Tossed BCPs in 2010 and began the roller-coaster that is TTC (and am now throughly convinced that Valium should be included with all prenatal vitamins, OPKs, BBTs, HPTs, etc). Diagnosed with unexplained infertility in 2011 and began 3 rounds of Clomid + IUIs in the summer of 2011, all of which were BFNs. Our REs immediately recommended IVF and we went through our first round in December 2011. Exited 2011 with a BFP and hope for the future, woke up on Jan. 1, 2012 to learn something was wrong. Diagnosed with a blighted ovum on Jan 11 and underwent a D&C. First FET was March 2012, which resulted in a BFP and increasingly high betas. A few days later, started to bleed and cramping, despite betas climbing. Our April Fool's day present was a diagnosis of a completed miscarriage and an explanation of "bad luck." FET #2 was in June 2012 which resulted in a BFN and me completely losing faith in the process. Stopped treatments with the intention of pursuing adoption. After lots of research and finding an agency, we learned that no agency would work with us as there was the possibility we would be moving within a year. Also told that "we were young and had time." Cue more grieving and finding a marriage counselor to help my husband Grey and I handle the emotional backdraft. Began researching living as a family of two (aka childfree living) and healing our marriage.
July 2012, met up with a good friend (Jay @ the2weekwait.blogspot.com) who works for Fertility Authority for lunch, which turns into a very candid discussion. She offers to have FA review our case and see if they can find another RE for a second opinion. After much internal debate, I agree and within a week have an appointment with a new RE. New RE decides that given my history, doing a RPL panel would be useful. October 2012 we receive a possible explanation for all our years of heartache: I get a tentative diagnosis of Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome. New RE pitches new treatment plan and after much more internal debate, meltdowns and literally cursing the universe, Grey and I agree for one final FET with our last two embryos. Following many months of intense therapy and oodles of support from people in this community we transferred two hatching embryos on Jan 2, 2013. Today I am just shy of 32 weeks pregnant with our miracle twins, the SugarBeats.
Grief. Defined as a multifaceted response to loss that has emotional, physical, cognitive, behavioral and even philosophical dimensions. Grief is something that our society is ill-equipped at dealing with, with the modern age pressuring its citizens to push off what minimal social customs we have to deal with it in favor of ignoring the issue at hand. Hence, actually dealing with grief requires time, energy and whole hell of a lot of help.
Back in 2010, I began to explore the different aspects of grief as I was dealing with therapists who where having extreme difficulty in understand why each BFN was leading to a meltdown (side-note: it's for this reason that I sincerely believe that anyone living with infertility/loss needs to find a therapist who specializes in these issues as most therapists are utterly worthless if not down-right destructive to the person dealing with this life trauma. RESOLVE has a fantastic directory of professionals who specialize in mental health and infertility/RPL). It wasn't long before I stumbled upon the Kubler-Ross model, commonly known as "the 5 stages of grief." The whole premise of the model is simple: when a person faces the reality of a life trauma, be it impeding death, morality or other awful fate, they will experience a series of emotional stages: denial/shock, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The amount of time one can spend in each of these stages varies, with some quickly skipping through one stage while spending a great deal of time in another. Also these stages are not linear, allowing for a person to cycle back. For me personally, I spent a lot of time emotionally swinging between anger and depression while I flew through denial/shock and bargaining. Hence I've been a pretty pissed off individual during this journey and anger/despair has been a continual theme of therapy.
The stage I didn't start to explore until last summer was acceptance. For 6 months, I read, analyzed and struggled with acceptance of infertility and our losses. There were many meltdowns that happened during this time, with days where I truly wondered if I would come apart at the seams. But I also knew that I was long overdue with this part of the process. And so I worked hard to confront the Jabberwocky in my life and finally came to the realization that in order to be at peace, I needed to stop fighting everything around me.
