Blog > Healing - A cycle of grief, gratitude, hurt and hope
April 9, 2021
Healing - A cycle of grief, gratitude, hurt and hope
By guest blogger Divya Parker, patient HSFC*
I got one of the worst phone calls of my life three months ago. Time stopped. Life stopped. And yet I’m still here. Wise words someone told me as this new journey began will always stay with me. “Nothing is absolute.” Perhaps that’s why I think of my healing as a cycle of sorts. For the word “cycle” to not refer to IVF was a welcome change. Healing in itself.
You might be wondering, “Why on earth would you want to write about something so personal as grief? Aren’t you embarrassed to talk about your fertility struggles?” The one that really preys on my mind is, “You went through one full round. Just one. You couldn’t possibly understand the hell I’ve been through after so many rounds. What could you say to me?”
I was honoured when HSFC asked me to keep in touch with them as I find my way on this journey to “family.” My story of sorrow and healing is a tragically common one. There are thousands of solo-parents-to-be and couples in the world who pinned their hopes on IVF working for them, hoping to be that success story on the wall, but alas, not this time.
I’m just one person, one voice. But by telling my story, I hope that in some small way, I can do justice to their untold stories, their unheard grief and their anxious prayers. Here’s little of what happened as I went through my own healing cycle. I hope that you find what you’re looking for in your story, in mine.
Months of calm, collectedness, optimism, and “keeping it together” all flew clean out of the window. I cried until my chest hurt and my voice was raw. Over and over I asked “How could we have failed? We troubleshot absolutely everything, didn’t we? After years of yo-yo-ing in and out of hospitals, couldn’t something go right for me?” My poor husband had no answer to give me. Nor did the powers that be.
I spent so much of that first month asking “What is wrong with me? What did I do wrong?” How many of us have been told “You mustn’t blame yourself” and actually not blamed themselves at any time? I spoke to Dani Singer, who told me “That which we resist, persists. It sounds like the pressure valve just had to go sometime. It’s actually quite normal.” Paradoxically, feeling anything but normal, actually is.
How and why did I forgive myself? Gratitude for the love of my husband, family and friends was a big part of that. That includes our lovely dog. A bit of a cliché, but true nevertheless. When I realised that no one else I cared about was angry or found fault with me for any of the reasons I tried to be angry at myself for, the fire began to burn out. Forgiveness began to take its place. I was and am, so fortunate to have some incredible friends, some of whom have children of their own, some who don’t. The greatest gift they gave me was to make no assumptions and just ask me “How are you doing today?”
Even when treatment got pretty hard going for me, I wasn’t blind to the fact that there were so many women walking up and down those stairs for scans and tests who had already undergone multiple rounds of IVF and may have had far more serious concerns than my own. Anyone who undergoes IVF is brave. End of. But my courage was nothing compared to these women I may never know, who have run this gauntlet so many times. As difficult as this round had felt, this was only ONE round for me. As crushed as I am that it didn’t work out for me this time, I hope that they’re on their way to a happier new beginning.
My medical background was a double-edged sword. I rationalised and understood every drug, every injection, every scan. I could trust what my eyes saw and what my hands felt. I had something solid and tangible to hold onto. Surely, if the medical team made every micro-adjustment to my treatment protocol and every test result, every drug made sense, then even with one little embryo, things could still work, right? How hopeful and naïve I was. As Dr. Venkat told me, “Even with all the advances of medical science we have when it comes to fertility, when you’re creating life, there is that something. Something beyond our control. It’s out of our hands.” Having a medical background did nothing to lessen the hurt or the overwhelming sense of how unfair everything was. I’m the sort of person who always wants to know. I have to have answers. I need to understand why. I have no doubt that when the time is right, I’ll find the help I need to get many answers, but not all of them. And I have to make my peace with that.
That was probably my least favourite word in those initial weeks. But it is almost impossible to kill. Each day that the bruises from the injections became more faint, every item of clothing that fit as the fluid retention came down, gave me hope. Every supportive chat from Dr. Venkat and Daisy in those dark days, was hope. Even being able to see the funny side of going from “indestructible” to “sloth” as I came off the steroids, was hope. Being able to say “I’m alright thank you” without justifying it every five minutes, was hope. Knowing that we’d tried a lot by way of treatment, but not everything, was hope. Being able to remember myself and the man I fell in love with, without an exhausting and angst-ridden drug haze in the way, was hope.
Some days are still better than others. Still, it seems fitting that as Spring renewed, so did hope. And a strength I thought I had lost.
I won’t lose by getting knocked down. I’ll lose by staying down.
*Divya is an HSFC patient, her story being featured previously as a lesson of courage, resilience, and hope. She kindly accepted our invitation to write her story, in her own words, from where she’s been featured. As a trained medical specialist, Divya will also write about different important subjects such as medicines to be taken during pregnancy and the fertility journey.
Divya’s previous stories can be read by clicking the links below.