Posts tagged Infertility
Posts tagged Infertility
It’s now been nearly three years of TTC - natural and assisted. I’ve hit all the highs and lows of this emotional roller coaster. Along the way, I’ve watched a number of my IF friends, tweeps, and bloggers move on to pregnancy and parenting and continue to struggle with the pain of infertility. The phrase #alwaysinfertile gets used a lot. It’s been helpful to watch other women go through this process. I think it’s easy to hope (desperately) that once you’re pregnant or parenting all of this pain will melt away. To hope that we will finally be “normal.” We will escape the agony that’s overwhelmed our lives. But, we all know that for most of us, as much as we wish it would, infertility never completely fades away.
I’ve made a lot of emotional progress in recent months. I can feel myself healing in so many ways. Since we’ve decided to pursue adoption, I feel a sense of relief and calm about family building. The underlying terror that treatments wouldn’t work is gone. I know that I will have a family someday. It’s made it easier to interact with my friends and family who have children. Yet, a couple of events in the past two weeks have put me back in that “always infertile” place.
The hard thing about birth announcements is reading them. And then re-reading them. And then deleting them. And then going into my trash folder and re-reading them again. And then officially deleting it forever. And then remembering every word of the announcement, and repeating it to myself in my head. Over and over. Until it is impossible for me to forget just how this joyous, wondrous moment has been expressed by the new parent. These announcements nearly are always written by the father. And they usually have some reference to how “in awe” the father is of the mother/baby/birth process. Knowing that my husband will (probably) never stand beside me in a birthing room and never be in awe of my body and the baby that it’s birthing - well, this kinda makes me want to curl up and die. This makes me feel like a fucking failure all over again. This reminds me of everything that is painful and unfair about infertility.
The pregnancy announcements are similar. God help me if the person actually reveals any details about the TTC process or - seriously - the POAS story. Then I launch into the above obsessive re-reading/re-telling of the story to myself, until it is burned in my brain. Then I can obsess over the fact that I will (probably) never have those stories. If a story is not shared (thank you), I can still think about how this couple likely had SEX in order to get pregnant. This simply doesn’t make sense to me anymore - I am literally amazed that this actually works for some people. I mean, really? You just had sex, and now you’re pregnant? My infertile brain cannot comprehend this premise after everything I’ve been through. It’s an extreme spectrum of procreation methods - either it involves an orgasm or needles. If you’re on the needles side, it is heartbreaking to hear about the orgasm side of spectrum. And, this whole thing just makes me re-feel the failure of my body, the anger that this has been denied me, and the jealousy of other couples who get to share this loving experience. Another very special level of pain comes when I feel that, for some reason, this couple does not “deserve” a baby as much as I do. So, not only am I a failure, but I have been wronged by the universe. Again.
Cue tears. And bourbon drinking.
I do find that my reactions are not as extreme as they had been. It’s not devastating, anymore. I cry, but just for an hour or a day - not a week. Or two. Maybe it’s that it’s happened many times now, so announcements are no longer a trauma. Maybe I’ve healed this wound well-enough to survive the announcements. Maybe I’m better at coping. Maybe I’m just a little bit numb.
As much as I’m working on accepting my infertility (not that I’m OK with it, but that I accept its reality and what that means for me), I think I also need to accept that these things will always hurt a bit. A part of me will always be infertile.
My infertility support group is pregnant.
I’ve heard many people say that infertiles are the worst supports for one another because inevitably, some of them will get pregnant, and then the others are left behind. It’s true, though we do it anyways. No one else can understand the pain we’re going though - testing, diagnosis, treatment, loss, waiting. Having a community of women who understand these feelings and experiences has changed my life. But, boy does it sting when they get pregnant and move on. I’ve been left behind many times at this point. By friends, family, coworkers, Tweeps. Three of my five IRL infertile friends are pregnant right now. And four of five of the other women in my infertility support group are pregnant right now. Oh, and my (ex) infertility therapist is pregnant. It’s down to me and a couple other women who are still waiting. It’s hard not to feel lost…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’ve all made it. I’ve held their hands and cried and hoped with them. As they have with me. I guess the primary thing I feel when one of my close infertile friends announces is relief. I wouldn’t say I’m “overjoyed” or “thrilled” or “so excited.” But I’m always hugely relieved. I know how hard they’ve struggled, and I’m relieved and glad that their struggle is over now. They deserve a healthy pregnancy, as we all do. But, honestly, once they pass the first trimester, we’re not in the same boat anymore. They’re dealing with pregnancy, and I’m simply not.
