Three days spent alone immediately after news of an early end to pregnancy is a sure-fire method to become acquainted with isolation.
My only direct communications were Wobblesâ€™ many phone calls and Twitter. There were three short impersonal calls from the nurse. I had single interactions with my mother, my GP and the woman at pathology.
These have been the longest days I can recall, even in this life beset with depression and loneliness. It is my own fault really. I have not learnt how to encourage personal relationships while trying to live some kind of life. For me, it is the emotional equivalent of rubbing my stomach while patting my head. This stunning sense of aloneness now is entirely the fault of my own laziness. Now, as I sit here contemplating loss and failure of epic proportions unable to tell where genuine grief ends and self-pity begins, the way forward has never seemed so unclear.
Every negative image long held of myself has come into far greater focus during this time of solitude: again I am that failure at many simple things â€“ adding baby making to a long list â€“ and a loser who cannot gather up the smallest of support teams. I feel rejected on many levels: by my fertility specialist, by the nurse and by the clinic. Hell, I even feel rejected by the baby who did not want to stay on within me.
There were new depths to be explored after these latest events. Experiences I never thought I would have to witness. For instance, the same day we got the news I phoned my mother to inform her of what happened. Later that night, she sent a polite email outlining why she thinks we should stop putting ourselves through this. Then Wobbles went away, and I assumed I would hear from her constantly â€“ but I did not. My own darling mother who has supported me through so much; that compassionate woman who has been awarded prizes by our government for her work in palliative care; did the unthinkable â€“ she left me alone. Truly alone.
On the second day Wobbles was away, I feared I was entering into madness brought on by isolation. Eventually, I would phone my mother to find her uncharacteristically distant and strange. By the third day, events here and our history of IVF was the proverbial pink elephant in the room in our conversation. For reasons I cannot fathom she announced the news she is to become the great-grandmother to twins â€“ due about 6 weeks before our baby would have been born. It was odd, as in the past she has informed me of each baby just as it was about due to arrive â€“ or even after it was born. Yet for some reason I had to hear the first announcement of this with the hurtful addition of; â€œI didnâ€™t want to mention this because of your recent disappointment.â€ That was the knock-out punch coming from the person who is second to Wobbles in the support stakes. Our devastating events only six days earlier after five years of trying had been relegated to a mere â€˜disappointment.â€™ This has hurt more than I can explain.
Then again, everything is hurting at the moment.
If I were to say everything, EVERYTHING feels out of kilter would you believe me?
Is it overly dramatic to say I cannot remember harder or longer days than the ones I have just witnessed?
Is it okay to admit that I cannot find any resilience? That I am not sure if I can find a way to go on?
As I backed the car out early that morning to take Wobbles to the country bus that services the airport, I told him that I had started to bleed lightly overnight. I soon wished I had simply asked him to cancel his trip and stay home. After dropping him off at the bus, I drove down to the waterfront and sat in the morning sun and contemplated the days ahead. The waters were calm and reflective; I tried desperately to grab hold of any of this for my own mind. Within a few hours, the bleeding would increase a little and I would eventually have severe pain. Really severe pain. It would last for just over two hours. I was thrust back to the many medical emergencies I had sorted out on my own and began to feel scared. How was I to know if this pain would return, or even increase? When things had eased for a while I made my way to my usual GP who actually said he was â€œvery sorryâ€ to hear what had happened. He examined me thoroughly, asked lots of questions and gave me strong pain relief. His instructions on what to look for, and when it should be necessary to get myself to the Emergency Department were nice and clear. By evening, I was relieved that the pain had not returned to the levels of earlier that day.
