Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm out on

In honor of In.fertility Aware.ness Week, I came 'out' on about my our in.fertility.

I'd been mulling it over and over the last few weeks wondering whether I wanted to be that public about it. I realized that I'm ready to be more public about it. We've sat with it for 3+ years now and I'm much more comfortable with it. I realized that I can raise awareness for others who either may just be in the beginning stages of their infertiliy journey and that I can potentially make someone who is going through this feel less alone.

I also know that most of our close friends and family knows about our struggles and those who don't have probably wondered so it didn't seem like such a secret. :)

Here's what I wrote:
it's National Infertility Awareness Week... Did you know that 1 in 8 men & women are diagnosed as infertile? This week I'll post more on this topic in the hopes of shedding a bit more light on this not-often-talked about topic & difficult journey that Bill and I have been on. Here's a great resource for friends & family:
We'll see how it goes this week! I'm proud of what I've done though!

Friday, April 22, 2011

To Go or Not To Go... to the Baby Shower?

I'm still feeling very conflicted over going to my brother- and sister-in-law's baby shower in 2 weeks...

It was originally just supposed to be her graduation celebration from grad school and now my husband and my mother-in-law want to do a small, family baby shower for them also. It will be at my mother-in-law's place, where we are staying.

It's also on Mother's Day weekend and B and I agreed to leave Sun morning and go to a B&B and then do something fun on Monday.

Here is why I'd want to go:
  • To celebrate my sister-in-law
  • To be part of the family
  • To not be selfish
  • To be there for my husband
Here is what I would need from them if I go:
  • Not ignore the fact that I'm grieving and that sometimes baby-related things make me sad
  • Pray for me before and after the event so that they are actively partaking in my grief - I am part of the family after all and if I'm to participate in their joy, they need to participate in my sadness
  • Talk about other things than just the pregnancy
Here are my conflicts:
  • They say they care but haven't shown they can properly support me
  • I think I'll likely feel sad and don't need to feel that way if I can help it
Here's why it may be better if I don't go:
  • They are able to enjoy the event with pure joy without having to think about me & my sadness and grief
  • I save myself from likely feeling sad & ignored

I thought writing this out would make it clearer. When I was discussing it with a friend this week she asked me "why do you want to go?" because it really didn't seem clear.

It seems to all point to not going but there's something inside me that's uncomfortable with that decision too that I can't put my finger on other than I want to be there for her in her moment of joy (even though I'm not sure I've really felt her be there for me in my sadness). I also don't think life needs to be quid pro quo and therefore I'd like to be there for her even though I haven't felt that be reciprocated.

I know many of you have offered helpful advice on just staying busy at the shower but I'm afraid that may not be enough. I think what I really want is to feel acknowledged for what I'm going through. And I don't think that's too much to ask for.

I guess it comes down to whether they're able to do that for me or not. And I'm not sure.

So... to go or not to go?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What I Learned From Counseling & Support Group This Week

It was quite an emotionally-cleansing week for me - my bi-weekly counseling was this week and so was my monthly support group.