But, this post isn’t about them. It’s about me. Where do I go now? Do I find another support group? I don’t really want to right now. That just sounds plain exhausting. And, since I’m not planning on cycling anytime soon, I’m not sure what I would talk about. My life is focused on my life right now, and not on my body and infertility. Do I miss having a group of women I can count on to understand? A safe place to go and commiserate and eat quiche? Yes. A lot. Am I angry that I’ve been left behind again and again? Yes. Does it hurt to be one of the last infertiles standing? Yes. A Is it frustrating to sign into Twitter and read posts about bumps, betas, and breastfeeding? Yup.
Part of me wants to leave the infertility world for a while. Maybe I’ll start hanging out with the adoption crowd? Or, just take a break from it all? But, I keep signing in, reading blogs, and commenting. I’m not ready to leave, but I’m not sure where to go now…
Yesterday my acupuncturist told me that I had “every right to be frustrated and exhausted.” And that, frankly, if I wasn’t, he’d be much more worried about me.
I really appreciate the validation of my emotional and physical states. BUT, it’s even more frustrating and exhausting to know that my life is genuinely this challenging right now.
All in all, I think I’m dealing pretty well - given that these past two months have been so insane. My support mechanisms are really working for me. But, as things progress, I can feel myself getting closer and closer to that breaking point. Honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t reached it yet! But, I know it’s there, and it’s real, and it’s not as far away as I’d like it to be. Fundamentally, though, I’m just plain exhausted. I’ve been tired for a long time, and some times are better or worse. But right now, I have purple circles permanently installed under my eyes. I honestly need a months vacation.
I feel like so many important things in my life are up in the air right now. I’m waiting to hear back from job interviews. And, I’m waiting to find out what my ovaries are doing. Both of these situations have huge, life-changing consequences attached to them. We have decided, pretty much, not to move, so at least that craziness has been eliminated. We have also decided that we’d like to avoid surgery right now, if at all possible. It’s just too much for me - I’m not in a strong enough place today. I do feel like I have lots of options, which also means lots of decisions to make. DH and I are doing pretty well at talking things over, and he’s being so supportive. Our new couples therapy is amazing, and is helping us so much.
I’m also realizing that this grieving process - infertility, miscarriage, and the potential hiatus from treatment - is an ongoing process. I’m going to have bad/sad days for a while. I had thought the last cycle and the loss weren’t affecting me so much. Then Mother’s Day hit me right in the face. Ouch. I think I’m getting closer to accepting that there will be mournful days. And when they happen, I can recognize them, wallow, and then move on when I’m ready.
And, I’m finally admitting how frustrated I am that even IVF hasn’t gone how I wanted it to. I had thought I would be able to do three cycles by now, and get them all covered by my insurance before I leave my job. But, no. In 5 months I’ve only done ONE! And it ended in a loss. So damn frustrating. And now, I may have to have surgery before even being able to do IVF again; forget about TTC naturally! AURGH.
There’s just so much… I’m scared that my cyst will still be there, and I’ll be diagnosed with endo. I’m scared that it will be gone and I’ll be doing IVF again next week. (Ok, I’m excited about that, too.) I’m scared that I won’t get either of these jobs, and will feel like a complete failure at life. I’m scared that I’m not really ready to pursue adoption seriously. I’m scared of taking a break from treatments, and that it will just cause more trauma and not the relief I’m desperately craving. I’m scared to keep going, too.
I just came across this blog today, A Few Minor Details by InconceivableA, and her post “Shit my therapist says” was so fabulous, I wanted to re-post it here! These are all things I’ve read about, thought about, or talked about in therapy myself. Enjoy this very, very good advice!
Shit my therapist says by InconceivableA
When I first reading IF blogs, I was a little shocked by the sheer amount of personal information people were willing to share with complete strangers. I’ve blogged in the past, but never anything of such a personal nature.
Now I realize:
(1) Infertility takes away your privacy. Talking about your lady bits starts to become normal. Perhaps a little too normal. I noticed I was freely talking about my embryo and therapy in the line at Starbucks the other day. Everyone probably thought I was a whack job. Oh well. That’s what happens, I guess.
(2) When we talk about these things, we’re actually helping each other. Knowing that I’m not alone has been immeasurably helpful during this experience.
Which is why today I’m going to talk about therapy. I started going to therapy after our first IVF failed, and the difference it’s made is enormous. Just having a neutral party where I can share all the crap that’s happening is amazing. I was lucky enough to find someone who has experience with helping couples/individuals with infertility. Here are a few things she’s told me over the last few months:
Infertility is a identity crisis.
