Growing up as a person possessing a uterus I was given the clear message that I could be impregnated at the drop of a hat (drop of a sperm?). As someone with an irregular menstrual cycle there were many hurried trips to the drug store to purchase a pregnancy test that I hoped was going to be negative. There was always that sigh of relief when it was negative. I know this experience was shared by many of my friends. Not everyone was so lucky to be able to breath that sigh of relief, tough decisions had to be made.
Now a negative pregnancy test meant failure, another month of hoping.
Somewhere along the way the conversation started to shift. Now a negative pregnancy test meant failure, another month of hoping. I watched so many friends go through the cycle of hope and despair. Sometimes there was the elation of a positive test then the worry of a miscarriage replaced the joy. When miscarriages did occur the deep sadness of loss would take over. Sometimes, it all worked out and 9 months later a new little being entered the world.
No bottle of wine and date night for us, we had to jump right into the deep end of conception.
My story is a little different. Due to my husband’s history with testicular cancer our first and only option was in vitro fertilization (IVF). No bottle of wine and date night for us, we had to jump right into the deep end of conception. I am not good at doing things half way and that proved true for IVF.
I could feel the doctor cutting the eggs out of my body but I could not move or talk.
Within the space of a year I went through three egg stimulation cycles, which takes about two and a half months. Two and a half months of self-administered shots, complicated medication regimens and mood swings. One of those cycles the eggs were a no show. I survived two egg extractions, during the second egg extraction procedure I was not given enough anesthesia and I could feel the doctor cutting the eggs out of my body but I could not move or talk. I remember in that instance my head swimming with pain and confusion I reminded myself that this pain was for my future baby, this was how I helped myself make it through. After that procedure I knew this was my last round of IVF. I could not trust my doctor or his team. So whatever embryos resulted from that procedure were my last chance at a biological child.
On the morning February 11, 2019 my wished for little boy embryo was placed into my body.
One embryo resulted, it was a boy. On the morning February 11, 2019 my wished for little boy embryo was placed into my body. Then the waiting began. I waited ten loooooong days waiting to take the blood test that would tell me if my life was forever changed. During those 10 days I was hyper attuned to my body. Every twinge felt like a potential sign of pregnancy. On day 10 I took the blood test and waited to hear from my doctor’s office. The news was not good. I was not pregnant.
I am realizing that IVF has changed my life even though nothing has changed at all.
I thought that a positive result and subsequent child would be the only way my life would be forever changed. During this long year of soul searching, anger, extreme sadness, and feelings of purposelessness I am realizing that IVF has changed my life even though nothing has changed at all.
I just have to keep breathing.
I am finding myself in a circumstance in which I can’t work harder to change things. I must accept what is. I don’t like that. I hate that so much. I found myself deeply depressed after the holidays. I laid in bed for three days feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in a sense of purposelessness. At the end of the three days I came to two conclusions. One, I don’t know the future. If you had told me five years ago what these last five years would look like I don’t know if I would have believed you. So the same will likely be true five years from now. I don’t know what is coming. The second realization is that I just have to keep breathing. That is the only thing I need to do. There is no clear task to be done or goal to achieve right now. I just have to breath. Life will arrive as long as I am alive to receive it.
I love hanging out with my friends and their children and sometimes that is really painful.
I hate letting go. I am so bad at it. My therapist would confirm this to be true. But I’m working on it. I’m realizing there can be beauty in letting go. The grief is not over, I know that, but it does feel more manageable. I am triggered all the time, but I am less judgmental about it or surprised by it. I love hanging out with my friends and their children and sometimes that is really painful. I’d rather be a part of their lives than avoid the pain.
Your grief does not have to be fertility related to understand the profound experience of losing a future you thought you had.
It is an accomplishment that I have lived to see another February 11. I still don’t know what my life has in store next but I guess I am more open to the discovery process. Grief can be a dark lonely place. I am sharing my very personal messy journey to let you know you are not alone. Your grief does not have to be fertility related to understand the profound experience of losing a future you thought you had.
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