Last Night I had a Dream

Last night I had a dream. In it I was talking with a dear friend about how her retirement and book writing were going.

By the way, in the dream, I was pregnant.  It was almost a side-note; it was so natural. There wasn’t any drama or trial about it.  It just was.

So in the midst of this lovely conversation, I told her that it was a boy.

Just like that.  I was pregnant, and it was a boy.

And then I woke up.  And I’m not pregnant, and it’s not a boy.

Nightmares don’t always feature monsters and terror.  Sometimes they come as ghosts of what is not.

That’s Not My Story

happilyToday, I saw facebook post from a couple announcing their pregnancy.  With the cute picture was a lengthy explanation, for this couple had struggled through infertility to conceive.  Now, they’re pregnant with twins.

I was with them through most of the story.

Then, they ended the explanation by saying they hadn’t forgotten about the rest of us facing infertility and to not give up because those babies are ALWAYS worth it no matter how unexpectedly they come.

And at this point, I was out.  I called bull-shit.

It’s easy to tell someone not to give up hope once you’re on the other side.  There’s an amnesia that happens that makes you forget that you’re one of the lucky ones.  Your overwhelming joy (and hormones) cloud your vision, and you want everyone to be able to feel the way you do.

But no one talks about the ones who don’t “succeed.”  No one tells the stories about the women who never do get pregnant. Instead, everyone talks about the ones who make it.  The ones who get the happy endings.  We share their stories and pictures.  I don’t know how many stories I’ve heard about “this couple I knew who couldn’t get pregnant until they went on vacation and just relaxed” or “a woman I knew one time with that; she’s got three kids now.”

And I get why.  No one wants to hear about the hopes and dreams that never come true.  We don’t share failure stories.  But we also don’t stop to think about what happens to those who fail.  Because we’re still listening.  We still hear all the success stories and the “be hopeful” mantras.  And we smile and keep quiet.  And most never know what we have been through.  Because no one wants to hear failure stories.

But we exist.  So, please don’t tell me not to “give up hope” or that it’s “always all worth it in the end” or that “it’s part of a plan.”  Because you don’t know that.  Just because you or your family member or a friend of a friend or this one person you heard about got a happy ending doesn’t mean the all of us do.  And know that sharing their successes only serves to highlight our failures.  They could do it.  Why can’t we?  And we do plenty of blaming ourselves without other people adding to it.

But mostly, people say those hollow optimistic phrases and share strangers’ success stories because it makes the speaker feel better.  It’s too uncomfortable and painful to say the words:

It might not happen.

We might never be parents.

You simply can’t bear to hear the truth that we face daily.

But they’re our stories.  And this is my story of infertility, and I get to tell it my way.  So, stop trying to force a happy ending where none may exist simply because it makes you feel better.

Cause it doesn’t do shit for me.

Guest Post: 50%

50-50

The guest author of this post is a wife and mother to an energetic toddler.  Although it ends happily, please be warned that her story is one of graphic loss.

We were married six months when I got pregnant. I went to the clinic, and the nurse told me to keep in mind that almost 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. It made me feel a little uneasy, but I went home and didn’t really worry about it for a while.

I was due in October.  My husband and I were both very happy I was pregnant, and we started thinking about names and how our lives would change.

At my February appointment, they took blood and all those things they do at a pregnancy appointment.  I was supposed to come back the next week to have my blood drawn again.  We also had an ultrasound scheduled in the next couple of weeks. By the time I got home, the doctor called to say that my hormone levels were dropping instead of going up.  He thought I was going to miscarry in the next couple of days.  It was a shock and disappointment to us, but I decided I had to get through it, and maybe it was for the best.

In the next days I started bleeding and passed the little clot that was the baby. I diluted it in a container with water and kept it on the sink until my husband came home from work, so he could see it.  It was only six weeks, so it was a tiny thing the size of a Lima bean.

After our miscarriage, we waited a while and tried to get pregnant again, but we were unsuccessful. I went to the doctor so many times.  I had an x-ray of my tubes and ovaries, I took ovulation pills, and then I decided to go a natural way and did a natural fertility cleanse and a full body adjustment.  Five years later, we had almost given up.  I’m not sure what worked, but something did, and we were surprised to find out I was pregnant in July and due in April.