When we first got the “you can’t have a baby without IVF” diagnosis, I was lost. So very, very lost. Everything I knew about myself - about us - was different than it seemed. My fantasy of waking up two weeks after a special night with my husband, sitting down to pee on a stick and seeing two pink lines, walking in and excitedly whispering in his ear “I’m pregnant,” was never going to happen. So many things that I had wanted - that most people can easily have - were never going to happen. I am suddenly an infertility patient. I am someone different. This took a long while to get used to. It’s an identity crisis. Knowing that doesn’t take away the confusion or the pain, but it does help validate the feelings.
No more baby showers.
Bless her for this. I saw her a day or so after my last baby shower, and she said no more. It’s about self-preservation. I have to take care of myself, and baby showers are just not a good way to do that. Especially after the loss I just experienced. This is advice I won’t hesitate to take.
Why, thank you. That’s helpful. I had been feeling, well, not normal. Like, why can’t I deal with infertility and, you know, live my life? Apparently, that’s a tall order. It’s nice to know that a person trained to deal with crazy doesn’t think I’m crazy. Go me.
You’re doing better I would expect in your situation.
This was said to me after my after my egg retrieval, while it still hurt to walk, and my one little embryo, but before the no transfer news. I appreciate this comment because I had been going out of my way to be better than expected. The progress I’ve made between dealing with my first failed IVF and my second is huge.
You’ve got time.
Ok. So this almost pissed me off. Whenever she says stuff like this, she quickly notes that she’s not belittling the pain I’m now. This pain is real and it is now. But, she does point out that there’s time for more treatment (or other routes). As far as we know we’re not battling any major clocks right now. This doesn’t change the fact that I want a baby now. But, since that’s not going so well, I guess it’s good that I do have some time.
Be gentle with yourself.
I wouldn’t consider myself a perfectionist, but I do hold myself to very high standards. I never, ever (not in a million years) would think that infertility would impact me so deeply. Even as I realize this is a crisis of identity, I hate the way it makes me feel - the jealousy, the pain, the sadness. I’m learning to accept these feelings for what they are and not expect myself to be superhuman in my emotions.
That’s what I’ve learned so far. I was hoping that at my next appointment I’d be talking about how to deal with the emotions of pregnant infertile, but it looks like that will have to wait.
I’ve seen this post on a number of infertility blogs, and every time I read it, I feel understood. There are no words for this ache of emptiness and absence.
I just came back from a lovely little yoga class, while I’m here on vacation in Vermont. The instructor said two things that struck me as particularly relevant to us infertiles.
“Yoga prepares your body for, if nothing else, standing pose. Or waiting. Waiting is very important in life, and it’s an active pose. Waiting is not passive, it’s active.” This was particularly powerful for me, coming off of a nine month wait insurance coverage so we can try IVF. That wait was not passive at all. We struggled and grew and changed and learned and loved and evolved so so much these past nine months. I know that journey isn’t over, but that waiting wasn’t passive at all…
“No matter what choice you make, accept it. You chose this path. You are not stuck.” I think what she means is that we always have a choice, even if it’s not the one we intended. We have to accept the path we chose to get into a particular (yoga) position, and once there, we have many choices in front of us. Of course, with infertility, none of us chose this. But what we choose to do once we’re here is important. We’re not stuck here. We’re just figuring out our paths and how to accept them.
News flash: Infertility is HARD!
Today I withdrew a job application and canceled a phone interview that was scheduled for tomorrow. It wasn’t “the perfect job” but it would have been pretty damn good. And, it was not in NYC (I’ve been itching to move for quite some time). But, just the thought of prepping for an interview paralyzed me. This job would be a bit of a reach, and I needed to do my homework. I’m just not up for that right now. Nor is my confidence in a place where I can really sell myself. All in all, now is not the time for new jobs and interviews and maybe moving. Those are major life decisions, and I have enough of those going on right now. I need to stay put, focus on us and the here and now and getting pregnant. So, goodbye job interview. Seeing the “Your application has officially been withdrawn” email stung more than a bit. But, I honestly am proud of myself for writing that cover letter and getting an interview. I’m proud of that.
