Monday, July 22, 2013

Be Gentle

I have struggled with how to write this. How do I say this without sounding bitter, or desperate or angry. I'm feeling just fragile enough to write this and just brave enough to say it.

What is it like living with infertility???

What can I say? It's seeing your life on hold, while you watch everyone's flying by. It's wanting something so precious, but increasingly elusive. It's wanting to hold a baby in your arms. Not someone else's baby, but your baby.

It's wanting to be pregnant. To be sick. To have swollen ankles. To stay up all night, rocking a screaming newborn.

And trying to conceive, at first casually, then slightly worried, frantically, desperately, and devastatingly, numbingly.

It's trying everything, absolutely everything. It's being on prenatals, just in case. It's thinking about what you will be doing next year for Christmas, you know, when you have a baby. And then next year. And then the year after that.

It's planning how you will announce the news. For Easter we will put the good news in an Easter Egg, around Mother's Day we will give a rattle as a gift, for Halloween we will dress up as a Bun in the Oven.

It was maybe silly, but you spent hours thinking about it. And hours thinking about names. Writing them down. Trying different spellings. Then realizing that the name you picked had an unfortunate acronym anyway.

It's mourning the life you dreamed. It's trying to adjust to the might nots. It's protecting your increasingly delicate heart. It's sobbing every month, because you were a little late, you thought maybe this time. Month, after month, after month. 134 months of trying, 4,380 days of hoping.

It's being poked and prodded, and giving up blood, and urine. Tests that hurt, tests that are embarrassing, tests that are scary.

It's bolstering your heart, preparing for the worst, and hoping, in the tiniest place in your heart, for the best. Because if you don't, and a babe in arms isn't waiting, you know you could lose yourself.
It's being desperate to give all your love to a child. Children. It's imagining picnics, soccer games, vacations.

It's wanting to comb curly hair, or wash freckly skin. And sing songs about boogie monsters, and smell fresh washed hair, falling asleep with a warm body next too you.

It's being afraid to say things out loud, because you might make them true.

It's uncertainty. Deafening uncertainty. Overwhelming fear, that you put into a box. And try not to look in to.

It's lonely.

It's rejoicing in other mothers, other babies, other lives. But still not wanting to hear about the ease of others conceptions.

It's constant guilt. Guilt for those 5 years you waited. Guilt that you went to school first. Oh, how naive you were, that you thought you could control this. That you had your life planned out. You're guilty for your age, for the time you have waited. If only you did this last year, you would have had a baby now. Your eggs would have been one year younger. One year more awesome. It's the fact that you even talk about eggs. That's weird.
It's staying quiet when told, "Adopt, then you will get pregnant. Think positive, then you will get pregnant. Try acupuncture, then you will get pregnant.

It's being positive for others, because they want you to be happy, but you really just want to say,"I'm devastated. I'm heartbroken."

It's shots, after shots, after shots, after shots. It's bruises, in various places, your heart being one of them. It's money that you don't have, but don't regret spending, but still don't have.

It's recognizing that nobody really understands that your dreams, although not quite dead, are at breaking stage. It's a limbo between joy and sadness, happiness and pain.

It's realizing that the treatments you are now doing, are the end of the line for pregnancy. And here you are 11 years older than when you first started this, when you thought you would be done, but really you are just beginning.

It's knowing that you can put everything you have left, into this last ditch effort, all your money, all your emotions, all your walls, and recognize that you can give it everything, but that doesn't guarantee anything. Only 40%.

It's putting your faith in God. Completely. You have no other choice. You have been completely
humbled. But you recognize your way isn't God's way. And Faith is a hard road sometimes.

Be gentle. Infertility is a lonely valley, traveled by two people, clinging to each other with all their might.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It just plain sucks.......

Infertility sucks.

I could end the blog post here and most of you would understand. Those two words encompass everything there is to say…

About the inability to get pregnant—or, like me, stay pregnant longer than three months—and give birth.

About the tears you shed every month along with your useless uterine lining.

