Sunday, May 22, 2011

On suffering

When I was pregnant with Bat Girl, an acquaintance of mine was pregnant with twins, due three months after I was due. I learned early on that she had gone through infertility too, so I tried to bond with her over it, but it wasn't as easy as you might think. She had endured a much longer and harder road than I had--many more years of struggle, multiple rounds of IVF, miscarriages--and never missed an opportunity to remind me of that fact. She was forever reminding me that my one cycle of injectables was "no big deal," which got to me after a while, as you might imagine.

Of course, I couldn't begrudge her any of it, especially after she told me she'd had a miscarriage just days before I'd announced my pregnancy--god, the pain I must have caused her--or after she, too, went on bed rest, but then ended up delivering her twins months early, with the attendant NICU stays et al. (Her babies are fine now.)

Still, it rankled every time she'd dismiss what I'd been through--I mean, it all felt pretty darn difficult to me at the time, and I didn't appreciate being told it was a piece of cake. But I tried to take it to heart and not only remind myself that I was lucky, but that I shouldn't discount the experiences of others. Those "I took Clomid for two months! It was so hard!" folks I used to make fun of? I tried to remember that their experience was painful in its own way, and no less worthy than my own.

Almost exactly a year ago, I saw this acquaintance at a baby shower for a mutual friend. As often happens in such settings, the talk turned to babies, and she and I started talking about whether or not we'd have another. With her history, unsurprisingly, she declared herself done. Still raw from the first round of TTC#2, I confided that we were hoping to have another, but were taking a break from treatment, not only because we didn't have IF insurance coverage anymore but because I needed a break, emotionally. "We did three or four injectable cycles back-to-back last fall and I just couldn't face another," I said. "You know how it is, sometimes it just gets to be too much."

Right on cue, she said, "Oh, I know. And three or four injectable cycles, that's like nothing."

I didn't say anything, but I kind of wanted to punch her. Like, I GET IT. You had it worse. MUCH worse. Fine. Can't you just let me have my pain???

On the day I knew my last cycle failed, when I was lying awake putting off the moment when I'd get up and take the inevitably negative test, I couldn't stop thinking about that encounter. And it pissed me off. Why was I doing that to myself? Couldn't I even let myself wallow without pulling some kind of messed-up Reverse Pain Olympics on myself? Couldn't I just let myself have my pain?


Thanks for your comments and emails. I'm a little numb right now, but I'm sure it'll hit me hard soon.

Although that was the last IUI cycle that insurance will cover, I'm almost positive we're going to go for at least one more. My husband is willing, and without going into it too much, it's looking more and more like IVF is not in the cards for us. (Yes, despite the fact that IVF with single embryo transfer is the best medical solution to our situation, and despite the fact that it would carry a 40% chance of success versus the cruddy 20% chance that IUI has. And yes, it is very much a mutual decision.)

Based on the bloating I had this 2ww, I'm going to guess that I'll be directed to take a couple of weeks off before starting stims again. And if not, I'm going to ask if I can anyway. I need a little time to regroup.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Infuriating. There is always someone who had it worse. I wonder how she would enjoy hearing from someone who, say, lost a baby at 38weeks and was quick to tell her that her pain is meaningless in that context.

It took me a year and a half to get pregnant with my first, but we never did fertility treatments. Instead we embarked on an expensive and heart-wrenching adoption process that ultimately failed. So I kind of have zero infertility cred in that I never took a drug, never injected myself. But I suffered enough, emotionally. Certainly financially. Does the lack of a big physical price mean I'm not in the club?


Oh right, this is about you, not me. I'm so sorry. I really am.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

I am so, so sorry.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Thalia said...

oh goodness me yes, do shoot her on all our accounts.

I know the original IVF decision was based on catholicism, is that still the case?

12:01 PM  

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