Not This Time
The familiarity of this waiting room was always a comfort to me. Knowing which of the sunken and worn leather chairs lined up against the darkened windows hid my face best; that the office staff wouldn’t ask questions when they saw my puffy and tear stained face. A slight comfort before receiving the familiar news. After trying, hoping, and losing…back here again.
I was looking forward to the idea of a gentler pregnancy the second time around, one where I would be able to spend less time at work and more time enjoying my family and what our future held. I had it all planned out, my kids to be close together in age, they’d be best friends plus, I’d be able to get the diaper stages out of the way. The idea that the choice might not be mine, that my plans had no influence, didn’t cross my mind. After three losses and 1 ½ years of trying, I’ve finally admitted to myself that I’m one of many who struggle with Secondary Infertility. The admitting, that was the easier part of the battle for me.
I obsessed over the facts, had them memorized; the who (1 in 6 women), what and when (for woman under 35 it is after 1 year of trying and for a woman over 35 it is after 6 months of trying to naturally conceive a second or third child) and, the why (causes varying from age or scarring from previous childbirth, to issues with egg or sperm production).
The internet is flush with possible solutions and various alternatives to natural conception. I was educated but not at all prepared for the effect on my mental health. With anxiety and depression, I felt a loss of control and like a failure. As though I let my partner down, let my son and step-daughter down, and I wasn’t woman enough. The anxiety quickly translated into fear of losing my only son, I didn’t want to be apart from him, I began to feel afraid of missing moments. Moments I would never have the opportunity to experience again. All of these emotions took a toll on my work performance. I kept telling myself that none of this is a big deal, tons of people go through it; so why wasn’t I strong enough? Eventually, I broke under the pressure, I couldn’t bear the weight on my own. I revealed my struggle to my boss, finally opened up to my doctor, accepted a leave of absence from work to grieve and I am finally working on healing and moving forward.
Miscarriage and infertility are two common occurrences for couples trying to convince but remain a subject rarely discussed or considered in the office. A woman who works quietly at her desk today may have experienced her 6th miscarriage the night before, crying while she mourned another future lost. The father talking about his family might lie to avoid the pain, telling a rehearsed line that they’re just not sure they want another, when the choice isn’t theirs to make.
I am lucky to have a supportive partner, an understanding boss, and a caring doctor as well as a support system of people who encouraged me to forget what might not be the norm and to do what I needed to continue on.
I’m finally on a less rocky path. One where hiding grief and feeling shame is becoming less frequent for me, and the familiarity of support and love is not only common, but also welcome.
Author: Raschael Ash