Living with infertility is such an emotional rollercoaster ride, although there are many more downs than ups. Again, never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd be the lucky ones who get to understand firsthand what this disease means. As a therapist I can appreciate that there are so many horrible and debilitating diseases out there that I'm grateful I don't have. I think the hardest thing, besides not being able to hold your dream in your arms, is that it's a silent disease. If I had a limp, a cane or a walker (and trust me I'm grateful I don't), people would see my struggles in some way and could possibly begin to process my pain. The pain of any disease goes far past the physical. It's hard living with something that no one knows you are suffering with, and few who understand and can relate.
When someone close to you dies, it's acknowledged by society as a loss. There are rituals around this kind of loss: cards or flowers are sent, people verbalize their condolences, we have funerals to try to finalize our loss and say goodbye, and usually there is never an "expected" timeframe to recover from this loss. It's hard for people to understand how significant the loss is with infertility, likely because there was never anything tangible that you could touch or hold in your hands. But that's exactly the point....we wanted this baby for so long, dreamed so much, and prayed so hard for it and it never came true. We envisioned ourselves as parents our entire lives, got married with that exact intention, and now must say goodbye to our dreams and future. Again, I doubt that anyone with children can argue the impact they have on our lives. Lives are forever changed with children and I will never get to experience the joy of that. No one sends cards each failed month, no one sends flowers, there are no rituals to help me grieve my loss (albeit several people say they are sorry), I'm expected to report to work and function as if nothing ever happened, like my loss is insignificant .... and some are too scared to say anything at all. With each loss I have, life around me goes on as normal when mine has skidded to a complete standstill. I don't get to pull out the "loss card" when I'm having a bad day like someone who has lost someone does. Try explaining why you're sobbing because you've just gotten your period for the umteenth time, why you breakdown at Walmart when you have to buy tampons, why a simple trip out in public when you see a pregnant woman can cause you to spiral out of control. I rarely get to use this excuse because most people expect me to move on quickly, don't know or don't understand what's going on. With each loss I'm still expected to "have hope". This really irks me, makes me realize few really understand the impact this has on our lives, isolates me and frankly hurts my feelings. How many times have I heard "don't lose hope", "you just never know", or "keep the faith"? SOOOO many. While I don't want to seem overly pessimistic, it can be true but likely not the case for every infertile couple. But these comments, while I know aren't meant to hurt my feelings, don't bring me our baby. Please understand that I've heard them the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that,and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and......are you getting the idea? Again while a small part of that could be true, the reality is that it's likely not and sometimes these seem like broken promises no one can deliver to us. We are expected to wait and pine over something that may never happen, while remaining happy and living our lives to the fullest. That seems like an oxymoron. While I'm not giving up quite yet I still can't live in the land where everything is guaranteed to work out....because I know all too well it may never. While I don't want to give up on us and want people to help us understand there could be a small glimmer of hope, I also need people to be real with me and to sit with my discomfort instead of trying to wipe it away and "fix" it. It seems like a tall order. I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't hopeful, but nothing is guaranteed.
To put it into perspective how I feel sometimes, it's like someone who just gets told that they have no other options. There is no more chemo that will work, no more surgeries that can correct their problem or save them. We've been told that there are no other options for us. IVF IS our last chance to have a biological child and we sure as heck can't afford adoption (like that will also fix my innate desire to give birth to my own). We have hit the end of the road. Would you say to someone who was just told that there will be no other treatments for their cancer or disease to "just have hope", "maybe they'll be a cure next month", "it could happen", etc? I sure hope not. That seems pretty insensitive and trivializes things a great deal. Life threatening or not, most would say they are sorry, let the person sit with their emotions and just try to be there for them. Yet I hear these things all the time, I hear advice, people always want to fix us. In my eyes, as the person who has to deal with the heartbreaks each treatment, it IS the same. I may not be physically dying but emotionally I am a great deal. I guess that doesn't warrant the same treatment.
If we fail this next IVF, we likely have to give up our quest for parenthood. Yeah we're emotionally exhausted, but I know we could push more.....sadly it's our paychecks and pocketbooks that are holding us back. It just doesn't seem fair. I'm NOT ready to give up fighting, yet money dictates that I do. With biological clocks being VERY real, it's a big deal. I SO wish we made alot of money....but we don't. I SO wish that people who suffocate their babies and hide them in toilet tanks (headline news last week) couldn't have them and I could. Some people have said for us to look on the bright-side of things: kidding or not, we'll never have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed a crying baby and be tired the next day, we'll never have to deal with screaming temper tantrums in the middle of the store, we'll never have to change diaper blowouts, have to deal with moody teenagers, or paying for college. We'll have more of our money for ourselves. We won't be tied down, will have freedom, we can travel. YAY....didn't we just win the lottery on that one? Seriously? I'd trade all that in a millisecond. If I win that lottery, I also don't have to deal with hearing my child say "mommy, I love you", or getting homemade cards for mother's day, I won't have to wonder how someone that looks a bit like me and a bit like Chris will look like, or being a proud parent at a soccer game, or watching my child graduate and blossom into and adult, or having someone visit me in the nursing home. Yeah, I really won that lottery on that one.