Last year, I was sitting in the Maternal Fetal Medicine department of my local hospital waiting for my 20 week ultrasound. I was very stressed. Many of my pregnancies didn’t go well, and this was an important hurdle to tackle.
I was filling out the questionnaire when something hit me…
How many pregnancies have you had? __6_
How many live births have you had? _2__
How many women see these questions and answer them with ease, whereas I am counting on my fingers: my IUI miscarriage that had to be resolved with methotrexate – a strong drug that made me wait 2 months before trying again , my IVF with the chemical pregnancy, my miscarriage of the twins, you get the idea…
I wanted to do something for others who were in this lonely boat to let them know they are not alone. I was thinking about what point in the cycle made me feel most alone, and it hit me –
The mikveh was the time when it was obvious to me that my body had failed me. I heard a Rebbetzin mention that the Gemarah in Ketuboth describes the “impurity of niddah” as a “whisper of death.”
EXACTLY! A new life was in arms length for us, but a miscarriage so early on, or a failed ART cycle was just a whisper. No one knew how close I was, and its hard for others to understand the grief of something that was barely alive. The mikveh would be the place to publicize a support group for women.
I jumped through bureaucratic hoops in my little town to get “small pretty signs” up in the mikveh. And then I waited…
Would anyone email?
Would anyone call?
I imagined in my mind that my couches would be taken up by 10 women from my town who I may not know who just wanted to vent. Could it be that I was the only one?
Then I got a phone call “I saw your sign in the mikveh, but I don’t want to meet in a group setting. Would it be ok if we just spoke on the phone?”
Sure! Anything to help someone out. We spoke on the phone for two hours. When we hung up I realized that it was a bracha she only wanted to speak on the phone. You see, there was one thing I failed to mention and left out of my story on purpose – that I already had two children through successful ART.
YES, I want to help, but I don’t want someone to feel badly that here I was, mother of two, and in my 20th week of pregnancy with twins, meeting or speaking to someone about trying time and time again to have a child.
I got a call from someone else who wanted to meet in person. I got really nervous. I didn’t want it to be one-on-one, so I called two of my friends whom I knew were seeing the same doctor I was. We planned to meet at my house. I picked out my BAGGIEST SHIRT, my friend who was also pregnant with twins came early to hide under a blanket. My other friend also failed to mention that she already had one child. We all felt we wanted to be there for others, but wanted to hide that we weren’t presently in the same boat. Why did we feel guilty?
I had put my name out there as “THE FACE OF INFERTILITY” in my community, but I wanted to hide my expanding belly. Being in this sisterhood of infertility, I developed a GUILT that I had overcome infertility, not once, but twice, and was about to do it again.
Recently, at a YESH TIKVA (www.yeshtikva.org) event I was attending, I was able to get some peace of mind. The event had three professionals speaking about “Caring for Your Mind and Body Through Infertility.” It was extremely informative, but the best part of the event was the mingling before and after.
I was speaking with someone who was going through the journey and when they asked “Where are you in the process?” (a typical question in such circles) I paused. I said “I have done IUIs, IVF, IVF with PGD and FETs.” I was being vague because I felt guilty. They pressed me “Did any work?” With my head down, I replied, “I have 4 children, my first through IUI, my second through FRESH IVF with PGD and my twins through FET with PGD.” They said “That’s great, we are about to do IVF for the first time, what is PGD? What can you tell us, any advice?” I told them I felt guilty mentioning my success in this forum. They said, “You shouldn’t feel guilty, you are giving us hope!”
HOPE… that’s all I ever wanted to give. Hope and support.
I know that some people feel that once you have one kid you are no longer part of the sisterhood, but I am glad to know that there are some people out there who want to hear from people like me, so I am in the process of overcoming my survivors guilt. Thank you fellow fertility travelers from the YT event, you have no idea how you’ve helped me.