Loss and Life Beyond Failed Fertility
Loss lives on in ways large and small following an infertility diagnosis and failed IVF.
This truth permeates the world of IVF survivors. That’s just one of many topics explored in a new Life Beyond Failed Fertility podcast with yours truly now available on iTunes and on Spotify, Podomatic, and Amazon.
When the podcast invitation came earlier this year I wasn’t altogether sure I would accept. It’s been a few years since I openly discussed how failed IVF tore apart my world. Was I prepared to reopen that chapter? Did I have anything new to add to the conversation? Could I adequately address infertility loss, IVF survivorhood, patient trauma and the bioethics questions inherent in them. Would anyone care to hear about the very real ‘fertility’ industry shortcomings and abuses — from rushing egg freezing to market without sufficient safety and health studies, the woeful lack of adequate mental health support and the profiteering that comes from selling unproven IVF add-ons?
Well, that’s now for you to decide. I invite you to take a listen and to share your comments.
Integration, Limbo and Loss Acknowledgment
We didn’t only get a spectacular full moon this week. The stars aligned, too, and pointed me to a number of soulful and heartfelt blog posts. Sarah at Infertility Honesty, Infertile Phoenix, Jess at Finding a Different Path and Mali at No Kidding in NZ each brought forward some new insights and food for thought.
This collective sharing about life, loss, labels, and limbo is what most appealed to me in the early days of blogging. It’s also why I’ve recommitted to our blog community. Amid these chaotic and unsettling times, it’s important and nourishing to have our say and to have our thoughts heard and experiences validated.
“The thread of what should have been was ever soft in her heart, a key fiber in her well lived life. And that her life long love wound was still penetrable.”
Mourning and Grief
That beautiful writing and the imagery is just one of many memorable sentences contained in Sarah’s post about reliving loss. The post truly resonates. As I told her, I am in awe when I witness women in our community share so deeply and so honestly.
She went on to write:
“Mourning is defined as the outward expression of grief. Everyone grieves, but not everyone mourns. To move forward with healing, mourning is immensely facilitating, if not essential. So when your loss is societally stigmatized, dismissed, minimized and belittled, well….good luck with that! Looking back I don’t know how any of us do it. What I do know is it takes a brave and diligent soul to traipse through the fire of cultural indifference, introducing ourselves to the accumulation of more wounds on our path through healing.”
Our Stories Illuminate
She describes today’s humbler, less visceral pull of her annual memorial ritual as it approached. Sarah longs for the days when her emotions felt sharp and all-encompassing. I get it. There is a curious aliveness when every fiber of our being pulses with pain. My losses and grief once burned so brightly I felt almost superhuman.
Yet, that fiery ferocity ultimately burns out. So, as many of us transition, we feel the softening of our once raw grief. That is both comforting and expected. It’s also why, as my podcast recording approached, I feared I might not be able to adequately convey my emotions and experience with the intensity they deserved.
What I discovered, like Sarah, is that the naked and absolutely visceral sensations do still live within me, but they’re not at the surface as they once were. Sometimes they surprise with their accessibility. During the podcast, I choked up and felt tears in my eyes as I described what it felt like to box up the baby clothing once awaiting our children. (It brings me comfort to know they went on to warm and hold someone else’s baby.)
The Next Generation
Beyond the podcast, another invitation landed in my inbox in January. This one asked if I would take part in an online support group. Nurtured by your stories, I will take all of your experiences and wisdom with me later this month when I log into Zoom. Awaiting me are women some 20 years my junior. One of my central messages will be that regardless of where we end up with infertility, there is great significance to be had in acknowledging each other’s loss throughout our lives. And, above all, we must continue to share and care for each other. Welcome any other messages you think will benefit the next generation of women.