Then, I met with the Director of my grad school program to discuss my taking a leave of absence next semester. He knows I’m going through fertility treatments and he’s been incredibly sympathetic. It was a brief conversation, we printed out the form and he signed it. Easy as that. Then, I went back to my office and wrote the explanation of why I need to take a leave. Wow. I don’t know if I would have ever been ready to do this. And, now, it’s on paper. “I am requesting a leave of absence for medical and personal reasons. I am currently undergoing treatment for infertility, a physically and emotionally taxing process that requires all of my attention and energy.” Signed, dated, hand delivered to the Dean’s office. Passed off to three secretaries. Standing in the office holding the tears in, holding my breath. Please please please don’t ask me any questions. “You’ll need a doctors note.” “No, I won’t. I am physically able to come to class, I just don’t want to.” “One moment.” She disappears into the Deans office. Then returns. “This is fine. The Dean wishes you luck and so do I.” I burst into tears and immediately leave the office without saying anything. So, now there’s a letter in a file somewhere that says that I am infertile. It says I have limitations. I cannot do it all. I want to have a baby and I’m willing to make these sacrifices. In such a public, humiliating way.
Last week I canceled my plans to go to a conference in January, and will miss a “very important meeting.” In the end, this isn’t such a big deal and I can skype into the meeting, and don’t need to fly to San Diego at all.
Adding all of these things up makes me feel a bit like a failure. It makes me hate infertility and what it’s doing to my life. It makes feel helpless, even though they’re all actions that I’m willingly taking, proactively, to create space around my IVF experience. I know that these things are freeing me to focus all of my energy into myself and IVF. I just didn’t know it was going to be THIS hard. Require THIS much sacrifice. Without any kind of guarantee of success. At least when women choose to stay home, give up or postpone careers, they’re doing it for a child they already have. And, it’s so so so hard not to think of all the women who get pregnant without thinking about it very much at all. Why does it have to be so hard for some of us? Why does it have to tear my life apart? Tear me apart? Why do I have to put EVERYTHING on hold, just to have a chance at having a child?
This is so terribly hard.
I’m trying to focus on what I do want to do in the next two months. I’m going to a new acupuncturist who specializes in infertility tomorrow morning. And, I do want to finish my papers for school this semester, and put that behind me. I want to decorate for the holidays. I want to have dates with DH. I want to see my friends. I want to meditate and go to yoga. I want space. And freedom. I want to build myself back up a bit before IVF, and fortify myself with peaceful loving kindness. I want to find a tiny bit of hope to hang onto and get me through all of this. I want to breath. I want to heal.
Loss is such a huge part of infertility. Chapter 3 of “Unsung Lullabies” focuses on different types of loss we experience. Before we can grieve our losses, we need to identify them. This really spoke to me, and I wanted to at least start to identify the losses I’m feeling. Here goes.
I’m sure there are more, but I think this is about all I can take for tonight.
Tonight I received my copy of “Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility” by Janet Jaffe, Martha Ourieff, and David Diamond. The book came highly recommended by a couple of my tweeps, and one mentioned that it was the best depiction of the cyclical loss we all feel after each cycles ends in a BFN. After reading just one chapter, I know that these authors really understand what we’re (DH and I) feeling and facing. I was crying before I finished the preface. In a good way.
Lately, I’ve been wanting to understand my emotions better, and have been peeking at books about grief and grieving, thinking about the process that goes along with my monthly cycles. I’d also been thinking quite a lot about the trauma of infertility. It’s felt exactly traumatic to me for months. I hadn’t really heard anyone discuss it so directly though, as a trauma. I figured that this must be a common feeling/reaction, though, to any kind of diagnosis. “The trauma of diagnosis” was how I framed it for myself, and decided I ought to do some research on this. Some day…
Well, page 5 begins with a header “What is Reproductive Trauma?” Bingo! “Infertility is truly trauma […] The diagnosis of infertility, and the medical interventions often needed to treat it, represent a threat to our physical integrity, our sense of being healthy and whole.” Wow. Just wow. It is so powerful to see this in print. So affirming and supporting.
“Acknowledging that infertility is trauma, no matter what stage of treatment you are in, is the first step to getting through it. Your losses are real. Even if you know that your odds of successful treatment are low, you will be grief stricken if that treatment fails. Your reactions and feelings not only make sense, but are expected and unavoidable. To defuse the the intensity of your emotions, it’s essential that you explore and talk about them.” (p. 21)
There are so so many things I related to in just this one chapter, which is aptly titled “This isn’t how it was supposed to be” - a phrase I can literally remembering choking out to DH between sobs. The chapter also discusses the trauma of the diagnosis in detail, how every doctors visit and test and blood draw is a reminder of failure. And, how it can often feel surreal. Both things I’ve experienced, and am still experiencing. I remember going for our first ultrasound at the RE’s and laying on the table, with DH in the room thinking “we’re supposed to be looking at our baby. This is how we would be… me on the table, him nervous in the chair. What the hell is happening? Where is the baby? Why is this happening?”
