April 1, 2022 was my due date, but instead of experiencing the elation of introducing my daughter to her baby sister, I’m in the throes of cycle ten. #WeCanAll understand gratitude and grief can coexist because infertility is still soul-crushing even when you already have a child. My daughter is a miracle, and after years of IVF for male factor infertility, a second trimester miscarriage, a biochemical loss, and two failed transfers, I’m painfully aware of how blessed I am and extraordinarily grateful for my daughter.
Informing family and friends of my missed miscarriage discovered at my 20-week ultrasound was often met with various iterations of “at least you have your daughter.” However, if my loved ones truly appreciated the emotional, physical, and financial demands of IVF, I doubt they would’ve said this. In fact, I heard this phrase so frequently I began saying it too, even though it made me feel guilty for grieving the loss of my second child and for dreading having to endure IVF again. I felt gaslighted. Of course, my daughter makes my infertility journey easier – I have the honor of motherhood – but, it also makes my journey different.
I was painfully aware that “at least I have my daughter” when I woke her up early in the morning for hour-long drives to my seemingly endless monitoring appointments; when I ripped her out of school for weeks at a time to return to my NYC fertility clinic; when I lost my temper at her normal toddler behavior because I was being pumped with a multitude of hormones; when I ignored her desire to play together because I was too busy fighting my insurance denial or ensuring my medication would arrive on time; when she held my hand for every progesterone shot, reassuring me that I’ll be okay; when I repeatedly told the doctor my daughter needs me alive as I hemorrhaged after my D&E; and when the realization hits me that well over half of her life has been spent with our family’s world revolving around my doctor appointments, medication schedule, injections timing, waiting for test results, retrieval dates, and transfer dates.
This is what infertility does – it dominates your life – and by sharing my story, I hope to help society better understand this, and help others understand that infertility creates feelings of both gratitude and grief: gratitude for my daughter, my family and friends who do everything possible to comfort me; my bosses, who never make me choose between my family and my career; my medical team that is clearly invested in my success; and the legal and financial privilege of access to IVF. And grief, because it feels like my life as I once knew it has been stolen from me.
To those battling infertility, you’re doing an amazing job; be proud. To those grappling with loss, a wise friend offered me the most comforting advice – “take things day by day, and you will string together enough of those days that eventually it feels less raw.”
Meredith H. FL
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