This is going to sound weird, but I think my husband is more upset about this cycle being a failure than I am.
I was definitely angry and bitter yesterday morning, but writing a blog post was quite therapeutic for me and by the time I got home I felt as close to normal as a gal can possibly feel when she’s going through IVF.
When Doug arrived home from work at about 7pm, he looked tired and sad. He wrapped me up in a big hug and asked me how I was doing.
“I’m ok,” I said. “What would you like for dinner?”
“Come on now, don’t lie.” he cajoled. “You don’t have to be strong for me.”
“Um…I’m not?” I said, looking up at him. “I feel ok.”
“Neither of us feel ok.” he disagreed. “We don’t have to pretend with each other. I tried to pretend this morning at the doctor’s clinic but we need to just allow ourselves to be sad now.”
That’s when I really noticed just how devastated he actually was. He confessed that he had been on the verge of tears all day at work. His boss had even noticed something was wrong, and had asked if I was sick. He’d also spoken to his family and asked for some space from them so we can grieve.
Doug has never really shown that much emotion throughout this whole IVF process, at least not without a few wines in him. When we lost our last pregnancy, I was the one who hid under the blankets and cried for a fortnight. Doug almost seemed to carry on as normal. I knew he was disappointed with the result, but he even admitted that he didn’t think of our loss as a baby because it was only 5 and a half weeks along and “shaped like a tiny tadpole” rather than a human. It’s just the way he copes with things. He rationalises and internalises and carries on.
So to see him so upset last night really broke my heart. It’s frustrating and awful and soul destroying to have a cycle fail before egg pick up. But I also know it could have been so much worse.
In a way I was glad Doug finally showed that IVF is affecting him too. He even admitted he might need to go and see someone like I am. It’s not healthy to bottle up all your emotions all the time. The last thing I want is to see him sad, but I’d rather get upset with him than worry he’s getting upset when he’s all alone.
Speaking of “seeing someone”, I had my first session with the infertility counselor this morning. She seems a bit odd and I haven’t made my mind up about her yet, but I’m going to go back next week to give it a second try.
She asked me some weird questions, like why I think infertility is becoming a greater problem in society. I didn’t really see how that was at all relevant to me, or my situation. I’m trying to have one child not solve the fertility problems of the entire world. Do I look like Captain Planet??
Pushing those thoughts aside, I considered her question for a moment then told her I thought it was because people were leaving it later to have children, thus diminishing their fertility. Other environmental factors, such as the genetically modified foods, chemicals and preservatives we eat in modern, western society surely also played a role. Then there was social infertility. I gave examples of single women who are now able to try to fall pregnant through the use of donor sperm and homosexual couples who are able to use donors or surrogates. Treatments were not legal or widely available for non married couples until recently. Then I added the basic fact that infertility would historically have been under-reported. A childless couple was not necessarily considered infertile. There was no assisted reproductive technology available, thus they would not routinely be identifying themselves as unable to conceive to medical professionals.
“No, that’s wrong.” she said dismissively, offering no supposedly right answer.
What in the……
To be fair, it wasn’t all weirdness and she did also offer me some interesting insight into my own mind. She picked up on the fact I seem to now identify myself as an infertile.
“That’s not who you are.” she said. “Infertility is a circumstance, it is not the definition of a person. You can’t let infertility define your character. You’re more than just a young woman who is struggling to have a child.”
Those words really hit home with me. I realised very quickly that I have allowed my medical conditions to take over and define who I am as a person. If someone asked me to sum myself up, I’d say Sadie, 27 years old, infertile. But that’s not actually me. So I think it’s time to reintroduce myself…..
I’m Sadie. I’m 27 years old, kind, funny and supportive. I love my dog an unnaturally large amount, I’m very close to my family, and I’m married to the love of my life. I eat vegemite straight from the jar, and I have an irrational phobia of whales. I’m a high achieving student, I hate exercise but I try, I can never stop at just one piece of chocolate, I’m a movie buff with a huge dvd collection and a little bit obsessed with the X Files. My goals in life are to see Versailles, complete a PhD, run a marathon, have three children, write a novel, learn to swing dance and live on a farm.
I am not just an infertile. My medical problems make up a big part of my life, but they are not shameful and they don’t define me. I am a whole person with multifaceted habits, goals, opinions.
I encourage everyone who is going through fertlity treatment, or struggling with infertility, to sit down and write out on a piece of paper exactly who they are. You might be surprised by the results.