Here's what I learned:
  • I'm still grieving my last miscarriage
  • I'm grieving the immensity of having had 3 miscarriages in 1 year
  • I need to let my mother-in-law know that I'm actually grieving
  • I need to stop minimizing the fact that my prengancies didn't make it to week 6/a heartbeat
  • I understand that my dog dying a few weeks ago is another loss in this difficult recent loss journey and that it felt like 'piling on' to my already going through a grief cycle
  • I need to stop saying that life could be worse and grieve the bad stuff that has happened to me since this is my reality
  • The grief cycle takes approximately a year and I'm only 5 months from my last loss
  • I need to understand that this journey is a slice of my entire life and try to take it in a larger context
  • Despite that I think it feels better to be authentic and talk about how infertility is affecting me, it can be sometimes helpful to not talk about it and realize how much I have going on in my life that is not infertility-related
  • My true passion is adventurous, international travel and I can't keep putting this on hold
Here's what I'm going to do:
  • Allow myself to grieve, fully
  • Talk to my mother-in-law about my grief (I've never named it as such with her) so she can understand the immensity of it
  • Focus on a lot of the wonderful things going on in my life:
    • My amazing marriage/husband
    • My career that I love and a potential upcoming promotion
    • Our beautiful house
    • Our health
    • Springtime and what newness of exericse energy it brings
  • Be more spontaneous
    • Last weekend we went to a movie in another part of town and decided to stay at a nearby hotel that had a special going on - just being out of the house was fun (we had planned a night away at a hotel in our city a few years ago and really had fun!)
  • Plan some travel trips that really fuel my passion
    • I'm going to Chicago next week for work and will stay to see a good friend
    • I'm visiting my cousin in FL over Memorial Weekend
    • We booked tickets to northern Spain in June, a place we've been wanting to go to for awhile in conjunction with a wedding in southern Spain
    • We have 2 more wedding trips this summer
    • We have been talking about Vietnam over next winter which has been high on my list for years!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Comforting Pastor's Prayers

I had that moment in church again this week where I felt myself shielding myself from feeling anything. I didn't really even feel like going but we haven't gone in a few weeks since our dog died, and we thought we should go particularly to be there for others going through hard times.

It started when we arrived late and we couldn't sit in our normal place. The only obvious spot was behind my friend's parents who had their grandson with them. The grandmother, who had watched her own daughter (my friend's sister) deal with infertility and then successful pregnancy, thought she knew what I was going through... Last fall, she approached me saying those empty words to me "don't worry, it'll happen, look what happened to my daughter. It has to happen for you too." I know she meant to be helpful but... you know. So, I had to sit behind her.

And then I've been having a hard time lately with the children's sermon. Just seeing all those kids up there. And our church is growing and focusing on little ones right now and I can't figure out how to best process that.

Then, we heard about how a couple in our church was in labor that morning. This is a couple who I had journeyed with because they too had faced infertility and miscarriage. But I've felt hurt as they've gone on to have a pregnancy and have seemed to have forgotten about me. Not once since their pregnancy have they asked how I am...

And then the reading and sermon was about Lazarus and how Jesus resurrected him from the dead... How Jesus can hear our prayers.

I'm just not feeling comforted by it all. I wish I could. I wish I could be one of those people who turns to God for comfort but I've just felt more distant during these hardships...

I left church early, which was too bad because the last song was one of my favorites but I knew I had reached a breaking point and couldn't sit through Great is Th.y Faith.fulness.

My pastor called me later on and offered to pray with me by phone. We talked a bit about how I was feeling and then even though I wasn't feeling it, I allowed her to pray for me, right there on the phone. And... it was amazing. I still don't really remember what she said but I almost immediately felt comforted. She's got such a gift.

And then today, while announcing the couple's new baby (amidst complications that I was very worried about, though the mother is doing fine now), our pastor added this - which I know reflects me:

As we celebrate the arrival of a new baby in our congregation, we also pray for the families in our congregation who long to become parents but have not yet been able to do so. May God hear all of our prayers.

Comforting, huh?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Is it All Worth It?

I keep hearing my mother-in-law's voice in my head from a few weeks ago when she told me that all of this IS worth it. It's so worth it to have that baby, she said to me.

And, it just didn't resonate with me... anymore.

It's been a very painful 3 years. With 3 fertility treatments. With 3 miscarriages. And surgery. And even before the 3rd pregnancy and miscarriage, I began a downward spiral. A spiral so bad that I understood for the first time in my life why people would want to end their lives. Why the day in, day out misery has to end.

I never actually contemplated ending my life, but I understood it better. Better than I ever had. I finally understood how a friend of mine did it to his life years ago.

So, when I look back on the last 3 years, I see losing myself. I see putting my life on hold. I see extreme measures to get something I was having a hard time getting. I see darkness. I see misery. I see gloom.

And I think - that can't be what life is supposed to be like. It just can't be. As my friend, The Infertile Mind, reminds me - I used to be a happy person before all of this.

