Is it possible to mourn for something you never had to begin with?
The day we got the negative test is basically a blur. I honestly don’t remember how I got home from Pita Pit or what happened next. I do know that I ended up curled in the fetal position sobbing in our bed. It just felt surreal. Did this actually happen? We had put everything into fertility- physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and financially. The science behind it seemed so logical and the doctor’s were so optimistic with our case. Hell, from the start, we didn’t even think we had fertility issues. Yet here we were. Broke, devastated, and an a completely empty uterus.
I stayed in bed with a cocktail of anti-anxiety meds and kleenexes for the next couple of days. My mind just could not compute that this had just happened to us. It was so easy to be angry with the rest of the world and adopt the ‘poor me’ mantra. How could women who didn’t want or care about their children continued to be blessed with them? How could the rest of world take for granted the miracle of life that was being with held from us? It just didn’t seem fair. We are a young married couple who are unquestioningly in love. We have good jobs, a loving home, supportive family and friends, and so much room in our hearts to dedicate ourselves to our child. Yet, here we were at a dead end.
It feels utterly impossible to describe in words what it feels like. My heart was broken. Completely shattered… and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to piece it back together again. To make matters worse, Dan, who had always been my optimistic rock, took it just as hard. He tried so hard to keep it together, to put on a smile to encourage me to come back to the living… But this blow was just too hard to take.
That evening, we just lay in bed together with our faces inches apart, crying. Our dream, a simple dream of having a family, was over. No words could console us. We just needed time to mourn.
Day 3: The third day after the news, I pulled myself together, put on dress clothes and tried to return to work. If I could just get back to the business of every day life, then perhaps I could give my brain (and heart) a rest to try and forget… even just for 7 hours a day. I put everything into my work, but I just couldn’t keep it together. My colleagues, most of whom knew what was going on, came by to give me a hug or say they were thinking about me. I couldn’t even fake that I was ok. I’d burst into tears at the drop of a dime. I was hvaing problems concentrating, making decisions, and was just utterly exhausted.
At lunch, I decided to walk to Pita Pit so I could at least get a comforting hug from Dan. We share our building with public health and they had just put up a several posters that morning in our elevator. With one look, I had a complete break down and ended up sitting in the corner of the elevator bawling my eyes out.
I just couldn’t do this. I lasted three hours and I just couldn’t do it. I went down the parking garage to drive home… but was far too upset to drive. So instead, I reclined my chair in my car, and laid down there in the dark trying to relax.
I made it home and emailed my manager to let him know that, again, I’d need to be off sick again. Work had been so supportive, however with each day I took off meant that someone else was stuck trying to cover my work. We are all so busy so I felt like I had to come back.
Day 4: I tried working from home. I was trying my best but wasn’t doing great- my thinking was working a little was better than nothing, right? That afternoon, a colleague called my cell. She has had some medical issues herself and wanted to chat with me re: sick time. Known for her bluntness, she gave it to me straight. Work would would survive if I got hit by a truck tomorrow and never returned. I needed to stop thinking about work, and instead focus on me. Focus on healing.
I needed that kick in the butt- I needed someone to tell me that while I did a good job, work wasn’t going to fall apart without me. I emailed my assistant and my manager and let them know that I’d be going off sick… for at least a week. I would check back in later and let them know how I was doing. Looking back, I am so thankful to my colleague. I definitely needed some time to grieve.
Day 5: I just could not shake this terrible grief that I felt. I felt alone. Powerless. Furious. Defeated. Angry. Misunderstood. Depressed. Anxious. Distressed. Heartbroken. Miserable. Things were not getting better. But how could they? My body, and now my mind, was broken… and I wasn’t going to be magically fixed.
Day 6: I decided I needed help. I called my family doctor and got an appointment for that afternoon. When he walked into the room I just burst out crying and told him our sad story up until then. I asked him for more anti-depressants because these ones were obviously not working. I couldn’t kick this. I couldn’t just cheer up. The future seemed dim at the very best. We chatted for an hour in his office. We talked about my support system, my future options, and how to best move forward. That’s when he said it… Adele, you are in mourning- the same you would be if you lost someone close to you. Mourning? To mourn, didn’t I actually have to lose someone? If that someone was never even born, how can I experience mourning?
We talked about the five stages of loss and grief and it fit perfectly. I had been in stage one- denial and isolation for the first couple days. I was so overwhelmed by my emotions that I questioned if this was even possible. It felt like a bad dream that I would one day snap out of.
Stage two- Anger had reared it’s ugly head. Anyone who was having a child, had a child, or once was a child was on my list of people I hated… everyone. It just wasn’t fair that I was here and others weren’t.
As we continued to chat, I realized I was somewhere between stage 3 and 4. Bargaining and depression. I had spent my last days re-thinking my cycles and wondering if there was anything we could have done differently. I was also questioning our decision to stop trying… I remember we had good ideas on why to stop then, but now, I couldn’t help but think ‘what if’ we just tried one more time? The depression had hit at full force and I just felt like I was stuck in the bottom of a deep cavernous pit with no hope of climbing out.
My doctor prescribed a heavier dosage of my already high amount of anti-depressants and asked me to check in with him next week.
I went home and tried to process how to mourn for something you never really had. Not an easy task.
I booked another appointment with the clinic to discuss what had happened and what to do now. We needed to have some closure and I hoped that the doctors could provide us that. The WTF appointment was next week. Next steps seemed too far away to think about, but we also needed to hear medically what went wrong.