Loss and Learning

Santa Barbara CA Lilies and Lambs

If you follow along here, you know that infertility is something I struggled with before finally conceiving our daughter through IVF in 2014. It's a topic that is such a large part of my story, and continues to be something we grapple with as we strive to complete our family. After much soul-searching, we took the leap to try for another baby last fall. Because we have frozen embryos, this time we opted for a frozen transfer, or FET. The process, as much as they say is "easier," was just as taxing as I had remembered- a carousel of pills, shots, blood draws and ultrasounds. But after weeks- roughly six- of it all, we were pregnant again. If only for a few days.

In my years of trying to conceive I became well-versed in all the reasons why I didn't get pregnant; but I had never grappled with the immense high of a positive pregnancy test followed by the low of a miscarriage. I learned a lot through our latest experience on this journey. Of course I learned, once again, that my husband and family are the strongest and most loving support system I could ask for. But I learned a few other things, too.

And while I allowed myself to grieve and feel the sadness, I can't help but believe life events like these are meant to teach me something... 

 So, after some reflection, as I reacquaint myself with my struggle that is infertility, here are a few things I learned from my loss:

Ivf is hard. af.

Over the past few years, since becoming pregnant with my girl, I would sing the praises of IVF. Seriously, I couldn't say enough about it. Sure, it was a lot of work- but after 7 rounds of unsuccessful IUI's, and a 100% success rate with just one round of IVF, I felt it was a slam-dunk.  What's a couple of shots, mood swings, astronomical medical bills, and pre-conception weight gain when you get that big fat positive? My husband, the consummate athlete, admittedly went into our latest fertility treatment- an FET- cocky. Our stats supported it. Now, with a loss under our belt I'm able to step back and see just how fucking grueling it all is. And I now know- like, really know- that success rates aren't ideal. This loss has made me even more grateful- if that was even possible- for my first-time success. And while I still can't say enough about this amazing technology that gave me my girl, it has given me a new found respect for anyone that goes through this process- whatever their journey may look like.

It's cool to be kind

    When telling my friends about my miscarriage I would describe it as a chemical pregnancy; a clinical term I quickly adopted from my doctor, as if to diminish the pain and insure I wasn't inflating my loss. {Apparently sympathy directed towards me makes me surprisingly uncomfortable.} One friend asked why I qualified it in this way. You had a miscarriage, stop doing that to yourself, she told me. And so I did.

 I guess it was in part due to how numb I've become to medical terminology over the past few years. And, in other part due to self-preservation. But what I was ultimately doing was belittling my experience. Which isn't really my style, particularly when it comes to other people's struggles.  I also found myself wishing away my sadness with all the things you're not supposed to tell women that miscarry: at least it was early, it wasn't meant to be, it will happen when it's supposed to happen. Things I would never say to another woman, so why was I saying it to myself? This loss reminded me to be as kind to myself as I would be to any one else trying to achieve their family. It's only seems fair, right?

It's made me a better person

    My infertility has humbled me, no doubt about it. It took the myth that I can control everything if I try hard enough, and squashed it. Completely. Which in some ways, is freeing for a control freak like myself. It's made me sympathetic- to other women; to unfriendly people in the check-out line. Not because we all are going through this same struggle- but I'm more aware that struggles, big and small are, unfortunately, prevalent. And it's made me patient. For which I, and I'm sure my loved ones, are very grateful.


support can be found in unlikely places

 I do believe there is some weight in the saying that we are only given as much as we can handle- because I'm not quite sure how I would have handled this kind of loss before my daughter was born. To say she has comforted me in this process is an understatement. Her smile, her laugh, her love brought light on the saddest of days; and has reminded me of what it is we are fighting for.

And then there are the men in our life- that surprisingly, offered some of the most loving support. Yes, women are certainly comforting too; but the prevalence of miscarriages amongst women can almost desensitize them to the grief they can cause. Whereas many of men in my life, the close ones, seemed to feel for me in such a compassionate way. Many having mothers, wives, sisters that have struggled in this very way; and for this they were deeply supportive. I also happen to have a lot of male friends, most of whom are emotionally evolved; but that might be for another post entirely?


you're tough, girl

Just when you think your strength has been tested, life throws a curveball. And if you're lucky, you find out what you're really made of. A few years ago, a miscarriage was one of my biggest fears. After so many failed fertility treatments, I really believed that becoming pregnant and then not sustaining it was something my heart just couldn't handle. And in some small ways, I was right. It was emotional. It was sad. It made us cry, and angry, and hurt. I took a step back from fertility treatments. We are tabling it, for the moment. But we aren't done trying. And while my heart hurt- a lot- for a while; it didn't break entirely. And with time and love and support, it will heal enough. And we will get back on that horse again.  Because us mamas are tough cookies. There's just no other way to be.