Tuesday, August 2, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Fail

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

The pain of grief is indescribable, yet so easy to recognize once you've lived through it. All consuming at moments, leaving you struggling to breathe as you manage emotional wave after emotional wave. There are times where anything outside the grief seems unreal; that somehow it will lessen over time impossible. 

Like many who have spent there time in the trenches, I've vowed never to forget this pain. To be changed by it only for good. But also, now knowing what I know, to never inflict more pain on those dealing with grief. Somehow, because I've lived through my own, I would know how to navigate it with others.

Instead, I've failed big time.

Four years ago, we were in opposite situations. Though we were both diagnosed with infertility, her first round of IVF had resulted in a successful pregnancy and a take home baby. Meanwhile, I was struggling to make sense of two miscarriages, a failed FET and no road forward. In an effort to protect myself, I pulled away. I struggled with the anger and resentment of the unfairness of the situation.

Four years later, the situation is flipped. 

This past week, the Beats turned 3 yrs old. There was much celebration in the Grey/Cristy household for them reaching this milestone and both kids clearly enjoyed themselves, claiming the specialness that comes with having a day to celebrate solely for them. Ironically enough, the child of this friend was also celebrating their birthday. A party was planned and we were excited to attend.

The morning of the party, though, was also beta day for her. The final beta she would ever go through. Unlike the first time, she had been suffering from failed cycle after failed cycle and this was the final one. Grey and I knew that despite her cheerful nature and assurances that she was okay because she had her child, she was still hurting. We just didn't know how much.

The party was a fun one, with the Beats getting their first exposure to water balloons and squirt guns. Consumed with chasing two preschoolers, making sure they didn't cause too much damage or overly offend anyone, I didn't have much time to interact with my friend. Grey and I also talked about giving her space, not wanting to trigger her during a day of celebration for her son.

It wasn't until we were in the car home that I realized how stupid that reasoning was. When Grey looked at me with concern in his eyes and told me he had never seen her hurt so much. Text messages were sent letting both her and her husband know we were sorry and thinking of them. But I also know that I've failed her big time. That despite knowing the pain of grief, I completely flopped at being the support she needs.

The past few days I've been kicking myself. I know first hand all the things not to do, but I'm also at a lost on how to be the support she needs. Because unlike my situation, she doesn't get to resolve infertility with the family she wanted. The younger sibling for her son and the chance to go through pregnancy/childbirth won't be a reality. Sure, we could offer options (adoption/donor gametes/embryo adoption), but I know too well how difficult and personal those choices are. I also know that she needs time to grieve this loss. The question now is how to do that. All while being humbled about the fact that I don't have the answers on how to help her navigate this. How to undo my role in adding to her pain. How to rectify failing to support her when she most needed it.


  1. Christy,
    Thank you so much for your raw truth. I have passed your link on to several of my students having fertility, or bringing to full term, problems, as well as not knowing how to engage friends and family for the support they need.

    I hope you find your way to self-forgiveness soon; you'll have so much to offer in the way of loving kindness and support when you do.

    Thank you, JeanMarie Murphy

  2. It is so hard, but I think there are no perfect answers. It's not as if you will be able to find that one thing that if done will make everything okay. Everything is not okay, and maybe that's just it. You have to sit with her while it's not okay. And maybe bring ice cream. Or give her a break with her husband so they can go out and mourn this without having to hold it together for their kid.

  3. I have made a lot more mistakes when it comes to supporting people who are hurting because of IF and/or loss than I'd care to admit. It's definitely hard to forgive ourselves when we blunder, but I hope you can show yourself the compassion you would surely show someone else that might make a similar mistake. {{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}

  4. This would be a really, really tough situation to navigate for anyone. Plus, coming up with the right thing to say can be so hard. The fact that you followed up with her after the fact says a lot about who you are as a person. Please try not to to beat yourself up. You're only human.

    Be present and available to support her and let her guide how she wants that to happen (and she might not want it at all).

  5. *hugs* We all have hiccups from time to time. You've acknowledged that you dropped the ball for a short bit here to us, have you done the same to your friend? I am sure she will forgive you and embrace you and want to be embraced back. Go easy on yourself.

  6. I'm not sure you "added to her pain." Although I would want my friends to be available for me to talk to, I wouldn't want to do it at my daughter's birthday party. When I'm struggling to hold it together in "public" is not the time I want a shoulder to cry on - I want that shoulder in private moments. Obviously you know your friend best, but I'm hoping she felt as I do and that she wasn't the least bit troubled by the lack of conversation at the party but would appreciate your shoulder now.

  7. Sorry about your rough day (and your friend's). I tend to agree with the commenter who said that the party might not have been the best time to offer support, as your friend was probably trying to hold it together. While you might regret not saying something at the time, even just to acknowledge, I don't see how it's too late to do that now. People need support after the initial blow: it can take a few days or weeks to settle in....or even longer. Sometimes they need support MORE after the initial event: at first a person's numbing instincts can protect them a little, but when they've lived with the reality for a while, that can hurt even more. So, reach out, even imperfectly, see how she responds. Even though you can't 100% relate you can probably still relate more than many other people she knows.

  8. Oh, this is so hard. I think it really speaks to your incredible empathy that you are ruminating on it so much, that you are thinking on how you could have done more for your friend and what you could possibly say at this point that would be helpful to her. I know for myself that sometimes I wanted space and sometimes I wanted people to notice how sad I was, and while acknowledging that people aren't psychic there was often no real good way to go with me other than to just say something. I think just letting her know that you are there for her and following up with invitations to coffee or some other feasible in-person way to talk would be good. You can't know what she was thinking at the party (unless you've asked her) and you can't know if she feels as failed as you feel that you failed her. It's tricky. You are a great friend for thinking through this so much and I'm sure you will find a way to connect with your friend at this sad time and lift her up in whatever way she'll find helpful, even if it wasn't on the actual day.

  9. I have only two things to offer. 1: be gentle with yourself, for your intentions are loving. And 2: simply abide. Which I know you are really good at <3

  10. I also agree that maybe the party wasn't the time to be heart-to-heart supportive, so don't be so hard on yourself. Besides, in my experience, I needed support in the days and weeks afterwards, when the reality sinks in, rather than in the first day or two of bad news. Being there as an ear and shoulder to cry on when she's ready is a wonderful thing to do. Let her know you're available took do that.

    I know you won't offer the alternative options. You know she knows them already, and will have thought about them - or will be thinking of them now. She'll raise them with you if she wants to talk about them.

  11. Definitely a tricky situation. It truly sounds like you picked up the pieces well all things considered - let her know that you were thinking of her, that you felt you'd dropped the ball, and that you were available to support. Like others have said, she's got the chance now to let you know what she needs - and that, at least in my experience, is really helpful. It was wonderful when people let me tell them what I needed instead of assuming and were available after that initial shock and awfulness.


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