It has been 16 days since we received the negative results from our embryo transfer, but it feels like more. I’ve dreaded writing this entry for each one of those days.
Now that we have become open about our experiences, I feel the expectation to deal with things right or at the very least well, but the truth is that I don’t know what “right” is anymore. There is an enormous pressure to assure everyone that we are okay now, that we are moving forward and remaining positive. All of my life I have believed that you should hide your pain from the world, that no one around you should know how much you’re hurting. That is how I’ve handled 15 years of chronic illness so far and for a long time it was how I handled infertility as well. There are walls around me so high that most people give up on climbing them long before they see inside. By writing this blog I am actively going against that every day and sometimes the turmoil it creates inside of me feels like too much to bear. But there is a reason we chose to be open and I still believe in that reason, which is why I’m forcing myself to write this entry when everything in me is screaming at me to stop.
How long is long enough to mourn loss? A broken dream? The undoing of hope? I feel as though I’m being told that I passed “long enough” a little while ago and that it’s time to move on now.
After the bad news I wanted to put as much space between us and the transfer as possible. I wanted to erase the pain of the experience and so I tried to erase the experience itself. I said goodbye to the hope we had of having a child in 2015– that was no longer possible now– and tried to forget that I had ever believed our last childless Christmas was behind us. I scrubbed and cleaned the house and reorganized our bedroom until I was exhausted and aching. I did all the things I’d been meaning to do for months but never had the time for during treatment, even chopping several inches off my hair. I wanted to change the things in life that I did have control over, however small.
It helped me cope for a little while, but within a few days the guilt and pain crept back in. I felt terrible for wanting to forget that embryo and whatever it was or could have been. It seemed like there should be a proper way to mourn the loss but life had not prepared me for that.
So the next couple days passed by with dinnertime ice cream and binge-watching sessions on Netflix. The only action I felt capable of taking was pressing ‘Play Next Episode’ while the world went on without us. Based on the view from our bedroom, the rest of life appeared to have shrunken to a disproportionately small size. I didn’t want to be forced to continue pretending that all those little things mattered to me.
Getting through Kyle’s birthday this past Saturday so soon after everything else only further added to the difficulty. Any kind of celebration is tough during loss, but birthdays are also a reminder that yet another year is gone. One of the very first things infertility ruins is any indifference in getting older. The fact that Easter fell on the same weekend made celebration unavoidable.
The understanding that we would have to wait another 6-8 weeks to transfer the next embryo only added to our devastation. A little more than two weeks ago, planning for another transfer seemed impossible but now it is our reality. We have a new date set for May that feels as far away as old age. I dread every painful moment of the next several weeks and I’m not sure how I will get through them.
Part of me still doesn’t want to face the future. I don’t want to make plans and put my hope in another transfer, the last embryo we have available. I don’t want to go through all the emotions of waiting to get to there, and I don’t know how I will survive the aftermath. But what choice to we have? The only other option would destroy my heart completely.
‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’
– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll