Thursday, August 1, 2013
Infertility & Grief
We have finished our IVF journey. This is a cause for celebration and of great release but the journey itself has changed me irrevocably. I have a hard time remembering the person that I was before we began this journey but I know I was more trusting, more willing to throw myself into the future and less cautious. Was I happy? Sure. Was I as happy as I am now? I don't think so. My joy that I have in my family, the gratitude that I feel for my beautiful boys and my happiness in my marriage that was made stronger through facing adversity and supporting each other through it.
There is a dark side too. I worry more and lately I have been concerned at my willingness to go to the worst case scenario at the slightest provocation. I have spoken previously that I am a recovering alcoholic (11 years sober) and that one of my coping mechanisms to get through life without drinking is to prepare myself for the worst case scenario and know that I will not drink. This has become habitual now and it has gone to a place that I am not comfortable with. If Boo2 sleeps for too long, I worry that the worst has happened and he has died. If JBB is sick (as he was yesterday), I panic that he is fatally sick. If JourneyMan is a few minutes late in coming home that he has had an accident on his bike. I worry that my Mum's health is not good. I worry that my Bestie will find more lumps and won't be so lucky in her diagnosis this time. I worry about all of my people.
At the heart of it all, I am worried that I will be made pay for the joy that we have in our lives. Every day, I am grateful for my beautiful boys but haven't I learned that on this journey you can't be too happy, or optimistic because at any time the rug can be pulled out from under you? I don't want to live my life in this way and in my heart, I know that it also doesn't matter how much you prepare for something bad happening, you will always feel shock and grief and the other myriad of emotions that go along with the situation. In fact, all it does is make you grieve twice. Once in preparation and once if the actual event occurs. In short, I need to change my coping mechanisms. I am going to see a counsellor again to help me to make this change.
I feel a bit swamped in grief at the moment too. In Australia, Father's day is the first Sunday of September and this year, it has the added bonus of being the day before the anniversary of my Dad's death. That seems a little bit cruel. Advertising for Father's day has already begun and will only get worse as August progresses and already I am in floods of tears when I see any ads as I am reminded that I won't see my Dad again. That he won't pat my beautiful Boo2 on the head and tell me what a miracle he is. That we won't sit and watch a footy game together again, that I won't laugh at one of his stories. When we were around at my Mum and Dad's house the other day, JBB pulled out a little walking toy that he used to follow my Dad around on his walker, we asked him what he used to do with it and he said 'follow Pop around'. I'm glad that he remembers him but how long will this be so? Not for very much longer. They had a touching relationship. Near the end when my Dad was mostly bedridden, JBB would go over to the side of the bed and lean in for Dad to pat him on the head.
I remember the last time I saw him before I went to Thailand for the transfer for Boo2. He put his hands on each of my cheeks and wished me good luck. I cried and I didn't know why because he was okay, I wasn't worried that he would die before I got back, I didn't think he was even close. I still feel bad that I wasn't there to comfort him, to hold his hand and to talk to him. I know that I was where he wanted me to be but still, I feel like I could have helped in some small way. A few months before, we had a good talk. He told me that he knew that he was dying and I asked if he was scared and he said that he was before but that he wasn't anymore, he was ready. I remember my heart clenching in fear at the time, I wasn't ready but I comforted myself that I still had time. I don't regret going to Thailand - how can I? My darling Boo2, who is a shining light in my life came about from that trip, I can't regret it.
Somehow the death of my Dad has become mixed up with the final chapter of our journey to our family. I feel that because of both of these events, I will never be the same. I continue to wonder how to move on from the scars of infertility. Do the scars fade like the scars from the c-section. Will I ever stop missing my Dad and crying when I think about him? I don't know the answers to these questions but one thing that the infertility journey has taught me is to take happiness whenever you can and I am so, so lucky to have so much happiness and joy in my life. I need some tools to work through this.