It’s a loss that’s hard to define. But who says losses have to be defined? There’s pain because there was love. Even the love of an embryo, or six, that never grew to full-term, or made it into your arms, or even onto the screen for an ultrasound.
One of the hardest things about a failed IVF transfer is that not only are you grieving the loss of that baby and that pregnancy, and the dreams that came with it, you’re reeling from the realization that you’ve just tried all you know to try, medically and physically, and you’re at the end of the road. Again. You’ve invested your money, and your time, and you’ve gone through hundreds of painful shots and so many procedures and another surgery, and the thought of this being the end of the road, the, “Well, we did what we could. I guess we’ll just never have kids” mindset is an unwelcome reality that must be faced.
In the mess of this season, this season of back to back (times three) failed IVF transfers, someone gave us a crib. It was an innocent gesture because it was given to us to use in the guesthouse we were managing at the time, if there was a need. But it was also a “use where needed” crib. So we thought maybe, just maybe, it would become our crib. But then it was made clear from our most recent failed transfer that it wouldn’t become our crib. It would become someone else’s baby’s bed. Someone else would decide if it should be painted, or if it should be on a rug, or placed diagonally in the corner by the window, and if neutral or colored sheets would be used. Those weren’t our decisions to make anymore.
Lots of things caught me off guard and made me want to sneak out of the room and sob in the bathroom: comments that were made, a newborn being passed around, women standing around “planning” how many kids they vs. their husbands wanted to have, pregnancy announcements, and the like. Shawn and I learned that it was okay to grieve differently, because we were different, but to still communicate to each other how we were feeling. It was okay if I wrote an angry letter to God that I would burn later, or if Shawn needed time alone in his workshop with the music turned up loud. But the crib thing didn’t bother me quite like it bothered Shawn. As the man, and the provider, it was a need he was happy to meet, a need he could physically meet, a project he was happy to take on for us. But for the need for a crib to be coldly labeled “c’est negative” by a nurse (because our results were negative) was too much for him to think about. He’s the one who saw the crib every day in his workshop, sitting there needing to be assembled, another job he would have happily taken on. Now it was just a pile of wood that symbolized another loss. The crib found a new home where a baby was confirmed, and on the way. Loading that crib up for someone else was heartbreaking, but necessary.
Fast forward to today, many years later, and Shawn just finished putting the second coat of paint on our SECOND CRIB! It’s so easy to want to jump to the end of the story. No one wants to experience grief and loss, or to read about it, or to have to sit on the couch next to someone who’s trying to tell you through choppy tear-filled sentences why they’re heartbroken. But would joy and hope and answered prayers mean the same if we never had to experience or come face to face with what it feels like to be at the end of the road, or to go to sleep and wake up with a heavy grief?
All I know is, I’m so thankful that this story has gone on to include two cribs, when we thought there might never be a crib, and that God works hope into every story.