There’s also the loss of becoming a parent “the normal way” - another thing I’ve been struggling with. It’s just not supposed to work like this. It’s supposed to be natural. Right? Everyone else gets to make love and make babies. Why can’t I? How can this fundamental thing be denied to me? How can the world be so unfair? I’m still grappling with the fact (fact?) that I really truly may never experience natural conception in my life. Honestly, thinking about it makes me ill with longing and dread and fear and loss. My stomach clenches and turns.
The chapter brought up so many things for me. And, DH started reading as soon as I finished it. I’m hoping to keep blogging about what I’m reading as a way to continue to engage with these emotions… and with you all. So far, I’d definitely recommend the book! I’m looking forward to continuing the reading, but am honestly also a little scared of the emotions it will surface. This stuff is so hard to face, and I already feel so overwhelmed by my emotions. But, I think the reading is going to be a really positive experience for both of us, and help us work through what we’ve experienced thus far, and look forward towards IVF.
Hi friends. I haven’t been writing much. I’m all sorts of pent-up over here, after this last IUI failed. And, as you saw in previous posts, I feel like there’s nothing “new” happening - just the same old infertile cycle. But, my therapist, that wonderful woman, is encouraging me to keep writing, so I can acknowledge the journey, even though it feels like I’m stuck. Here we go…
I’m supposed to be doing homework right now. Instead I’m drinking too much wine and blogging. School has been stressing me out lately. It may have been (read: definitely was) too much to take on while dealing with treatments and IF. Sigh… I’ve been resenting the work, rather than appreciating its’ distraction. I’ve also gotten my first extension for an assignment in my life. Woah. I question dropping out/taking a leave pretty much every other day. But, I’m hoping things will be calmer in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be able to get through it. I’m also 95% certain that I will take a leave of absence next semester, while we do our first (and maybe second and third) IVF. There is NO way I can deal with stats + infertility. The likelihood that I’ll have a complete nervous breakdown is p = 1.
Tomorrow I leave for a conference for three days. This will be longest I’ve been without DH in quite a while. He’s become more and more my security-blanket as well as my partner and bff. I really need him in a new way, since infertility struck. So, I’m nervous. I’m also nervous to be “on” professionally for three days - it’s extra exhausting these days, and my summer conference was border-line traumatic.
I can’t stop thinking about adoption lately. It’s just stuck in my head (thanks in large part to watching my dear friend Lisa take to motherhood through adoption in such an amazing way). It’s so inspiring and reassuring. I can visualize the moment where I meet my child in a real, palpable way that I can’t when I think about IVF and potentially giving birth. I can’t see it… the pregnancy, the birth, the baby. I’m sure it’s all being blocked out by my psyche in an effort to protect me… but, I keep coming back to adoption, and smiling.
We have quite a to-do list before our first IVF, and the most important thing is to switch my health insurance. I’m blessed, blessed!, to have many insurance options at work. I had checked months ago to see what treatments were covered, and one plan stated that it covered 3 rounds of IVF, lifetime limit. Uh, BINGO! Well, of course, for 2011, it will cover only 2 rounds of IVF. Please forgive me, I know many if not most of you have NO IVF coverage—and I think that’s utter bullshit, but I’m going to complain for just a minute here. I WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE THREE AND NOW I ONLY HAVE TWO!!!!!!!!!!!! FUCK THIS. Just fuck this. Of course it gets worse and not better. Of course they cover less, not more. Of course I’m getting ever-closer to spending our life savings on fertility treatments. Of course we’re adding more pressure to an insanely sensitive life-changing situation. FU insurance companies. EFFFUUUU.
So, right now we’re on a three month break, as it were. The new insurance won’t kick in until January, and we’re certainly not doing another treatment before then. I am really really really looking forward to having a NORMAL sex life for three months. (And, if this morning was any indicator we are going to rock it!) We’ve decided not to do any tracking or OPKs. (Confession: I haven’t taken pre-natal vitamins in months. Is this really bad?) We’re just going to be US. It’ll be hard not to do the mental math, and pinpoint the likely fertile days, but we’re definitely in a low-pressure zone. Our Christmas vacation to Vermont is booked, and I cannot wait!! We’ll leave a couple days after my classes are over - heaven.