Why My Numbers Matter

A while ago, Justine, another blogger (I really enjoy her writing, and highly recommend others check out her blog) wrote about our numbers – our numbers as members of the infertility world. Numbers like:

How many months without success

How many failed medicated cycles

How many failed IUIs

How many failed IVF cycles

How many miscarriages

She wrote a lovely post about why these numbers don’t matter, and why we don’t need to carry them with us. We have all suffered, regardless of what exactly our journey has looked like. While, I acknowledge that numbers may not matter to everyone, after having this percolate in my mind I decided I had to take some time to share why my numbers do in fact matter, and why I will never forget any of them.

20140723 - Why My Numbers MatterEach one was a child. Each one ended in miscarriage. Each one has a different story, but they all share the following elements:

  • Each one was a life. A life that was never meant to be lived, but a life still.
  • Each one is one of our children. I will never forget my children.
  • Each one encapsulated our hopes and dreams.
  • Each one died much too soon.

I remember my numbers, not because I need to prove to myself or to anyone else that I have suffered enough, or that I have shame for our situation (I have no shame or blame for what we have experienced). They each matter, not so that I can say, look at us, we’ve lost 5 babies (that’s the absolute last thing I would ever say), or so that I can gain sympathy from others. But the number matters because they were our children and they were living. We saw heartbeats, we waited weeks for them some of them to die, we made parenting decisions to let go when we had to, we cried, we agonized, we worried, and we loved. We were and we are parents to each and every single one of them.  I am a mother to each one of our lost children, I have a connection that will never be lost to each one of them.

I have love for each one of my little children who didn’t make it. I don’t have names for most of them, I don’t have faces, and I don’t have tiny hands to hold onto. But what I do have is 5 stories, 5 physical connections, 5 distinct emotional links, and 5 separate memories of our time together. Memories of what was and what could have been.

I will never minimize any of these little babies by not counting them. Just, as no parent of living children would not count all their children (I’m yet to hear someone with 3 living kids, say they only have 2 for any reason). Just as those with living children recognize them as individuals, I do as well, and I think they have earned that right. In my heart, it makes no sense to forget them or to lump them together as our lost children, when each one was unique.

It’s just like if I’m asked how many siblings I have, I never discount my sister just because she died when I was 14. I will say I am from a blended family that results in me having 2 brothers, and 2 sisters. If people ask more questions, I will always say that my older sister was killed in a car accident. I do not hide my dead sister, because it would not be a healthy way for me to grieve by pretending she never existed.  And more importantly I would not be honoring her and her memory. She deserves to me remembered, just as my babies do.

Our numbers matter to me. Our numbers matter to my husband. And, I don’t really care what anyone else thinks about our numbers, because our children are our responsibility to care for when we could, and are now ours to remember however we want.

And one more reason why our numbers matter, that I cannot neglect to mention, is that we have to hold onto the hope associated with number 6.  We have to hope that the next one will work, or there is no point on trying.  We have to keep remembering that things can be different, and that maybe, just maybe, things will work out and we will get a healthy little baby.

We will love each one, those that are gone and those that are still to come, as individuals for the rest of time, and therefore each one counts.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.

51 Comments on “Why My Numbers Matter

  1. I can relate personally to many of the points you make here. I can also relate to what Justine wrote and I think her point, too, is an important one that rarely is given voice. I don’t feel that, for me, they are mutually exclusive. The numberlessness as a way to combat societal shame and give voice to survival and recovery makes sense to me. But like you, I have a certain attachment (emotionally, intellectually and for practical reasons in my case) to some of “my numbers”. Without me owning that I have had 8 pregnancies fail, two of them with IVF and one of them with a perfect donor-egg embryo, I would not have gotten the medical attention I have and I most certainly would not be getting the medical attention I am now pursuing. But that is part of Justine’s point – society validates numbers and we must buy into that if we want to access some of its resources. That’s the part of what she wrote that is revolutionary to me – f**k that s**t!

    You may not feel shame, but I can tell you that I have felt and had thrown in my face a mountain of shame since I started this journey in 2009. And it feels like crap. I am so grateful you do not have that experience, your other experiences with RPL are heartbreaking enough. I hope there are more women like you who do not suffer shame through infertility and/or recurrent pregnancy or infant loss. But I think it’s really normal to feel it because society is rife with it and very keen to ram it down women’s throats at every imaginable opportunity. Men’s throats, too, when it comes to infertility, actually. Unshame me for forgetting the men… again… momentarily.

    I’m so glad you wrote and shared this post. It’s part of a valuable discourse that needs to be had because so many of us are struggling with the same conflicting feelings and thoughts. Thank you, My Perfect Breakdown.

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      • Thank YOU for writing what you did. Clearly it’s made some of us think and search our feelings, which I think is always (or almost always – sometimes too much thinking can be bad, at least in my case) a good thing.

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    • First, thank you for writing this response spiritbabycomehome! I think you did an excellent job summarizing why both Justine and my perspectives are valid and why both need to be part of the discourse.

      Second, I think you made a really good point specifically related to RPL in Canada – we have to have a certain number of consecutive miscarriages before the medical system will validate our experience (in our case, the magic number was 3). And, I distinctly remember the weirdly sad feeling that I relieved to finally reach that number so that we could get into the specialists. Yet, I also view this is a systematic need of the medical system to be able to function – I understand that the medical system needs to utilize certain criteria to prevent it from becoming overloaded. I see this less as societal validation and more about simple statistics to keep a overloaded system functioning. Anyways, I suspect my views on the medical system could result in an entire blog, just on that topic.

