Detachment, Panic, and Relief

Two things happened during this week’s session with Dr. N.:

1. I bawled my eyes out. (More on this in a minute.)
2. I admitted out loud, for the first time, how detached I feel from this process.

My eggs were taken while I slept.  Hubby’s sperm was injected in a lab.  We may have been in the same building when this happened, but we weren’t in the same room.  We weren’t allowed to observe this miracle.  The resulting embryos are now frozen in that same lab, a mile from my house.  This proximity does nothing to make me feel closer to them.

During our session, Dr. N. suggested positive thinking could affect the outcome of this cycle.  Maybe there’s a shred of hope that while the embryos are inside my uterus, my mental state could influence the result in a positive way.  (I doubt it.)  But what I’m most worried about now is that they survive the thaw, something that will happen outside my body, in that cold, sterile lab, where my thoughts have no influence.

Once they’re inside me, I hope I’ll feel some attachment to what could be occurring in my uterus, but right now, the only things I feel are the soreness from last night’s progesterone injection, the leftover irritation on my belly from the estrogen patches, and the sensitivity of my nipples at the slightest contact.

Speaking of injections, I freaked out Thursday night, after my therapy session, when I went to give myself the last injection of Lupron.  I couldn’t recall giving myself the injection the night before.  Hubby insists I did, but I have no memory of doing it.  Maybe it’s one of those things that became so routine, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore.  Whatever the case, I lost it.  I was sure that missing that injection meant that the follicle in my right ovary would ovulate, and the transfer would be cancelled.  And it would be my fault for skipping one night of medication.

The thought brought on immediate panic but also an odd sense of…relief.  If the transfer were cancelled, it would fit right into the scheme of things so far.  Every step of the way has been met with complications, resulting in delays, postponements, and more waiting.  It’s starting to feel like a given.  And in the weird places of my brain that are capable of rationalizing the craziness of these kinds of thoughts, this was a good thing.  If the transfer is put off, I don’t have to start worrying about whether or not it’s going to work.  There’s no pressure, no timeline, no impending result, which could be the end of everything.  If it never happens, there’s no chance my body could fail the ultimate test.

This line of thinking was something that came up during therapy earlier that day.  Dr. N. had said that there was no way to prepare for tragedy.  That whatever happens as a result of this transfer, I’ll deal with it when it comes because there’s no way to predict the outcome or my response in advance.  She brought up the death of my mother, which immediately brought me to tears.  I croaked out the words of explanation between sniffles:

When I was 10, my mother almost died during pacemaker surgery.  Since that day, I had been preparing for her death, but when it came, I still fell apart.  All my premature mourning and grieving did nothing to lessen the pain of her final departure.

The same goes for IVF.  One of the reasons Hubby and I decided to do the genetic screening was because I was sure it would drastically reduce the chances of having a miscarriage.  What I wanted to do was eliminate all possibilities of failure, and therefore save myself the pain of loss.  But that’s impossible to do.  There’s still a chance that the embryos we transfer won’t implant.  That I won’t be pregnant at the end of all of this, and that even if I am, I could still lose the pregnancy.

In the meantime, I’m trying to stay positive.  It’s not easy.  My nature has always been to fill in every detail of the worst case scenario, to prepare myself for inevitable calamity.  But it’s gotten me nowhere.  It doesn’t serve to protect me from deep feelings of loss.  It doesn’t prevent grief.  If anything, it intensifies the feelings I’ve spent my life practicing, one final performance after years of rehearsals.

So I’m trying.  I’m far from succeeding all the time, but I’m learning (slowly) to go easy on myself.  It’s a work in progress. Like life.

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27 thoughts on “Detachment, Panic, and Relief

  1. If (when! lets practice this positive thinking thing!) this transfer works, the is no doubt in my mind that you will develop an attachment to your baby(ies). As a fellow catastrophizer, your logic about your makes sense to me. But Dr. N is so spot on. No amount of preparing for the worst is going to prepare you for the worst. Not with something like this. Sure. You may be closer to failing than you’ve ever been before, but you’re also closer to succeeding than you’ve ever been before. I’ve got all kinds of positive vibes floating out your way!! Catch on to one or two! Make them yours! 😉

  2. Staying positive can be such a hard thing to do at times like this. It seems safer to prepare for the worst, rather than to plan for the best, because then you think you’ll be prepared for the pain when the worst does happen. But it doesn’t really work that way, does it? But every step you take is a step closer to your baby and you’re closer than ever before. And on the days where your optimism fails, you have so many bloggie friends who will be optimistic for you. Hoping, hoping, hoping, my friend!

  3. I’ve been here, Daryl. I was here right before my last transfer. I’m going to share with you what David told me before we started estrogen: steeling yourself mentally for failure doesn’t actually work. All it does is make you more miserable during the whole process and the pain isn’t any less acute. In addition, you miss out on the good moments, like when those embryos do survive the thaw, going through the transfer process and even spending those few days where you are PUPO.

    So, I’m going to give you the same assignment that David gave me. View all negative thinking as poison and practice visualizing the outcome you are working your butt off for. I’m not saying that it will make everything magically work (G_d, I wish), but I also know that torturing yourself on top of all of this is really hard. You ARE doing everything you can to make this happen. Yes, some shitty things have happened, with the delays and all, but I really do believe that you and Hubby have a very good chance for all of this working. So, visualize that positive outcome. Trust me, I get how strange this sounds and I know how hard it is to do (I battled with this for about a week). But, as I got into the habit, I found those moments where I was seeing visualizing my children playing, giggling and watching Grey with them a place of refuge from the horrors of Lupron, the madness of the uncertainty and even a source of strength during each ultrasound and while I was waiting for the thaw report and the beta results.