Although we were happy, I kept feeling like something wasn’t right, so I went to the doctor a couple of times just to get my levels checked.  They looked good, so I waited.  We had an ultrasound scheduled again in the next weeks, but one evening I had bad back pain, and I felt like something was wrong, so we went to the ER.  They took blood, but everything looked fine. I tried not to worry, and I went to work like normal.  When it came time for my ultrasound, I was very excited.  But I knew something was wrong when the lady who did my ultrasound didn’t ask me any questions; she just turned the screen away from me and looked at it for a while. They sent me home without saying anything and told me my doctor would call with the results.

The next day my doctor called and told me to come in, so I went.  She told me unfortunately they hadn’t found a heartbeat, and the baby had stopped growing at about seven weeks.  I was in shock and cried the whole forty minute ride home.  I didn’t truly believe that my baby was gone.

I waited a couple of days, and I didn’t start bleeding, so the doctor said I should wait a couple more to see if anything would happen.  Nothing did.  They gave me a prescription to induce the miscarriage. The whole time I felt like they had made a mistake, that the baby was fine.  I wanted to believe it. But, after a few days, I took the pills. I diluted the tiny baby in water, again, and we said goodbye, again.

After our second loss, I was done being pregnant. It was too hard; I couldn’t do it again. We tried to move on.

After only three months, I was pregnant again. I didn’t really know how to feel.  I was emotional and full of doubt but secretly happy and hopeful.  I was very careful not to lift anything or do any hard work for the first four months. We had our first ultrasound on my 28th birthday, and he was healthy and strong and kicking all over the screen. Our son is now an energetic 16-month-old who loves to run around and play and laugh.

A lot of times when I just look at him, I’m so happy, and I forget how we lost two babies and the hard times I had getting over it.  Then, when someone asks when we’re going to have another child, I always say, “Oh, not for a while.  This one keeps me busy.”  Really, I’d love to be pregnant again, but I fear it will end badly.  I know all too well that almost 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Guest Post: Being a “Man” with Infertility

sperm analysis

(image from: http://nycivf.org/your-unique-fertility-needs/male-factor-infertility.php)

This guest post is written by Matthew Todhunter.  He is 30 years old and is married to his 26 year old wife, Amber. They live in a small town in Kentucky with Amber’s two children, who are 8 and 4.

From the author: I know I’m not the typical guy.  Most never want to speak about male factor infertility out of shame or embarrassment. But the more people realize that male infertility accounts for half of infertility cases, the more answers we can find. The scariest part about male infertility is it is usually a sign of an increased chance of mortality at a younger age. The World Health Organization has already declared it a world-wide emergency as male infertility rates keep increasing. If you have any questions, would like to talk, or would like to refer your partners to someone who has gone through the experience, feel free to contact me via my blog: The Struggles of an Average Man

We began trying to conceive when we married in March of 2016 and my wife quit her birth control. Conception didn’t become an issue until about eight months without success. Then, my wife scheduled a doctor’s appointment. She asked if I had ever had my semen analyzed, and I told her no, that there probably wasn’t anything wrong; it just needed to take time to happen.

About a month later, I bought a home semen analysis test that tells if the sperm count is above 20 million/ml which is considered normal. My sample was normal.  I wanted to be sure, so I called my family doctor and got an order for a semen analysis.  I had no idea what this would entail, but the lab wanted me to have the semen retrieved prior to coming in. I was already nervous going to drop the specimen off at the lab.  They told me if I came back in the next day, I could get the results.

Sperm are analyzed in three areas: count (the total number of sperm present), motility (how well the sperm move), and morphology (how well the sperm are formed).  My count was 16 million/ml, motility was 22%, and morphology was normal. I was so confused at the results. How could anything be wrong with me?

My wife and I took my results to her gynecologist. The doctor explained that the motility was way too low, and that I was the problem. She told me I needed to take a multivitamin and Zinc for three months and then test again. I took the medications religiously.  This time my motility jumped to 48%, but my count went down to 6 million.  Her doctor suspected I had a varicocele (a varicose vein of the testicle) and sent me to an urologist.

