Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Pollyanna Here

Thank you all for the wonderful comments I just adore ILCW!

I want to make something very clear I am no Pollyanna. I have gotten many comments about how positive I am, and thank you for thinking so, but the truth is that it has taken me a very long time to get to this place. Reading posts about the hurtful comments, the wading through the muck and the just general despair is all so familiar. I go to these places all the time, but I have also learned so much from being there.

Hearing people say something just stupid because they have no other words was the first thing that I really had to work on. It was either lock myself in the house or learn to deal with the platitudes. We were at a party a year or so ago and someone asked if we had kids, a person that I had met ten minutes before. The poor unsuspecting woman, who was just trying to start a conversation, got the meanest and nastiest response I could muster. She obviously was embarrassed and for a moment, I took so much pleasure in watching her just squirm. Then I just felt horrible, it was not her fault, she really had done nothing wrong. It was in that interaction that I knew I had to find another way to cope with the questions and comments, because I did not want to be that mean person that took pleasure in others' pain, and I was not going to let my infertility take my humanity, that was a price I was not willing to pay. Intellectually I had known for years that all those comments, from "Just relax" to "A dog is just as good" were never meant to be hurtful, they came from people who loved me, from people who did not want to see me hurt anymore, or from people who were just at a loss for words. In a very bizarre way, they were all telling me that I was loved, in the same way that my husband tells me he loves me when he takes out the trash or cleans the dishes. It may not be the way that I want or need to hear it, but it is still all about love and concern. It is the same way that I instinctively tell those who lose a loved one that I am sorry or a friend with a horrible disease that it will be okay, I have no idea what to say so I pull out the safe platitudes that do nothing. I just had to learn and constantly remind myself that this was love, it was not meant to be hurtful it was meant to make the hurt go away.

In May of 2007 I had my first major baby boom, it seemed like everyone was pregnant and they all announced it at the same time. Every announcement ripped my heart out. I had dealt with those announcements before, but they had always been spread out. Two of the announcements came at the same party; a party that I could not just walk out of and trust me all I wanted to do was run. I was happy for them, I really wanted to share in the joy but I just could not muster the strength. My pain and hurt, my firm belief that I was never going to be a mother stood in my way. I missed the baby showers, I sent a gift and made an excuse and everyone kindly pretended that it was not about the pain even through they knew. I missed the first birthday parties for the same reason. Really, who wants a crying person sitting in the middle of the floor at such happy occasions, no one wants that and no one wants to be that person. Then a friend of mine, a woman who is so amazingly wonderful and who has stood beside me for so long, was having trouble conceiving her third child. Instead of picking up the phone and calling the one person who understood right where she was, she sat with the pain because she felt guilty complaining because she already had two children. Being stuck in the muck of infertility had caused someone I cared about to suffer the same pain without my support, and that ripped my heart out more than any pregnancy announcement or party invitation ever could have. I had to pull myself out of my world and help her deal with her world; I had to find a way to support her through her misery and fear. In order to help her I had to get out of my pain and myself. As difficult as that was, being able to help her was the best thing that could have happened. Her daughter was born two months ago and for the first time, in a very long time, I was able to be happy because a new life came into this world. For those few months I was able to remember, what it was like to not sit in that misery.

As a teen and part of my young adulthood, I was clinically depressed. During that time I believed that it was easier to be miserable, being in that place where all I had to focus on was how unfair the world was and how everything was nothing but a conspiracy to keep me feeling like the dirt on the scum of someone's tennis shoes. Then at some point, and I really have no idea when, it lifted and I felt so much better. I remembered how to laugh and have fun, and that place was so wonderful and amazing. Somewhere along the road that pain seeped back in, and it came so slowly that I had not recognized that it was back. Knowing that someone I loved felt like she could not come to me with her infertility struggle made me realize that I was back in the muck. My misery was so apparent to everyone else that they were afraid to upset me. I knew that being miserable was so much harder than being happy and I knew that if I did not find a way to get out that I was headed back to a place I had fought so hard to get out of. Yes, my infertility hurts and yes, it is unfair, but it is not the only thing in my life. I have so many other things that matter; most importantly, I have amazing people who need me as much as I need them.

The only way that I knew to get out of the despair was to face the worst-case scenario. What would really happen if I were never to be a mother? As terrified, as I was to look at that possibility I knew that without doing so I was just doomed to live in a space that I hated. I would still have amazing people around me, I would still have my husband, and I would still have all the children in my life that I love with all my heart. Childless I would still have a purpose in this world, I would still be a social worker and I would still find ways to have a positive impact on some area of the world. Yes, it would be heartbreaking, but I would still go on. I did not have to be a mother to justify my existence as a woman, being a mother would make me no more of a woman than I already am. The worst thing that could possibly happen would be a deep sadness, and I knew how to deal with that, I knew that there was help and that I was capable to accepting that help. I also knew that there is another side of that pain and that I was capable of making it there. Knowing all of this gave me the power to not always be in that pain. Yes, I want to be a mother more than I want to breathe, otherwise I would not be where I am at the moment. I also know that if this never works my life will still have meaning and purpose I will still have worth.

