a mother’s words to make you cry, and think

My mom is one of the few people (outside my virtual friends) we told about our IVF attempt. I didn’t tell her at first, but was later compelled. She has tried to be very supportive as we’ve gone through some pretty rough times in our long journey to parenthood — from my first surgery six years ago, to when I was unable to get pregnant and sought help, to when I started experiencing complications before inevitably losing our baby, and every surgery and failed treatment since.

Before my first RE consult, my mom recounted in detail her reproductive history, which included trouble ttc and several miscarriages before I was born (the youngest of three). After I lost our baby boy two years ago, she sat with us and shared stories of her first two years ttc as a young bride before my oldest brother was (finally) born in 1963. She described her longing and her (male) doctor’s approach (“just relax”). She described how being childless then made her feel so alone, like a failure, even freakish (“what’s wrong with me?”).

My husband and I connected with my mom in a new way that day. Still, I was reluctant to share with her our decision to finally try IVF last November/December. I didn’t want any probing questions, I didn’t want her worrying, or meddling. And I especially didn’t want to have to tell her if it failed.  

As I began the protocol, I found myself growing more distant as she would ask how I was feeling and what we might do next. Of course I was detached from everything else in my life too (work, friends, family), it wasn’t just her. I like to think I was just trying to focus and conserve my energy. We were trying an experiment that would change our lives, yet we didn’t know how.

But as the weeks went on and we got close to egg retrieval, I felt myself drawn to the need to tell her what we were doing. I realized I’d never gone into surgery without telling her (and I’ve had 5 surgeries in the past 6 years). I realized I would probably tell her afterwards at some point, whether it was successful or not. She wanted the best for us, she has told me repeatedly what good parents we will be. But she has kind of an annoying way of asking lots of questions until she gets answers. She knew our options were limited. If I had to tell her it failed, at least that might shut her up. And I mean that in the most endearing way, really.

A few days before retrieval, when I finally told her that we were in the thick of it, she seemed a little disapointed that I hadn’t let her know sooner, but so grateful to finally be in on the secret. I told her everything, and then imposed a strict ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule. That was my condition. She was not allowed to ask any more questions — if I wanted to share I would, but after transfer there were no more questions. And she was not to tell anyone about it — I knew this would be really hard for her. (Is your mom anything like mine?)

Anyway, I felt somewhat relieved after sharing our ‘secret’ with her. It gave me someone to call (aside from the Amazing M) who wanted every detail. Some real life support. But, as expected, after the transfer, she wanted more information, and well, there just wasn’t any to give. She wanted to know when my blood test was, a date I didn’t want to share with anyone. I began to dread her calls. Other than quickly wishing her a happy new year, I didn’t call her at all during the 2ww.

When I finally had to tell her it didn’t work, I could feel the tears well up in her eyes. “I’m so so sorry,” she said. “I so wish it turned out differently.” Yeah, me too. “I wish I knew what to say.” There’s nothing more to say. “I wish I knew how to help.” I thanked her told her from my heart how much I appreciated her support, but there wasn’t really anything else she could say or do. I think she probably cried when we hung up the phone. Me too. She kept calling every few days to check in, or rather to check up on me. I was reluctant to call her back because I just couldn’t get into it, and there was nothing new to report.

Well today I finally told her about my consult and the FET. After she was done with her questions, she caught me off guard when she said, “You are so brave.” Silence. “You are my hero.” Gulp, tears welling. “If I ever had to go through that,” she said, “you might never have been born. You’d still just be an idea, a dream unfulfilled.” Thanks mom, now I have to go cry… 


~ by luna on January 18, 2008.

13 Responses to “a mother’s words to make you cry, and think”

  1. She sounds like a lovely, lovely person. What a wonderful thing to hear. It struck a cord… my good friend refers to me as the “brave, brave girl” and is always so thoughtful and sensitive in her support. It has made all the difference. And we are brave, all of us, aren’t we?

  2. I love this post. I actually sent my mom and MIL links to my blog early on because it was so much easier than fielding all of their questions. Of course, that means I can’t gripe too much about family stuff, but that’s okay. They’re able to stay informed when they want to be, and it’s actually made my MIL and I a bit closer. She emails me from time to time to say “we’re so much alike!” My mom had a biopsy this week and told me afterwards that it helped her to think of me giving myself all those shots. “If you can do that, I can do this.” Gulp.

