“You know, I am ok,” I said to my therapist on Wednesday. “I am sad, I am angry and I am frustrated to be unwillingly thrown back into this infertility roller coaster, but ultimately, I am ok.”
This was a really, really big declaration for me. In the past when sad/bad/traumatic things happen and prompt big emotion I shut down. I stop sleeping, panic fills my chest and I can’t think logically about anything. Over the last few months, I have learned that I have the same fear reaction to strong emotions as people who suffer from arachnophobia have to spiders.
I was raised to be tough and to shove things aside, often being criticized as acting dramatically or being selfish when I let emotions bubble to the surface. No harm was meant in this. On the contrary, my parents were only trying to raise a solid, strong, rational person. But it backfired, making me absolutely terrified to feel things. Terrified to feel life.
My therapist is amazing and has been slowly bringing traumatic experiences of my past to the surface. We let them simmer, we poke them a bit, we monitor my reactions and we talk about the chemical reactions that are happening in my brain as I start to panic. It has been the most productive therapy of my life and I can finally see real light at the end of this tunnel.
The miscarriage, shitty and devastating as it is, is actually a great test of these new skills. I’m letting myself feel sad when sad happens. I’m letting myself cry when tears burn. I’m letting myself be angry when the rage rises. I am being kind to myself when the crashing hormones cause me to act irrationally, remembering that this action was merely the result of chemicals in my brain and in no way defines who I am. I remind myself that I am not this experience. I am not this grief.
And I have been ok. There have been no sleepless nights and no chest sucking panics. I apologize to my husband when I act insane and he says he understands, it takes time. I am putting extra energy into being there for Sabine, as I know during the brief pregnancy I was extremely preoccupied and distant. When I slip and lose my temper I hug her and apologize. She does not understand what happened, but I hope she at least senses that her mother is trying her damnedest and that maybe I can set a good example of how one should healthily handle grief.
I have our one crumpled ultrasound picture from the first scan sitting on my desk. A pathetically tiny dot in a sea of grainy black and white. The date discrepancies and “high risk” notification along the edge. I was going to throw it away but for some reason feel I should keep it, and right now I need it front and center. It is reminding me to be sad and to feel. I’m not ready to let this baby go yet. It took months for me to let Pip, our first loss, “go” and I think it will take months for this one as well.
The Professor and I have gone back and forth about how to proceed. We had been so comfortable with one child before this happened and we opened our hearts to the idea of two. Now, just having one seems so lonely. Sabine deserves a chance at being an awesome big sister and she deserves the chance for a lifelong relationship with a blood sibling. My husband and I deserve the chance to try for that and can’t let the judgement of those around us (some family is not supportive of our having more than one) influence this decision. Our decision.
More treatments, though, are not an option. IVF and all the hormones involved were devastating for my system. The heartbreak, the invasive appointments, the jargon and cold florescent lights were all too much. We both agree treatments are over.
Instead, we’ll take this spring and summer to heal, to mourn, and to enjoy our amazing child in this amazing city. In October we will start a year of natural attempts at pregnancy. If a baby comes we will rejoice. If not, we will know we tried and it will be time to move on. Until October, we are going to work to improve our egg and sperm quality with supplements and lifestyle changes. I did not have genetic testing done on this baby but am fairly confident that it was a chromosomal abnormality. The similarities between it and my first loss, which was a Trisomy 15, were too great.
Most importantly, though, we reserve the right to change our mind if October comes and we don’t want to go down that path. My husband respects my body and my choices. If I don’t want to try, I don’t have to. There will be no discussion about it. And the same goes for him. So time will tell.