I know. I know. You're sitting there thinking, how many more words can this girl possibly write about infertility? I can understand this sentiment, because quite frankly, I get sick of thinking about it myself. I wish I could empty my brains of all the feelings and thoughts and feelings that are taking over my every waking moment. Because, you see, there are so many feelings.
I've never been a particularly sensitive person. This personality trait led to a great many moments of discord growing up with a mother and a sister who are more sensitive than a bundle of raw nerves. I rarely went out of my way to be mean, but I would consistently make comments or behave in ways that branded me as "thoughtless". As I grew older and slightly more mature I learned that it took just a little extra effort for me to be thoughtful and compassionate toward other people's feelings. It's not that I don't ever feel sad or hurt or misunderstood--I have an entire blog category dedicated to my struggles with depression--it's just that I often have trouble communicating these feelings, or even understanding them myself, so to avoid dealing with them I pour them into a neat little bottle and pack them away into a deep, dark corner of my psyche.
So, it's not that I don't have feelings, it's just that I get very uncomfortable acknowledging or expressing my feelings in anything but writing.
But ever since it began to dawn on us that making a baby wasn't going to be quite the hey presto experience we were expecting, all of that has changed. I am constantly feeling sad, or angry, or hopeful, or bitter, or jealous, or betrayed, or worried, or any number of other complicated emotions that I can't just power through, dash off a blog post about and carry on with my life. I spring rapidly from one feeling to the next, leaving me with a sense of emotional whiplash. One minute I'll be feeling optimistic or even excited about our fertility treatment plan, so then why do I suddenly want to punch that woman who is complaining about her child? Or, I was just feeling incredibly guilty about how my anger has gotten the better of me once more, promising myself that I will find better ways to channel my emotions than through jealousy and bitterness, and now I want to write a scathing Facebook post about pregnant women who think they can just go out in public any old time walking around all PREGNANT. Or hey, maybe we'll miraculously get pregnant in that one last cycle after Colby gets home, and then we won't have to worry about any of this! And then I'm right back to this is all so fucking unfair, woe is meeeeeee, I hate the world today.
I never know how I'm going to feel when I wake up in the morning. I dread falling asleep because I don't know if I can handle another dream where I discover I'm pregnant or am joyfully juggling twins, only to wake up and find myself just as babyless as ever. There are days where I feel a sense of lightness, because we have this figured out and I am excited for the future. Then there are days where I wonder how anybody can look at me and not see that I am falling apart.
This weekend, I somehow landed on a website detailing Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief.
Anyone who has taken an Intro to Psych class has seen these before, but seeing it there in writing, just as I was going through it... it was as though the clouds parted, and I had a sudden moment of clarity. Even though I'm not mourning a death, I am going through the most classic stages of grief. In a sense, mourning the loss of a dream. The dream I have had since I was a little girl of growing up, falling in love, having a baby. On my own terms.
Is it certainly possible, even likely, that there will be a child or children at the end of this path we're on? Yes. But I can guarandamntee you that when I was pouring my heart out at slumber parties, none of my rosy scenarios involved painful daily hormone injections, cleaning out my savings account since my supposedly stellar insurance plan doesn't cover the one major medical procedure my body needs in order to function semi-properly because it's "elective", and creating the miracle of life in a petri dish.
The article stated that though these are the most common stages of grief, there is not necessarily a linear progression through them. And while you may spend just a minute in one stage, you could spend days, weeks or months in another. I suppose it's a good sign that I have, if only in the briefest of moments, flirted with feelings of acceptance. It doesn't mean that I'm happy, or joyful about our circumstances, but I do acknowledge that it is our circumstance, whether we like it or not.
Unfortunately, I'm still spending most of my time ping ponging between anger and depression. I feel sick to my stomach when I hear about a pregnancy. I have countless moments of bitterness toward other mothers who express completely valid frustrations of their own. I feel furious at an insurance company that is failing us so deplorably. I want to scream at the unfairness of a world where a drug addict, alcoholic, or a teenager can get pregnant on accident, while a loving, financially secure, educated, mature couple has to undergo invasive medical procedures for just the glimmer of hope that an embryo might implant. I even cringe at the merest possiblity of yet another character on tv announcing a pregnancy. I don't go around melting down in public or punching people, but the anger and sadness is almost always there, simmering just below the surface of day to day life.
I have no doubt that this is just a miniscule taste of the emotionally and physically draining mountain that I still have to climb--I can't even think about what a mess I'm going to be when I'm hopped up on hormones and stress. I have so many worries and fears about the path that we've set before us, and I think that the anger, while also a natural reaction to a shity situation, is a defense mechanism. I don't know how long it will take before I land permanently on acceptance--honestly, it may be never--but I cannot give up and allow myself to be swallowed up by bitterness and anger. I know that I have to keep going and cling desperately to whatever shreds of hope I can find. But I have to feel my feelings. I have to accept them as valid emotions, and let myself go through this. Everyone tells me that at the end of the day, I will look back on this and it will all have been worth it. It will all be worth it.
"After climbing a great hill, one only finds there are more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me and to look back on the distance I have come. But I dare not linger and can rest only for a moment, for my long walk is not ended." ~Nelson Mandela