Friday, December 09, 2005

Beware All Ye Who Enter Here

Sometimes when I stop to think about October this year, I'll cry all over again. I don't think I realized how much the hurt of losing/not getting pregnant would effect me. Only at the start of Advent did it all come home to roost again. First of all, the Advent reflection book I am reading seems to harp on the Elizabeth story and mention time and time again about how she was "barren." (Yes, and being the "good" Catholic I am, don't you think I prayed to [nagged?] St. Anne and St Elizabeth frequently?) And there's this thing about how this season is all about expecting-- and generally focused on a baby. And of course, Christmas has so much "child" implicit in many of the celebrations.

At church on Sunday, my pregnant friend hugged me at the peace. Now, please, I am very happy for her-- pleased to bits she's having another peanut-- but as soon as I felt her pregnant belly press into my body, I felt myself start to shake. We haven't seen each other since right before the procedures were done, so she didn't know the news. She asked me right after she finished hugging me, and guess what? I started to bona fide cry, so I guess she figured out what our result was, and consequently, she hugged me again. In general, I am a hugger-- not at all shy here about body contact-- but the shaking started again, and I had to actually leave the sanctuary and go into the bathroom to run my hands under cold water.

Yesterday in the mail I got a Christmas card with a letter enclosed from another friend from this same group (there's four of us who are still fairly close from high school). Their big news? She's pregnant too. Again, I cried. I don't mean to suggest I am not at all happy for these friends of mine because I am! So happy! But... I wanted to send out Christmas card this year with that same little sentence: "Our big news is that I am expecting a baby..."

Here's what I think: I think I got too stoic too fast after the negative HPT and confirmation from the doctor's office. In my family, we were told not to dwell, or to "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" or "to get on with things." And so I thought to myself, "You can cry about this for two days, and then it's time to get over it." When the nurse called us to tell me I wasn't pregnant, I shocked her by asking to talk to reception to schedule an appointment with Dr. BusyBusyBusy. She thought I'd want to wait a little. Nope, I said, I just want to get on with it.

But here's another secret: my hands were shaking so badly, I thought I might drop the phone. The sobs were so deep in my chest, I thought if I opened my mouth too wide, the keen would bring people in from other offices to see what was wrong. After I got off the phone with the nurse, Partner knelt on the floor in front of me and we held each other while we cried and cried. And then just as abruptly I stopped and started pacing our office. I tried to quiet the massive rumblings in my chest. I thought to myself, "Stop crying. What's happened has happened." After that I'm not sure I ever let myself really wail again-- just a few weepies, brief, and then I'd talk myself out of mourning.

I got a phone call last weekend from another concerned party, whose query about whether or not I was pregnant was caring, but annoyed me nonetheless. This is partially my fault that I am still getting these questions since I hermited myself away after our news. I just couldn't keep telling people I wasn't pregnant. This person's response was "Well, not everyone gets pregnant on their first try." And this just made me angry, so I said, "Well not everyone has two fully formed blastocysts transferred to their uterus on the first try either." It wasn't a nice thing to say to someone who was genuinely concerned about me and Partner.

Here's what happened to me after the transfer--honest now: I would hold my stomach and think about transferring energy into what I hoped were two, or at least one, growing baby. I talked to these little blasts in my head, even though the devil (or angel?) on my other shoulder told me not to get attached and I should wait until the pregnancy tests came back. But I couldn't help it. Oh Negativity, be gone with you! I thought about these two parts of Partner in my womb, and so did she. I wasn't the only one who put hands on my stomach that were full of hope and dreams. She did too. If this never works-- and we switch back to IUI and my own eggs, it will be a lot harder for her. I can't even think about that right now. (Cursing negativity again: ptoo, ptoo, ptoo) But after the transfer, we both ignored that painful possibility and focused sharply on the two photos we had of the blasts that we transferred. We looked for a journal-book to paste the photo into. I felt fondly for a group of little cells. I tried to stop myself. It didn't work.

At Michigan Womyn's Festival this year, I bought a shirt that says, "Listen to Your Mama." It's really about the earth, but we both liked it. And we agreed that if we bought that shirt for me, I wouldn't wear it until I was actually pregnant. After consulting with Partner, I put it on, three days past the transfer. I put a fleece on over it, so no one really saw it, but I knew I had it on. And so did Partner. We grinned at each other all day.

Even though I tried to stop myself, I picked up the Deepak Chopra book I bought and did some of the little mediations he included in there. Mediations about having a healthy baby. I would lie down on our bed and Partner would read to me from the book, "With each out-breath, create an image of our baby, growing inside your body. Breathe in tenderness; breath out a clearer vision of our baby. Own your part in creating this little being..."

I'm really ready to try again, but in the process of getting there, I think I need to let myself feel a little more about this first loss. Or failure. Or whatever it was. Take it up with both hands, look it all the features of this feeling, and then I need to put it on the shelf. I won't "move on" in the way my family would counsel me, but instead I'll acknowledge this experience as part of who I am instead of trying to ignore it. I'll nod every once in awhile to it. But mostly, if I just can read it in full, it will just expire slowly and eventually, while I might remember the general gist of the story, I'll forget the plot. And that will be okay too.


