Lately I’ve been cycling through emotions so quickly that even I am struggling to keep up. I’ve always described myself as a fairly emotional person, but I’ve started to feel as though I’m made of only the most delicate glass, able to be shattered into tiny pieces by the smallest bump in the road. People often say that experiencing something like infertility is like being on an emotional roller-coaster, but that is only partially accurate. In truth, there are very few highs amid the devastating lows, and just when you think you may have actually reached the lowest of the lows, you somehow fall even further.
The heartbreak and grief I expected to feel in the midst of infertility are even more achingly painful than I ever could have dreamed. It is a wound that cannot heal. Sometimes it is freshly opened by a careless comment from a friend or family member, a pregnancy announcement or update on Facebook, or even a seemingly benign commercial for children’s Tylenol. Sometimes it’s rubbed raw by seeing a family together at church, hearing the voice of a small child in the aisles of Target, or even just catching sight of a photograph from our wedding day, when we were both still so young and so full of hope for the future. I face hundreds of triggers like these in a day, and there are a countless number of them in all due to the fact that pregnancy, children, and families are all a large part of the fabric of life. Avoiding them is impossible; attempting to minimize them is a constant undertaking.
If at any point I have seemed unaffected by grief during the last several years, it is because I have gone to a great deal of effort to hide the pain I carry around each day. There is never even a moment when it doesn’t follow me or a moment when I can push it from my mind. In fact, the only time I haven’t felt the agony of our infertility hovering over me like a heavy cloud was while we were far away from everything, living out a dream while traveling through England & Wales earlier this autumn. Those two weeks were like a burst of sunshine breaking through the clouds, but even that was superficial and not meant to last forever. Now we’re back in our empty home, and the fragile house of cards we managed to build up in our days of happiness came tumbling down again within a week of our return.
I had wanted to feel strong as we began the search for a gestational carrier and finally started to prepare for our first IVF cycle. I thought that if we could go into this next step stronger than we were when we left for our trip in September, maybe the inevitable setbacks wouldn’t be able to knock us down as easily as they have in the past. Maybe we could come back on a high that would carry us through those first uncertain days. But that plan, like many others before it, has been scattered into the wind.