Today I start medications for my fourth frozen embryo transfer (FET). I am scared. Scared that it won’t work. Scared that it will. Scared that it will end in another loss. Scared that I will have to go through it again when it doesn’t work. I don’t do well with feelings. I bottle them all up and keep pressing forward. I thought fertility treatment would be better than trying on my own because I mistakenly thought I would have more control. There is no control – they try to control your hormone levels and the thickness of your lining with drugs; they try to put you on medications that may or may not reduce the effects of adenomyosis, endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS); they try to do laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis; they put you through rounds of medications and intrauterine inseminations; they give you medications that stimulate your ovaries too much; they give you medications that don’t stimulate your ovaries enough; they still can’t really figure out what is wrong and only assume it’s a myriad of issues that come together in a way that keeps you from conceiving or carrying a baby.
I just started reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, which is all about vulnerability. I am in an extremely vulnerable position, but I do not allow myself to be vulnerable. I have to be strong. I have to be the one to solve the problems, to come up with a plan, to follow through when others don’t. I have to be the one that shows up early and stays late, whose mind races with things from today or yesterday or twenty years ago, and who bears the burdens of those around me better than I bear my own.
I recently joined a virtual support group for women who have had recurrent miscarriages. (I have had three, one of which was twins.) As I listened to the women share their stories, I felt empathy for them. I was heartbroken as one woman tried unsuccessfully to hold back tears when explaining her situation. I am unable to allow myself that same empathy. I didn’t join to get sympathy but to learn about how others deal with these emotions. What I learned is that they deal with them far differently than I do.
I have been undergoing fertility treatments for over three years and trying to conceive for nearly four. I keep telling myself I will change once I am finished – baby or not. We (well maybe I) have decided not to pursue additional treatment after we use our fifth and final embryo. We aren’t planning to pursue adoption or surrogacy or anything else because I decided that I need to be able to move on with my life and not have fertility hanging over my head. What I am learning is that is not the only thing I am trying to get through. I am trying to get through how my brain functions, the receptors that are misfiring that could cause everything from the hormonal imbalances that lead to fertility issues to those that trigger anxiety, depression, and addiction. I probably also have some hope that if I put fertility behind me, I can figure out other ways to deal with the way my brain and body function. In order to do that, I need to do some work on myself overall and not just with regards to trying to conceive (TTC).