March 25, 2013

GRIEVING: THE END OF HOPE

In high school I started wearing a retainer when I slept.  The first one I owned lasted 11 years without any problems until my new puppy chewed it up.  Replaced it and that one got chewed up too.  The one I have now is 5 years old and will need to be replaced soon because I'm grinding my teeth like a maniac.  So the first retainer I had lasted me through the stresses of high school, going off to college, studying abroad in godawful France, an insane senior year, getting married, and sending my husband off to war.  But this one that has lined up with years of infertility is practically ground through.

I am gritting my teeth so hard I'm chewing through plastic.  That is why I am happy to be moving on.


But I don't really know if you ever move on.  There are so many little triggers that remind me that I'll never have that second baby.  The expectant mother parking space.  The slew of people around me still expanding their families.  That rare but heartbreaking gas bubble in your gut that feels exactly like a baby moving.

I just finished the book Unsung Lullabies.  There's a chapter on the grieving process that sums this moment up in my life pretty well.  All along, I have been living with grief.  I have grieved all the lost babies, I have grieved the loss of my ideal timing and spacing of kids, I have grieved the lack of siblings and cousins for BabyGrok.  But it's only when you completely quit -- when you decide to never again pursue the available options to continue to try to create life -- that the full weight of all the grief crashes down on you.  Yes, you've been grieving all along, but you've been living with hope too.  That hope, fickle and irritating as she may be, keeps you from fully taking account of the compounded losses and seeing reality as it is.  And once that is gone, everything changes.

I wasn't exactly prepared for that.

We spent a long time trying to get pregnant.  We also spent quite a bit of time doing fertility treatments, where we imagined multiples.  And named them.  Naming has always been easy for us.  We named BabyGrok last millenium.  And we had names picked out for the next baby to join our family.

Only there will never be a William or an Alice.

The thing about infertility that's hard to explain is how you grieve human beings that never were.  There never was a William or an Alice, but I grieve them as if they existed.  In my heart, they died.  And the family we imagined died along with them.

Lots of people's lives don't turn out exactly as they'd planned.  Maybe you get a disease.  Maybe your kid has a disability.  Maybe you lose your job or are the victim of a crime.  Those are all unforeseen things that come down to bad luck.

What also belongs in that category is having fewer children than you wanted.  It's bad luck too.  But unlike cancer or crime, it's something we think we have absolute control over.  No one ever grows up expecting that it will be really hard to have two children.  In fact, the more common complaint is that you had too many children, that whoopsie you weren't expecting.  Most people fear accidentally becoming pregnant, not being unable to do so.  Most families I know of have more kids than they had planned on, not fewer.  Unlike cancer or crime, the number of children you have seems like a choice you make.  You decide how many children you want and then you stop.  The opposite of that -- and the stunning lack of control you feel about about such a basic aspect of your own life -- is tragic.

But it's a hard thing to tell people that you're dealing with.  Someone gets cancer, everyone understands that upheaval.  Even a miscarriage is something that people can commiserate over.  But that's a fixed point in time.  The ongoing ache, the one I fear may never go away, is the ache of never meeting William or Alice.  And of grieving them as if they died.

I find myself fixating on the past.  Baby #2 had a heartbeat and grew to 9 weeks.  What happened?  I don't think that baby was translocated.  Maybe he was, but he grew more than any of the others.  What killed him?  And why can't I go back in time and have a do-over where I take aspirin and progesterone, or at least an autopsy, or something.  It's so unhelpful to stress so much about something long over, but that's the one that keeps me up at night.  That's the baby that defied the odds to live...and then defied them again to die.

Was that little gummy bear that I held in my hands my William?  Was that all I get?  Was that my second kid, and all I got were those few hours we spent together one day?

The grieving has begun.  I imagine it will get easier with time, but I don't imagine it will ever go away.

Posted by: Sarah at 10:37 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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March 04, 2013

SHE'S 3!!



BabyGrok turned 3, with much fanfare.  And a cake made of donuts.


I am getting myself used to the idea of her being an only child.  The doctor from Walter Reed called to discuss the results of my cycle and said that it seems unlikely that I will ever be a good candidate for IVF.  I plan to go back to the local doctor for a second opinion, but if he concurs, then that's the end for us.

My husband leaves for three months next week.  BabyGrok and I get to explore the joys of military separation.

BabyGrok...huh...she's not really a baby anymore.  
But she'll always be our baby.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:05 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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