Saturday, November 9, 2013

Five Stages of Negative Beta Grief

As I'm sure you can infer from the title, I received word on Thursday afternoon that I am not pregnant. It is now Saturday and I'm just starting to feel that I can type this out without coming completely undone.

As I lay on the floor crying before Husband came home, I thought about how I would be able to get over the grief and move on in time to see anyone outside of the two of us. Being "in the closet" has plenty of advantages for us, but when grieving over the loss of something that wasn't actually yours or even real yet, it's hard to explain to anyone why or what you're grieving over. No one sends flowers or cards, there is no obituary, nothing to eulogize, and nothing to mourn for except for the loss of what you thought was meant to be.

The stages of grieving over a failed cycle have been different for me than the well known Kubler- Ross model*; it's really hard to "Deny" when a doctor tells you that you're not pregnant based on bloodwork done that morning. For me, the initial reaction was, "try to be strong until I get off the phone. Then I can cry," yet I hardly heard a word the nurse said because all I could feel was Devastation.

Does anger come next? I cannot speak for others but it's hard to be angry at anyone but myself, and yet anger did not come after Devastation.. For me, I was more angry as I was waiting and waiting for hours longer than they should have made me wait to take the call. I took my blood test at 6:10am and did not hear back from them until nearly 3pm, but once the phone rang there was no possible way anger could beat the anxiety that was then replaced by devastation. It's difficult for me to be angry when you're grieving something that never was. Anguish describes this time best.

It's impossible to bargain a negative beta. I suppose the argument can be made that it is also not reasonable to do so after a death, but I felt that I had done all of my infertility bargaining previous to the test results, "if I do this, I will be pregnant", "God, please please let me be pregnant, I'll never swear again." What can I offer up now? The test is done and nothing that I gave over in my bargains was accepted. No, anguish does not turn into bargaining, it turns into something much worse and uglier: Blame. 
On myself, on my RE, on my dogs for touching my stomach, on the random lady who bumped into me at the store, I'm extremely ashamed to concede that I felt tiny flashes of blame towards Husband but mostly I blame myself. I blame myself for the stress I put myself under, for taking the two weeks off of work, for going too fast up the stairs one day, for what I ate and didn't eat and for what I've done or haven't done in my life to cause karma to take her vicious vendetta against me now. 

Depression is a reoccurring theme throughout infertility. I'm not clinically depressed by any standard, but I do get down about all things babies and infertility. Disappointment is what I have been dealing with. Disappointment sounds like such a tame word compared with "devastation" or "anguish" but when you're thinking in terms of not being able to share happy news with loved ones, or with spending another holiday season without a baby in your belly, disappointment is a powerful stab that leaves it's mark. 

If we were mourning the death of a loved one, we would undoubtedly come to Accept our loss. Usually after the services and the body has been buried or ashes spread into the ocean, many people describe feeling a release or a calming acceptance that they've said goodbye and that their family or friend is laid to rest. Yet, to task me to accept that I am not pregnant? No. There is no acceptance that I can't have a baby after all my husband and I have put ourselves through for years and for this cycle alone. Crackheads and murderers have children; I cannot and will not accept that I cannot have a baby. Yes, this cycle failed, but I won't accept that, either. I want answers and I want a solution. There is also no "final " stage of mourning a failed cycle until the next cycle comes along and brings some hope. Until then, all things infertility and fertility related will make me Apathetic. Many women in the infertility world have said that it is extremely difficult to get excited when they are about to start a new cycle. The feeling of apathy comes from the grief that we've become so familiar with and have learned to brace ourselves for. Yes, hope will reappear and push me into another cycle, however, - call it self-preservation - with each negative test, a little piece of me breaks off and a fraction of the amount of hope I had last cycle is now taken over by apathy. 

* Otherwise known as the 5 stages of grief

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