No one sets out on this journey to fail. That’s not to say we’re naïve and think this is a guaranteed process. We know the risks involved. We understand getting pregnant is not a promise. We also know we will never have our own child without this risky process.
Taking the plunge into the world of IVF is scary. We’re handing our reproductive abilities over to doctors. Initially, somehow we find reassurance in the fact that the doctor will be taking over our babymaking. After all, by the time we reached the IVF process, we’d tried and failed for a long time. So the fact that another person is taking it out of our hands is a bit of a relief. However, as the process gets rolling, there are ups and downs. There are times of intense anxiety while we’re waiting for answers and we just want to know how it’s all going to end. And where is the end exactly? How long will it take to get there? There are countless times where we so badly wish we could have a baby “like everybody else.”
Last week, I finally saw a therapist about our failed cycle. Something hasn’t feel quite right to me since we got the news. When I’m sad, I can’t cry. I haven’t cried a tear since the day we found out. When I feel joyful, I can’t laugh. In fact, nothing really strikes me as funny anymore. The highs aren’t high, and the lows aren’t low. For lack of a better way of expressing it, I feel emotionally dead.
The doctor told me I’m experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This news was shocking. I’ve always pictured PTSD happening to war heroes and combat veterans. It never occurred to me that a failed IVF cycle could bring this on.
I learned that anyone who goes through a traumatic life event is at risk for PTSD. At highest risk for PTSD are those with pre-existing anxiety, and lack of a support system. Anxiety has been a struggle for me throughout my entire life, and only one trusted member of my immediate family, and his awesome spouse, actually know we’re going through this. So there you go–it’s the perfect storm for PTSD.
You’re probably wondering why I don’t just tell my family. Why would I voluntarily put myself in a position of isolation and loneliness? Simply put, it’s easier this way. I realize I never know unless I try, but both Chris and I feel so strongly about not keeping my family in the loop. They know we want kids, and we’re trying for kids, and that’s all they’re ever going to know. We don’t need to add more stress to this already stressful situation by informing them of the particulars.
So how does it feel? Failed IVF is more painful than most can imagine. These are wounds that I will actively work to heal in therapy. I hope one day, I can look back on this experience and be safely on the other side. I hope our future IVF attempts do not deepen this wound. The hard part is, we’ll never know unless we try.