Like most men, I had had my prostate checked in the past, and it was never a “good” experience. I shook the doctor’s hand and immediately thought, God, this man has the hands the size of an NBA player. I could think of nothing more than that this Goliath of a man was going stick his hand up my butt in a few minutes. My wife said I was shaking during the whole examination. I told her I had to go home to take a shower because I felt violated.

The urologist said everything checked out physically and that I needed to take Proxeed, which is essentially sperm food. I took it for three months with no improvements. In fact my numbers went down slightly. At my follow up appointment, the urologist put me on Clomid (which is usually prescribed to women for ovulation, but in men can increase testosterone and possibly sperm count). I took it for three months, and although my numbers went up, the side effects were pretty rough: I gained about 45 pounds over three months.  And we didn’t conceive.

About five months ago, we began trying Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). For IUI, the man is required to go to a room and masturbate into a cup. The semen is then analyzed and washed, and the lively motile ones are transferred directly into the woman’s uterus at the time of ovulation.  This increases the chances of the sperm reaching the egg successfully.  We thought that IUI was the answer.

However, the whole experience was stressful.  At our first IUI cycle, I had awful performance anxiety. Something about a cold room with a leather chair and cheap porn magazines and office people walking by the door while I was trying to “collect my sample” just made it 100,000 times harder.  The second and third cycles weren’t as bad, but IUI was a weird, awkward experience for me.  And ultimately, the procedures were a waste of time and money.

IVF was our most recent failure. My wife went through all the shots and the ultrasound visits; we would get off work in the morning (we both work nights), drive an hour and a half to spend half the day at the doctor’s office, then drive home to sleep for three or four hours before going to work that night. Meanwhile, my wife was injecting drugs daily to supersize her ovaries and produce more eggs. Her belly swelled to roughly the size of a basketball.  At retrieval, they gave her anesthesia and aspirated her ovaries with a needle for the eggs. They only retrieved four. Seeing my wife lying there, crying after her surgery, going through everything she had gone through, was devastating to both my pride and my confidence.  I literally felt like I had been stripped of my manhood.

I spoke with the nurse while my wife lay there talking out of her head and crying about the eggs they retrieved. All four were mature, but the nurse stated that probably only half would fertilize and that we would only be able to transfer one or two and not have any left to freeze. However, we had to wait another full 24 hours before we would find out for sure.  My wife and I finally were able to leave and head home. Questions already began to swirl about why we only were able to retrieve four eggs after all the shots and stimulation she had gone through.

The following day we received a phone call from the embryologist that all four eggs had fertilized. We were so happy as we only expected half. They told us they would call us the following day and let us know if division had occurred. The next day we got the call that all four had divided and were progressing fairly well. One was slightly behind, but we were told it might catch up. They had scheduled our embryo transfer five days from retrieval, so a few days later, the doctor transferred two embryos which gave us a 75% chance of a successful implantation. We had no embryos to freeze.

This began the two week wait. Two weeks from the retrieval, nine days from transfer, we would know if my wife was pregnant. This was an agonizing, rollercoaster of a wait. There were days we were confident and days we weren’t. I tried to stay positive as much as possible as this was the best chance we had at pregnancy in the last eighteen months.

We decided we would test in the morning of the ninth day. I left work early, excited. We both went to the lab, had her blood drawn, and waited about twenty minutes. Her pregnancy result came back: positive. Her human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG–the pregnancy hormone) level was 17; however, and the doctor had told us that he likes to see levels over 50 for an initial result.  My wife was pretty upset even though the test was positive.

We called the doctor and spoke with the nurse. She stated that it was a good thing that it was positive but that we needed to test again in two or three days to see if the level doubled.  My wife was more concerned that she had began light spotting that morning, but the nurse wasn’t too concerned. As we waited for the next HCG test, my wife began to bleed ever so slightly more. She started to lose hope fast.