About the cramping in your heart you feel when see that woman at church with five kids waddling along, full with another child. Couldn’t God spare just one for you?

About the twinge you feel in your uterus when you hold your neighbor’s newborn, and how for a brief moment, you imagine escaping across the northern border with this precious bundle to finally realize your dream.

About the way friends withdraw and stop including you in plans because they don’t know if you’re going to be sad or mad or if they will say something to offend you.

About the cousins who continually invite you to their baby showers and first birthday parties, and the obligation you feel to attend even while your heart breaks with every coo and waah.

About the blood tests and sonograms and that painful dye test they do to see if your tubes are open, the one where the technician says, “This will cause a little cramping.” Yeah, the same way my foot in your balls will cause YOU a little cramping.

About the hormone injections that turn you into a weeping, raging bitch on wheels for an extra week a month.

About the daily heparin injections that really don’t help you get over your fear of needles. And now you have more track marks up and down your thighs than a junkie on a bender.

About the way your sex life becomes a series of business meetings, scheduled based on your ovaries most convenient time to release eggs.

About the bargaining and praying you do constantly: “I’ll pray”, “I’ll pray more”, “I’ll be more religious”, “I’ll be a better person”, “I’ll give more to charity”, “I’ll call my mother more”, just “pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease make me a mother!”

About the tens, hundreds, thousands of extra dollars you spend on specialist appointments, services not covered, home pregnancy tests, and booze after the HPTs (all six of them) show a Big Fat Negative.

About the excitement you feel when you finally get the Big Fat Positive, only to have it dashed moments later when you realize you tested too soon, and really it’s just the test’s reaction to that HcG shot you received ten days ago.

About getting a genuine BFP, only to spend the next several weeks panicking whenever you use the bathroom, afraid you’ll see that smear of red on the toilet tissue that signals the end of the dream.

About hearing the heartbeat for the first time and then being told at your next appointment that they can’t find it.

About dodging questions from strangers and casual acquaintances regarding your parenthood status. As if it’s their business anyway!

About suffering through another story from your well-meaning mom/grandma/aunt/friend/co-worker about someone they know who tried this, that, or the other thing and now has ten kids. Or worse—that they decided to give up and then it happened for them; all they needed to do was relax.

About enduring endless assurances that this is all God’s plan. That may be true, but why can’t people understand that you don’t yet have the distance and perspective to wax philosophical? All you want is a damn baby, and considering the crack whores and teenagers that are able to pop them out like Pez dispensers, if this is all “God’s Plan”, he has a seriously warped sense of humor.

About how your mate wonders where the vivacious, confident, SANE, person they married went and can she please come back because this obsessive, depressive, broken shell of a woman is scaring the crap out of him. Not to mention, he is less than enthusiastic about doing his business into a cup yet again and no, he will not cash out his 401K to pay for IVF.

About the endless cycles of optimism, hope, dread, and despair you go through every month.

About the fear, then the pain, then the depression, and finally, grudging acceptance that this just may never happen, and how all that leaves you so hollow, so fragile that just the wrong look could make you fall apart.

About being part of this exclusive club that no one wants to be a member of, but for which you are at least a little grateful, because it means you aren’t alone in the dark.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why Infertility Sucks: Reason Three

Reason Three Why Infertility Sucks: Mind Games.

Oh come on, you know you've thought it too.

Maybe the reason we aren't able to have kids is because we aren't supposed to.
It's insidious. You can't help it, especially when you get a diagnosis that everything is your partner's fault or even worse, when they can't find any good reason for your uterus to still have a "for rent" sign on it.

"Dunno, perfectly good wiring and piping, entryway's to code, nice fresh coat of paint, good neighbourhood, price is right. No idea why nobody wants to move in." If you ask prospective tenants, they say "I'm not sure what was wrong with it.. the vibe just seemed off."

The vibe is off indeed. On a bad day, that's the only reason my brain can muster for a diagnosis of "unexplained infertility". His Ys aren't feelin my Xs. We have a basic chemical conflict. Our genes don't match. I married the wrong man.

