The gift that keeps on giving

I’m 8 weeks pregnant today.  Things appear to be progressing normally.  I have an ultrasound on Wednesday, expect to be released from my RE next week, and will have a combined maternal fetal medicine consult and first (ever) OB appointment on November 27.  Really, what more could I ask for?

You see, the thing is, infertility and repeat miscarriage are gifts that really keep on giving.  Infertility is not lazy, it works hard each and every day to reassert its control over your life.  Miscarriage is not easily forgotten, but rather, like infertility, haunts my every day.  Neither is curable, eraseable, destroyable.  No matter how this pregnancy ends, no matter how future pregnancies end, I will be infertile, I will have suffered repeat pregnancy loss, until my dying day.

I also, it seems, will continue to suffer strained relationships due to the gift of my infertility.  Yesterday I may have injured my relationship with my aunt – my only surviving female blood relative – to the point of no repair.  Ever since my mom (her sister) died in 2002, Aunt L has tried to step up, tried to be there, tried to fill the gaping hole my mother’s passing left.  She’s done admirably.  Through her own immense grief and while receiving her own life-threatening/life-altering medical diagnoses, she’s been strong through graduations, engagements, marriages, and various other events that she should never have had to be the primary support person for.  Yet, her job is a thankless one.  She’s not my mom.  She’ll never be my mom.  And, for that, I seem to never be able to forgive her.

To say she’s struggled to understand my infertility is an understatement.  If it didn’t hurt so much, it would almost be comical how stereotypically wrong her responses have been to my pain time and time again.  When I became pregnant in 2011 after ovulating on vacation on day 56 of my cycle, she laughed as she replied, “I told you all you needed to do was relax and take a vacation!”  When that same pregnancy was diagnosed as ectopic she said, “It just wasn’t meant to be.”  After scheduling my first laparoscopy to investigate possible endometriosis (a condition that she herself has, that forced her own hysterectomy in her mid-30s) she told me I was being “too much of a worrier.”  Each medicated cycle after I was reminded that I’d never succeed if I was putting all those “unnatural hormones into your body,” and each negative test after negative test I was told, “It’s just not your time yet.”  When our third pregnancy ended in miscarriage last winter, she cried with me, but reminded me that the worry I had been feeling since our first bad blood draw at 5 weeks, “certainly did your baby no favors.”  She was visiting when we were approaching the end of my stimulation phase for this IVF cycle, and insisted on driving with me to my last monitoring appointment before trigger and retrieval.  On the car ride to the clinic she told me I could have avoided all this “IVF stuff if you’d just stuck with acupuncture.”

This woman loves me deeply, wholly, and completely, but seems incapable of saying or doing the right things.  And, believe me, I’ve taken my own advice – the advice I dole out so often at my RESOLVE group.  I’ve told her how her words make me feel.  I’ve asked her to respond differently.  I’ve told her what I need from her.  Each time I’ve been ignored, or, worse, corrected.  “More negativity is not what you need,” she explains, “you worry so much it makes no sense to make everyone else around you be just as miserable!”

So, for the past couple weeks, I’ve taken the coward’s way out.  She calls, I don’t answer.  She texts, I don’t reply.  It snowballs out of control.  My anxiety gets higher, the inevitable confrontation gets worse.  Finally, yesterday, Mr. But IF made me answer her call.

Apparently she thought I had died in a ditch.  You see, I do all those ridiculously long drives to the doctor and surely I got in an accident and no one noticed or told her.  (What that says about my husband and friends we’ll just ignore for now.)  I’m pregnant and she wants weekly updates, she demands weekly updates!  I told her that was just too much.  With a shaking voice I explained (again) that I just can’t keep calling and saying, “Yes, still pregnant.”  That even those three words leave me in a complete panic.  That just saying them seems like tempting fate.  That in my mind it’s not three words, but five.  It’s “Yes, still pregnant, for now…”

Again I was told that response is silly.  That my emotional needs are irrational.  If only it could have ended at that.

As her voice turned from stern talking to to chipper happiness, she said, “Well, fine, then we can talk about some other happy news at least.  Your cousin S is having a little boy, so you need to have a little girl.  I’ve told everyone you need to have a little girl so that your kids can play together!”

And, then it crashed.  The tears started flowing, the anger formed a lump in my throat the size of a softball, I couldn’t form words through the shaking.  My young cousin got married a few days after my most recent miscarriage.  After weeks of my aunt going on about how fun it will be to be pregnant at her wedding, I couldn’t manage.  I skipped her wedding.  A well-timed snowstorm gave me the excuse I needed to back out of the 6 hour drive home to the wedding of a cousin I barely know.  A cousin that is apparently very much NOT infertile.  A cousin who’s pregnancy and future little boy are just another on the long list of living reminders of all that infertility has stolen from me, of all that miscarriage has closed my heart to.

I think I’ve done fairly well at avoiding the constant comparisons and the what could have beens.  But hearing of the easily conceived pregnancy of the cousin that (I kid you not!) was on a television dating reality show when Mr. But IF and I first started trying to have our first sucks.  Having my aunt ignore my pain and replace it with joy for the niece who will give her her first grand-nephew sucks.  Having this all happen in time to coincide with the week when we lost our last child, when that heart beat stopped without apparent cause between 8 and 9 weeks, is cruel and unusual.