Three days after the initial test, we went to the lab for the second HCG level. The results came back: this time the level was 35. It had doubled! We were both excited, but immediately my wife freaked out.  Why she was still bleeding if the embryo had implanted and her HCG was rising? We had no idea, so we called the doctor on New Year’s Day. He stated that the odds were 50/50 and that we should test again in 48 hours.

This brings me to the day I would like to forget. The day where our happiness turned to sadness, our smiles to frowns, our tears of happiness to tears of sadness. I got off work and came home to pick my wife up to go to lab. She wasn’t happy at all that morning as her bleeding was at its worst. I tried to stay positive which wound up in us arguing.

At the lab, it was a terrible experience. The woman who drew my wife’s labs told her she was three months pregnant and that she wasn’t happy; she had an IUD in place and wished it had worked. My wife, as always, bit her tongue and didn’t say anything.

She’s all too used to tongue-biting because she works on a post-partum unit in the hospital taking care of new moms. In our city, about 50% of these new moms are addicted to some form of drug and have drug addicted babies. The hospital gives the babies morphine to curb their withdrawal symptoms. Then these women, who haven’t had any pre-natal care, haven’t been to any ultrasounds or doctor visits prior to birth for fear they will be drug tested, get their children back.

The woman at the lab handed my wife the paper with a smile, expecting us to be excited because the results were positive. The HCG level had fallen to 15, indicative of a miscarriage/chemical pregnancy.

A chemical pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants and begins to release HCG; however, the embryo quits growing, and the body rejects it most likely due to chromosomal abnormalities.  The HCG levels begin to fall to pre-pregnancy rates and bleeding ensues. I have read that anywhere from 40-50% of women experience this, yet they never know because it happens within a few days of a normal period, so most think they are just a few days late and never know that they were pregnant. I wish we didn’t know. The pain would be far less than we felt.

We knew then that our cycle had failed. Although my wife did get pregnant from IVF and she was carrying our child, it died. All the pain, stress, and lack of sleep was for nothing more than my wife getting pregnant and having it torn right back out. It was all a failure.

As a man, I feel responsible for all of what we have gone through. My wife has two kids already. With each, she got pregnant literally one month off of birth control. So naturally, I think, what is wrong with me? I will continue to think that I am less of a man and that I have let her down until we have a success and get to hold our child. Yet, I believe it will happen; it’s just a matter of when. I have to believe and try to muster confidence. I have to be strong because that is what men are supposed to do. Even though I don’t feel very strong at the moment, I will pick myself up, put on a game face, and tackle the day.

­­­­­We plan to do another cycle soon. Hopefully this time we will fall in the 75% and not the 25%.

 

Failure Follow-up

Tuesday, we talked to our doctor.  I already knew how the conversation would go…
blah blah blah: we don’t know why it failed.

The conversation really went more like this:

If a patient came in with failed IVF, our doctor would run a series of tests including a hysteroscopy (a visualization of the uterus and lining to check for fibroids and other issues), hysterosalpingogram (aka the “dye test,” which checks the fallopian tubes for blockages which can prevent implantation), and ultrasounds to check the uterine lining and blood flow.

Unfortunately, we already ran all those tests (plus all the hormone related ones), and they were fine.  My husband and our donor were also karyotyped (checking for chromosomal anomalies).  Both were normal and combined with the young age of the donor (19), the likelihood that the embryos had an anomaly affecting implantation is small.

One thing that could impact implantation is endometriosis.  Endometriosis is when the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus.  It can expand into the Fallopian tubes or even the abdominal cavity.  The test for endometriosis, however, is the surgery for treatment which is laparoscopy through the belly button.  My lack of symptoms leads the doctor to believe that this is not a concern.

Going forward, there is a biopsy of the uterine lining we could do to check for the presence of a particular protein.  Apparently, there is some research that suggests a lack of that protein can effect implantation, and there is medication to correct that deficiency. However, the research is largely in animals, and the fertility world isn’t in agreement about the validity of that research; therefore, the test is not considered standard.

The doctor also said we could add some medications referred to as a “histamine cocktail.”  Some research suggests that a histamine response can also affect implantation.  However, these medications can increase the risk of cleft lip and palate in resulting offspring.

So, as I expected, we have no answers as to why the transfer didn’t work and nothing particularly promising to change before trying again.