Anonymous pixi said...

For starters, I would call it a loss. Most definitely. And I understand that pressure to get over it or to grieve within a certain time frame. But I just don't think it works that way. Especially not within in two days - goodness gracious!

After my third loss, I thought I was completely fine - I didn't cry, I didn't want condolences, I just wanted to look forward to the future and try again. I was really OK. At first. A month later I was in Hell. That's when I started blogging.

Kate, you invested so much energy, so much hope, so much heart in that first round of IVF. You & and Partner have every right to mourn the loss, and take the time you need to process it. I suspect it will have different phases, different colors, what have you, and it will be harder at times than others. Sorry that the holidays really seem to be driving it home for you. Inevitable, I guess.

It's good to hear that you're thinking of starting over, scary as it may be. I do so hope it's not long before you're wearing that T-shirt again - with confidence next time, and for all the world to see.

(didn't mean for that to rhyme)

3:04 PM  
Blogger Trista said...

I agree with Pixi, that was a genuine loss. And a loss of so many, many things. And this is such a crappy season to have such a grief.

I wish you and Partner peace.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Nico said...

I think that as a society we don't grieve well. Grief is shameful, something to be hidden, kept private - hence the buck up and get over it attitude. But no matter how good a face we put on in public, the sadness and despair just don't go away that quickly, no matter how much we try and tell ourselves that we're okay.

I'm so so sorry that your first IVF didn't work, and that you're not able to have the Christmas that you were imagining.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous cJ said...

Oh Katie - I could give you a hug right now. Erick and I tried for two years, and then when we decided not to have kids .... we got pregnant. It wasn't for lack of trying! I remember a lot of days sobbing while looking at that damn ept test. I couldn't figure out how we could not get pregnant because we were trying so hard. It is devastating. It is a loss. You are entitled to grieve. I think that the wise bloggers above me are exactly right. Greiving is not fast food - its not like your going through a grief drive through asking for a McGrief to go. Give your self the gift of grieving. If it means you need to cry more, if it means you need vent... DO IT. Skipping the process won't help you. Processes that you skip aren't really skipped they come back to bite us in the ass at an unopprotune time.

You will have a baby someday... And what a lucky baby they will be to have such loving mommy's who want them so badly. What a happy and fufilling childhood they will have...

My other half has noticed that the persons whom are the best parents in his eyes - are those who've suffered the most. (He notes some people just go to the hospital and drop the baby. Then there are some who suffer and go through hell.) Perhaps he's right?

Anyway... it will happen for you. I don't know when or how, but it will.
You know I am thinking of you and wishing you the best. Keep up the good work at going through this crappy rite of passage into the mommy club.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

I know what you are feeling... I had the same thoughts about wanting to write "we're having a baby" in our Christmas cards.

Feeling this kind of grief seems strange to me sometimes - mourning the loss of something I never really had. I guess for me, part of it is all the hopes we had about telling our friends and family. Since there are very few people (besides internet friends) who know about our journey, the positive test would give us the opportunity to start sharing our hopes and dreams with others.

You have the right idea - to feel the loss and acknowledge the your own way and in your own time.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

Oh, honey... my heart was just breaking as I read this... and it also really made me realize that although I'm coming fresh off a failed cycle... and I'm INSISTING on powering through without tears... that this will still... very likely, come back to stare me in the face until I accept and acknowledge the pain of this loss.

And believe me... those cells ARE a loss... they really are...

I'm sending you the biggest (bloated but non-pregnant belly) hug I can muster... much love to you both.

2:57 PM  
Blogger amyesq said...

My heart is feeling ripped out for you because you are grieving in SO much the same way I did/do. You see a Statue of Mary, you think "Please Mary, you must understand what this is like for me" and then the tears come and you have to remind yourself to breathe. It is most definitely a loss.

Please feel free to lean on me (I wish I were closer) if you need to. I am thinking of both of you, my dear.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

Thank you so much-- I've decided I am going to start following the trend of Manuela and think of this past cycle as the "dress rehearsal".

Now, this is buried in comments, so perhaps no one will see it to answer, but I wonder how many fellow IVF-ers followed other women's cycles online and then thought about how they might be pregnant together... And then weren't... Hmmm?

9:04 PM  
Blogger Soul Searching said...

My heart goes out to both of you and I hope peace comes to you soon. I think it helps that you're acknowledging the loss, at least everyone says it helps...I still have trouble doing it myself. I can't begin to imagine how you must feel, but I know the words in the post don't even begin to touch it. My thoughts are with you.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I've been thinking of you ever since I read this post but I didn't know what to say except I'm so sorry. And I still don't know what to say, but I wish you didn't have to endure this and I hope you guys have that baby you want and deserve as soon as possible.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

Yep... me too. In fact... I think this would be a good post in it's own right. I find it particularly tough when you mke particularly good friends with someone... because (in part) because they seem to be in the exact same place as you.... and that it then seems a bit of a loss that they've moved on. I'm not talking about jealousy here... it's sort of like when your best friend moves to a new city... they're still your friend... but suddenly the increase in DISTANCE makes such a difference... you know?

9:51 PM  

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