I drew on Twitter and this blog regularly, just to feel that someone cared. The Other Lifeslurper wrote emails of support. My face became swollen and disfigured through the constant crying. I began to grow angry that again we had fallen into a Fertility Clinic Black Hole. Early pregnancy loss does not register on their radar. [Note: first person to utter the words â€œchemical pregnancyâ€ will receive a swift whack to somewhere that will hurt!] Miscarriage happens later, according to their statistics. Pre-fetal heartbeat is a non-event, it seems â€“ just try telling that to my body, my mind, or my broken hearted Wobbles. These losses seem very real from this end. Nonetheless, they were unable to assist me on what to expect, or when to expect it. The nurse phoned three days in a row. Three emotionless conversations she clearly wished she was not forced to have. First was to remind me to have a blood test the next day, then to tell me the blood test had not come through, then to tell me results. Each day she asked if I had bled heavily yet. Each day I informed her that I had not. The usual breed of IVF uncertainty seemed cruel in this instance.
It was late Wednesday by the time the clinic let me know to cancel the ultrasound for first thing the next morning, and to reschedule one for Friday week. It meant having to make one of those phone calls where the receptionist is annoyed about a late cancellation, so I played the Miscarriage Card. Response? Total silence. Just a bit of puffing and muttering under her breath as she searched for a replacement booking for me. A booking I promised was highly likely to get cancelled as well. The limbo would continue for at least another week, but they would not tell me anything, other than when to be tested â€“ or not.
I know some consider my view of clinic operations to be bordering on paranoia, yet the long list of disasters seem to justify this concern. Recalling the masses of blood lost last time over some days was adding to my growing sense of alarm. The nurse would again utter my now least popular fertility expression of; â€œweâ€™ll just have to wait and see what happens.â€ I began to wonder why the American postal service is the scene of so many massacres, and how many poor interactions with fertility clinic staff would cause an IVFer to finally â€œGo ARTal.â€
When I could focus long enough, I considered the crock that we have been sold: this idea of donor eggs being the solution for everything. From the moment we first entered a fertility clinic over four years ago, it had been forced on us as the great Fertile Hope. Yet here we are, two failed pregnancies from three transfers. It was not supposed to happen a second time. Back after the first time, Dr Lovely mumbled something about â€œif it happened a second timeâ€¦.â€ There would need to be investigations, reminding me of the whole experimental nature of IVF. Something is wrong, but because we are old, because we have donor eggs, because so many reasons we have to â€œwait and seeâ€ every time. Yet every time there is a failure, it costs us dearly. These costs are accumulative and cannot be added up to a neat total. These expenses are of intensely personal values. When I look at Wobblesâ€™ haunted expression, I wonder just what the actual toll now is.
On the day Wobbles was due to return home, I was relieved to know that I would feel safer and protected with him back once more. My foggy brain was slow to acquaint serious weather conditions that day with air flights. Soon, we would both know that the biggest rain storms in over fifty years had caused airport chaos, and at a minimum Wobbles would miss his booking for the airport bus, and would be too late for any alternatives. Tired and sore, there was no alternative than for me to drive to the city to collect him. He was in regular contact, keeping me updated as his flight was delayed further and further into the night. Eventually, I had to leave knowing that my drive would take longer than his flight. I made it there safely, singing â€œAfter the Gold Rushâ€ loudly all the way to help keep me awake. When his flight finally touched down, there would be another 3.5 hours before he could disembark. We were both beyond tired, and ended up getting lost on the way home due to exhaustion. It was 5.30am by the time we arrived home.
Since then, we have talked much about our sorrow and our shock. Neither of us is thinking ahead, although Wobbles keeps saying things that suggest he can no longer cope with the heartache of IVF. There have been many tears, many hugs and many reassuring words (mostly Wobbles saying reassuring things to me.)
For the time being, I am just looking for ways to cope. I suspect I have exhausted whatever internal resources have assisted me to cope previously.
Whatever is ahead is unchartered territory. I do not approach it with any sense of joy or anticipation. The choices are limited. I guess I just have to â€œwait and see what happens.â€ It is either that or just simply lay down and not get up again.
There have to be better days. I am certain there cannot be worse days.
At least I have my Wobbles.