We can try with the remaining embryo as soon as we want. Our remaining embryo is a day 6 blast, which means it became a blastocyst on Day 6 (a day later than the embryos we transferred the first time).  It also was a 2/3 embryo; it’s on the cusp of being a stage 3.  At stage 3, the blastocyst embryo fills with fluid and “puffs up,” so the inside can be more easily viewed, allowing it to be graded.  As ours is not a full stage 3, it can’t be graded for quality.

Our doctor assured us that pregnancies do result from 2/3 embryos, and there is a 90% chance that it will survive thawing prior to transfer.

Shortly after our “regroup” with our doctor, I received a message from our clinic’s support services expressing their condolences for our failure and offering their counseling services in our time of “devastation.”  It seems to me that the message was about two weeks too late.

In the meantime, I’ve emailed our donor nurse for more information on the biopsy and what the next transfer cycle would entail as far as timeline.  And for now, we wait.

Guest Post: “You Should have a Baby”

childlessness

The author of this guest post is a fund- and friend-raiser for a nonprofit children’s shelter in Houston. She has been with her husband, a veterinarian, since they were freshmen in college.

From the author: I cried a lot writing this. Thank you for the catharsis. Recovering yourself and your marriage from depression you didn’t even know you had can predictably really slow down the timeline of becoming parents. Life gets in the way, and sometimes we just don’t have the strength to push back. Therefore, I want to extend grace to myself and others struggling with this situation. Having babies is more complicated than strange men wishing such a thing for a woman they hardly know.

 I’m dropping off a donation of household items someone gave me at a party, and the worker who is helping me says, “You should have a baby.”

“What?” I laugh. “Why?”

“Because you’re so happy all the time. You seem like you’d be a great mom.”

“Don’t we have a lot of babies to take care of here?”

“I guess. But they’re not really little. You should have a baby.”

He has no idea what he’s just said.  Even I didn’t parse it out until later.

Of course men telling me that I should have kids, especially in my professional setting, is nothing new. I work at a Christian shelter for children as a fundraiser, and it seems like, at some point, every man there has observed that I’d make a good mom.  Maybe it’s that nonprofit culture can be too familiar. Maybe it’s the Christian mission since the men at my church want to tell me this, too.  It’s even gotten as creepy as, “I have a feeling you’re going to be pregnant sometime soon.”

“Because you’re so happy all the time” is the kicker. Last December, just after turning 33, I was diagnosed with my first major depressive episode. Of course I’m happy now! I’m on drugs that work extremely well for me, and I practice daily self-care. (I use positive self-talk, eat meals, wear comfy clothing when I can, shower every day, and go running.) It’s taken a while to fully come to terms, but I believe I have wrestled with depression since I was 22.

For years, as depression manifested, I piled up the reasons (imagined and real) not to have kids: we don’t live close to family and that makes it hard, one of us would have to quit their job and we know who that is, my family would be indifferent to my baby and that would hurt too much, medical stuff freaks me out, so how could I go to all those checkups and then deliver in a hospital? The list went on, and on, and on.

baby carriages

It’s not like I never thought about having children.  In fact, thinking about whether or not to have kids caused me so much anxiety when I was depressed. I felt like I should want them, that we would make great parents, but life itself was overwhelming. Marriage was hard. Work was hard. Between my unmanaged depression and my husband’s demanding, stressful work as a veterinarian, I couldn’t see it. I liked to tell people that my husband and I have weeks where our marriage is a little like a frat house: we shout, “See ya later, roomie!” as we head out the garage door, grab each other’s asses as we pass in the hall, and face a wasteland of dishes and laundry on Sunday afternoons.

And there’s my husband to consider.  D. doesn’t want kids. When we first met, he said he never wanted to resent them taking up his time or attention. His family members are proud “introverts,” but I have discovered they are narcissists. I’m sure his mom and dad resented his presence often, which is why he wants to please everyone. Just like it took me until my 30’s to really get a handle on my depression, it’s taken him until his 30’s to feel confident in who he is and what he wants. Until our Godkids and friends’ kids got big enough to talk and play with, D. didn’t even like interacting with children.

