Watching a friend experience the loss of their baby and the grief that remains can feel so helpless. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach to support a grieving friend through loss, but there are many ways to be supportive. When my daughter died at 33-days-old, it was the first loss of this type…
A Guest Post By: Michelle Moskiewicz
From: Your Reproductive System
To: Active Duty Female
Subj: INFERTILITY ASSIGNMENT AND REPORTING ORDERS
- You have been assigned infertility while in active duty status.
- Your duties will include, but not be limited to: frequent medical appointments, numerous hormone medications and injections (you’re giving yourself the shot!), regular work related duties, regular physical fitness activities as pertained to active duty status; including Physical Fitness Test and Combat Fitness Test for score towards promotion, deployments to interrupt procedures (this will require you to start all infertility inquiries back to “Day 1 of Actively Trying”, explaining to your command why you have so many medical appointments, explaining your fertility issues and reproductive health “problems” in depth with (everyone in) your command, hearing people say, “if the military wanted you to have a family, you would have been issued one” from everyone who is married with children, unsuccessful procedures, false pregnancy symptoms (up to and including nausea, weight gain (be sure not to go above your standardized weight allowance!), and positive pregnancy tests), mood swings, feelings of failure, depression, crying in the head (latrine, bathroom, toilet), pain (physical, emotional, mental), and trying to come up with funding for procedures, medications, and appointments with military pay (enlisted or commissioned).
- You will make yourself available as soon as possible for all appointments and duties, at the same time. (If you miss one, for the other, prepare for explanation of all infertility or work related issues to individuals who do not care for anything except for what they’re doing). Your need or “want” for a child does not come before needs or want of “The Mission.” Specialists appointments, though scheduled months ahead of time, do not have preference. Reschedule.
- No complaints or excuses are authorized or permitted. You will do everything already obligated of you and your contract of service, but will also find time for all appointments. Ensure that you are not whining or showing any other type of emotion that may be determined as such. Perception is reality and your junior and senior ranks cannot see you being weak, or you will be defined as a weak leader.
- Good luck. Even if the military (or its medical services) is the cause of the reason you cannot reproduce, this is still in your hands. You will have to push and struggle for every prescription, test, and procedure that you will endure. There is no insurance for this, no “law suit” because they messed you up. Every penny could come out of your pocket for this one chance at pure bliss. Even if you try Clomid ($240 per six cycles), or Intrauterine Inception ($4,800 per six cycles), or InVitro Fertilization ($12,000 per cycle) you are not guaranteed a pregnancy or child, living or not.
Marines are used to receiving and following orders. It is something I have grown accustomed to during my career. What I wasn’t expecting though, was having secondary fertility issues.
I was a newly promoted NCO (noncommissioned officer) when we fell pregnant unexpectedly, with our first son Chance. Chance passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome just a little before he turned three months old. I knew right away that I wanted another child. Motherhood, while unanticipated, completed me and made me a better person, Marine, and NCO until it was ripped away from me in the middle of the night. Becoming pregnant so easily the first time, I never thought it would be years before we had a “Rainbow Baby” to call our own.
While individuals in the military may have sympathy toward your struggle, the military does not. This is your battle; your war against your own body that you must fight.
During the removal of my Intrauterine Device after the loss of our first son, there were (unknown until years later) complications that resulted in me only being able to have a child through In Vitro Fertilization. Though the hospital on base removed the IUD and caused my infertility, being Active Duty, I was not able to sue or in any other way gain compensation, including assistance with any fertility procedures. Our struggle was difficult, expensive, and made even longer due to the fact my husband and I are both Active Duty Marines. Our constant schedule conflicts stretched our grieving process and attempts, but after three rounds of Clomid, six Intrauterine Inceptions, and one InVitro Fertilization, we do have a Rainbow. Actually, we were blessed with a Double Rainbow. We were lucky though, our loan payments may be high, but success does not happen for everyone. Some go through the procedures and hardships with no pregnancies, others go through everything, only to suffer from miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
Women in the military do not want your pity, because we know that there are other women in the world struggling for the very same outcome that we are. We (I) just ask that you realize that our battle is different. The war that we fight is against ourselves and sometimes against those we fight with. One in eight women struggle with infertility. Sometimes that one- is willing to lay down their life, while trying to make one, and it’s the toughest mission I’ve known.
Michelle Moskiewicz is currently a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Kyle, twin Rainbow boys, Liam and Brentley, and five dogs. She joined the loss community in August of 2013 when their first son, Chance, passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. You can reach Michelle at Hope For Chance.