Jul 21, 2011

mikveh night

I am sorry I haven't been so good at writing the past few weeks. My FET cycle has been really uneventful and I've been trying to heal emotionally from our failed IVF and somehow recenter myself. In truth, I've been pretty down and I am having a hard time feeling positive or hopeful, especially since our frosties are of pretty iffy quality. The good news is that assuming they survive thaw, I am on track for a Sunday embryo transfer - that's really soon!

Tonight was my mikveh night (it was actually a little late in my cycle to go to the mikveh, but I spotted a lot this month). The mikveh is a ritual bath that observant Jewish women go to a week after they stop bleeding and it demarcates the separation between menstruation and the time during which a woman is considered ritually pure. The largest practical implication of this practice is that observant Jewish women don't have sex from the time their period starts until their mikveh night.

Many infertile women notoriously find mikveh night difficult because each month serves as another reminder that they are in a new cycle and still not pregnant. Honestly, even as time wore on, I never had a big problem with it. I saw mikveh night as an opportunity for self-renewal and a symbol of new hope and another chance at creating a new life.

By the time mikveh night rolled around each month, the memory of the pain and disappointment of the previous cycle ending had dulled and I could always muster up new hope and some positive energy for a new chance. I would read tehillim (psalms), I would pray...mikveh night was actually a positive spiritual experience for me. I never felt a direct conflict or contradiction between my faith and my hopes and the reality of my situation.

This was the case for the first 21 cycles we tried to conceive, anyway. Not so much anymore. Last month, mikveh night fell a few days before egg retrieval. Luckily, there was no one in front of me and I was in and out in ten minutes, so I really had no opportunity to get all angry and emo about things.

Tonight, there were 7 women in front of me and then 6 who came after. I knew it was going to be a long wait, and then in classic Israeli fashion, two women sort of passively cut in front of me. I just couldn't bring myself to say anything which is absolutely the worst, it just makes me feel like such a sucker and so angry at myself when I can't stand up for myself. That was apparently the beginning of my derailment. And then I had to wait 25 more minutes to finally get called into a room.

By this point, I was doing the whole silent sobbing thing. I knew that if I started talking, I would instantaneously burst into the whole not-so silently sobbing thing. The cleaning woman who was mopping the floor kept trying to make small talk. I just stared at her blankly and silently so she kept repeating herself. Apparently, she was really trying to put me to the test and my solemn face and red-rimmed eyes weren't sending a clear enough message of FOR THE LOVE OF G-D LEAVE ME ALONE WOMAN.

As soon as I got into my changing room I started sobbing. Those big fat ugly uncontrollable tears and of course lots of snot, too. Then I realized that there was no Kleenex or toilet paper in my room for me to clean my face up with. Finally, I gathered myself together the best I could and pressed the buzzer to enter into the mikveh. I immersed, got back into my changing room and proceeded to lose it again. And unlike "a good cry", I didn't feel any better letting it all out, I just felt more deflated.

In truth, I was more angry than sad, angry at the chicks who cut me in line and made me wait 25 more minutes, angry at myself for not speaking up, and more than anything else, I was angry because the mikveh is a reminder that I subscribe to a belief in something larger and in some force that you can reason with and reckon with and yet month after month nothing has changed for me.

It is much easier for me at this point to take a strictly medical, detached view of my infertility - that we are doing a series of medical interventions that cumulatively over a long period of time have some chance of eventually being successful. Emotionally, that's pretty easy to reconcile, but if you place your faith in something else, if you believe in something larger, and yet you fail again and again, how is it possible to keep a positive connection with that faith? Eventually, how do you not become consumed by anger or not take it personally? How do you keep finding solace or a measure of comfort in G-d or belief in any larger force when things just stay the same? After a certain point, isn't it just much more comforting to believe in Bad Luck?

Where do I go from here? Is it going to get easier, in the same way seeing friends and family members and acquaintances get pregnant and have children became easier with time? How will I have the strength to keep going if I reach mikveh trip #44 with no live baby?


  1. Oh honey - I wish I had some words of comfort for you. I'm in a perpetual faith crisis so I can't help you there.
    But what I can do is send you a huge hug, cross all appendages for a successful transfer, and offer myself up as a support if you need it.

  2. Everything we do and see is through an IF lens. It's so hard not to be angry. Because it's so unfair.

    I would love to do a mikveh ritual. We do need renewal and to wash away what has come before.

  3. I'm dropping by for ICLW week and wanted to tell you as I am sure you know, you are not alone. I have been dealing with seeing friends and family have one and two babies and we are still in "infertility limbo". I let myself have 24 hours to be upset, mope, cry, be angry, then when time is up, I look at the positive, someone I love is going to have a child and will give me someone else to love while I wait for my baby to get here. I know it may seem cheesy but it is what gets me through the weekly (yes weekly!) pregnancy announcements I have been getting in person, over the phone or on facebook. :)

  4. A, I'm with you on everything, the people cutting in front of you and not doing anything about it, everything. You're stronger than me in the sense that I gave up going to the Mikvah a long time ago. For me giving it up was a way to completely separate the medical from the faith. It doesn't make much sense, but it was the only way I could deal with it.
    Also, I think it took the whole two weeks between my failed IVF and my FET transfer to emotionally heal from the failure. It wasn't easy, it hit me a lot harder then I expected. Be good to yourself, you are allowed to be upset.
    Anyway, good luck with the transfer on Sunday! I'm thinking of you and hope it goes smoothly and that those embryos decide to stick around.

  5. I'm so sorry to hear your mikvah night was like this :( I can imagine going month after month when you have been working so hard and have been through so much. My experience with the mikvah yesterday was different probably only because I don't go every month (so no monthly reminders) and my first (and so far only) cycle was so harrowing I was just glad to be done with it. I hope you found some peace last night after all of that, and good luck with your transfer!

  6. Visiting from ICLW. Wishing you all the luck in the world on your transfer this Sunday. I'm currently doing an IVF cycle as well and my expected transfer date is 2 August. Infertility sucks and sometimes it's hard to keep a positive outlook so don't be too hard on yourself.

  7. I wish I could give you a big hug. I agree with Jem, everything we do and see is through an IF lens; it colours EVERYTHING! As for the FET, I've never had a positive attitude going into them either. I'm hoping and praying for you!

  8. Hi from ICLW! Hang in there- sending you a huge hug! I'll be hoping that your FET ends with wonderful results!

  9. I don't have any answers to your questions -- those are things I struggle with every single day. My faith has taken quite a beating over the past 10 years TTC and (out of self-preservation) I have had to adopt the purely biological explanation of procreation. I simply cannot reconcile any image of a just God giving babies to abusive, neglectful parents and not to the many loving, stable homes that desperately want one.

  10. Thanks so much for your support, ladies. As usual, your words really mean a lot to me. It helps to know that others have also had a difficult time reconciling their faith with their infertility, but it also makes me sad to know that it's that way for others, too.

  11. *hugs* I'm sorry it is a hard time for you right now. I'm waiting to see if cycle 38 will be starting in the next day or so. I know it isn't #44, but it is getting there. I just wanted to let you know that you find a way to carry on. It still hurts, but if you give up then there is a much bigger chance of not becoming a mom, which is why you continue to keep trying. Stay strong.