Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Burned


I was reading a study this morning, about how brains interpret the emotional pain of heartache in the same manner that brains interpret getting physically burned.  The gist of the study’s findings was that the activity in a person’s brain, when that person is thinking of a recent romantic heartbreak, is similar to the activity in a person’s brain when that person is being burned on the arm with a hot cup of coffee.  I am very curious about what the results of the study would be if the heartache used was that associated with infertility and pregnancy loss, as opposed to romantic loss.  Both types of heartache cause physical symptoms in most people.  Both types of heartache are exhausting.  It stands to reason that the brain would respond similarly, regardless of whether romantic loss or fertility loss was involved….and that got me thinking about the similarities and differences between heartbreak in the “traditional” sense and heartbreak in the “IF” sense.

As I’m sure many of us have, I was once dumped by someone I loved.  I was dumped by my high school/college boyfriend, 3 ½ years into our relationship, because I was not ready to drop out of college and become the wife and mother he wanted me to be.  And even though I was an active participant in the break-up, choosing graduate school over him (and the children we ould never have), I felt abandoned and betrayed.  I felt a physical pain like I had been kicked in the stomach.  I was unable to eat and frequently threw up from anxiety.  I had constant headaches and there were times that it literally hurt to breath.  Every muscle ached and I had no energy to do anything other than sob.  And all of those fun symptoms went on for a good couple of months until…just when the symptoms started to pass…I learned that he was getting married six months to the day from our break-up.  It was as if fate knew that I had finally recovered from the heartache, and chose that exact moment to reopen the wound and rub salt in it.  I was certain I would never get over that pain.

I initially did the whole “rebound dating” thing.  That lasted only a couple of months.  I quickly figured out that I was not over “college guy” and was too angry and too fearful to be looking for a Mr. Right.  So, for a couple of years, I didn’t date…at all.  I figured out who I was, got other areas of my life in order and only went back to dating when I was in a place where I didn’t feel like I “needed” a partner, but rather that I “wanted” one.  It was okay if a first date didn’t go well because I wasn’t in any hurry.  And, because I waited until I was ready, I didn’t have to kiss too many frogs before finding my Prince. 

Now for infertility….After my first failed IVF, I felt like I had been abandoned by a God that I wasn’t sure if I believed in, and betrayed by my own body.  I physically felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach, I was sobbing so hard I threw up, and I couldn’t force myself to eat or get out of bed.  I was fatigued and depressed and angry.  And, although those symptoms came and went, they lasted for months…until I started my next IVF cycle and became high on hope again. 

Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat… 

Maybe that is what has made infertility so much harder for me than surviving that one break-up.  I came up for air after the break-up, but there’s been no time to take a real breather from fertility treatments.  My endometriosis is a ticking time bomb, and I don’t have the time, even at age 32, to dawdle when it comes to trying to conceive. I think I just have to keep telling myself that this donor egg cycle is nothing like the IVF’s and IUI’s of the past…just like the Prince isn’t anything like my old college boyfriend.  The Prince is different…and (in every way that truly matters)… he is better.  Here’s hoping that I will be able to look back at my fertility journey and say the same thing about this donor egg cycle – It was different…and (in the only way that truly matters) it was better.


1 comment:

New Year Mum said...

I agree that IF/failed IVF cycles feel like a burn... a nasty burn. What can all this repeated heartbreak be doing to our brains ?!?! My fingers a crossed for you that this is your cycle xoxo