It's all crap, of course. Our marriage is good. We love each other, and what's more, we usually even like each other. Moreover there is no scientific reason to believe that he'd be any more successful at procreation with anyone else, nor would I.

Except you can't help but think it.

There's the practical, scientific brain: "Maybe there's just some little thing wrong with me, and combined with some little thing that he must have wrong, it means that we can never have kids, but if either one of us was with someone else, we'd both be OK and be parents by now, except we'd have to be sleeping with each other on the side because I couldn't live without him, OMG I'm a whore."

OK, maybe not so scientific.

There's the irrational, selfish brain: "IT'S HIM and this is all his fault.

There's the irrational, self-loathing brain: "IT'S ME and this is all my fault."

And then there's the irrational, completely psychotic brain: "OMG, it's the universe saying that our progeny would be the antichrist and we never should have gotten married and I AM NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE HIS CHILD. But that means my supposed to be husband is off having kids with someone else! But whose child should I have had by now? Brad Pitt's? OMG."

It's hard enough to be married. I'm a realist. There's enough difficulty in sharing a home, a dog, a life with someone without having to deal with infertility. And as if the struggle of infertility itself wasn't enough, it brings with it an innate insecurity about our choice of life partner, even a little teeny subliminal bit, a little piece of you that says This Isn't Supposed To Be Like This, and Did I Make The Wrong Choice? It doesn't make you a bad person. It doesn't mean you're *right* when you briefly think "if I was but married to someone else everything would be fine", because of course it wouldn't be. In that case, you'd be married to the wrong partner and even if you were having kids, you'd be having kids with the wrong man. Your husband is the right man to be married to, rest assured.

But it sucks that this infertility business makes you question that, too.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why Infertility Sucks: Reason # 2

Reason #2 Why Infertility Sucks: Pregnant Women

There are things that everyone wants in their lives that they can't get.

You want to buy a house, but you can't afford it.

You want more than anything to be a doctor, to get in to Medical school.

You want to travel to Italy, to see that beautiful country.

You want to have a baby.

A dream is a dream. None are more worthwhile, more beautiful, than any other. Dreams are the precious heart's desires of someone, of anyone. My sympathy, it is boundless for those who want something, want to move on with their lives and reach a goal, live a dream, and who cannot for some reason.

With each kind of suffering, there is a certain uniqueness, a certain kind of pain that no other suffering faces. It's not a "worse" pain, it's not a more "noble" pain, and by the way that's a great way to alienate people, to tell them how much worse your suffering is than theirs. Because the thing is, no suffering is "worse" than any other. It's not a contest. Each miserable person is miserable in their own way.

The uniqueness, then, of the infertility suffering, is the constant bombardment on all sides of people who are having babies, who are getting the thing that you want, the thing that consumes you, that is always in the back of your mind, but that you can't have. Our pain is going into a bakery on a random Thursday afternoon and bumping into yet another friend giving you the news that they're pregnant, that the thing you want is the thing that they are getting. It's turning on the TV or open the latest gossip rag to see yet another flaky celebrity pregnancy rumor.

And you know, you don't begrudge them, you know that there's not a limited amount of fertility in the world. You know that someone else getting pregnant has no impact on whether you will get pregnant, but you still feel kicked in the gut that it was so easy for them, that it should be so easy for everyone, and yet another cycle, another month, another year is passing you by, and everyone else is doing what you wish so dearly you were doing but that you cannot do.

And the real kicker here is that you is not just hearing the stories of pregnancies, but the stories of unwanted pregnancies, of people who get pregnant and who don't want to be pregnant, for whom pregnancy is a disaster. And you aren't angry at the person, you know that every life is different and babies aren't for everyone, but you're angry at the universe for just not fucking making sense.

And you sit there, and you know how much this sucks, and you don't want to alienate anyone who's facing their own demons by telling them how much better it is to be suffering the way they're suffering than the way you're suffering because that's bullshit anyway. Every kind of suffering, of want, is unique. And there are things about not achieving every other dream that us infertiles don't have to face.

