One of the hardest things about infertility for me so far has been the compounded grief. It’s something I don’t frequently talk about, but something I feel on a daily basis. For those that don’t know, both of my parents are deceased. My Mom died suddenly from a massive heart attack when I was 13, and my Dad died after multiple strokes and struggling for several months when I was 26.
As far as it goes, my Mom’s death has been the hardest to deal with. Not surprising when you combine my age (13) with the fact that it was unexpected. There was no illness or anything precipitating her death. She went to work, I went to bed. I woke up and my Mom was dead. My Dads death was painful, but I had plenty of time to mourn his coming death, and in the end he was better off dead than he was suffering alive.
Infertility has been without a doubt the most traumatic and painful thing I have dealt with though. As a child, as horrible as it is, you expect to mourn the passing of a parent. That might not make it easier to do so, but it is a shared experience the majority of us will go through. Infertility is a minority experience. On top of it being something only afflicting a small number of people, it is also looked at as unimportant, given that having children seems to be viewed as a luxury when you can’t just make it happen on your own for free.
The most surprising thing for me out of all 3 of these experiences has been how they affect each other. While I would never claim to be “over” my parents passing, I have dealt with them in a healthy manner. I can talk about them and think about the past without becoming overly emotional and just remember the past. This is not a place I am at with infertility, every single month the wound is reopened on that grief.
The grief I feel over my infertility though brings back the profound loss I feel having lost my parents so early. It shines a bright light on the fact that I have no readily available family. Every month I fail I can’t help but think how much I wish my Mom or Dad were here, as I know they would support me in any way they could. It’s only made the isolation one feels being infertile that much worse. Not only are you isolated from peers, but you are also isolated in the fact that you don’t have any parents to turn to.
Now, that is not to say that I don’t have extended family, or my dear, amazing husband. I do. But in dealing with my infertility it has definitely brought back grief I hadn’t felt for a number of years. And it’s hard. It feeds the feeling of unfairness you have in the rabbit hole that is depression. While I’m well aware of the fact that life is not in fact fair, it still doesn’t stop the thought from occurring.
The more frequent thought I have though is just when is it enough? When has one felt enough pain and it is deemed they have suffered enough. I know there is no logical answer to this, but again, depression is never sensical in the thoughts that run through your mind.
At the end of the day, all I can really do is just keep breathing. Celebrate the small victories and try to process the grief as it flows over me. Some days that means just being happy I got out of bed and showered.