    Hang in there, lady. So many are pulling for you and hoping that within a very short time the news you’ll be getting will be a source of great joy and celebration.

    • Thank you, Cristy. I think Wednesday is going to be the day the switch flips from abstract to real, and what I should be doing is preparing myself with positive thoughts of a healthy pregnancy and our future children. Maybe thinking of all those negative thoughts as poison will help me to do that!

    • I really like this advice. I’ve always taken the view that if I anticipate only the worst that will happen, I won’t be as disappointed if it comes to be, whereas if I think of a good outcome and it doesn’t happen then I’ll be all the more disappointed. The truth is that I’m just as horribly disappointed either way, and I’ve made myself miserable in the meantime. I’m really going to try to apply this to my upcoming FET and I really hope you can too, Daryl. I totally get your feelings of panic, and not wanting to get started so you can prolong your time off and avoid the pressure. It’s just living in limbo, though. I am thinking so many good thoughts for you right now!

  4. Staying positive is so hard. I rarely succeed at it. But we’re trying and that’s what counts right? Thinking of you.

  5. it sounds totally stupid, but I get through it all by picturing myself as a cow happily chewing grass. it’s my way of practicing contentment. There’s nothing I can do to affect the process, so I have to.. well… you know how cows always look so happy, just standing there, chewing their grass, blinking at you with big brown eyes and just taking in the world? that’s what I aim t do. Just be content, chewing my grass (or running or eating grapes or watching Modern Family or whatever I feel like doing, whatever makes me feel content.) Cows just stand there while they get injections, while the vet shoves an arm up to the elbow up their bum to see if they’re pregnant… they just stand there, chewing their grass. that’s what I try to do in my own way. It sounds tupid, and it may not work for you, but it could be worth trying. it works for me. Most of the time.

  6. I definitely get the detachment piece. My husband and I used humor to cope with it but there were times when it really got to me. Also, I love the visual Ladyblogalot shared about the cow. Somehow, that really makes sense to me.

  7. I have no words of wisdom, but I know what you mean about bracing for the worst and feeling detached from the process. My FET is on Friday if all goes well, and I’m terrified that I won’t have an embie survive the thaw! There’s nothing we can do to change the outcome. What will be, will be. I think this whole process to becoming a parent is a hard lesson in having your heart live outside your body. Good luck, hun. I hope 2013 brings a miracle to both of us.

  8. You’ve been given a lot of good advice already, and I don’t have any to add. But I amhoping for you! It makes sense that preparing for loss doesnt lessen the blow, even though we try. So I hope you are able toeembrace where you are at now and hope for the best!

  9. Sometimes, when I read a blog post like this and the comments, I wish wordpress were a bit more like FB, where we could like the comments others have written before us. I’ll just say, “yes to the above” and add this:

    I think we pressure ourselves too much to “stay positive.” I also think that the thing to do is NOT let yourself go into a worry/pain/anxiety spiral. It really is impossible to change anything about the outcomes by freaking yourself out, so try not to do that.

    Now, having given you very good advice, I will go ahead and admit to following none of it. I never really could control my fear and anxiety in my IVF cycles. Maybe that did lead to my lack of pregnancy. Maybe. Or, maybe, my body just doesn’t want me to be pregnant. I hope it’s the latter…

    • Realistically, I know that thinking positively probably isn’t going to affect this transfer one way or another. (And I’m sure your anxiety didn’t affect your cycles, either!) But it could help with my state of mind and overall well-being, so I think that in itself makes it worthwhile. Not easy, for sure, but worth giving it a try.

  10. I just want to send you a big hug right now! Even after all this time, I still have a hard time letting my brain (and my heart) go to the hopeful, this-might-work place, so I totally get you. At the same time, (as a friend pointed out to me in one of these moments) if all those crazy complicated bad things can happen, why not crazy wonderful things too? Yes it’s quite scary, but I have SO much hope for you. And as you move forward, I’m certain your feelings of attachment to your little PHOIs will grow.

  11. I think we all have a try to prepare for the worst mentality – I mean how can you not after everything you’ve been through and know from reading others’ stories? I kept myself detached during our cycle, too, just doing what needed to be done – showing up at appts, giving myself my shots, showing up for the retrieval and transfer. What your therapist said is right – you can’t possibly prepare yourself for grief, but boy do we sure try anyway.

  12. I definitely don’t think ‘positive thinking’ makes much difference in terms of the success or failure of each cycle (speaking as someone who was 100% convinced there was NO way my cycle had worked and yet somehow it still managed to) but the difference it does make is to you, your sanity, your partnership, your well-being. It’s so hard to maintain but it is so so true that trying to steel ourselves for a bad outcome makes absolutely no difference in terms of how sad we might feel – and is just torture in the meantime! Something I’m still learning and trying to work on all these months later. If it helps, just remember that we’re all thinking positively and hoping for you too! maybe it’s easier not to put it all on yourself.

  13. I have been here too, battling with the worries and what ifs of something and everything going wrong. Everyone has different ways of coping and it’s great if you can think positive and be hopeful instead of anxious and worried. It’s really hard though, but I hope you can get there if it makes it easier during the 2ww.

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