But this, this constantly being surrounded by fucking pregnant people, this is the pain that is unique to us. And we've learned to adapt. We get the "I'm pregnant!" announcements and we'll smile and say "congratulations" while we silently absorb a kick in the gut and try to extract ourselves conversation as quickly as possible, not willing to break down in front of them and become a massive downer while they want to celebrate their happy news, not wanting to face the sympathy in their faces when they say "So, any news with you....?" And we know we're being rude, but the thing is we don't *want* to make the pregnant person feel guilty by crying in front of them so we run, run as fast as we can in the other direction in order to not lose our shit publicly. Or we quickly change the channel or slap the magazine closed, wanting to watch or read about something other than babies, because babies consume everything that we do and it is just nice to do something that doesn't have anything to do with babies, to go to the bakery or turn on the TV and not have the reminder that someone else is pregnant and you are not at every turn.

So that's why infertility sucks: because the bottom line is, it fucks with our ability to be happy for anyone else. It's totally perverse.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why Infertility Sucks: Reason # 1

Why Infertility Sucks: Friends Without Benefit

Here is the first reason infertility sucks.

Everyone has friends. At least, I hope you do. Or at least I hope that if you don't have any, you like it that way. At any rate, let's go with the assumption that people have friends. Lovely friends. Friends in their peer group - people they met through school, through work, through other friends. People who are generally in the same age bracket with some of the same interests, although not everything because that would make it all pretty dull to hang out with a bunch of people exactly like you, because as much as you rock, 30 of you would be kind of mundane.

And the thing is, they are really not exactly like you anyway, because through some miracle, all of these friends are somehow able to have children. And even though they don't mean to, even though they swear they won't, eventually, you see your friends less and less. You simply don't fit in to their lives anymore. And soon, sooner than you think, you find yourself pretty much friendless.

It's natural. Life changes, when you have a kid. And when your friends start making all their changes with their children, you simply get left behind.

The family eats earlier, because the kid needs to eat by 6 pm to be able to go to bed by 7:30. Non-parents don't eat til later, because good lord, why wouldn't you? Dinner plans between parents and non-parents are logistically impossible.

Non-parents can go out after work for a drink, socializing with their friends. Parents have to go pick up kids at daycare. Socializing is impossible.

Non-parents don't get invited to events where kids are present, things like birthday parties or playdates (and let's be fair, playdates are just as much for the Mom/Dad as they are for the kid) because what's the point? They don't have kids, they won't want to spend their afternoon surrounded by them. Won't it just remind them of the fact that they don't have children? No, best not to invite them to the cottage/birthday party/whatever other event you're spending with other Grownups With Kids.

And besides, you're not an ideal companion anymore anyway. You're missing a "part". You don't have a kid for their kid to play with, so that automatically makes you less fun, less desirable as a weekend companion.

I could go on, but you get the point. I am also not crazy about the idea of listing the many ways in which we've been neglected, because despite the fact that this is my blog, I don't want to spend the entire time whining. I don't begrudge parents their children; I do understand why they've made the changes in their lives that are resulting in me seeing my friends less and less and less.

I'm just trying to tell you something here, that when you're trying to understand what it's like for people who want kids and can't have them, the pain isn't just the empty spare room. It isn't just having to duck your head and scurry by the cute kid's clothes that you'd love to be buying when you're out shopping. It's the fact that everyone around you is moving on to the next phase of their lives, the parent phase, and you are unintentionally but inexorably left behind. You've been with your friends for years, through the thick and the thin, through the school and the job and the bad boyfriends and the good boyfriend and the wedding and the crazy parents. And this is the first time your friends are doing something that you are not, that you want to do but you cannot. You are solely and uniquely left behind.