 

I don’t want to tell you this next part on a blog about struggles with infertility. The number of people who know this information can be counted on both hands. But, I feel like it’s relevant because this is what unchecked mental illness has done to us.

My husband got a vasectomy with my blessing a few years ago. I desperately wanted to get off the pill, blaming it for my sexual pain and lack of libido. I got UTIs five or six times a year.  I felt like I had the vagina of 50-year-old and was enraged when a colleague in her 50’s told me she had “never had a problem” and “never used lubrication.” I mourned our wonderful college sex life.  Meanwhile, the fights we had over sex were insane. They were an unending feedback loop of shame and frustration and blame. Forget getting pregnant.  Was I ever going to even want sex again?  (I hadn’t even considered that my anxiety and depression probably had A LOT to do with it. When depressed, your sex life is one of the first areas in your life that suffers.)

We had many, many, many conversations about the vasectomy. I always cried. I couldn’t always say why I was crying. I thought about having a baby that looked like my sister. I thought about my mom holding her tiny granddaughter. I thought about how it was all too impossible to manage. Yet since his day at the clinic, I have never regretted the decision. I suppose I could if I really focused on it, but there are so many other regrets to manage and so many other ways to a make a family.

 

Our best friends adopted nearly two years ago. They got the call that their baby had been born on their tenth wedding anniversary. Twenty-four hours later they went to the NICU and got the release forms signed by both biological parents, which is rare and as legally tight as it gets. They are a perfect family: she is white, he is Chinese, their son is Hispanic.

Their toddler is precious and communicative. He tells you what he wants all the time and grows every day. He has a winning smile and feels big feelings. But the two halves of his brain never fused. He will never be a typical child, and we don’t know how far he will progress. Yet he’s amazing, and we all adore him.

Watching our dear friends become Mom and Dad to this boy has taught us everything. No child, no matter how they come to you, is guaranteed. You have to manage your expectations. And at the end of the day, no matter how many resources you do or do not have, love and advocacy is really all you have to give. And for all your hard work, you will be rewarded with joyful and terrible burdens.

I, myself, have felt “the call” to adopt for some time, and a few years ago, we went to Depelchin Children’s Center for an adoption 101 seminar.  While D. may be on the fence about having kids, biology isn’t an important thing for either of us. These kids don’t have to look like us to be “ours.”

Every few months I go on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange website. I tell the website I want kids in a certain age range with “mild” issues and hit search. Then, I look over the gallery of faces and imagine what those kids would be like. What it would be like to drive them to school or help them do homework at our dining room table? I try to imagine the mundane and routine because more than anything that’s what these kids need.

And I know there is a lot more to adopting a kid than looking at some photos. Working at a children’s home has educated me and changed me. Just this morning while we were drinking coffee in her office, my boss said, “We were supposed to have a group of five siblings come to visit this morning for placement. I don’t know that they are a good fit for the organization, but now they are not coming.”

“Oh, what happened?”

“The oldest, an 11-year-old girl, is having an emergency C-section this morning.”

“What?!”

“Yeah, her mother trafficked her for money. Can you believe that? She gave her daughter to two men for a couple of hours. And now this poor baby is at the hospital. How can she even comprehend what is happening to her? If I met that mother, I would kill her with my bare hands.”

I believe her. And I would help.

“How will she ever trust another human again?” I was crying now.  “What has happened to that woman that she could do that to her kids?”

From my work, I know all too well kids in the foster care system have typically experienced real trauma and abuse while the kids at our organization have “just” experienced lots of neglect, hunger, and maybe some “light” abuse. CPS has not removed them from home, yet.

But the kids that completely broke my heart were the brother and sister who came to live at the children’s shelter at the beginning of one school year. Gorgeous children. Like dolls, with big green eyes and beautiful hair and skin. They never smiled. They had been living in hotel rooms and couch surfing with their mom for who knows how long. The kids had never watched educational television. The 7-year-old had never been to any kind of school. The 5-year-old had never heard the ABC song. Three months later, they made a game out of who could count to one hundred first. The 7-year-old refused to stop reading to eat. That summer, their mom took them back. She had brand new twins and needed help from the “older kids” to care for them.

