when she has no idea whether or not she can get pregnant and stay pregnant. The fact is that it is her choice that she is childless right now—and while it may be a hard choice, it does not mean that it’s time to start co-opting the experience of someone else.
Sadly, Notkin’s stance is not too uncommon. It’s symptomatic of a culture where we feel the need to equate our own problems with that of another so we feel some sense of community. The problem with that, however, is that it diminishes the struggle of people truly dealing with the issue at hand. I have no doubt that Notkin and other women like her grieve in a very emotional and traumatic way. I respect every ounce of that grief. What I don’t respect is co-opting other people’s grief in order to give name to your own.
This is the kind of emotional finger pointing that will not get you any closer to acceptance either by yourself or by society. It will only diminish your own feelings for the chance to get a name to put on them. Life is hard enough without fighting against yourself. It’s too common in the infertile world, but it’s common in other places as well. It seems there’s an epidemic of co-opting others’ grief in order to name our own. When we see it, we need to put a stop to it. It’s not that we want the other person to stop grieving or feeling a loss. We just want them to stop diminishing our own.
No one has any business telling another what to feel. But we all have a responsibility of not equating the experiences of others with our own unless they truly are alike.
So, as an infertile, I’ll speak up and say how this infuriates me. And when someone does it to you, Ms. Notkin—when someone diminishes your experience by playing a “me too” horn when your experience is in a string quartet—I’d expect nothing less than for you to do it, too.
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The number of people on Facebook that have gotten knocked up and had their kids in the time we’ve been trying is just insanity. Some days I can shrug it off. Other days I want to cry in a corner.
Not fair, Universe. Not fair.
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I had eleven vials of blood drawn over a week ago now. The lab tech told me it would be one day for most of them and then a couple of days for the rest. I called my nurse to see what the hold up was yesterday and…guess what…she hasn’t called me back. I’m SHOCKED.
Yesterday afternoon was rough. A colleague had her baby and someone sent around an e-mail with the picture and a misleading subject line. I would have just marked it read if I knew what it was. Instead, there in front of me, was a child conceived after we started TTC and one who was conceived only a couple of months ahead of the twins. Not that I wish any ill will on this child, but how come she gets to make it and they didn’t. I started getting all pouty.
I’m enjoying my time off of actively TTC but damn if it’s not hard to take a break as well. I’m hoping by the end of August my feelings of bitterness and grief will start to fade some and I can refocus on things. But for now, it’s just a daily battle to keep from finding fault with every fertile person I see.
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…that I’d stop being jealous of people with babies
…that I’d stop cringing at every Facebook pregnancy announcement
…that I’d stop looking at baby bumps with envy
…that I could imagine my life without infertility treatments
…that I would stop being so bitter when I encounter people who have had no trouble getting pregnant
…that I could erase my irrational animosity for those who have gone through infertility, but haven’t had to deal with IVF, miscarriage, Male Factor Infertility or the like
…that I could get back all of the time I’ve spent searching Google for answers
…that I could stop checking to see where I’d be in my pregnancies if I hadn’t miscarried
…that I could put into words how this whole experience has changed me
But most of all I wish that even if I can’t do any of this, that one day I can be content with wherever the journey takes me…whether it’s the destination I chose or not.
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