  3. What a wonderful and poignant post. What a tremendous bond you share with your mother. I’m so glad you have it…

    Like you, I had the same reticence about relaying our IF experiences with my parents, my mom in particular, and didn’t tell them about my surgeries or first IVF until after the fact and only because we were planning an FET during a time when they thought we’d be available for a visit. We finally decided to ‘fess up. Since then I’ve been very open with my parents about my the impact of IF and how it’s changed me. Their support has been invaluable. I recall with the same force of emotion, the day after my family was together at an extended family visit after my last IVF failed. My SIL’s sister was nearly 8 months pregnant and raving about how much she enjoyed being pregnant, how she had arranged for Demi Moore-like naked photography, and was eagerly awaiting her child. I managed to gut it out and nodded with a pained smile on my face. The next day my father who unbeknownst to me has watching this nightmare unfold said to me, “Pammie, I can only imagine how hard that was for you to listen to last night. You exhibited amazing class and grace. I’m so proud of you.”

    Of course, thinking about it now, I’m tearing up again. Pass the tissues, please.

  4. Oh goodness. That makes ME cry!

  5. The endless stream of questions must be our mothers’ way of showing care and concern because mine does the same thing. And no, she can’t keep quiet about any of it either. I’m sure her friends know more about my (lack of) fertility than most of my own friends do!

    So glad I “found” you … or you found me … whichever it was, nice to meet you!

  6. Oh my goodness, what a beautiful thing for her to acknowledge. My mum cares and worries about me but she has no idea how to express it. I’m also very private, I think she worries about saying the wrong thing.
    I wish I knew she thought I was brave. What a lovely thing to know.

  7. Wiping big snotty tears from my cheeks. What a wonderful post. I did tell my mother a few months ago, she sensed something was wrong and was worried about me. And like you wrote, it hasn’t always been exactly the support I wanted. I’m hoping I’ll get a moment like this out of it.

  8. Oh my. I can still remember my mother’s deafening shriek when I called to tell her she was going to be a grandmother (after nearly 13 years), & her sobs when I had to call & tell her I lost the baby. And her heroic efforts to get here to be with me in the hospital before I delivered (she made it, & took care of both dh & me in the weeks afterward). I did not tell her about our subsequent fertility treatments. I didn’t want to deal with all the questions, the anticipation, the possible disapproval, & most certainly the disappointment. I finally did tell her about it while we were out walking, many years after the fact, & we both had a good sob. She told me I should have told her, that I shouldn’t have had to go through everything alone. She can drive me nuts sometimes, but just when I think she’s forgotten, she will do something — like leaving a package where i would find it, with an angel ornament inside ,on the anniversary of my daughter’s stillbirth this past summer. Gotta love Mom. : )

  9. Sometimes we get lucky and have precious relationships with our Moms- the relationships that we envy and long for ourselves. My Mom tells me all the time that whatever happens it will be okay- she has been with me through all of my m/c’s- the first would have been born on her birthday- the second was lost just days after that first anniversary and the last one- the one that we all thought was going to be the one was lost 2 days after my grandmothers funeral- 3 days before last Valentine’s day- I know that my Mom feels my heartache at not being able to succeed at fulfilling my one last dream of becoming a Mom and at making her a grandmother- I see her with my friends children or with my cousins’ children and watch her eyes light up- and it breaks my heart that I can’t give that to her- and she is always the one that is reminding me that everything is going to be ok- she knows how desperately I want to be a Mom- and she always reminds me that I already am one- I have three heavenly angels- I am very lucky to have such a special Mom!

  10. […] of course there’s Mother’s Day. The past few years my mom has sent me a card, saying how she knows what a great mother I will be. They have brought me to […]

  11. […] I am thinking about my own mother and how she is pondering her own mortality. After recently being diagnosed with a rare liver tumor […]

  12. […] (No, she doesn’t know about this blog.) Her support has brought me to tears on more than one occasion (and […]

  13. […] mom and her hub were also visiting and it was her first time meeting Baby J too. She would have come […]

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