Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Infertile Life

As part of National Infertility Awareness Week, I have been reading some new blogs, not commenting as much as I should, but learning new stories and processing the enormity of the issue. It is so easy to for me to let myself get wrapped up in my own little world; this cocoon is safer than out there in the big world. Out there, I live in fear of the questions and having to give answers that make others uncomfortable. It has been my experience that when others become uncomfortable the platitudes begin to fly. All the ones that we have heard at some point or another, those comments that are made to end the conversation and to lock our mouths. Those comments that just scream, "I am incapable of dealing with your pain, so just keep it to yourself."

Relaxing is not going to get me pregnant. Adoption is not that simple. A dog is not a child. My time will not just come, I have to struggle to parenthood. Going on vacation is not a cure for infertility, if it were I would be living in the Caribbean.

No doubt that this is an uncomfortable topic, it is painful, personal, and sad. Therefore, I have decided to let it all out. If you cannot read any further that is fine. If you do, I hope that it helps you understand or gives you somewhere to direct someone who is having a hard time understanding you.

I am just going to list all the ways that this marathon to parenthood has changed my life, the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

Any modesty that I began with is gone. Once you have discussed you sex life, been poked and prodded, had countless internal sonograms, and had everyone in the free world examine all the workings, there is just nothing left. My dignity has gone the same way. Not only has my body failed me but also it has come to define me, what I had of brains and talent no longer mean anything, I am just a broken body.

Over these years, I have walked around like a shell of a person. It is nearly impossible to continue with a real life when all your energy is focused on one event, one moment in time. I would guess that this is what it is like for someone with a substance addiction to function in the world, constantly searching for the next fix. My life has become an endless search for becoming a mother, I read, research, and thrive off this quest. At times, I understand that it is destroying my relationships, my future, and me; I am unable to give up. I cannot let this defeat me, with all the pain it brings; I just have to keep going. All those times that I have not gone to the baby shower, all the times that I have missed the birthday party, all the times that the birth announcements get tossed aside with nothing more than a glance, and all the announcements of pregnancy make me angry, have all stolen pieces of me and ended friendships. I do not want to be this person, I want to feel the joy and excitement, I want to be 100% elated for all these people because that is what they deserve, the pain just stands in the way. This all will bite me one day.

All the times that I have wanted to be with my friends and family, on the holidays and special occasions. Those times when I am there just thinking about next year, the future that will bring a child. I have robbed myself and them of these moments. I smile through these moments, and know that I am not the person that they deserve. No matter how much I want to give them all of me the majority of the time it is just not possible. There are different reasons in different situations but the result is always the same I am not fully there. Dealing with infertility is stealing my moments, my relationships, and major parts of my life. it is also stealing me away from my family and friends.

I feel a constant guilt for my infertility. I blame myself for not being a better person, for not being more deserving of motherhood, and for stealing the chance for my husband to be a father, my parents to have grandchildren, my sister to be an aunt, and my friends to have one more child in their life to love. This is not all about me, yes, I am the one with the problem, but it affects all of us. I know that there are times when they hurt just as bad as I do, because this is there loss as well. Of course, this is something that I have always kept to myself all these years. Seriously, how so you tell anyone that you feel this way about yourself? It is a burden to put that on other people.

Not only have I walked around with all this pain, trying so hard not to put it on others, but I also try so hard to be a whole person. It is hard to measure if I am successful at this because it is almost impossible for me to gauge how others see me. I am almost certain that this is a universal problem, the majority of people have no idea how others perceive them. I guess I could ask, but the truth is I do not really want to know. The feeling that I am not really a woman shadows the feeling of not being a whole person. Frustration and anger accompany the fact that my body refuses to do what the majority of women have no problem doing, just simply having a baby. As a child, I always believed that I would grow up get married and have a baby, sound pretty simple and straight forward. Not for me, no matter what I have done, there was just no way that this was going to happen for me. I am so unhappy with myself all of the time, even now when I have made peace with the fact that motherhood is not going to happen for me the way I dreamed. This anger just will not go away, these feelings of inadequacy sit in the pit of my stomach and in some ways, and they are eating me alive.

Over the years, it has become necessary for me to harden my heart, build walls that deflect all of these feelings, without these defenses I will crumble. The walls that protect me also keep me from living the way that I want. As much as I want people to be close to me, I am afraid that my damage will infect them. What this really means is that those who want to love me have to work that much harder, most people are unwilling to do this and I understand the result is that with each passing year I become more isolated. Just at the time when I should be surrounding myself with support, I am incapable of letting people get that close that easily. It also is not fair to the people who love me because they have to work that much harder to stay near me. I do not want to make them go through this with me and at the same time, I am incapable of surviving without them.

