Shattered

Back in the summer, when I was in the middle of a crisis of confidence with my PhD dissertation (which, if I’m being honest, hasn’t really ended, but I’m at the stage now where I have to just get over myself and finish the damn thing), I spent a lot of time blogging about how conflicted I was feeling about going back to the clinic and starting to try for a 2.0.

At the time, I wrote this:

And so my reticence about going back to the clinic is not just about whether or not we are truly ready for a 2.0 (because I know we can’t ever really be ready in the same way one can never really be ready for a first baby- you just have to go ahead and have one and cope with what comes), or about how we will balance two children and two academic careers, or about how E. will adjust to being a big brother.

What it’s really about is I’m opening myself up to failure again, and, what’s worse, opening myself up to failing at something at which I’ve already passed.

It’s as though failing to have a 2.0 would not only be a failure in its own right, but it would also colour/darken the triumph that is E.

I wouldn’t have really passed infertility after all. I would have somehow squeaked through the first time without the gods noticing, but my greed at trying again would ultimately catch me out. As though the universe would take back my shiny certificate I earned with E.’s birth and rip it up, shaking its head. “You didn’t really pass, Turia,” the universe would say. “You bought yourself some time for a while. But in the end you’ve failed.”

That was what I was the most afraid of.

It’s happening.

I really believed after we had E. that we had FIXED things. Yes, it took 35 months, and IUIs and IVFs and FETs, and there were many, many heartbreaking BFNs before we got there, but when we did a long protocol IVF and transferred blastocysts, it WORKED.

I got pregnant.

I gave birth to a live, healthy baby.

And I honestly believed the second time around would be easier.

Because we KNEW now, or so I thought, what we had to do.

We knew what my body needed.

I absolutely believed that one of the two blastocysts that had been frozen and waiting for us at the clinic for three years was going to be E’s younger sibling.

They were from the same cycle, you see.

The cycle that WORKED.

When both FETs failed this fall, it really shook my confidence. But Q. and I talked about it, and we agreed that it hadn’t been exactly the same.

E. was the product of a fresh cycle.

So we waded in again.

We did exactly the same thing we did to get E.: a long protocol IVF with a five day transfer of two blasts.

And it WORKED.

We felt vindicated. We’d been RIGHT. We knew what my body needed.

And then I had an ultrasound where I learned that there wasn’t going to be a baby in September and my whole world came crashing down.

I don’t know anything anymore.

I don’t know if this loss was a fluke, if we were so unlucky as to have that blastocyst grow into a baby who was never meant to be.

Worse, I don’t know if E. was a fluke, if somehow he squeaked through unnoticed, but there’s something hitherto unrecognized in my body that will cause me to kill any future babies should I be so foolish as to try to keep growing them.

All I know is any confidence I had in myself, in my body’s ability to nurture and carry a baby, has been shattered, possibly irrevocably.

I was GOOD at being pregnant, you see.

I had almost no complications with E.

I carried him to thirty-nine weeks and four days.

I still felt good in the last week of my pregnancy.

I looked freakin’ amazing pregnant.

I had a fast, unmedicated labour and delivery, with very few physical repercussions.

I was able to successfully breastfeed my son, even through the MSPI issues and his later rejection of all day feeds, for thirteen months.

I was NORMAL.

I’d held on to that, all through the summer while I wrestled with my emotions, all through the fall and the FETs, all through December and the IVF grind, all through January and February, until I wasn’t allowed to believe it any longer.

All right, I told myself, I suck at getting pregnant. But that’s the hard part. I have a perfect track record with being pregnant.

One for one.

Now it’s one for three.

I didn’t blog much about the embryo that never got further than the gestational sac.

I thought about it, a lot actually, but I never wrote much down.

But if it had been the only embryo that implanted, I would have counted it as a loss.

I would have had a positive beta.

The numbers might not have doubled properly.

I might have known before that first ultrasound that things weren’t going to turn out well.

But I would have been pregnant.

It would have been a loss.

I thought about that, after the first ultrasound, but I didn’t say much to anyone else.

I had the other baby to concentrate on.

“The good baby” is what the ultrasound tech called it at that first appointment.

Except it wasn’t a good baby either, in the end.

The day after it happened my father called me. I tried to explain to him how I was feeling, how I could cope with E. being an only child but that if that was how it was going to turn out, I wished so much that we had never even tried to further expand our family, that we had been content with him as an only, that we had saved ourselves this pain and heartbreak.

“Well, Turia,” said my father, “surely it’s better to have actually tried. Everyone fails at something in their life, and you’ve done really well up until now.”

He’s right. I haven’t failed at very much before now.

But he doesn’t get it either.

There is a great gaping chasm between failing at something because I haven’t worked hard enough, or haven’t done enough research, or haven’t put enough thought into it, and failing at something when I have done everything in my power to make it work, have altered my life for months on end to give it a chance to work, have wished with all my heart that it would work, and, worst of all, have failed at it when it has already worked once before.

I thought I knew things.

I don’t know anything anymore.

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7 Comments

Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, A matter of faith, Anxiety Overload, Family, Grief, Loss, MSPI, Nursing, PhD, Pregnancy, Second Thoughts, Siblings

7 responses to “Shattered

  1. Oh I understand how you feel. Again, my loss was nothing compared to yours. I don’t want you to think I think that. But I think we are both feeling that failure. I feel the same way, like I had won. Beaten infertility. Trying again and failing is the absolute worst thing that could happen after that. I used to tell myself that I had to try, to know I had done everything. And I think maybe that is still true? But most days I wish we’d left well enough alone. Why did we push it? I don’t know.
    Sorry I rambled.
    The important thing here is that you still have a frozen embryo. I know based on the last year you have little faith that an FET can work, but you know deep down that it can. Try not to completely embrace those feelings of failure until that little guy gets his chance. He may surprise you!
    Also, of course, neither of us have failed, and those that never get lucky enough to have a baby at all haven’t failed either. We are all just navigating this shitty work of IF the best way we know how.
    And how lucky, absolutely lucky and blessed are we both? That whatever it is that made our IVF cycles for our second babies not work didn’t happen during the cycles that produced our children? That they squeaked by is a good thing!
    Thinking of you.

