how do you move on from disappointment?

I am feeling much better today.

After yesterday’s news of our failed IUI I felt like a hockey puck getting slammed against every difficult emotion I’ve ever experienced in the last 18 months. I was reeling in pain, sadness, frustration and feelings of loss. But the prevailing emotion, more than anything, was just complete disappointment. And when I say disappointment, I don’t mean my favorite TV show is being canceled kind of disappointment. Or finding out your husband ate the last of the ice cream when you thought there was still some left kind of disappointment.  Or even the flight for my vacation got canceled kind of disappointment.

I mean shatter your heart and knock you to the ground kind of disappointment.

And so I thought a lot about disappointment yesterday. What it feels like, what it does to you. How it makes your heart feel, what it does to your head and to your thoughts. How it crushes you because of how badly you want a different outcome, how much your heart screams for it, but there is nothing you can do about it.

I thought about the effect it had on me yesterday. Disappointment made me feel like my heart was breaking into a million pieces. It made me feel like I got the wind knocked out me. It made me feel like my strength had dissolved, and I no longer had any stamina left.

Disappointment made me feel helpless.

And after experiencing too many disappointments, I was starting to feel bitter, jaded, cynical and hopeless.

As I felt each one of these things while crying over our negative result, I thought to myself, I know it’s in these moments you are supposed to show what you are made out of. It’s that cliche: it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. I know this is my moment and I have a choice of how to react. But was I capable of reacting with strength, positivity, and faith? Was I able to take it in stride, dust myself off, and know that this is just part of the process? I really didn’t know. And at many points yesterday, absolutely not.

But oh, it feels so bad to be in that place. I knew I was suffering from the crushing blow of disappointment and all the accompanying emotions, but I was so tired of it. I needed to be out of it. And although the thought of throwing in the towel and letting go of all this briefly fluttered through my mind, I knew I couldn’t. So I started to wonder, how do you recover from disappointment?

I could try ignoring the bad feelings. I could try going on about my day, with that chronic ache, and hope that eventually the feelings would fade. I could continue to cry and try to process my emotions and schedule an extra session with my therapist. I could keep writing, and connect with the other amazing bloggers that I knew would understand painfully well. I could try and find comfort in their sweet empathetic swaddle of support.

And I did try a little of all of these things. And a lot of it helped. But what I found the most helpful, after I acknowledged all the complex emotions I was feeling and the trauma that surrounds it, was to think about the next cycle. To discuss our next plan. To accept that we may not have a May 2015 baby, but maybe we’ll have a June 2015 baby?

I spent a long time talking to my doctor, reflecting on this past cycle and discussing what we could do differently next time. We discussed the pros and cons of different options. I called our new insurance company to inquire about every little detail of our infertility coverage. My husband and I talked about what do next, and whether we should try a natural cycle or proceed to IUI #2.

Doing this helped me to cut down on some of the helplessness that the disappointment left me with.

It helped heal my heart a little because I started to focus on hope again.

It gave me back a little bit of my strength and stamina that the disappointment ripped away.

I still have the achey pain, but my energy is turned towards next month. I actually felt grateful for the chance to try again. So many of the same emotions I felt after my miscarriages surfaced yesterday that I almost was tricked into thinking that’s what I was going through. But that’s not what this is. We don’t need to discuss termination options, or sit out a cycle while my body recovers from the loss. We don’t have to wait endlessly while the miscarriage passes. Sometimes I even think, maybe this cycle would have resulted in loss, and I was just spared? 

It still hurts, and I’m still disappointed. But I’m hoping. Maybe next month.

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hopeful but damaged

Flipping the channels the other morning I landed on Live with Kelly and Michael. I paused for a moment, thought about watching, then changed the channel.

That show reminds me of the waiting room at my RE’s office. For some reason, every time I’m there it’s playing. As I wait to get called into my appointments I stare at the TV screen; only half watching because my nerves are usually too much of a distraction to focus on anything.

Seeing that show flash on the screen in my living room, I immediately was flooded with how I feel when I’m sitting in that waiting room.

Hopeful but damaged.