There was a time when this all got so bad, where I had sunk so deep, that living childless was the answer. I had resigned myself to having a life where no one would ever call me mother. It was actually a very liberating moment. I found enough strength in myself to know that I could learn to live without the one thing that I had always wanted. It was during this time that I learned to concentrate on myself; it was also when I learned a lot about healing and what happens to a heart that has been shattered. I was never going to be the same person again. At the time we decided that, we were ready to have a child and that we both were just lying to ourselves when we said that we did not, I learned that healing is not always lasting.

Complete healing may never happen there is a very real possibility that I will be broken forever. For a long time I told myself that once we got to parenthood, once we started the process the healing would begin. Now that we are there, I am learning that there is nothing that will make this all go away; I will forever be an infertile woman. The best that I can hope for is that the pain will fade and my heart will soften, and I am okay with that. More importantly, I know that it is no one else's responsibility to save me, especially the child that we are creating. I am learning to rise above this; I am learning to not allow being an infertile woman be the only thing that I am.

In all the sadness and tragedy to this, some wonderful things come out of infertility. Compassion, just being able to sit in those uncomfortable moments with someone, I am so much better at this than I ever was before. Not that being there is always easy, but after years of platitudes and stupid comments I have learned that there is nothing better than someone just being willing to sit and listen. No one has the power to fix these issues, but they do have the power to help me heal. It is as simple as just being able to listen and care. I am going to live with this forever, my family will live with this forever, and my child will live with this forever.

All these years will become part of my child's story. This makes me so aware of how everyone in this situation is treated because he/she will forever be a child of surrogacy a journey that he/she did not choose. I really overlooked this for a long time. Sure, I knew that one day this would be part of the story that created our child, but for some reason I was just not able to understand that one day this story would wholly belong to them. The best that I can do is making sure that they are created with as much love as I already feel for them.


Sassy said...

This is one of the best posts I've ever read about the effects of infertility. So many people don't understand that it can creep into so many facets of your life and the lives of the people around you. It makes it that much harder when you know that others are hurting because of your infertility.

emilythehopeless said...

as always.. you take the words right out of my heart. you are amazing, beautiful and strong. everyone who knows you is lucky. it's so true.. at the beginning of all of this i had no idea i was joining a club for life.

Dagny said...

I hear ya.


Lollipop Goldstein said...

This is an incredible post. Thank you so much for writing this so others can get it.

VA Blondie said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for writing this.

Dora said...

OMG, YES! Totally agree. With everything, but mostly that my donor embryo story is really my child's story.

Gabby said...

Just found this post from someone else's blog.. what a beautiful post. You are so right about concentrating on the love that you have for your child. Your child will be so lucky to have such an amazing mom.

Kristin said...

Yes, yes, yes...this describes it perfectly. What a beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly how I feel. Broken and useless as a woman.

It's also made me realise that the platitudes are not OK. They are insensitive. I can't grin and listen to them any more.

Last week in almost the same breath as I was told that there was no hope for me to become a mum naturally, adoption was suggested. Although adoption is a wonderful thing, why do fertile people, with their own children, think that adoption is something that that us unfortunates should readily jump to. I want a child with my partner, is that too much to ask? I want to feel life growing inside me. I want to feel that sharp kick, and have to run to the loo many times in the night! We would be wonderful mothers without having to go through this pain first. Being a mum is the only thing I want out of life.

Thank you for writing this blog. It feels like you're holding my hand sometimes through this journey. You express it so so well.

devonmarie said...

What a beautiful post.

I think you've probably spoken the words and feelings that so many of us have. The feeling that something so simple is unattainable really is hard to bear sometimes.

I too feel broken, empty and less of a woman because of my infertility. And no matter the ways I try to make others get it, they really dont, sometimes its so hard to even get the words out.

Thank you for this beautiful post.

Mugsy said...

Amazing. What a wonderfully honest and heartfelt post. I couldn't help but tear up as I read it, thinking the entire time, this is exactly how I feel. Thank you.

Dawn said...

thank you so much for posting this and letting your heart speak. it's so hard for me to not get jealous of friends who get pregnant just thinking about sex. sending you hugs.

sunflowerchilde said...

This was really, really beautiful and moving. I felt like you were writing all of my own thoughts from the last year and a half. Thank you for expressing it so well.

Anonymous said...

I'm a first time reader but this is a wonderful post. You've touched upon almost every feeling I've been through in this infertility journey. I also have PCOS. Miscarried a month ago at 11 weeks. It's a brutal as hell journey..... Thanks for your candor.

nh said...

Wow - I've just come from Mel's roundup. And I think you've expressed everything that I am feeling so well.

Another Dreamer said...

What a beautiful post. You put it into words so beautifully, the truth in them resonates with me. Thank you for writing this.

The Barreness said...

thank you!