Below the Surface

It’s my 34th birthday today.  Not at all how I thought I would spending my birthday.  It hurts.  It really does.  But that doesn’t mean I am sobbing all the time.  Actually, with the amount I cried last week I would be suprised if I had any tears left.

I am sad. I am having good days and bad days and I am just trying to take things one minute at a time.  I can’t answer the question “How are you feeling?”.   I don’t know how to answer that.

People are surprised I am not sobbing in bed all day.  That’s what they think depression looks like. Like someone holding their head in despair – which as illustrated by this article and campaign – is just not true. 

The week I broke down I had been to volunteer meetings, an industry dinner, a wine night and the Rihanna concert.  I was exhausted from holding it all together.  From playing a part but from the outside looking in (or from my Facebook page), I am sure is seemed as though I was living a semi-charmed life.

Even now, I was out last night for a drink and a catch up with some old friends.  And I am sure that’s what the people in the pub saw – a table of four friends.  I saw an idiot talking nonsense because she was afraid of the silence.  Afraid of letting the conversation get “too real”.  (That idiot being me).

I don’t know how to talk about and so I don’t.

But just because I don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.  I spent most of today in bed.  Wasting the day away because I just can’t believe this is my life.

What a mess.  What a f**king mess.

 

 

 

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Day 1

For once, “Day 1” is not referring to any kind of cycle timing and that feels completely bizarre.

In this case, Day 1 is referring to the first day of my medical leave from work following my spectacular crash.

It is also Day 1 of National Infertility Awareness Week in the US.  This year the theme is “Start Asking” (#startasking).

I realized on Friday that I need to start asking for help and that’s what I have done.

How fitting, then.  Here we are on Day 1 and I am starting by asking for help and I want to encourage others to start asking for help.

A brilliant post by Sarah over at Infertilty Honesty got me thinking about the trauma that comes with infertilty and she referenced this article about how fertility treatments put women at risk for PTSD – half of the women in the study met the official criteria for PTSD. That’s a huge statement.  That’s time to #startasking for help.

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October 15

It is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.   Tonight we will light a candle for our three Angel Babies and we will remember them.  Jonah. Daisy. Amal. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them or where I “should be” in the pregnancy I most recently lost.  I would have found out the gender by now. I should be wearing maternity clothes.  We would have started shopping for things and painting the room.  All dreams  and wishes and nothing more.

I hope that one day the stigma of talking about miscarriage will be gone.  I hope one day couples won’t chose to go through the pain alone and isolated in their misery.  I hope that one day we can support each other better.

Let’s start to open up the dialogue like clinical psychologist Jessica Zucker has with her Honest Miscarriage Cards.

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Escape

We have spent the last four days in Mexico. Blissfully escaping. Doing nothing. We needed this trip, we needed it like oxygen.

We have taken “breaks” before but after the third miscarriage the break took on a different form. We stopped talking about having a child of our own. We tried to focus inward on healthy living and eating and work but really it was all a distraction. A way to redirect our focus away from the pain. In hopes that it might just heal on its own.

The trip was a relatively last minute decision, we knew we were going we just didn’t know when. And then one day it became perfectly clear. Let’s go before the next doctor’s appointment (an important one) and during Canadian Thanksgiving. A chance to miss a family-centered holiday is always welcome. I spent last Thanksgiving outside alone, under the stars on a chilly night, crying for the family I might never have. The Thanksgiving that might never look like generations and extended family around a table but instead a lonely old couple with memories of a dog long since deceased.

This Thanksgiving Sunday will be business class home from a resort in paradise. A definite improvement.

So now, as the sun sets and I am outside sipping sparkling wine, I can tell you this is exactly what we needed. We didn’t do anything. We didn’t even have the long meaningful discussions about life and our future that I envisioned we would have. We slept in, we ate when we wanted to, drank when we wanted (and even over indulged one night – what a feeling, to just let go), swam in the pool, lounged on chairs, played in the ocean and read books. Nothing.   Away from the constant humming fear of losing our jobs in our boom & bust town. It is a like the buzz of a hummingbird, who’s safe, who isn’t and who’s next.

