I should be finishing up my work and heading to bed, but I can’t focus. I’m already exhausted, worn down to my core. I’ve been taking too much on lately, yet also struggling to stay on top of the most basic tasks. I’m overwhelmed, but at the same time I have a hard time finding the motivation to care about achieving my goals. I’m tired. I’m sad.
One of the hardest parts of infertility is all the waiting. I’ve been waiting for 8 days to know if I’m pregnant or if a new cycle is starting. I will keep waiting for 4 or 6 more days, and each one will be a challenge. It may not sound like a long time, but it feels like an eternity. All the uncertainty, and the secret hope, and the determination to not hope at all, can really wear you down.
I am at a point where I think I won’t even know how to react if I do get pregnant. It seems so foreign to me. I see pregnant women around me and I wonder how it happens. I mean, of course I know, but conceiving a child is such a miracle, such a crazy improbability, that I have the hardest time wrapping my mind around how it happens so often. How it happens for couples who are not trying, or who do not want their miracle. How a tiny human being can actually grow inside a woman’s body. How people actually have kids who look like them. After we have been trying for so long, it seems so incredibly impossible.
Lately, I’ve heard several stories of miscarriages. Miscarriages are tragic; I know that. Miscarriages are traumatic and painful; I know that. My heart breaks for those who go through such a terrible experience, but, at some crazy, irrational level, I also grieve, selfishly, for myself when I hear of another’s loss. It might not make any sense, but my heart breaks that I have never even been in the position of carrying a child and having the possibility of a miscarriage. To be clear, I’m sure that if I were to actually experience a loss, there is no way I would prefer it to what I have now. I am positive I would be crushed, and I do not mean to minimize or trivialize the devastating loss that so many I know and love have had to endure. I think it is important to be honest with myself and others about the process that I have been going through, though, so even though I am not proud of it, I am still sharing this small aspect of my struggle.
When it comes down to it, grief does not always make sense, and I feel that I am struggling far beyond my capacity right now. I think my thoughts above stem from the fact that, at times, I wish I had something tangible to grieve. I wish my loss was something I could share more easily, something that would bring others forth with words and hugs and gestures of support and concern. Sometimes, I think I wish I were in any situation other than the one I’m in. I suppose this is probably a “grass is greener” phenomenon, and my friends who have dealt with loss would probably shake their heads at my naivete.
I think it is a natural response to try to find ways to justify our own pain, although it is not healthy or constructive. I sometimes find myself thinking, “Well, she might be struggling, but at least she [knows she can get pregnant / already has a baby / has the financial resources to jump right to IVF / anything else that I might be jealous of].” I’m sure that others might look at me and think similar things: “At least she [has a husband / hasn’t lost a baby / ovulates on her own / is still young / anything else I might take for granted].”
No matter what our situation is, there is always something that we have that someone else might be envious of, there is always something that could be worse. When it comes to grief and suffering, though, comparison is never useful. When you are going through an all-consuming and tragic experience, the “at leasts” seem dismissive and do not offer any comfort; we are aware of and grateful for the ways in which we are fortunate, but they do not actually diminish the grief that we feel. For those on the outside, these “at leasts” only serve to create bitterness and divide us from those we should be supporting. Our experiences are diverse, and I am sure that our emotional responses are equally varied. Because there simply is no use in comparing our pain to others’ and trying to determine who has it worse, I am trying to eliminate these “at leasts” from my thinking.
Our struggles may be different, but I’m sure they are all devastating in their own ways. When it comes to infertility and loss, there simply is no pretty. There is no easy. There is only heartache and grief, intense personal sadness that no other can truly comprehend; it is so deeply personal, and it can be so very deeply isolating. It’s hard, plain and simple. It’s just hard. If we can learn to respect each others’ experiences as valid, even if they are different from our own, if we can support each other unconditionally through the various challenges that come our way, I am sure that we can each become that much stronger, individually and as a community. And isn’t that something worth striving for?