Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Remembering to Feel

Struggling through trying to have a child with infertility for the second time never stops surprising me with its ability to hurt in new and different ways than it did the first time around. It is as if all of the coping skills I thought I had found the first time have disappeared. Or maybe what has happened, is that my life has changed so drastically that I have no choice but to learn new coping skills that fit with the life I have now. 

The biggest problem I have realized, is that I keep forgetting that I have a problem. When I was trying to have a child the first time, absolutely everything else stopped. The only thing in my life that mattered was my endeavor to be a mom. I put all of my mental, physical and emotional energy into it. There was nothing else that really needed my attention and it mattered so much, so it was easy to do. And when I was feeling heartbroken due to a failed cycle or a loss, it was easy to throw myself into that pain- to really feel it, cry, mourn and work through it. Everything is completely different now. Now there is so much in my life that I happily devote my energy to. My daughter, my marriage, my volunteer & advocacy roles, my network of friends- these things keep me busy and give me just enough things to smile about that I keep forgetting that I actually am in pain. 

I haven't started to believe I am feeling better, instead I have kept myself busy enough to forget there is even anything to be unhappy about. My brain keeps forgetting, but my body remembers. It isn't until I am sitting on my couch, wishing I could make my to-do list disappear, turn off my phone, curl into a ball and stare into the abyss for the rest of the day that I start to remember that maybe there is a reason for it. And even then, I first spend half a day wondering why it is that I don't want to talk to anyone or do anything before I think that just maybe this whole infertility thing is the problem. Because that's the thing- I am not thinking about it everyday. I am not disinterested and lethargic everyday and when I do feel that way, it is not in response to any sort of external trigger or even any internal thoughts. It just comes on and I feel helpless to understand it. I am not even sad. I'm just numb. Yesterday, I enjoyed dinner & wine at a friend's, laughing and conversing the whole evening in a genuinely good mood. Today, I can barely crack a smile or even fake excitement about scheduling a weekend vacation that I should be thrilled about.The back and forth is confusing & making me realize I still haven't properly allowed myself to wallow and then work through the hurt as I know I should. 

The problem is, I am not sure how to access my feeling and get through them. I have inadvertently forced myself to push them down & now have no clue how to bring them back up. Do I watch a tear-jerker movie just to get the ball rolling? I know from experience that the breakdown waiting for me if I don't figure out how to deal with this, will be far more explosive than it has to be if I can just get it out now. It's so weird, knowing that I should cry, feel pain and emotion but instead I just feel numb and hollow. I have nothing close to tears or even the sadness I felt even a week ago but I know it's all there under the surface. Last week, it was so accessible that just hearing a triggering phrase in my yoga class had tears flowing down my cheeks. I felt slightly crazy, but it was also mildly cathartic to feel that direct connection to my feelings and to healthily express them. Today I am just empty. I even went to the same candlelight yoga class tonight, hoping that the stretches, breathing and moments of peace would just help me feel more like me- more in touch with myself. Instead, I could not wait to get out of there and kept wishing I could be home on my couch, curled under a blanket. Writing this post is my last attempt to force myself to be in touch with, at the very least, my numbness if I can't tap into the cause of it right now.

Is this what depression looks like? Or am I just having "one of those days"? I am always so hesitant to even think about that because I don't want to assume that just because I am sad and numb today that I will be sad and numb tomorrow. I am a forever changing yo-yo lately. Plenty of my days since that last BFN have been genuinely good ones. Maybe this is my new way of working through it. Instead of putting my life on hold to focus solely on infertility, my current struggle and my feelings about it, maybe I just have to take it one day at a time with one step forward and two steps back. A few hours of very good feelings followed by half a day of sad, numb ones- experiencing these things little by little as I face each new moment as it comes. Hopefully, I will slowly find the place within myself and my life that I can be at peace with my body, my struggle and with whatever happens next.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Heartbreak 2.0

I can't even begin to tell you how many blog posts I have written in my head the past 6 weeks but never gotten around to actually writing. The biggest reason of which is that I have been too afraid. We have been so secretive about our FETs this past year, and I have opened this blog up to so many people in my life- I guess I just wasn't ready to share yet. But now it's becoming too much and I am finding myself feeling more lost than I did the first time around, and I realize how desperately I need to stop trying to keep it all in.

Infertility 2.0 was supposed to be easier, less painful and traumatic somehow. We have already endured the years of trying on our own, the tedium of temping, the anxiety of testing & diagnosis, the marathon of IVF, the hell of miscarriage and finally the joy of successful FET. We knew what to expect. We knew the problems and how to treat them. There was no reason this shouldn't work. No reason this time shouldn't have been smoother, simpler than than the first. Oh how very wrong we were. 

In 2013, we had 3 failed FET cycles. With the 5 embryos lost to these failures added to the 3 that didn't make it the first time around, that puts the viability of my embryos so far at 1 in 9- far below the 1 in 3 my RE predicted based on my age, hormone levels and our combined egg/sperm quality. 5 transfers, 9 embryos, one child- I am beating the odds in a terrible way. And I was not at all prepared for this or for how it would affect me. 

When we started infertility treatment 2.0 this past summer, I not only felt fairly confident we would have an easier time achieving success, but that if for some reason we didn't I would be more ok with everything than I was the first time. I think I even said so on my blog. After all, I wasn't a mom last time and now I am. Who cares if I have one baby or two? I'm a mom when I wasn't before and the headcount of my household doesn't change that fact. Which is still true, of course. In so many ways it is not as painful, it doesn't cut the same way the fight for motherhood did. But it still hurts and cuts in new ways I never saw coming. 

My body has now failed me more than it had in 2010 when we were going through IVF/FET. Then, I just couldn't get pregnant without help but after the hormones and the procedures, my body did a pretty good job of behaving as it should. I felt damaged for sure, but I didn't feel quite as broken as I do now. Today, I met with my RE and discussed the possibility that fluid in my fallopian tubes may be creating a toxic womb environment and destroying what would otherwise be healthy, viable embryos. The thought that my own body is responsible for literally killing my embryos is soul crushing. 

How do I maintain a healthy self-esteem when my own body is so broken and dysfunctional? How do I stave off the despair, self-blame and depression that comes from infertility when I think about my own body actually poisoning my attempts to further build my family? How do I control my anger when I realize that we have spent thousands of dollars, I have forced myself through hundreds of injections, and we have tolerated months of anxiety, false hopes and heartbreak all with absolutely nothing to show for it? How do I hold back the flood of tears when my daughter comes running into the room to show me that she has been practicing her sign language so she can teach it to the baby brother or sister she keeps begging me for? How do I manage the guilt and shame at letting all of this hurt so much when I know I am lucky to have such an amazing child, even if she is my only one? Infertility as once again made me feel like a failure, this time as a woman, a wife, an advocate and a mother. I just wasn't prepared for all the new ways my heart would break when we set back out on this road.