Emotional Reflections: Stages of Grief through Infertility
So we had a detailed 15 week scan with a MFM doc and all looks great. Was so much fun to see little man wiggling around and all his little features that are getting more and more pronounced as the days go on. We finally felt a bit more of the relief I had been looking for.
I’ve shed a few tears since that day. Happy tears. As I reflected on all of my years struggling to conceive, and as I really absorbed and acknowledged I was in the second trimester, I felt overwhelming in the best way possible. I finally made it! I am pregnant, and actually believing it will lead to a baby. It was the first time I allowed myself to truly be excited, and it was such a euphoric moment. But I still remember and feel the pain like it was yesterday, and in a sense it allows me to be more than happy. I feel eternally blessed, and immensely indescribably grateful.
When we first started trying to get pregnant I had these images of what our experience would be like. Maybe we’d try a few months… I’d secretly test and surprise Eric with the news in some cute memorable way. Well, as the months dragged on, the doubt started to creep in. At that time though, I think the doubt was more about how long it would take, and doubt of me having the image in my head come to fruition. I don’t think I yet considered it never happening for us. In that first year I was still certain I was meant to be a mom, and this was going to happen for us, and soon! I was in the first stage of grief for much of that first year. Shock that it wasn’t happening, and denial that it wouldn’t.
When we were finally referred to a fertility clinic a new picture was formed in my head. We underwent test after test and both Eric and I dealt with a lot of guilt and pain. Was it him? Was it me? Was it both of us? The blame game gets you nowhere, but in a way you hope it’s the other person’s “fault” so you don’t have to feel the guilt and pain of letting them down. You’ve already let yourself down in so many ways, it feels, you can’t handle that burden too. I’d overcome infertility. I’d go through treatments like the strong woman I am, and come out a winner. I’d defeat these obstacles… with some doctors help of course. The fertility specialists reiterated that nothing was wrong with us, and that this WOULD work. The first round failed. I was angry and pointing fingers. The doctor who did the transfer messed up. Our fertility doctor should have given us a different protocol. As we set on course for our second transfer, a frozen cycle, we moved into bargaining. We tried to control, “fix” and learn as much as we could from the last cycle in order to be successful. I made changes, we opted to put 2 day 5 embryos in despite doctor’s advice. If I put two in maybe I’ll be more successful. Another failed round later they were as confused as we were. My hope and faith were gone.
There is no way around it. When that cycle failed I was depressed. We took a long break from treatment and I tried to find purpose in my life again. Everything had become about fertility and I was very tired. All of my friends around me were moving on, and it became increasingly difficult to be around happy people. I wanted a change. I needed a change. As fate would have it, an opportunity came about for us to move and start a new life. We jumped on it.
Once settled in our new life in New York, we made the decision to push forward in our goals of parenthood. It’s an odd thing, pursuing treatments that you don’t necessarily believe will work. We still had very little hope. We were still in a sense depressed. As we met with a new clinic and a new doctor we moved into the testing phase. This would be our last attempt, and more than a hopeful one, it was really a “go through the motions” process of moving towards accepting our fate (which I at least thought to be inevitable at the time). We went through so much without any shred of certainty. Our experiences had taught us otherwise. A shred of hope could be found as new techniques by a new doctor were being applied. A textbook cycle, perfect in all ways, but yet still no success. This was the moment we had to really begin to accept that this may never happen for us.
That’s a very very hard thing to process, acceptance. Motherhood, something so many women take for granted, something so many women assume is their god given right. For me… I may never experience. If I was going to experience it, I had to accept it wasn’t in the way I hoped or imagined for myself. I began to process these emotions, picturing motherhood through adoption. The thing about infertility is you aren’t on this journey alone. There are two people, two sets of emotions, two distinct separate paths through the stages of grief even. I thought Eric and I had been moving through them at the same pace, but we hadn’t been. We went through a difficult patch trying to understand why were weren’t on the same page. I was ready to pursue adoption and became increasingly frustrated that he wasn’t on board. He hadn’t really ever gotten past bargaining. He still held onto hope this would happen for us.
The baby boy nestled in my uterus right now is a direct result of Eric’s persistence. He in no way forced me to undergo another cycle. In fact, through our discussions he began to work through and become excited for the adoption process. But I decided I could find the strength to do another cycle. Not just for him, but for us. This would be the last cycle for now, and I was clear on my expectation beyond that point.
Somehow, by miracle, our final cycle worked. The funny thing is, I began that cycle with a refreshed attitude. I made the deliberate decision to BELIEVE it could work. BELIEVE it WOULD work. And it did. I’m not saying that I willed it to happen, but I think the fact that I had worked through the stages of grief fully before trying this final attempt, allowed me to enter into it with an open heart…something I hadn’t been able to do for the years past.
So now sitting here, writing this, I become emotional because a dream I set out to achieve five years ago is finally coming to fruition. It hasn’t been easy by any means. It has been the most challenging five years of my entire life. But as I’ve said in posts before, I’ve learned a lot and gained a lot in the process. For all of it, I am grateful.