"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:24b-25

22 June 2011

Embracing Reality

Apparently there's a limit to the amount of stress a body and mind can take.  My assumption is that when an individual has reached their limit that the evidence manifests itself in different ways.
My mother has tried to convince me since the first month of my marriage that my DH and I are under more stress than most people, and that this "excess" stress we are under is the underlying cause of our infertility.  I have always disagreed with her.
I still disagree.  I can't say that we are under more stress than most people, especially since different things stress different people in different ways.  For example, it stresses me out (and I mean STRESSES ME OUT) to go watch a movie in a theater, whereas most people consider going to the movies to be a leisurely activity, even relaxing.  Yet I find going to the grocery store to be relaxing, while most of my friends consider it a stressful chore.
Now, I will agree with my mother that the stressors we have been subjected to the past nine years are much different than what many people face, but just as not everyone was designed to be a biophysicist or a race car driver, not everyone was designed to live a life in the military.
Everyone, I'm convinced, has SOMETHING in their lives that is unique to their situation.  But we all adapt and cope and learn to juggle the "everyday normal life" things with the bigger stressors that have the potential to overwhelm us.  And while some amount of stress is a good thing and can make us stronger, every once in a while we find ourselves in a place where we could seriously use a break, or else our bodies (and even our minds) will break.
My body and mind have started giving me signals recently that I'm at the threshold of what I'm currently equipped to handle.
When our IVF cycle failed, I was truly okay.  By the grace of God, I had (and still have) an inexplicable peace about the timing of everything and the fact that we didn't get pregnant.
We met with our Reproductive Endocrinologist and constructed a timeline for our Frozen Embryo Transfer, and were actually relieved that we needed to wait a month because it meant we would not have to plan for sonograms in the midst of our vacation.
A few days after our two-week-wait was over, Aunt Flo showed up and it was time to start Block Leave.
Block Leave marks the countdown to deployment.  It's the time given by the military just before a deployment for the soldiers to have an extended vacation to make precious memories before they have to leave for a year.  
Now, a strange thing happened after DH's first deployment (which was 15 months).  Shortly after he returned, I began waking up in the middle of the night and also in the mornings, not knowing who he was or why he was in my bed.  I would often get out of the bed and move to another location, or I would use my feet to push him out of the bed.  I was never afraid of him, just very confused about why there was a man in bed with me, and unsettled to find myself in that situation.
The memory lapse would last anywhere from a few seconds to over a minute.  After a period of time, I would always remember who he was, but it still felt weird to cuddle with him, or even let my feet touch him, after I realized what had happened.
This continued for several years.  Until one day, it occurred to me that it hadn't happened for an entire year.
Enter the present.  The day we received the news that our IVF had failed, I awoke from a nap beside my husband and didn't know who he was.  
That night, around 12:30, I awoke and again did not know who he was.  I got up to use the bathroom (the whole time wondering if my embryos were floating inside of me or if they had reabsorbed) and after about a minute was finally aware of what was going on.  That same morning, as he was kissing me on the forehead before he left for work, I awoke and was startled because I didn't know who he was.  It only took a few seconds that time for me to recognize him.
I have always assumed that the original manifestation of this strange occurrence was tied solely to the deployment.  I just pushed it aside the first year, and only grew mildly concerned the second year, but also pushed it aside because we were going through major life changes.  Then, when we were free from the episodes for an entire year, I figured maybe my brain had sorted everything out.
This time, I found it strange that this resurfaced IMMEDIATELY after we learned that the IVF had failed.  True, we are facing an upcoming deployment, but then why would it not have started happening sooner, when I began taking note of the signs of the deployment?
When I posed this question to DH, he made an astute observation.  The one full year that I was completely free from these episodes, was the one full year that we took a break from fertility treatments.
Being a PA, he suspects that the massive amounts of hormones, and the giant hormone fluctuations could have some connection to it all.  Being a former psychology major, I suspect it has to do with emotional stressors.
Truly, I believe that it's probably a combination of those two things.
At the moment, I'm not exactly sure what to do about it.  I mean, I realize I have resources and options for help available, and I do plan on sorting through those options and finding a suitable plan.  But it's not like this can be fixed in the next several weeks before he leaves, and this time is precious (not to mention we're galavanting around the country, traveling).
So, why even include this as a blog post on a blog about infertility?  Well, for one thing, it's a very strange and unsettling thing to go through, and it helps a little to get it off my chest instead of acting like it's not a real thing I'm dealing with.  It's a little bit embarrassing, and I realize I'm taking a risk in sharing it (kind of like how it's difficult to share about IF b/c of the potential well-meaning advice when all you really want is empathy).
But, I'm also sharing it because I honestly thought I'd have a more intense reaction to the news of the failed IVF than I would have facing the reality of my husband's deployment.  For a girl who at one point wanted to be a mom more than she wanted to be married, it's oddly comforting to realize that when push comes to shove, the idea of losing my husband brings more angst to my soul than knowing that I'm not yet pregnant.  It's also oddly comforting to see that my desire for my husband and my desire to be a mom do not have to contend for a place in my life.  They each belong there and each remain with an intensity that sometimes overwhelms me.
I will find help for this strange way my body and mind have made it clear to me that I can use a break.  But I will also embrace the reality that is shining through.


  1. This is very fascinating (and I'm sure, scary for you)! Stress can be such a sneaky thing. I've never heard of what you're going through. I'm not sure if it can cause infertility, though. However, if it can cause temporary memory loss, it's stronger than we might think.

    My social anxiety scares me too sometimes (not to mention irritating me AND the people I care about). It probably causes the most stress in my life. I wonder if it has an effect on my fertility. I couldn't sleep properly for 1.5 years after the move to South America; while I went through that, I probably would've told you I have no stress at all.


  2. Thanks!

    Stress is a sneaky thing and it's difficult to be fully aware when we're in the midst of it.
    We know for sure that there are medical issues with both of us that are causing our infertility, so it's confirmed it's not the stress causing that.
    But I suspect the stress plays a large role in my momentary memory lapses.

    Thanks so much for your comment. It's nice to know that someone understands.


I would love to hear from you! The subject matter of this blog can be very sensitive. This is intended to be a place of encouragement and to be uplifting. It is never my desire to cause pain through what I write here, so please keep that in mind as you share your thoughts. Thank you.