  2. Hugs.

    What helps me, really helps me, is the idea that we got lucky once. Really lucky, because given what happened before and after, we are fortunate to have Lucky with us at all.

    What also helps me is the knowledge that it is not my failure. If effort and desire and knowledge really mattered, we would have had our second child back in 2011.

    Your miscarriage is not you fault, Turia, no more it is anyone else’s for NOT miscarrying. It’s not up to you or me or anyone else. It’s bigger than us.

    So I will keep saying this. It is not your fault. It is not your fault.

    This is not your fault.

    xoxo

  3. Clare

    I think you gotta clear the slate of your thinking that E worked because of x,y,z and the others didn’t because of whatever. Ultimately, it’s impossible to know why those embryos didn’t stick. I think it’s just a matter of each embryo has a chance but there’s no way of knowing what the odds for it are. That doesn’t make you wrong for trying, the only thing you can do is give it a shot. So really, there’s no reason your frozen embryo has any worse chance than the fresh ones. You can only try.
    It’s so true – IF is the only thing I’ve encountered in my life that I can throw everything in me at, all my money and so much thought and research, and still get a negative outcome.

  4. Nity

    I could write a huge, very very long response to this… these words speak very much to our situation and my heart. It took us a long time to get pregnant that first time. I had an uneventful pregnancy and everything was great.
    When we were trying for number two it was different – every subsequent fresh or frozen cycle I have gotten pregnant. But I miscarried four times. There was no explanation. Once I miscarried early (6 wk) off a frozen cycle, twice I had a later miscarriage (12/13.5 wk) on fresh cycles and once I had a chemical pregnancy with a fresh cycle. There was no rhyme or reason. I stumped my doctors.
    We took a year off – to grieve, to rest, to refresh, and to figure out if we wanted to try again. It was a really good, but hard year. I think tried again with a fresh cycle and we’re still pregnant (much to our shock) with twin boys. Why did this time work vs. the others? Who knows.
    Your body didn’t “fail” it just wasn’t meant to be. As harsh and strange as those words sound, I promise it will get easier. Before we tried this last time, I had gotten to the point that I can know be thankful for my situation, for my miscarriages. I have a new sense of empathy and understanding that I never would have had walking in my shoes. But I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone. I don’t want to imply that I have it all together, because I definitely don’t and I know that I haven’t experienced the worst, but as someone who has dealt with a long hard road for #2, I just want to encourage you to give yourself time to grieve. It hasn’t been that long. Seek help – a counselor or someone who can talk you through it – if you need to. Someone else wrote about being shattered once. There was something about being put back together in a way that was more beautiful that you were the first time. The cracks all tell stories and they help the light shine through.
    I’m so sorry for your loss. That you are experiencing this grief and anxiety. Sending you lots and lots of hugs.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with Serenity. It feels like failure, but this really has nothing to do with you failing, hon. It doesn’t. It probably doesn’t even have anything to do with your body, certainly not any ability to be “good” or “bad” at pregnancy. Have you gotten the karyotype back yet? One of my losses was after multiple good heartbeat u/s. I was released to my OB. It should have gone the distance. But now that I see through PGD how many of my embryos were good enough to make it to biopsy — and quite possibly pregnancy — but ultimately had a chromosomal defect (some of which would have had no fetal pole, others that could have had an initial heartbeat), it all makes sense. Half of all embryos at my age (37) would be expected to be defective. Half. I think you’re younger than me but still. I know it’s hard to believe when they just want to quickly blame chromosomes, but then once you see it on paper you see they were probably right. It’s not you. It’s human reproduction. And that sucks and is really painful and hard to accept, I know. (BTW, to be clear, I’m not at all saying it was “meant to be” or some such nonsense people like to spout when you have a m/c. It’s not meant to be any more than any other shitty thing that happens in life. I’m saying that it most likely happened completely independently of your body, the way that sperm met egg.)

    But just because one thing worked before doesn’t mean another approach won’t work this time, or it was the only thing that would work. It just means that was what worked before. I know so many people for whom this was true.

    All I want to say is, if this is what you really want and you have the means to keep going, please don’t let this stop you from trying. Not to minimize what you’re going through in any way. It can be hard not to see it this way, but I don’t think this was a big message about failure or greed or stopping the effort or nothing will work this time. I think this was a really shitty but random thing that happened. And I don’t think the next thing has any less of a chance of working just because of what worked with E or what didn’t work this time.

    Thinking of you.

  6. No, it most definitely isn’t your fault. But I certainly understand that feeling of having the earth move beneath your feet, and suddenly doubting everything you thought you could assume about your body. I have never failed at anything that I tried, either- until now. It’s a tough pill to swallow, even when you know in your head that it was totally out of your control. As you know, I’ve been grappling with some pretty serious inferiority issues with respect to my losses, and the hardest thing about it is that just when you think you’re starting to get back on your feet, you are faced with another birth announcement, or another pregnancy announcement, and you’re right back to where you started. Recovering from loss is the toughest journey in the world, and I certainly hope I can offer you some support along the way. Sending love… XOXO

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