I sit in that room with all my wounds and scars. I take deep breaths to steady my heart beat and eliminate the pit in my stomach, driven by the expectation of bad news. I wearily eye the others sitting in the room, wondering what they’ve been through, and what’s ahead. I wonder if they’ve cried the same tears I have and carry the same dented baggage that I do. I wonder if their perfect composure belies the struggle that they’ve been through too.

But the waiting room also offers the entry to answers and to making our wishes come true. I’ve grown so attached to my doctor. I wish that when we finally do get a viable pregnancy, she could hold my hand through every ultrasound and at the end be the one who delivers my baby. I never want to leave that office. I find comfort there.

Sometime I just feel like people think that you have a miscarriage and you’re sad for a little while and then you’re over it, I cried to my husband once in a moment of self-pity.

But it stays with you! I continued through my tears.

It stays with you. I feel damaged sitting in that waiting room. I feel weathered and sensitive and like I’ll never be the same.

Sometimes I want to scream, just because I’m smiling does not mean I’m ok! Just because it’s been 8 months does not mean I’m ok!

There is a gaping hole in my heart, and it’s still so raw. And it can’t close because I still want this so bad. And everything around me reminds me of it.

I’ve gotten better at coping. And pretending. And managing my emotions. I can feign happiness at a pregnancy announcement, I can hold your baby and tell you how happy I am for you. I can even press ‘like’ on all the baby pics that flood my Facebook feed. I’ve learned how to shut down a part of myself when I need to. I can go numb. I can momentarily force myself to forget the pain.

But privately, it all comes out. I never escape unscathed. Nothing that I compartmentalize and pretend is ok ever just goes away. It always finds me. Finds me in the form of a tightened chest and a stubborn knot in my stomach by day, and then pillow smothered sobs by night. Or sometimes it’s a slow build, where I tell myself over and over I’m fine, until finally it swallows me and I have no choice but to let it out.

I feel traumatized.

I started out with so much happy faith and expectation, but was greeted with blood and loss and uncertainty and heartbreak and having to say goodbye to the babies I would never meet. And ever since, I spend my days fielding a land mine of triggers. This journey is so painful because we can’t hide from what triggers our trauma and our pain. We can’t hide from baby strollers and our best friend’s pregnancy announcement and our 2 month old nephew.

We are forced to face it every single day.

After my miscarriages, I was surrounded by expressions of concern and care and I felt like I could openly grieve. And I believed that all these empathetic faces around me really understood my pain. I’ve been lucky in that sense, and would never undermine just how much love I’ve felt from friends and family.

But time goes on. And I’ve been forced to keep living with that same amount of pain. My family and friends can’t scoop me up every single day, can’t give me a constant swaddle of affection and support. And I know people stop knowing what to say, as days turn to months, and months turn to years. And that’s when isolation starts to creep in, and the silent grief. Because the pain lives on.

And as we try to conceive once again, with faith and hope our only fuel, we ache. Every negative pregnancy test brings you back to that feeling of loss. You spend two weeks wondering, hoping, and imagining you are pregnant. Day dreaming of what that would mean. Loving this possible baby to be. I often rub my belly and leave my hand there, subconsciously  trying to transport the love in my heart to my womb. Please be in there, I plead. And with a trip to the bathroom and a three minute wait, it’s all over. 

My mom often tells me that after her brother had a baby, she got the baby bug in an intense way. I just had to have you, she’s told me, gushing, giving me hugs. Less than a year later, her wish came true, and I was born.

Imagine that feeling, I said to her, that longing, that feeling that if you didn’t have a baby now, you would explode. Now picture almost two years and two miscarriages later, with no baby or pregnancy to show for it….That is what I’m going through.  That is what I’m experiencing.

Miscarriage stains everything around you. It spoils the joyful path to pregnancy. It leaves you unable to feel happiness for friends you love who have growing bellies. It causes you pain when you hold someone else’s baby in your arms. It even takes a silly show, like Live with Kelly and Michael, and taints it with its loaded association. Bringing you to that place…where pain still lives but yet you’re hopeful. Hopeful and damaged.