In the spirit of “Infertility Uncovered”, this year’s Canadian Infertility Awareness Week theme, I’m sharing an excerpt from a blog post I wrote many moons ago during my own battle with infertility. It makes me happy to see that so many people are telling their infertility stories now. It really wasn’t such an open topic when I was on that journey, and I sought support and comfort in blogging and connecting with other women who were also sharing their story through blogs.
Infertility and pregnancy loss was the most difficult thing I have every survived in my life. If you are struggling, I’d love to hear your story and walk beside you as you navigate this treacherous storm. For now, I hope this blog post helps the person who needs to read these words today.
This is the 3oth month that we’ve failed, yet again, to make a baby.
I read somewhere, that the grief felt with infertility is akin to the grief felt when a sibling dies. That was one of the most validating statements anyone has ever made to me. Every month, I grieve. But it’s not like losing a loved one. Because eventually, there is an acceptance that the loved one is gone and life must continue with them only in our memories. The intensity of the sadness gets better with time. With infertility, it’s a loss of something I never got to know. And then it’s time to get right back on the bike and ride again. A new cycle, a new chance, and ultimately a new failure. Lather, rinse, repeat. And it seems as though each lost cycle is harder than the last.
I also think it’s different because infertility grief is invisible to most of the people who surround us. When you lose a loved one, people know about it and they say things like “I’m so sorry for your loss”. We send them cards and flowers and casseroles or whatever — the translation is: we see your grief and we’re sorry you have to feel this way. It’s normal. People die. It’s a normal, lived experience. People know how to respond (even if it’s awkward for most of us) when someone dies, because we comprehend it. We understand it. Most of us have experienced the death of someone.
People don’t know what to say about infertility…. if we’ve even bothered to share our journey at all. So many couples don’t tell the people in their world what they are going through, so the grief is completely invisible. I write this blog so the people closest to me can read and try to understand, but it still makes them uncomfortable and so they say nothing at all most times. I don’t even think my husband truly understands the grief I feel each month. Sure, he has his own grief but it’s different.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross developed the Five Stages of Grief model…. if you’ll allow me to get all social work-y for a moment. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I think I cycle through this every month.
Denial – This will be our month. This time it will work. Nope, those aren’t PMS symptoms, they are pregnancy symptoms. That drop in temp? That’s just an implantation dip… just a few days overdue. That spotting? Well it can’t possibly be my period. Maybe it will stop. That BFN — well maybe there’s not enough HCG yet.
Anger – Goddamnit. Why me? Why is this happening again?! What did I do to deserve this? And this is usually where I get a major case of the self-destructive ‘fuck-its’ too.
Bargaining – Please God or the Universe or Mother Nature or whoever is in charge, please just let this be the month I’m pregnant. Please? I’ll be a better person… please?
Depression – ‘Nuff said. Usually involves isolation, crying and chocolate. And hatred of happy, fertile friends and people in general.
Acceptance – This month is over. Time to start again. Maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this is our month. This has to be our month…..