At least, as I said to Mr. But IF, I have something to talk to my counselor about on Thursday.  If I’m able to get out of bed on Thursday.  If Thursday isn’t the first day of grieving and moving on from a bad ultrasound on Wednesday.  But, it seems, I should just stop with the negativity and celebrate the gleeful naivete of friends and family and cousin’s named S.  Surely it’s my bad attitude that’s done this to me all along.  I’m constantly made to feel that I caused our struggles, I made my misery.  Why does this seem like rational logic to those that love me?  Why don’t they, by extension, remind me that positivity and yoga could have cured my mom’s cancer?  Why, when I speak of the pain of missing her, am I not reminded of a cousin, a friend, a stranger that has two living parents?  Shouldn’t celebrating living parents cure the lack of my own?

15 thoughts on “The gift that keeps on giving

  1. Honey, it’s like we’re the same person. Though that’s not to discount your unique experiences, because obviously we’ve all suffered in our own way. I too have an aunt that’s my “mom” now, and while she’s not quite so insensitive about IF and loss, she’s also prone to stressing me out so I don’t tell her everything. I’m 8 weeks on Wed. and have an ultrasound that day too. Best of luck, hon.

  2. Well this is all kinds of shit, isn’t it? I have yet to develop a good method of response to these types of people, especially when you’re close to them and don’t want to be rude. But sometimes, you just have to put your foot down and tell them how it is.

    • The “close to them and don’t want to be rude” bit is the absolute, hands down, worst f-ing part! I’ve gotten over the fear of hurting the feelings of casual acquaintances and random opinionated strangers; I don’t know how to cope when it’s someone whose hurt voice strikes sadness straight to the center of my heart! :-/

  3. Oh honey. What a terribly hard situation to be in. If only people would listen when we ask for what we need. Especially the people who are closest to us. I hope you and your aunt can find a constructive way to approach each other but it doesn’t sound like she’s trying too hard. Hugs to you!

    • Yea, I’m not sure that I’ve moved much beyond the ignoring phone calls/texts/emails tactic I was taking before yesterday. If anything, actually engaging with her has convinced me that that might just be the best, most grown-up response I have at my disposal!

  4. Stay strong my fellow blogger. Hopefully, someday, you and your Aunt will be able to mend things. What you need is a support system, and not someone telling you what you’re doing is wrong. Im so sorry. I wish I could give you a hug. Every time I hear of someone getting pregnant, I cry a little inside. I haven’t been through the same situations as you, But I’ve had two miscarriages this year alone. We each have our own battles we’re constantly dealing with, and have our own battles we’ve been through. All we can do, is hope that our future is more cooperative and the people we have in our lives are nothing less that supportive.

    I don’t know if any of that actually makes sense. 🙂 Keep your head up! There are a LOT of us here hoping for the best for you! And sending lots of prayers and postive-ness your way!

    • Well said, and I hate that anyone would have to write “I’ve had two miscarriages this year,” as if it were some sort of apology or lucky break. :-/ None of us deserve any of this!

  5. People are so damn insensitive sometimes, and it’s so much worse when it’s family and you can’t just tell them off 🙁 I had 2 early miscarriages at the beginning of this year, then in May, when it looked like I may have actually been having a successful pregnancy, my mom (who knew about the miscarriages and our IF) didn’t even act happy about it, just told me “it better be a girl” and that if it wasn’t, we’d have to try again until we had a girl. Then we lost the baby a few weeks later, and she used it as an excuse to avoid me.

    So I get it… IF sucks, RPL sucks, and family often makes it worse 🙁 And those who insist that a baby, especially one conceived after IF/RPL, HAS to be of a particular gender, can shove it. Hugs and tons of positive thoughts your way, I hope more than anything that this pregnancy results in a beautiful rainbow baby in your arms <3

  6. My mom does that thing too– where she tries to ignore/cover up my pain with other people’s happy news. It’s infuriating.
    Also, I hate when people assume that worry & fears due to a history of loss and/or infertility equate to “negativity.” It’s more than that, it’s reality. These things happen… have happened… and it’s not something that disappears with a little bit of optimism, positivity, and celebrating.
    I hope your aunt can try a little harder to understand your perspective.

  7. Ug. I would be pretty pissed if I were you. I hated that when I was pg my Dad would say shit to me and when I called him on his bullshit he would tell me to calm down because I was going to hurt the baby. That just enraged me more so that I would totally lose it. That’s just crap. I am so sorry.

    I am glad you are 8 weeks. I hope things continue to be quiet and completely average from here on out for you. Take care.

  8. I could have written so much of this myself. My own mother, who has really been the *only* to even attempt to support us through these years of loss and IF, makes all the same errors in judgement, and it hurts. Our relationship has suffered deeply and I feel so alone sometimes in all this.

    And I completely feel you in that, the happiness of this new life can very easily be overshadowed by all the other, secondary losses that we’ve suffered and the distance that these experiences put between us and ‘normal’ pregnant ladies. In addition to the blissful ignorance I will never feel in this pregnancy, I mourn the loss of that supportive, loving community that I once thought my living child would be born into. And I sometimes wonder, in my wounded state, what part I played in those growing distances.

  9. I’m so sorry. It is absolutely true that no one says the same things about my dead Dad that they do about my dead son and daughter. I wish people could manage this better. And when we tell them —really why not then (though I will confess that I chicken out and mostly do avoidance including with people I love). This is another agony. You know– this doesn’t hurt your baby. It is a scarred but no less loving mother that your baby has. And will always have no matter what happens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *