I decided to write on this blog about infertility for a few reasons. Most close friends and family already knew we wanted to start a family ASAP, so most of them would already assume we were having trouble conceiving. Sharing what was going on might help me avoid “When are you going to finally have kids?”, even if it brought on different kinds of hurtful comments (it did). I also had high hopes reading about my experience would help someone else. And maybe (hopefully) it did. But now, I honestly feel like I did them a disservice.
You see, most of the time when I wrote, I did so when I was feeling okay. I wrote when I had a burst of positivity. Even if I didn’t, I edited when I was feeling alright. I didn’t want this to be a place of sadness; I wanted it to be a place of hope. Now, after success, I realize, that wasn’t right. Because there’s nothing positive about infertility, except overcoming it.
Reading infertility forums, and connecting with other women who have gone through the same things I have (and sometimes much more), I often see the same sentiment echoed after several tries have failed: I want to feel hopeful and excited, but I just feel numb. Many even feel like feeling negative will result in a negative pregnancy test. We feel this strange obligation to ourselves, our not yet conceived children, and everyone around us, to be positive. Even the people close to us encourage us to have a positive attitude. I remember Tim feeling frustrated with my negativity and lack of hope. That’s perfectly normal, and I can’t blame him in the slightest. But I needed to allow myself to express my feelings, even if they were extremely negative.
Many (even I’m guilty of this) referred to this whole process as a “journey”. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But to me, it was more like a living hell. A nightmare I couldn’t wake up from.
There were several times I wanted to give up. I wanted to give up after the Clomid didn’t work. I wanted to give up after the first IUI didn’t work. I wasn’t even completely sure if I wanted to give IVF a shot. And I really wanted to give up after it didn’t work the first time. Because while I knew statistically, if we kept trying, the chances of success increased, my heart could not believe it would happen.
I was angry. I was bitter. I was consumed. Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe not. Maybe both. I screamed, I cried, I felt like crap, and the medications made all of it worse.
Sometimes, before we started a new course of treatment, I felt a glimmer of hope. But here’s the problem: having hope means you can lose it.
After all the injections, all the side effects, and the pain after the egg retrieval, I was devastated when it didn’t work. I’d even prepared myself, and I knew the home pregnancy test was negative. But it didn’t stop me from completely breaking down after the call from the doctor. I don’t remember how many nights I cried. I only know when I stopped, I felt numb.
There’s something very strange about continuing to try while feeling numb. You don’t feel like you’re trying; you’re only going through the motions. You don’t think it will work, and you no longer have much hope, if any at all. I started to accept the fact that I may not ever carry my own child, and started to think about what life would be like if I didn’t. Would we adopt? Would our marriage survive? Would we argue about if we should keep trying? Could I even try again?
I knew my heart was safeguarding itself. It couldn’t take another one of those phone calls. But there I was, doing injections, preparing for another transfer. It was surreal.
I doubted whether or not I’d do the transfer all the way up until I was in the car on the way to the lab. And then I felt guilty. I was allowing this to happen, when my heart wasn’t in it. I still couldn’t find that hope, but I couldn’t stop myself from doing it, either. Because I still wanted to try, even though I didn’t, at the same time.
Right before the embryo transfer, my husband grabbed my hand and said, “You could be pregnant today!” I nodded slightly and turned away. I couldn’t get my hopes up again. The nurse smiled at me. She told me how great the embryo looked. She was being positive for me. I felt so guilty that I couldn’t be as positive as they were for my potential future child.
But it didn’t matter. My feelings didn’t change whether or not it would work. Five days later, the home pregnancy test read positive.
Infertility, and the treatments, can break you. They, along with the continued disappointment and feelings of personal failure, can make you lose all hope and excitement. A positive attitude can help anything, but having one isn’t always possible.
Having a negative attitude isn’t going to make the pregnancy test negative. It’s not going to change the outcome. Grieve if you need to. Cry if you need to. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve lost hope. All those feelings are normal.
It’s okay to feel your feelings. Even if you’re angry. Or you’re broken. Or you’re numb.