I was recently asked how on earth I kept hope during our infertility and round after round of “treatments”. And, if the truth be told, I didn’t. I simply couldn’t.
In the beginning there was hope, why wouldn’t there be? Those of you who have followed my blog regularly will know that it took me completely by surprise that our first round of IVF didn’t work. I’d never imagined that could be the case; I’d put my hope in medical science.
After our first failed cycle, I researched. It was common for round one to end with a negative pregnancy test and so on to round two went we, still with hope in our hearts – according to google, and forums, and statistics, this was all perfectly normal.
Then things started to not get normal. And, three years in to trying to conceive, hope left me. It, slowly, withered away and then one day just simply disappeared.
I was continually told not to lose hope and to put my trust in life, yet hope was becoming a curse and life had let me down. I kept trying to search for the reason why this was happening; what I was being punished for and how I could right the wrongs I must have, somehow, done to the universe. I thought I was a bad person, unworthy of having the gift of loving my child bestowed upon me. Where once I had been filled with hope, I now found myself suffused with bitterness. I hated hope. Hope was a cruel friend yet, it was a friend who, for some reason, kept on returning and didn’t give up on me.
Infertility became my battle, my war, my enemy. I was determined to beat it. Of course I so desperately always wanted the outcome of our child but, during some stages of the “dark days”, I also, vehemently, just wanted to defeat that hellion. To win.
We did, finally, get our positive, but I like to imagine that, had we not been successful in conceiving, I’d have bested the infertility demon by eventually finding peace and acceptance in our situation. Of course, I will never know if I could have found the strength required to be that person. I do, however, know how difficult it would have been because, in my experience, without hope, infertility fuels rage and desolation and tears you to pieces. It doesn’t welcome amity.
Being part of an infertile couple is a full-time, all consuming job. If it’s not the appointments it’s the procedures. If it’s not the procedures it’s the medicating. If it’s not the medicating it’s the research. If it’s not the research it’s the living with something to do with it every single day – you get the picture? And if it’s none of the above, it’s the emotions, which are always there. There is no respite. There is no escape.
And so I wallowed, and then I picked myself up. I drank too much, and then I became incredibly health conscious. I tried to control an untameable force and I didn’t always do it well, or with grace. But, I did it in the only way I knew how, and, welcome or not, hope kept on coming back. Hope of a pregnancy. Hope of a child. Hope of finding peace whatever the outcome. Hope of something better than the life I was living.
Hope in hope.
I believe it takes courage to have hope, and if we can encounter disappointment after disappointment, yet still retain even just a spark of it, to fuel us over the next hurdle, then we should all feel incredibly proud of ourselves. But also not beat ourselves up if it does, temporarily, disappear; it can feel impossible to remain hopeful, in whatever situation, when faced with such bleakness.
As much as I sometimes hated hope, I know I also felt better having her in my corner. Living with bitterness was destructive and it ate away at all that was good within me. I felt empty of worth. Once hope returned I felt as though I had, the start of, something to believe in. Whatever the outcome.
Dostoevsky said: “To live without hope is to cease to live” and no matter how insurmountable a challenge it can feel; sometimes there is only hope, and, in order to survive, we really do just have to try to believe that something better is ahead.
To have hope, in hope.