And it sucks

Monday, December 10, 2012

10 things I hate about infertility

1. Feeling broken (the not-quite-half-a-woman style of broken).
2. Fertility medications that make you a raving lunatic, burying the real you under layers of artificial hormones, crying jags, tantrums, paranoia and black moods.
3. The fact that trying to conceive is no longer something between you and your spouse. The fact that your uterus becomes public property that everyone seems to have a stake in. The longer your innards sit empty, the more people wonder, the more people ask, and the more they think they have a right to know every single little thing that's going on. Even when it's no one's business but you and your Beloved's.
4. Telephone calls from the clinic telling you to have sex.
5. Repeated poking and prodding in areas that, ideally, shouldn't be subjected to poking and prodding more than once a year for 39 seconds at your annual physical.
6. Did I mention the drugs?
7. The devastation of each failed cycle.
8. The ticking of the clock.
9. The hopeful looks and the pitying looks (particularly when under the influence of #2)
10. The guilt, the jealousy, the uncertainty, the sorrow, the anger, the confusion, the frustration and the mental gymnastics necessary to muster up the strength to carry on after each failed cycle.

This self-indulgent little whine-fest, albeit admittedly gross and unpleasant, is a necessary evil. It just is. Sometimes you just have to let it out lest it consume you from the inside out.

For the most part I quietly deal with the intense displeasure I have for this whole process because it's just what needs to be done and whining about it won't change a thing, but for the record I hate this with an all-consuming passion. I hate the intrusion into our lives, I hate the way it all makes me feel, I hate the way I act and react when I'm in the throws of drug-inducted hell and I hate the lost innocence.

Oh I hate that so much.

I miss the days when I didn't have to discuss the intricacies of every cycle with nurses, doctors, ultrasound techs and phlebotomists. I miss the days when that was the farthest thing from my reality.

I miss when it was just my husband and I who knew what was going on. I miss being able to have the intimacy of that shared secret. I miss waiting and wondering and having only HIM know why.

I realize if I'd stop talking about it here I could probably get back some of that privacy, but it just feels too late for some reason. Even if I shut up right now there would still be questioning looks and prying questions from people I know mean well.

And you know what? There would be questions even if I'd never talked about it at all here. After two years, there would be a LOT of questions, curious looks, whispers and speculation.

I. Just. Want. A. Baby. For God's SAKE, why is this so hard???

Monday, November 5, 2012


I've been wanting to write about this very thing for a while; about how hard Facebook has the potential to be if you are on the outside looking in. The ultrasounds and baby photos subbing as profile pictures, the "offers" to sell naughty children, cute birthday/Halloween/Christmas/Thanksgiving stories, announcements about potty training successes, first teeth, and new pregnancies...

Facebook is rife with childcentric information.

And there's absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be. None whatsoever.

But because it is, it can be a dangerous place for someone trying to navigate the bloody waters of infertility and loss. And it can be torture for someone for whom all those lovely baby things will never be a reality.

The interesting thing is that we generally stay very quiet about all this. So much so that it likely never occurs to anyone but us that it might be painful. The landmines are invisible unless you see them as such. We are blown to smithereens every day by things others look at with wonder and joy.

That's just the way it is.

It's the way it has to be, in fact, because the world can't (and shouldn't) stop merely because we are sad. There is no reason our sorrow should trump another's joy.

We, as a group, generally concentrate our efforts on making sure other people don't feel uncomfortable. The last thing we tend to do is point out our own discomfort. We might be broken, humiliated, and desperate - but we are usually silent.

And I'm not sure what I think about this phenomenon anymore, this strange code of silence.

I don't want to be the person who rains on everyone's parade, reminding people with my sad looks and pitiful sighs that I envy what they have. I don't want to be the needy girl from whom people flee in horror. And I certainly don't want to end up being a one-trick pony who can't talk about anything but the life she wishes she'd been able to have.

But sometimes I do crave a certain level of acknowledgment - a little something that lets me know you would smother my pain with a pillow if you had one big enough, or strangle cruel fate with your bare hands for denying me my joy. I am desperately struggling to co-exist in this fertile world, and that pain I feel is real. This life is hard - harder than I ever dreamed - and I'm not always okay. I probably look it most of the time - maybe all the time - but I am stuck together with tape, staples and prayers. And chocolate and wine.

I'm not looking for pity. I can't stress that enough. I think what we all want so much is simply for people to remember that we're here too.