Over a year ago, our first attempt at IVF was halted just before egg retrieval. My body broke through the lupron suppression and ejected the eggs about 24 hours early. Things had been going so well, and I had emotionally turned the corner into thinking that it was actually going to happen. I was actually going to get pregnant and have a baby. I was devastated.
In my devastation, I turned to a friend who had experienced 2 first trimester miscarriages. And while I didn't want to minimize her experience, I chose my words very carefully and said "emotionally, this is hitting me as if it were a miscarriage." And she said very sternly "Alex, you did not have a miscarriage" as if to say how dare you compare your pain to mine.
I've now experienced a second trimester miscarriage. And I stand by my original assessment of that halted IVF experience. Was it exactly the same? No. 2 days of believing you're going to have a baby is obviously not as severe as a few months of believing you're going to have a baby. Just like I know I can't compare my second trimester loss to someone who has lost their child in the third trimester, or after birth. The longer you believe you have something, the more severe the feeling of loss when it's taken away from you.
But it hits you as devastating all the same.
I went into my most recent FET almost hoping it would fail so I could move on to a fresh IVF cycle. Playing the odds, I have a better chance of having 2 children in the long run if I harvest and bank more embryos now while I'm as young as I'm ever going to be.
And yet when it did fail, I went into grieving and tears just like when I first lost the girls. It seriously felt like I was right back to that time period shortly after I lost them. I not only felt the loss of this failed attempt, but I emotionally rehashed the pain from the miscarriage.
Being the analytical person that I am, I came up with a reason why this might be the case. When doing IVF, we are pumped full of those same hormones that are created naturally during pregnancy. Those hormones are what create an emotional attachment, a bond with your potential child. And to have that bond broken again, it feels like the child died. Logically, we know that it's not really that a child died, it's the potential that was never realized, but chemically and emotionally, that's what we are being programmed to feel.
Miscarriage is horrible. Obviously. But when you are going through infertility, every single month feels like another miscarriage. Loss after loss after loss.
So my infertile friends, I hereby give you my permission to mourn as you need to. It is similar, it is comparable. When we miscarry, we hit the pain scale at a 95. When we lose another month of potential, we hit that scale around 70. But when you're hit with a brand new 70 every thirty days, over and over and over again, that's a whole lotta pain going on.
And to friends and family of someone experiencing infertility, that's what they are dealing with. So don't poo-poo their pain away. Don't dismiss it. It's real. It's long lasting. And it's exhausting.