Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trying to Go from Raw to Numb

I was not prepared for how a second failure would affect me. I knew, from the kernel of doubt that I tried to acknowledge and then promptly ignore, that it was possible. I just didn't at all think it would happen this time. And now I am left with a problem. I just don't seem to know how to pick up the pieces. To be fair, this just happened day before yesterday, so I have a right to be a shattered mess for a little while. It should be expected. You don't just "get over it." You can't realistically be expected to turn that frown upside down and mourn for a day, then go back to being upbeat and hopeful. My hope stores have taken a massive hit.

The problem is, I viewed IVF as our silver bullet. And it might still be, it's just a really, really slow-moving bullet. In vitro fertilization was presented as our #1 chance to get pregnant. I just thought it would happen a little more....immediately than this. Especially since everyone on our team has been so positive about our chances with IVF, it gets more and more shocking to me when it fails. Bryce and I both said the same thing to different people this weekend--each failed cycle compounds the disappointment and loss like a Richter scale. It's not linear, it's exponential. We can't forget that we still have at best a 50% chance of conceiving with IVF, and we just keep falling in the wrong 50%. Eventually if you flip a coin over and over you will stop getting all tails and get heads. But how many flips? Three? Four? Or are we like Celine Dion, who took six IVF attempts to get her beautiful twin boys? I would hope since I'm 34 and she's in her 40s that wouldn't be the case, but it seems logic and common sense are lost on this particular scenario.

It's so hard because I want to think about and plan for our next IVF, but I just don't have the emotional, physical, or financial bandwidth to do it right now. This loss is still too raw. So instead I am left examining everything that happened--what did I do wrong? What part of my body is failing me? Are our embryos unhappy in my uterus? Is my uterus somehow toxic? Are our embryos sad little deteriorating things that just stop growing after transfer? Are my eggs somehow allergic to Bryce's sperm? Do they combine ok in the dish but then implode upon getting back to the mothership? Is there something I could have done differently, despite all the measures I took to be the model infertility patient? I took Tylenol PM when I had migraines during my two week wait. Was the PM part not embryo-friendly? Were the migraines a sign of something ominous to come? The what-ifs just keep coming. And I might not get all the answers I want...they just might not exist.

I am sad and angry. And yes, our stockings are still hanging.
Which brings me to my state of mind. I thought maybe I would be a little more ok today. I'm not. If anything I'm worse. I feel lost and helpless and and like I'm grieving a death. I feel a little like I'm dying inside, bit by bit, each failed cycle that we have. Is getting pregnant even possible? I've never been--not once. Forgive me, friends who have suffered pregnancy losses, but I almost feel like I would rather have gotten pregnant and have lost it early--then at least I would know I could get pregnant. And it would be more recognizable as a loss. Because this feels like a horrific loss. It's horrible because each time it's a little more loss of a dream. It chips away at my confidence that this will work at some point. It makes me wonder if my dream of biological parenthood is at all realistic. I cry for no reason. I cry for many good reasons. I'm angry at the unfairness of it all, and I have no one to lash out at but the people and critters who are close to me and trying to comfort me. I've been snippy and rude. I've accused Bryce of not being positive enough--of being negative as a protective mechanism but then causing the good baby juju to pass us by because we were a conflicted household in terms of attitude. (That is definitely not fair of me...Bryce was actually the most positive he's been on this cycle. He is devastated too, and all the consoling is directed at me.) It's just all so...raw. My crying is visceral. My throat is sore from the keening and screaming. My ribs hurt from the wracking sobs. I felt panicky in public today and barely survived a trip to Wegmans. I am dreading going to school tomorrow and facing people who knew I was going through this but don't know yet it didn't work out because I avoided as many people as possible on Friday once I knew. I am dreading pretending to be normal when I'm not. I am dreading feeling like I have to console other people who are disappointed for me or who are uncomfortable by my intense sadness and need to hear me say "I'm ok." I'm not. I struggle with that question: "How are you?" It seems so simple. Your knee-jerk response is "I'm ok!" and I can't do it. I pause awkwardly. I think for a minute. "I'm surviving" sounds melodramatic (but not far off the mark). But "I'm not ok" seems to elicit suicide-watch responses. Trust me, I am not going to start secretly cutting or burning myself. I'm not going to drown myself in the deep-soak tub I am now free to use without worrying about parboiling my unborn children. I am royally pissed off at my body, but I do want it to conceive and get pregnant, and self-destructive behavior is not conducive to those goals. But emotionally, mentally--I am decidedly not ok. I am not public-ready. And unfortunately, I have to be.

So, my goal for this week is to cross over from raw to numb. I want to move from feeling everything to feeling not so much anymore. I want the question "How are you doing? Are you ok?" to not freeze my mental processes because I just don't know how to answer it. I want to be past this immense sense of loss and sadness and rage at the inequities of baby distribution in this world. I want to be able to handle walking through the picture frame section of Michael's Crafts without having an anxiety attack that leaves me hyperventilating and walking to the car with my coat wide open because I feel constricted in every way. (Why, why, why must they put babies in most of the frames? The one I bought had flowers pictured. Nice, neutral, universally attractive flowers.) I want to be in a place where the look of my face or posture of my body doesn't prompt my husband to ask, "What can I do to help you?" Because right now, there's nothing that anyone can do but take an interest. And understand when I don't know how to answer, "Are you ok?"


  1. Oh hon! {hughughug}

    "I'm coping"
    "I'm working on it"
    "not so great"

    It's okay to not be okay. I just wish I could be there and feed you some gluten-free tasty something (because I'm assuming wine is not preferable on this journey...but honestly, what do I know since I apparently got pregnant from a water cooler or something.)

    I had myself a lovely little breakdown over a friends beautiful new baby...that longing just doesn't go away.

    You're gonna do this. it will happen. Your body won't DARE deny you much longer!


  2. Beautifully said my dear. I am here for you for what ever you need, that is, minus the good sperm.

  3. You're such a loving, wonderful couple meant to be together under any and all conditions. Get some much needed and deserve rest and keep the faith. Love, Mom