In this weird upside down way, I think we are actually fortunate that we went all the way to the mat before conceiving Magpie. We traveled to, and lived in, a zone of despair for over a year before my pregnancy with her. By that time, we had been through 7 IVFs and 6 miscarriages, and we lived our days with the full-fledged belief that we would never have a biological family. And then, miracle, we became pregnant with Magpie, and stayed pregnant. And so because of that, because we didn't struggle a little and then get pregnant from our first or second IVF, because we went to the end game and then experienced a miracle to conceive and carry our little girl, I haven't had any of the experiences that some of my...um, less infertile? friends have had...(oh dear, sounds like I'm invoking the pain Olympics, but bear with me). What I mean is that some of those I know who have suffered, but didn't ever get to the absolute nadir that we had gotten to remain sad that their pregnancy experience was "ruined" or are bummed they couldn't get pregnant via regular intercourse, which would have been so much more romantic. Well, yeah, that would have been nice.
It's sort of, I guess, similar to the idea that if you have stage I cancer, you have room to be bummed you faced cancer at all, but if you have stage IV cancer, and are truly convinced you will die of your disease, but then somehow get a pass and you make it into a lasting remission, you may be paradoxically less upset you dealt with cancer at all and are just thankful your life was spared. As a psychologist treating a number of people with varying levels of significant medical illness, I have seen this phenomenon.
There's probably a psychological term for this that's evading me at the moment.
The silver lining of going all the way to believing that you will never get out the other side, and then staying for a significant time in that terrible place, is that when you do make it out, by some miracle of God or science or both, you are just plain grateful.
Sure it would have been nice to just have sex and get (and stay) pregnant. And sure it would have been nice to just do one or two IVFs and get (and stay) pregnant. But that wasn't in the cards for us. And because that is so far from our reality, I don't really even mourn those things. They are so distant from our experience that they have become foreign to me, which is strange to realize but true for us. For us, it just feels like all indicators pointed to a hopeless outcome. I remember one commenter even writing to us late in the journey (anonymous, of course), "Maybe it's time you see the writing on the wall? You've had the best clinic in the country transfer chromosomally normal embryos and given you every hormonal supplement they could to enable your body to support the pregnancy. And it just didn't happen."
And they were right, although the comment really stung. We were in this hopeless, seemingly interminable cycle of IVF, pregnancy, miscarriage. Wash, rinse, repeat. With no end in sight. It was horrible. To then be gifted with a child, conceived of our own gametes, and whom I was somehow able to carry inside of my body for nine months... well, that seemed like a miraculous turn of events, and many in our medical team would probably agree.
So in this strange infertility paradox, all of that pain, all of that difficulty has led us to actually feeling greater satisfaction, more immense gratitude, than if our baby had come much more easily***.
Funny how life works sometimes, isn't it?
***Still not a recommended course of events, if you have any choice in the matter.
Click here to subscribe