The weirdest part of being infertile and trying to conceive is that you become a parent to a person who does not exist. You live your life for someone who is not real. Every decision and every action becomes about them, and it is so easy to lose yourself in the process. When I was going through all of this I felt an immense amount of guilt, I felt like even considering the possibility of failure made me a horrible person. What I learned is that it did not. Being able to see the reality of the situation gave me the freedom to heal some wounds and really become a better person. I am in no way saying that every infertile person needs to work through these issues, I would never dare place that on others. I just know that this helped me get to the place where I am able to not always fear the future, and where I am able to enjoy parts of my life that I was unable to before. It has given me the power to control the parts of my life that I am able to and not to constantly worry about the parts that I cannot.


Kristin said...

You are amazing Jaymee.

Circus Princess said...

Thank you for a wonderful post full of insight :-) I do believe that being positive comes from knowing the negative and truly being able to appreciate the little things.


Anonymous said...


Brandy said...

I find myself getting closer to where you are. Pregnancy announcements don't hurt quite so much anymore. Maybe it's because we're a week or two away from starting IVF. Or it could be the happy pills. Either way, it's nice to be able to come out of the darkness, even for only a short time.


FET Accompli said...

This post was so insightful, and I especially thought about when you said "you become a parent to a person who does not exist." So true.

Saige said...

Thank you so much for you wonderful, heartfelt comment. I will try to keep your words in my mind whenever I am disappointed with a moment.

I totally agree with this post. I learned early on in our adventures with IF that it was all a matter of outlook. I saw how being sensitive to IF could tear a person's life and world apart, and I chose to take the other path. The one less easily offended, the one that chose to educate rather than be hurt. I promised myself before I even set foot in the clinic for the first time that I would never have a hard time with pregnant women just because they had what I wanted and didn't have. I wasn't going to let it make me bitter. For the most part, it didn't. I never loathed another pregnant woman, but I did start to loathe the maternity and baby sections.

You are a very strong individual, and it is awesome to see that you are at peace with the hand life has dealt you.

Cyn said...

You really need to learn to give yourself more credit!! What you've done and the way in which you've done it is nothing short of amazing. I love hearing the inner workings of your mind!! :)

Meg. said...

I second FET Accompli's comment.

Your words resonated with me:

"you become a parent to a person who does not exist. You live your life for someone who is not real."

So so so true.

And I'm sorry if, when I refer to you as a positive force, it makes you feel uncomfortable. I promise I don't write these statements as platitudes. To me, you ARE a positive force -- if for no other reason than the fact that you're still standing and you're still pushing forward.


Sonja said...

Beautifully written.

Anonymous said...



nh said...

' I did not have to be a mother to justify my existence as a woman, being a mother would make me no more of a woman than I already am.'

That should perhaps be all our call. We are woman no matter what and even in those darkest moments that doesn't change.

Well said

Journey Girl said...

Thanks for such a wonderful post. I just had to go to a baby shower on the weekend and was in despair that I didn't handle it very well, I was a mess when I got home.

Thanks for the inspiration and for letting all of us know that it is possible to move past the pain and guilt.

You are wonderful and amazing and I am so glad that ICLW brought me to your blog!

Wishing 4 One said...

Best post I have read in awhile.

"The weirdest part of being infertile and trying to conceive is that you become a parent to a person who does not exist. You live your life for someone who is not real..." This sums up infertility better than I could have ever tried to describe it.

Thanks for this awesome post!!!

Lisa RM said...

Beautiful thoughts, Jaymee. But you know how I feel. ;)

Egg Factory said...

Wow - thank you for sharing your story. So much that many infertiles can relate to.

It's amazing how insensitive people can be. My automatic "not parents" radar goes up as soon as someone I first meet doesn't mention kids. Others should do the same for us!

My husband cut loose on a guy he worked with once. As many times as I've just smiled and said, "not yet," when asked about kids, I always want to say something snarky.

Ruth Snyder said...

Thanks for your honesty in sharing your journey. Just this week I wrote about peoples' insensitive comments. Sometimes a hug is all that's required!

Me said...

Great post! Thank you for your honesty and your comments - it is very easy to relate to the things you say. - Tkeys *ICLW*

Anonymous said...

I love that line as well - about being a parent to someone who doesn't exist - I guess that's what can make the grief live on when you can't get pregnant month after month and procedure after procedure. All that hope is attached to the child of your heart.

It's funny, when I had to look at the fact that I would never be a parent - we got matched with an expectant mother - just as I was sniffing at the relief of putting this yearning behind me - wow, life is funny, eh?