I just want peace. I want to be happy again. I want to be ME again. I want to find that passion in life again.

And I can only do that if I let go of this want so badly. And letting go of it for me hasn't meant "we'll just see what happens". It's meant "I don't know if I actually want this anymore".

So... no, I don't think it's worth it. Not when I can look ahead and see sunshine and color and my heart singing again. Having children is NOT worth that misery again. I just can't do it. I won't do it.

I've got plenty of people whodo exist that I can love. With my whole heart. I have children in my life that I can influence, that I can spend time with, and that I can support and care about. That may be enough for me. That may be more than enough for me.

I'm also not ready to say this is it, I'm done. Not yet. This journey has been a long one and I know I need to sit with this idea for awhile longer. But right now, right this second, I can say wholeheartedly that it's not worth it. There's more to life than this one thing. There's so much more.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Relating IF to TV and Movies

In the last couple of weeks, I've seen 3 instances in tv and movies where IF/loss were addressed in ways that completely resonated with me:
  1. Gre.y's Ana.tomy. Last week Meredith broke down admitting that she was jealous of Callie's baby shower.
  2. Parent.hood. Julia and her husband have been trying to get pregnant for a few months and the show started out with her negative pregnancy test once again. The show ends with her describing uterine scarring which will likely prevent a pregnancy from happening.
  3. Rab.bit Ho.le. This movie, starring Ni.cole and Aa.ron Eck.hart, is about how they deal with the grief of losing their 4 year old. What got me was the relationship between the wife and her mother. It was so tenuous, with the mother clearly sometimes saying the wrong things (by mistake) and sometimes being helpful. At one point, the mother says 'sometimes I don't know your rules'.
While I don't love that infertility and loss continue to exist, it does make me feel better knowing it's at least getting 'out' there. And while it is still characters playing these roles, it makes me feel like I'm not crazy to have similar thoughts and reactions.

I also like that making these issues more prevalent may help others understand what it's like to go through infertility and loss.

I'm glad to see tv and movies helping us to feel less alone.
And that completely resonated with me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Back to Counseling

I've gone back to counseling. I can't seem to figure out how to best deal with disappointments I have with my family members AND I want to further explore what could be our next step.

Disappointment of Family Members:
  • MIL: I'm terribly upset with my mother-in-law and how insensitive she can be toward me. From going on and on about ultrasound pictures of my sister-in-law to me to not acknowledging my pain and hurt over our dog dying, she just doesn't get how to empathize and be sensitive. The way she is with me when I'm going through something painful makes me feel ignored.
  • My mom: She just sometimes doesn't have a filter. So, while most of the time we can have a fine conversation, I never know what she'll say related to fertility and it can catch me off guard. She also just doesn't know how to listen and really be there for me, which has left me feeling like I just don't have a mom when I need one the most.
  • The rest of my family (dad, brother, sister-in-law and father-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law): They are just utterly SILENT. They don't really ask about how I am and acknowledge how painful this must be.
All of this makes me feel alone (though thank goodness for my husband, best friend, close friend and pastor!). It also  makes me question what family really means. People always say that family is there when you really need them, but I haven't felt that to be so in my case.

Next Steps:

I've been thinking a lot about being childfree and really feel being pulled in this direction. To me, trying to conceive and build our family has been nearly nothing but a painful road for us. It seems natural that after 3 years, fertility treatments, 3 miscarriages and surgery I'd say 'no way' to that anymore.

When I look back at trying to build our family, it's a dark and sad time in my life. When I look toward the future without any of that, I can see rays of sunshine.

I've had to accept and embrace the things are are in my life and stop focusing on what isn't.  In doing that, I've been able to really feel happy about my life and take advantage of what life without children brings to me.

BUT I also know that not being a mother is something I never envisioned for myself. And I know that my husband still wants us to keep trying, so my immediate next step is counseling.  I want to try and see if I can sort out this pain enough to potentially feel like wanting children again or if my husband and I have further discussions ahead on trying to deal now with different wants.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes!