Finding My Brave
Hi, my name is Brie. But I’m guessing you already know me. I am the 1 in 8 who struggle to get pregnant. I am the 1 in 4 who has felt the gut-wrenching pain of pregnancy loss. I am the girl you sat across from in the waiting room wondering what she’s here for and if she’s stressed, too. You’ve passed me in the grocery store, at a stop light, seen me at a girl’s night and wouldn’t know that I am barely holding it together waiting for when my next cycle can start, if I can handle knowing the results of another lab draw, wondering if I’m going to get another chance at the magic we call motherhood.
I’ve known this thing called infertility for a long time. She and I danced together for a better part of a decade. For a lot of that time, I really resented involuntarily joining such a club. I didn’t want the label. I just wanted to me a mom. Not an IVF mom. Not the girl you feel bad for. I didn’t want to be the one you’re wondering if it’s safe to tell you’re pregnant (again) to … the one you tiptoe around and hope you don’t bring up too much hurt.
Through this long and quite frankly exhausting dance with infertility, I forged my way through two IVF cycles, endured hundreds of injections, dozens of sonos, waited on the end of more test results than I’d like to admit — to find myself a mom. A mom with a heart that had pieced itself back together. A beautifully broken woman who knew that the most beautiful dawn comes after the darkest night. I found freedom and power in finding my voice. Connection through authenticity. And over time, embraced my story as an IVF mom. I met hundreds of women. Connected in-person and online. Found purpose in the pain.
And then, two years ago, my world shifted on its axis. I found out I was pregnant. Without IVF. And as crazy as it sounds, I really resented that pregnancy. Somehow, I had made myself president of this pack of women and felt a duty to carry battle wounds and chinks in my armor for the group. I was afraid this baby made me unrelatable. Inauthentic even. So, I hid behind this statistical anomaly of a pregnancy and lost myself. Lost my connection. Lost my voice. I even felt twinges of jealousy when friends did IVF because I missed that noble fight.
I’ve moved through the last two years in what I can only describe as a haze. I’ve fallen in love with what is now a beautiful, 18-month-old baby boy. I’ve accepted that the story I thought I had written is evolving. That it isn’t over. Since having Tennyson, I’ve felt the greatest joys and hardest losses. A few month ago, I got pregnant again. But I lost that baby. And without actively choosing to, became part of another club. The pregnancy loss club. And you know what, this one stinks, too. Loss hurts every bit as much as the negative pregnancy tests. It’s different. But just as poignant.
Maybe it’s payback for immaturely grading other women’s life experiences (trials) during my early years of infertility. Maybe the years of infertility didn’t “teach” me enough about empathy. Or patience. Or maybe it’ just life. I don’t know. I move in and out of these thoughts and the self-doom on almost a daily basis. I tell everyone I’m fine. And I mean, I am. I smile. I laugh. I enjoy date night, and life in general. But I also wonder if there’s something new, and horribly wrong with my body that now makes it so I can’t carry a baby. And then I feel guilty for feeling this way, because there’s always some well-meaning, but poorly-spoken person ready and willing to tell me to “just be grateful” that I’m a mom. That it could be worse. And, I guess it could be. I mean, I know it could be. But I left off on a loss, and there’s an empty seat at my table. There’s a baby I haven’t held. And quite frankly, my heart is broken. And worse, I’ve lost my brave.
So here I am, putting myself out there. Sharing my story again with you. I am here to tell you the few things that I do know. Life is full of seasons… IVF cycles can work after years of infertility. Spontaneous pregnancy can happen, too. But, so can cycle failure, and pregnancy loss. I don’t know why I’ve experienced all of these. I’m tired. And afraid to try again. But, I also know hope is more powerful than fear. That you can only find yourself if you’re willing to be vulnerable. And, when you’re ready… when I’m ready, there’s help. The best doctors and embryologists are here… waiting and more than willing to jump in and fight this noble fight right alongside you (and me). So, if you need a minute take it. Hit the wall. Take a break. As my girl Carrie would say, Cry Pretty. And if you want to know if someone knows what you’re going through, there is. I do. So many at FST do, too.
Loss changes you, but despite not feeling brave, I know I’ll find it again. And I probably won’t even realize it’s happening. I’m going to feel nervous to see my fertility specialist for the first time in three years. I am going to second guess my body at every appointment. But someday, when I hold that sweet baby… the one that’s missing from around our table, that sweet voice I just can’t hear, I will have already found my brave. And you will, too.
Hi! I’m a proud IVF mom of three amazing boys, thanks to the expert care at Fertility Specialists of Texas. I know, first hand, how lonely infertility can be, which is why I write personal entries for the FST blog — it’s my way of helping break through the isolation. To let you know you’re not alone. And, neither am I. If you ever want to chat with someone who’s had empty arms, who knows the heartbreak of this journey, I’m here. And, I’d love to connect: email@example.com