I don’t know if I am strong enough to be a mom to a kid who has really been through it. As a foster mom at the seminar said about her role, “You gotta rock with the child.” No matter what they do, no matter how old, no matter how hard. I like to think I would commit and never, ever give up. I want to think I could be that woman.

D. and I are such softies that bonding isn’t going to be our adoption challenge. But we have a few more “adult” achievements to gain before being ready for a home study. We need a better car, and D. feels we need our own home. We just are not there yet. But we have time especially because we don’t want an infant. We could get started when I’m 36 or 37. We could keep putting it off.

Right now, though, I’m so much better than I thought was possible. I am present, alive, imperfect, and growing. We’re there for our friends and their perfect atypical son. We brought over champagne and put up baby gates with them the day he learned to crawl. We lost our shit with them when he walked across a room. D. has a fan club of little boys who can’t believe his Lego collection. And I spend time working with the teens at my job on their essays and speeches. Our lives are full of children. And our house is still sometimes a frat house.

 

 

 

 

 

What are you supposed to say?

What are you supposed to say to someone with a pregnancy loss or IVF failure?

I get it; it’s hard to know what to say.  It’s kind of like trying to figure out what to say to someone who just lost a loved one.  Except, in that case, you can always share your memories of the person and the things you loved about them.  You can’t do that with the unborn.

In our case, most everyone’s being supportive.  They’re expressing their sympathies and sadness for us.  I’m really trying to be appreciative, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings because my reactions are about me and our experiences, not necessarily about those who mean well, but, mostly, I just wish people wouldn’t say anything at all.

I know what you’re thinking: then why write the blog?  I wrote the failure post so everyone would know, and I wouldn’t have to actually tell anyone because I really don’t want to talk about the disappointment of it, especially, not in person.  Because when someone offers their condolences, I have to say something too, and I have to try not to cry.

They say things like, “I’m sorry.  We were really pulling for you.”  This one is okay, except, I don’t ever know what to say back other than, Yep.  Me too.

Others say things like, “You’ll try again.  You’ve got one more embryo, right?”  This one is more like a punch in the gut.  Sure.  Why not?  Why not go through all that torture and the unknown one more time?  Why not have my heart broken once more?  And we probably will.  But that doesn’t do a damn thing to make this failure any better.

Many say things like, “Think positive.  There’s still hope.”  I can feel the rage starting to build in the back of my throat just typing it.  Why, in the world, would I be hopeful?  That’s just asking for more pain.  I’ve tried hopeful.  It doesn’t work.

Others say things like, “Keep trying.  It’ll all be worth it.”  And if it’s not?  And if it just continues to fail over and over again?  Why keep torturing ourselves?  At some point the costs outweigh the possibility.

Then there are those who say things like, “Miracles happen.  We’re praying for you.”  This one just makes me roll my eyes.  Miracles are miracles because they’re rare.  Not everyone gets one. We love to hear those stories, and we love to share them.  Everyone knows someone who.  But we forget about the millions of other cases where no miracle occurs.  We block out the fact that most of us get failure and pain.  Wishing for a miracle is like winning the $600-billion lottery.  And we aren’t the kind of people who win the lottery.

And a few say things like, “I just read your blog.  I don’t know if you’ve tried it, but I sell this product that blah blah blah.”  Dear lord.  Stop trying to sell me your latest direct-marketing, pyramid-scheme supplement to magically “cure” my infertility.  The same goes for fertility “diets,” “natural” products, and whatever worked for that one lady you knew one time. I’m glad you know more than my world-leading infertility specialist who, in addition to a medical degree and decades of research and experience, actually knows the specifics of my case.

Then there’s, “It’s part of your plan.  Maybe you’re just not supposed to build a family that way.”  Really?  Would you tell a parent who lost a child that it was part a “plan”?  I sincerely hope not.  And if you would, it might be best to just not say anything at all instead.

 

Then, the ones who really get it say, “This just sucks.  It’s bull-shit.  2017 can suck it.”  And, with them, I agree whole-heartedly.