It was very late at night, perhaps almost midnight.
My husband Doug and I were lying in bed, in the dark, listening to the monotonous whoosh of the fan turning overhead and our dog’s quiet snores wafting across the room from his bed in the corner. Just as I was drifting off to sleep the room suddenly lit up.
“That’s your phone.” I said. “Someone has sent you text message.”
“Have they?” murmured Doug, also half asleep. “That’s nice.”
Realising he wasn’t going to fetch his phone off his nightstand, and curious about who would text at such a time, I stretched over his body and plucked his iPhone off the charger. I could see his sister’s name on the brightly lit screen.
“It’s Jess.” I said, shaking him a little. “Maybe the baby is coming?”
My sister-in-law Jess was due any day with her second baby. The one that had taken them three months to conceive. The one that had been flaunted in my face for the past nine months, never mind the fact that for a time earlier in the year we had both been pregnant and I’d lost my chance at happiness in April.
“The baby isn’t coming.” Doug said, taking his phone and putting it back on the charger. “We have just been texting all night. Chatting.”
“This is very late for her to be chatting.” I pointed out, mildly suspicious.
“She has insomnia.” he said dismissively.
With that, he curled his arm around my waist, pulled my body flush against his and whispered in my ear that I should try to get some sleep.
The next morning I was awoken by the sound of my own phone vibrating insistently. Someone was calling me. I forced my eyes open and glanced at the screen. My mother-in-law’s name was buzzing at me. My mother-in-law and I barely speak to each other anymore. She wouldn’t call me at 7am even if her house was burning down. It could only mean one thing. I ignored the call, threw back the blanket, trudged down the hall and found Doug in the shower.
“Your mother is trying to call me.” I said. “She must have baby news.”
Doug turned off the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist and crossed the room to wrap his arms around me.
“Jess went into labour yesterday.” he said. “I didn’t tell you because I wanted you to get a good night’s sleep. The baby was born about an hour ago. It’s a little girl and they named her Amy.”
And that is how my heart broke into a million pieces.
Of course I pretended I was fine, I said how pleased I was that Jess had an easy birth, how excited I was that Layla had a new little sister and then I kissed my husband goodbye as he rushed off to an early work meeting. But as soon as his car’s tail lights had disappeared around the corner I was a sobbing mess.
I cried as I showered myself, cried as I sat with my legs on the edge of the bath tub inserting another tube of Crinone gel into my cervix to provide progerstone support to the low quality embryos that had been transferred six days ago and surely hadn’t implanted. I cried as I dressed myself, cried as I fed the dog, cried as I realised I had spent so long crying that I had now missed the bus and would be late for work. I cried as I reversed my own car out of the drive, cried as I drove to work, cried as I paid for parking, and then somehow managed to pull myself together right before I entered my office. Just after 10am I lost it again, locked myself in one of the bathroom stalls and cried so hard I couldn’t breathe anymore. Gulping for lungfuls of air, I began to choke, and then gag. I thought I was going to pass out.
The birth of new babies are a time for celebration. But I felt like I couldn’t have been more upset if someone had told me my grandmother was dead. This was…grief. But what was I grieving for? I was bitter, despondent and guilty. Good people didn’t react in such a way when they were given happy news. There was clearly something very wrong with me.
Jess and her husband had started trying for their second baby a year after we started trying for our first. And yet here they were actually holding their little bundle of joy, and we were still childless. And filled with hate. Jess and her baby were a reminder of every inadequacy in my reproductive system. They were proof that I was flawed, incapable, a failure.
Another small piece of hope was sapped from my heart that morning. With Jessica’s baby came irrefutable proof that the world was moving on, that the world had never stopped. The world does not wait for me, or my children. Other people around me would fall pregnant and have healthy babies, but my life would continue to be on stand-by. And that was something completely out of my control. Other people were going to feel joy even if I felt none, and there was nothing I could do about it.
I felt absolutely disgusted that I still feel nothing but bitterness, jealousy and anger for Jess and her baby. I don’t know who I have become. I don’t recognise my own face in the mirror anymore. I have become weak, and sad, and little.
Even my fertility doctor noticed that I have “allowed negative thoughts to take over my mind” lately. I haven’t had the emotional strength to blog. I have very much wanted to write, because writing is something I love, and my emotional outlet. But when I would log into wordpress, I’d just stare at the computer screen until I thought I was going to cry, and then click the little red X in the top corner. I had become a shell of myself. A dark blanket has been thrown across my mind, and is stifling my happiness and sense of self.
The fertility doctor said she has seen this happen before. Infertile women reach a point where they are just completely beaten down by their circumstances, and they just become tired of it all. Will I ever be a mother? I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. Does that tear me up inside? Yes, it really does. My doctor has referred me to a new counsellor. My first appointment is next week. She specialises in treating women who are going through IVF, so maybe she will be more understanding than the last counsellor I saw.
I’m not sure how much shit one person can put up with in one year. Major surgery, three cycles of IVF, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a frozen embryo transfer, early pregnancy loss, pushing through with my exams and graduating from my masters degree, a horrible bout of the flu, strep throat, pneumonia, finding out I am losing my job at the end of the year, a nasty mother-in-law, watching my sister-in-law have her perfect second baby, and most likely finding out this cycle has also been a bust and my embryos didn’t take. Again.
I found this little quote and I really like it. I think it applies to me. I am trying to make it my mantra.
I am trying to fight my way out of this fog of depression and anxiety. I will try to write more, I will try to tell you about my cycle, I will try to offer you all the support I once offered you. The support I appreciated so much from you, and the support I enjoyed providing in return. I’m not making any promises, but I will try. And maybe one day I will look back on this and feel pride that I made it through to the other side. Maybe.