July 19, 2011

Living with Infertility: Take Two

Sometimes it's hard to believe I've been living with infertility for over two years. The anniversary date of my diagnosis holds some prominence for me each year; it's the rest of the days in between that feel like a blur, emotions from either of the extreme ends of joy and sadness coloring each day a different shade on this spectrum of coping.

As we inch closer to the next steps in our journey, I find myself looking back at some of my first posts, looking to see the ways in which I've grown and changed in these last two years.

I was drawn to this post: Things I Wish I Could Tell People About Grieving My Infertility, first posted in April 2009. I had reposted this list from World of Winks, a former ALI blogger and now special-needs parent. I had written this post just a few weeks after I was diagnosed.

I had posted 10 items from her list and added my own commentary of where I was at that emotional stage as a newly diagnosed infertility patient. I think it's time I circle the wagons back and take a second go at it, this time making it more of my own in the process.

Instead of just wishing I could tell people about just my grieving process this time, now I'm simply just going to tell people what my experience is like with just over 2 years under my belt. Rather than just a broad, generalized list of things, this is now very personal to where I am at this moment in our journey.

Things I Want You to Know About How I Live with Infertility
(version 2.0)

1. You can talk to me about my infertility and how I'm doing. It doesn't matter whether you're a friend, family member, new reader or random internet stranger - stop by, introduce yourself, say hello. Ask me your questions. Understand that I have a right to bristle if your questions or comments are insensitive but I'll do my best to tell you why they might have been inadvertently hurtful.

2. Infertility is now a major part of who I am, but I am not defined by my infertility. I recognize that I live with infertility like any other disease. I'm on hormonal treatment for the lasting health effects of POI and plan to seek treatment to address the fertility effects. I seek fulfillment in my life through a variety of other avenues: volunteering with RESOLVE, writing, the Red Tent Temple, fishing, and a host of other hobbies and interests. In all these things, I am just as much infertile as I am woman, wife, sister, daughter, etc.

3. I'm still grieving. I may not be overt; just because I'm not having daily crying jags doesn't mean that I'm not sad about being infertile sometimes. As I've mentioned in previous posts, getting ready to begin the donor egg process has stirred up some emotions I thought I had put to rest but haven't. Coping with loss is a recurrent emotional process in the infertility experience.

4. Pregnancy and birth announcements are still painful, but not in a lingering, crippling way anymore. I still cry when I get the news that so-and-so is pregnant or that so-and-so just gave birth. I am of course joyful but also insanely - but instantly - jealous. The weight doesn't last for days now; it's a momentary near-Pavlovian response. I cry for a minute or two, I wipe my tears, and I share my congratulations. That said, if you can tell me in an email or leave me a voicemail, I find it better to cope and process later.

5. Just because I talk about infertility all the time, I'm not contagious, I'm not bad luck, and I'm not a downer. I'm just infertile. Has infertility opened my eyes to a level of skepticism and pragmatism I've never encountered before? Absolutely. But just because I "like" (relative term here) to talk about infertility, I'm trying to give voice to a rather silenced disease. Raising awareness about infertility helps me to cope and heal because I know that I'm helping others cope and heal in the process. Ironically enough, it has been that through this experience I have found my life's work.

Homework assignment time.

Head back to some of your first posts on your blog. If you blog about infertility, what stuck out for you? What did you find yourself writing about the most? What's changed since then and how have you grown? Share an old post that's stuck out for you in the comments below and tell us why it resonates with you now.

12 comments:

annoyed army wife said...

I just started writing about my infertility a few months ago when we started trying again after my husband returned from deployment. We tried for a year, he left for 8 months (and I read every shred of paper I could find about infertility), then we headed to an RE in April, and got our official diagnosis of MFI. I had a vague notion that something was wrong that first year and wrote a bit about it, but there's nothing hearing you were right (especially when you so desperately want to be wrong).

I wrote this post to help me process what we're going through: http://www.annoyed-army-wife.com/2011/06/infertility-and-deployment-analogy.html in June. I think it's the first post where I wasn't just whining and was trying to let people into my world. It was a turning point post for me, still an angry post, but turning the corner.

Rebecca said...

This is such an interesting idea. It's been two years since we had an "official" infertility diagnosis and almost three years since we started trying. I started blogging about infertility about 1 1/2 years ago. At the time, I talked excitedly about cycles and bitched about pregnant women and, no matter what I said, still had some hope in the back of my heart that at some point something would "work." Eventually it did -- sort of. I got pregnant during a non-medicated cycle but miscarried. That was more than a year ago.

What's changed? I've reached a point of acceptance, I think. I keep trying but don't feel the passion and disappointment as much each month. I'm looking forward to our first IVF cycle in a few months, but I don't feel the urgency I used to.

I wrote the post below about the differences between TTC and IF a month into my blog. It still resonates with me, but I think I've reached a third place, now. I'm not sure what to call it, but it's different. http://tryingnottoscream.blogspot.com/2010/02/when-ttc-becomes-if.html

Maria said...