      Third, I am grateful I’ve staved off the feelings of shame and blame. I know the vast majority of infertility bloggers hold onto these emotions, and I know my perspective on this is rather rare. I’m guessing it has to do with my sociology background, and my nearly complete lack of concern regarding how society views us as we go through this. Yes, we will always face societal pressure to have children, and we will also be judged for not having them either naturally or through adoption, but in my perspective, that’s not my problem to worry about. I have enough other things to worry about, and that just doesn’t make my list.

      Anyways, thank you again for writing and for sharing such a thoughtful response.

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      • You’re welcome, but I owe you thanks for posting this (how Canadian of me to say that, eh?) You know, I don’t think education is the reason you don’t feel the shame. My 1st degree was in social sciences as well and it did nothing to help me overcome the family-instilled and society-instilled crap. You are either really astute and emotionally balanced or you were raised without shame, which would be awesome. I am trying to raise our toddler without shame and it is so, so hard. Impossible, maybe, but I’m going to try anyway. Thanks for the kinds words.

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  2. If the numbers matter to you, then they matter. Period. I have never lost a baby, so for me, the numbers are all related to our efforts just to get pregnant, and they all mean something to me. I don’t care what they mean to anyone else, but to me, they say, “Look how far you’ve come. What’s one more _____? You’ve got this.” The numbers are inspiration and security–and sometimes fear and pain–but I need all of it.

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    • Thank you, your response is exactly why I wrote this – my numbers matter to ME. This post was entirely about me, and not about society or anything else. And of course, I know that I have a unique perspective because our experience has been about RPL, but even so, I think any number can matter, its just about why they matter.

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  3. I’m the numbers blogger ;). You can link if you like.

    For me, my numbers (how many rounds, cycles, etc.) came out of shame, comparison and scarcity, which is why I removed them. We cannot live wholehearted lives with courage, compassion and connection when we live from a place of shame, comparison and compassion. And, I challenge others to ask themselves this same question.

    But, I’d also like you to notice I have never removed the number three…

    I lost my three babies, they are three souls, they are three children I will parent forever from this side of eternity, they will forever be scarred on my heart and soul, I think of all three every single day. Therefore, this will be a number will NEVER be removed from my story because this isn’t from shame, comparison and scarcity, they are what make me whole.

    Thank you so much for sharing your perspective! Justine

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    • Sorry, meant this to read “We cannot live wholehearted lives with courage, compassion and connection when we live from a place of shame, comparison and scarcity.

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      • Thank you Justine for reading and responding. I have made the change and linked to your piece, as I wanted your permission before I did it. First, I hope you know I truly enjoy your writing, and I hope you understand that I meant nothing but respect with my post in response. As someone going through RPL, when I read your first article, I couldn’t help but start thinking about our numbers and you motivated me to think about why my numbers matter.

        Secondly, I absolutely agree with your perspective re shame, comparison and scarcity, but the thing your post helped me reaffirm is that I have never felt shame for what we are going through. I know my lack of shame is a very rare feeling among the infertility community, but I’ve always felt that we’ve done everything we can to care for each of our little ones and whatever is causing them to die is simply out of our control. Further, I don’t compare my numbers with anyone, because in my mind anyone who has experienced one miscarriage, has experienced one to many. So, for me, shame and comparisons have never entered the equation for me. Many, many other emotions have, but not these ones.

        Anyways, I think spiritbabycomehome summarized why both our posts make sense and why all these perspectives are important to the conversation.

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      • I just love that we can learn from each other, have these conversations respectfully and through love! Thank you for that! J

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  4. Today, as I worked with a client who lost her 17 year old daughter, we processed how loss is simply loss. It is all epically sad, hard is f’ing hard. If I sit in that shame, comparison and scarcity I sit alone, if loss is loss we are in it together. J

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  5. The numbers are so important to me too. I can understand not wanting to get too caught up in numbers, but when it comes to losses, each one our angels could never be ignored or forgotten. Hugs hon.

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  7. Thank you for this conversation, you inspired me to write about my three. Just couldn’t was too much of a coincidence with your post and a session I had with my client. Thank you so much for being one of my fellow warriors. J

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    • Thanks to you as well as it is definitely a mutual inspiration, as you inspired my post. 🙂
      As you said yesterday, it is just so great that we can have these conversations and learn from each other respectfully.

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  8. I found your blog through Justine’s and really enjoyed reading your post. I too have suffered 5 losses and I honor each one as individuals because that’s what they are. I too keep holding out that maybe #6 will be the lucky one…the half dozen:) I think our numbers mean different things to one another but the important thing to remember is that they are YOUR numbers and it doesn’t really matter what they mean to anyone else. I also have issues with allergies so I am interested to follow your journey and see what you find! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • I am so glad you found my blog! I have also checked out yours, and am really looking forward to following. I plan to continue to post about my allergies, so I’ll keep you posted when things happen. 🙂
      As for our numbers – I really hope 6 is our lucky number!! I also have to agree, that the important thing to remember is that my number mine, and so I get to decide what it means to me and no-one else. 🙂

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