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.
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.