One year ago today, on January 29, 2018, I found out I was pregnant from my first IVF cycle. Even at the time, it didn’t feel like an overwhelmingly special moment–maybe because I knew in my heart that it wasn’t going to last– but for some reason it’s been on my mind recently. In some ways it feels like it was yesterday, but for the most part, it feels like an eternity has passed.
Little did I know after losing that pregnancy, that what felt like an unbearable loss then, was only a sliver of the grief the rest of the year would bring me, especially the last couple of months. On October 29th the excitement we were feeling about a pregnancy from our fourth IVF cycle was shattered. Without getting into too many details, we had a second miscarriage. We were just under ten weeks, so still early, but this time there was a strong heartbeat at the first ultrasound, we had been told the chances of a healthy baby was 90%, and we had let ourselves get excited. We had told our immediate families, and everyone was elated. But by the next ultrasound, it was over–there was no heartbeat. There is no way to describe the heartache, emptiness, and loneliness, so I will leave it at that.
In the past couple of months I have spent a lot of time reflecting and processing this last year. When I think about it, the rush of emotions is overwhelming. It was far and away the most challenging year for me, both physically and emotionally, but I have learned a lot–mostly about myself. I am usually not one to toot my own horn, but my biggest takeaway of this year was realizing and embracing my absolute resilience. To be fair, all women who endure fertility struggles in any way, shape, or form, are courageous and strong-willed. Simply put, we are badass.
The morning of that last ultrasound, I told Eamonn that if something goes wrong, I’m not sure I’d be able to function afterward. At the end of that appointment, I wasn’t sure how I was going to walk out of the doctor’s office, because I was frozen and numb. For days after, I wondered if I was ever going to stop crying. A week after my miscarriage, I was hysterical that something was wrong with me because I wasn’t bouncing back, I was still so sad and beat down. Eamonn and those closest to me had to remind me that it takes time, and that I was being a bit harsh, even unfair, to myself. I just wanted to feel like myself again. I missed me.
In the moment, it felt like it would be forever until the pain subsided. Yes, it was the sadness of losing a pregnancy, but it was also feeling the weight of the whole year’s experience. Afterall, this was my fourth IVF cycle–there had been a lot of hormones injected into me, a lot of blood drawn to test those hormones, way too many trips to the doctor’s office, long days and weeks of waiting on test results, plenty of uncertainty. Nothing was in my control, my lifestyle of exercising regularly and eating or drinking whatever I wanted was constantly falling by the wayside. If you’ve gone through it then you know, it was hard.
But guess what? I did bounce back. I walked out of that appointment, I started to function like a “normal” human being again, and eventually I did stop crying (I still have my moments!).In some ways I now feel better than ever. I feel more empowered because I know that it’s much harder to break me and my spirit than I had given myself credit for. I also don’t want to be misleading– I still have bad days, bad moments, and get caught up in bad thoughts occasionally. But I’m not as hard on myself because I know it’s part of the process.
Years down the road, when I am teaching my kid how to best handle hard situations, I hope I’ll think about this past year. While I am thrilled that 2018 is behind us, I don’t want to forget it. I want the experience to fuel me forward into whatever it is we have coming our way. It may not be a fairytale, but it’s my story and I’m becoming better for it.