A few things these past few days have me reflecting on being hard versus being strong. As I certainly don’t have to tell you, fighting this IF/ RPL battle is not for the weak. It tests you in every way. It dangles your deepest desire in front of you almost every moment of the day and then cruelly yanks it away. It makes you sit and smile and watch and somehow find a way to embrace your deepest desire being handed to everyone around you. It finds you in a public bathroom stall injecting yet another hormone that might not do anything but cost a ton of money into your abdomen while the pregnant lady in the stall next to you helps her other child go to the bathroom. It finds you sobbing into your pillow late at night when the monthly reminder comes to kick you in the gut the night before yet another holiday you face childless and hopeless. It sends you crashing down when the Doctor looks away from the ultrasound with that look you have grown to dread and whispers ‘ I’m sorry’. It is the look on your husband’s face when he is playing with your niece or nephew and that pang in your heart because you can’t give him the most basic of life’s gifts. It is quietly drinking from your non alcoholic drink while people around you discuss pregnancy and babies. No alcohol because you are starting another treatment cycle not because you are pregnant. It is the despair, the agony, the endless losses, the meds, faking you are ok, navigating and plowing on. It is hard. It is cruel. It is not for the weak.

Going through all this over and over and over like the Groundhog Day from hell will change you. It has to. It is not sustainable to not adapt or mold into someone who can weather it, who can adapt, who can still live a normal daily life. I know I have changed. I can think back to the first few IVF failures my naive mind full of hope before when I fell to the floor sobbing and in despair. Then fast forward a few failures later when I would get the news, feel a momentary crushing of hope and lace up my running shoes, go for a long run and have a glass of wine with my husband and prepare mentally to do it all over again. Barely a tear shed, as if I had grown to expect and accept it.

It makes me wonder if this all made me harder or stronger. What I mean is did I learn to bury the emotion and brush it aside or did I learn to carry it with acceptance and peace? It is hard to delineate between the two, especially during the survival phase where you can’t think too much. You just have to gear up to fight again. But with reflection I can say I don’t feel ‘harder’. As in, I don’t feel calleoused and bruised and bandaged. I simply feel a bit more resilient and powerful. I still feel things deeply, maybe more so, but my instinct is to sit with it, accept it then find a way to the positive. Kind of like my 7th or 8th IVF fail or my 2nd or 3rd miscarriage- I stay in the sadness very briefly then moved on quickly. I felt a bit more resilient instead of even more bruised.

I can’t quite explain why I was able to make that transition. I can’t fully say I won’t one day let all the devastation crumble down on me but I will say I am grateful I don’t feel hard or cold or battered from this fight. I feel slightly tender, like you do after a good cry sipping a cup of tea in the morning sun. I feel compassion and empathy easier and deeper but I don’t feel hard.

For that I am grateful.