And then, I stopped. Partly because I thought I had achieved my goal. Partly because I found myself in an unexpected place with a pregnancy that was progressing. Instead I did the thing many infertiles and RPLers do and began mentally checking off the days to each milestone. I braced myself for the worse to happen and tried to live each moment of this experience out of fear that it could easily be gone at any moment.
It wasn't hard to be this way as I had encouragement from the outside world. For the first time in 3 years, people were no longer afraid to reach out and support us. But what was unspoken was this assumption that it was safe to do so because we were finally cured of our infertility. That with this pregnancy progressing, not only would there be babies to "oh" and "ah" over, but that the scars and the pain would magically be washed away.
There's a hard truth with dealing with infertility/RPL that so many struggle to accept, mainly because it seems to counter-intuitive to the journey. It's a truth that seems unnatural and goes against the longing we feel in our hearts. It's a truth that until last summer would have brought fresh tears to my eyes, causing me to rage and I would have been the first to reject.
The truth is carrying a pregnancy to term will not cure you of infertility or loss. That despite the fact that we struggle so hard to achieve this one goal, thus overcoming the physical definition of infertility, healing does not come simply by bringing home a baby.
I know what you're thinking: isn't that the whole point of fertility treatments? Isn't this why so many suffer through the medications, the physical discomforts and even allow themselves to hope for a future of holding their children? The problem with this assumption is that it sticks the burden of healing directly on the child instead of forcing the individual who has lived through the trauma to confront their grief. It's also part of a bigger issue in our society, where the idea that having a baby is to cure all the other aliments of life, such as chronic unhappiness, repairing/salvaging a marriage/relationship, giving someone a purpose or even allowing someone to finally feel loved. Though it is a natural assumption that pregnancy will heal infertility/loss, it's one that ultimate inhibits healing. I can't begin to tell you the number stories I've heard from ALIers who are parenting who still feel resentment and acute pain following a pregnancy announcement. Those that talk about strife in their relationship despite finally parenting. Those that still have panic attacks over losses that happened years ago or feel a strong sense that they are still somehow unworthy.
During my time exploring the adoption and "childfree" living literature, I found that this issue was tackled directly and productively. Hence, though these routes are not the way the majority of us on this road will resolve, there is an advantage to these paths of resolution as working through grief and ultimately acceptance is key in order to be successful. Sadly, it's something that I think is also easily ignored for anyone resolving through pregnancy after infertility/loss.
All of this came to a head for me this past week. Last week, after Grey had a long discussion with Lucas about my anger towards him, the letter that David, Grey and I have been working on was sent out. To his credit, Lucas sent an incredibly thoughtful and controlled response instead of simply shooting back a nasty email. He has anger too over the last few years and it's clear that we both have a lot of work ahead of us mending this bridge. But what got to me was his final sentence.
Finally, leaving these issues aside, my wife and I want you to know that we are very happy and excited for you and Grey, and the two little one that are about to arrive.And with that well-intentioned and sincere sentence, I found myself hyperventilating and fighting a powerful and primal urge to run away from everyone and everything in the world. To simply disappear with the Beats.
Dee and I had a long, tearful conversation about this yesterday, during which time it became incredibly clear that I still haven't finished this last part of the grieving process. Granted I fully accept that I though I will forever identify as being infertile that life will still be okay, but what I haven't done is detach the trauma from the Beats. To take the necessary steps to ensure that dysfunctional patterns will cease with me so that they can truly live their lives unburdened and free.
Today, I'm mustering the courage to confront the Jabberwocky. To look it dead in the eyes and actually understand why I am so afraid. Part of this process involves me actually giving in to a good friend who really wants to throw a baby shower. Part of it involves me setting aside my pride and admitting that Grey and I desperately need help. And the other part involves responding to Lucas's letter, taking the time and care to acknowledge how my past actions and behaviors have lead us to the standoff we are at today. But the biggest part is also no longer allowing the fear of acceptance to prevent me from embracing it. To finally give in to all that has happened and allowing healing to final be completed.