I one wrote a guest post that I called infertility with a twist. Since fertility wasn't my issue, per se, I had written all of my posts about the recurrent miscarriage side of things. Now... that I am on number 9 of charted and well timed cycles, I wish think that I took for granted how tough it is to deal with the real, untwisted, side of infertility. My early posts were written with the assumption that I would fall pregnant soon and it was just a matter of staying pregnant. It is a whole different journey than I was prepared for! www.lifelossandotherthings.com

Michaela said...

Hi!

I am new here. First time reader.

I didn't start blogging until I was about a year into my TTC journey and a year after being told that I would not be able to conceive a child using my own eggs.

Most of my journey I guess focused on denial and a "I will" attitude.

I think I turned the corner with my post "to be okay" as a way to move forward.

http://asinglejourney-michaela.blogspot.com/2010/12/to-be-okay.html

I look forward to following your journey.

mommyodyssey said...

Thanks for this post! It really inspired me to go dig through my archives. I only started 7 months ago but one Miscarriage, 100 blood tests, and a blocked tube later I feel so incredibly different. It's weird, almost like reading about a completely different person. I pulled up one post, which isn't particularly inspirational or anything, but I think it's when I truly started to find my "voice" as an IF blogger:http://mommyodyssey.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/baby-crazy/

Thanks again for this! you have the best ideas. :-)

Kristin said...

I was significantly into my infertility journey so there aren't any posts about that to really look back on.

I love this post of yours though.

Esperanza said...

I love going back through my blog to see where I've been. My favorite is to go back one year from current day to see what I was facing at that time, what then formed my all consuming reality.

Today I went back and found a post that has so much to do with issues I'm struggling with today. It's funny, when I was TTC and after my loss I learned the poignant and infuriating lesson that despite what I had been told throughout life, sometimes hard work does not affect an outcome. My whole life, the equation hard work = goal achieved fit. Suddenly it didn't. Suddenly life was, at it's most basic, supremely unfair. This realization floored me (and later I was able to appreciate how privileged I must be to be learning this lesson so late in life).

I'm learning this lesson again now and while it's not as bitter a pill to swallow the second time around, it still sticks in the throat something fierce.

Here is my post on infertility/TTC/pregnancy loss being super fucking unfair. It's called, The Doldrums and the Divine:

http://esperanzasays.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/the-doldrums-and-the-divine/

(Also, reading this post reminded me that I HAVE to get back into Buddhism. It is of the utmost important to my mental health and emotional wellbeing).

Thanks for inspiring me to do this. It's strange and somewhat comforting that an earlier incarnation of yourself can teach you so much.

Michelle D said...

I did my homework ;) I too like to go back and reflect and how this whole mess has changed me over the years. I started blogging about a year after my POI/POF diagnosis when I was finally beginning to accept it and deal with it somewhat. It is really interesting to me to see how my ideas and ideals have changed since then.

Reflection post with link to my "favorite" older post in it:
http://howtodanceintherain.blogspot.com/2011/07/reflections.html

Thanks for this idea.

slowmamma said...

Hello,
Here from ICLW. I may be wrong about this, but didn't your awesome video make it's way around the web around a year-ish ago?
Two years is a long time indeed and I think you are incredibly brave to live this experience so openly. I just started blogging recently and already I squirm a little at the thought of reading my posts. I guess it feels to me a little like taking naked photos of myself- bold and confident in the moment but then embarrassingly revealing when looking back.

eggsinarow said...

I'm new to the infertility blogging world, but my diagnosis (PCOS) came over a year ago. This post was spoke to me! Especially about the grief. I've found that since I've been blogging (only a month or so) I've actually really found some healing. Its funny how my emotions can bounce all over the place throughout the day, but I have a place to vent, and I have other voices that help me to feel not so alone.

(I'm here from ICLW, by the way. I've blurked for awhile, though!)

My New Normal said...

Visiting from ICLW. I've struggled with infertility for many years now and completely agree with that list. Like you, I'm moving forward using an egg donor. Hopefully we will both have our babies soon.

Denver Laura said...

I started my blog a year into our TTC journey. That's when the testing started. That was 4 years ago.

Going back to read the posts, in general, I was frustrated. Frustrated with the process, with the doctors, with not knowing a diagnosis. I was mad at pregnant women, upset with my own body.

We were forced to take a year off due to a job loss. Then we started down the path of fost-adopt. We started that 2 years ago. Frustrations with THAT process brought me back to trying 3 more IUI. New facility, new doctor.

I think over the years (almost 5 years!) there has been somewhat of acceptance. I never thought I would spend a decade trying to have a family. I've already spent half of my 30's trying.

I think the difference in me now, and the me 5 years ago is that I know my limits now. I speak my mind, I own my own path. I don't just accept what the doctor tells me. Hubby is on board this time around too, going to doc visits with me.