But mostly importantly away from the grim reality of five years trying to conceive, three miscarriages and countless everything that has come along with it. Because after we get back we will have an appointment that tells us if there is a path forward or not.

And if there is, that means back to acupuncture and herbs and foods that will tonify my blood. To a caffeine-free, limited alcohol life because underneath it all there is a growing sense of desperation. Of starting to run out of options, time and resources.

So for now, for a few more hours at least, I am escaping.

Bad Luck

Please stop asking me why.

I know, it is easier for those left behind to cling to why.  Everyone wants a reason for tragic events.

You can trust us that no one wants an answer more than we do and we don’t have one so please stop asking why.  Because “why” implies there was  something we could have done.  If we knew why then we can say, “oh next time I won’t eat green beans” or some other silly thing we can cling to with false hope.  But ultimately there is no answer and there is no reason why. Something was wrong with the fetus.  The body aborted it.  End of story.  End of our hopes and dreams for the third time.  If  you think that’s hard to understand, imagine being us.  Or any couple that lost a baby too soon.

It is a statistical game and one that we are very bad at (or good, depending on how you look at the world).  1 in 6 couples have unexplained infertility.  20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.  There was a 5% chance we would miscarry after the BFP following our IVF cycle.  We had a 5% chance of miscarriage after seeing the heartbeat at 7 weeks.

Five F**king percent.  We are very good at being that minority.

I wish there was a 5% chance of winning the lottery.

Supporting a Friend through IVF

It is Canadian Infertility Awareness Week and so there might be a few more posts than normal (consider yourself warned). 

How to Support Your Friend Going Through IVF

1. Understand your friend no longer has control of their schedule. The clinic now runs the show. Some things they take appointments for and others you line up like cattle in the stairwell at 6:30 in the morning. Your friend doesn’t know from day-to-day what the next day will look like. It’s hard enough managing this with employers, let alone with friends. But that’s not all of it – the pills, sprays and needles are all on a schedule too. Your friend is carrying a lot of medication and is tied to their Iphone alarms

2. Think before you speak. If I told a 12 week pregnant woman about my friend who miscarried at 6 months, I would be a total jerk. The same goes for your stories about all the people you know where “IVF didn’t work the first time”. Not helpful. Everyone has an opinion, consider whether or not yours is actually something a supportive friend would say.

3. Everyone has something to say about fertility treatments – but whether or not you would “put all those chemicals in your body” or whether or not it is “God’s will” – that’s your opinion. If yours isn’t supportive, gossip about it behind my back but please don’t think I am interested in hearing your thoughts on choices you have never had to make

4. Know there is a financial impact and don’t belittle it. The costs are significant – if you want to know what they paying you can look it up yourself. Saying “oh but it will be worth it” or “it’s a small price to pay” is pretty easy when you aren’t the one paying thousands of dollars – at once (no payment plans here!). And well, if it all doesn’t work, they are going to have empty arms and an empty bank account.

5. Your friend is probably tired of telling people her “bad news” to the point where it just feels like “old news”. If you want to know, ask. If you don’t ask, we will just assume you don’t want to know. Your friend has enough going on without having to manage your feelings too!

6. Be there. Your friend is alone and scared. A scary pile of drugs dictates her life. It is lonely waiting for morning appointments and injecting yourself in bathroom stalls. There is so much unknown and so much waiting. Your life is still plugging along but hers slows down to day-by-day. Weeks seem to take years as she hopes to make it to the next step – yes, that’s right, at any given moment something could happen to her IVF journey and now she is back to square one. Thinking about what happens “if this doesn’t work” is eating her alive. It’s a dark place to be in. Distractions are welcome.