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…