Sunday, November 15, 2009

IVF 5: Grieving

I am grieving. I am. I try not to let the world see how sad I am. I am working and busy with my life. I have too much pride and awkwardness to cry in public. But sometimes the tears well up and I just can't prevent them.

I am grieving for my embryos. Not just my latest embryo, which I nicknamed Moja (The Little Dude was known as Mojo when I was pregnant - A private joke, as the Big Dude hadn't contributed sperm, but he was "working his mojo"), but all of them. Five of them in the last two years and one extra in 2004 who accompanied the Little Dude into my uterus but didn't stay.

I know they were not babies, those six little embryos. They were just little four-celled creatures. But they were potential babies. They were all created with love and hope. They were all alive when the specialist put them inside me. They were our potential children and my Little Dude's potential brothers and sisters. I am grieving the fact that he didn't get to know them just like I am grieving the fact that I didn't get to know them. They are still a loss, a huge loss to me.

I am grieving for the loss of what I have put into this process. My bank account, so carefully built up and now empty. My body, so laboriously prepared and now fat and slack and exhausted and ill. My relationship with the Big Dude, so hopefully worked on, which has taken so much strain. His health, which has taken too much of a burden and is not good.

But mostly I am grieving for my hopes, which were carefully cultivated to motivate me through this painful, unpleasant, humiliating proceess. My hopes of a second child, for a noisy house with two children playing and fighting, for a life filled with people.

I tried, but I lost. I just have to face the fact that I put everything I had at risk for this, but I lost.

My Little Dude was disappointed, too. I had to tell him some time ago what we were trying to do, because all these visits to the clinic at the hospital, to see the specialist, made him anxious that I was sick. He knows that some people get sick and die and I could see him worrying. When we first saw the specialist, the Little Dude came out of the offices and said, tremendously excited, "Where's the baby? Can I see him now?" It was him who asked for one more try.

He is a smart and sensitive boy and good at empathy. My Big Dude is uncomfortable with grief. He hugged me but then he sat rigid in his chair as I wept and wept. The Big Dude never cries. It's ridiculous, but I felt like I should apologise for crying.

But my Little Dude climbed on my lap, took a tissue and wiped my tears away as they fell. He was disappointed himself, but he gave me little sympathetic kisses through the day and climbed into my bed and stayed with me all night to comfort me.

At least I got one child. One very beautiful child - beautiful inside and out. In my worst moments, I feel like I have ruined my life by trying again. But I don't blame myself for looking at my child and wanting another one. Humans are greedy. We get one kind of happiness and just want more. I don't blame myself for trying for another child, for reaching out for more of this kind of happiness.

I haven't made any final decisions. Our clinic asked me before this one failed if this was our last attempt. I muttered "Probably", but I didn't really have an answer. I still don't and it's too soon to try to have an answer.

It's possible we will try again. Officially, we are booked in for another cycle in February 2010. But the clinic says I have to pause for a while and let my body recover from all these cycles, or it will simply stop responding to the drugs altogether. Of course, after what my specialist said about our lack of time, a break for a few months may make the decision for us, anyway.

Rationally, we can't afford another cycle, especially financially. But if we'd focused on being rational, we probably wouldn't have tried at all.

I tell my friends I am running out of cash and optimism. I think if we had more chance, I would be more optimistic and more willing to keep going. If we had good cycles and were simply not pregnant yet, the obvious answer would be to just do more cycles until we got there. But our cycles are terrible. Out of five cycles, we only got to transfer three times. Specialists say that IVF is a numbers game, and our numbers are very poor. Our chances of getting pregnant are really very low.

But the sad fact is that, in some ways, its the cash that is the main problem. If we had limitless money, I would probably keep going until I had not a single egg left. Then I might even consider donor eggs. It's a step well beyond where I wanted to go, but the whole process is so far beyond anywhere I actually wanted to go that its a moot point. But all of that costs money, a lot of money. We are already badly in debt. I curently have two major loans - one for the Little Dude which is almost paid off and one for the last two years - and I would need take another loan to try again. It seems dangerously foolhardy to take on more debt when I still have my Little Dude to raise.

It's very hard to know when to give up. I read somewhere that infertility patients are second only to cancer patients for what they will put their bodies through. I told myself I would do up to five or six cycles, then see how I felt, and that is where we are now. There are always people you know or hear of who flog their bodies through nine, ten cycles, and are just about ready to give up, then get pregnant on that final cycle. But of course, there are always those people who you never hear of who do their nine or ten cycles, bankrupt their wallets and their bodies and their souls, and have nothing to show for it. I'm more than ready to move on from IVF, but its hard to move on from all possibility of a second child.

But I don't want to keep going just because I don't know how to stop.

Apologies to my readers for the length and incoherence of this post. But, but, but... my thoughts are like one, long, endless sentence, with too many buts. But this is the only place that I can say all this.

Intuitively, I have a feeling it may be time for us to take a break, at least for now. We need a pause to rebuild, and appreciate what we have. The pause may become a permanent stop. It may be time for a different kind of life, a different kind of happiness.


Blogger Sailor said...

Don't apologize Emily, not ever, not for feeling grief; not for sharing it, when you need to. I only wish there was something, anything, that I could do from here, other than tell you that I'm grieving with you, and sending you all the loving hugs that can be sent across the 'net.

Your little dude, is one special kid- and whether you try again or not, just your description of him wiping your tears, trying to comfort you has me in tears here. What a loving, special Mom you are, to have such a wonderful boy to care for you.

Hugs, and love-

3:49 PM  
Blogger Fiona said...

What a special boy you have there, Emily. Just so special.

I'm beyond sorry that this didn't work out for you and I wish there was something I could do.

Know that you are being thought about and I'm sending hugs


4:12 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I've read your blog for quite some time now and have always found you to be a person with lots of love to give to a child. There are so many other wonderful parentless "little dudes - dudettes" out there. Won't you consider adoption as a viable option? It might just be the win-win solution that is really God's intention for you. Think about it...

4:49 PM  
Blogger Val said...

My deepest condolences, Em... Give yourself some time to recover, body & soul!
My BFF used donor eggs after several cycles so you might consider that possibility (I offered my own but I was over the age limit!). She has 2-yr old twin boys now.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Trueself said...

Oh Emily I feel so much empathy for you. You have put yourself through way more than I did before I said "Enough!" I was weak, couldn't go through it time after time, and gave up early. I admire so much your strength. It is not a lack of strength that brings the tears. It is a necessary part of the grieving and healing process.

Take some time. Grieve your losses. They are quite real. Focus on your Little Dude (and your Big Dude too) and just rest, breathe, meditate, open your mind and your heart for wherever you may be lead to go in the future.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Cat said...

Oh Emily I agree with everyone else and I have to add my condolences for your loss. But Sailor is right never apologize you have every right to everything you are feeling. Give yourself time, enjoy your wonderful little dude and big dude for that matter.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Tajalude said...

All I can say is I'm so sorry and disappointed for you. Thank God for your boy, and your man. They are truly a blessing.

4:30 PM  

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