Infertility never goes away

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I have every intention of doing some overtime this afternoon, but I have to write this post first. It's sort of a collection of random thoughts, but they are all connected, I promise....

The last few days, with the "actual" baby preparations getting underway, I have been reflecting alot on our journey here. The journey called infertility and the journey that has shaped me forever. It is impossible to forget it, to "move on" completely. In about 10 weeks, God-willing, there will be baby cries in our house- something we've prayed for for so many years.

A week or so ago, a bloggy buddy posted as she reached 30 weeks, and my first thought was "Wow, she is really far along!!". And then I realized (since I'm only about a half week behind her) that I was also (about) that far along. It doesn't seem possible though- we had all but convinced ourselves we would never get to experience this. How can I already be 30 weeks- wasn't I just praying to make it to my 6-week ultrasound? I am so grateful for every single second of this pregnancy and for our little girl's life; some days, it is hard to comprehend that God finally answered "yes" to our prayers after saying "not yet" for so long (or "no" as I had thought He was saying).

This morning, after we'd chosen a spot to sit in church, my friend who lost her baby at 16w and her family (they have 5 girls) filed into the same row on the other end. It was almost more than I could bear to stay in our seats. How could I sit there, with my baby belly now totally obvious, while her baby left her so many weeks ago? I kept thinking of her on the other end, and praying that my (belly's) presence was not completely ripping her heart to shreds. I don't know how she made it through without completely breaking down- I barely did. My heart just aches for her.

Then on the opposite side of the church was another prolific family, and I swear I think the mom is pregnant again (her youngest is barely 2?). My infertile mind could not be silenced, and if I'm being honest, I definitely thought "Are you freaking kidding me, another baby to that family?" (It's the one where the dad had this to say about his youngest son.) Of course I don't know for sure- maybe it was just the dress she was wearing, but when your mind is tragically and ironically trained to scout out pregnancies before 95% of the population could spot them, you just can't turn it off.

Then there are my friends, especially K (in real life) and all of you readers, who are still battling the infertility monster. K and I always referred to infertility as a train, and we always said that if we had to be on the train, we were glad to be traveling together, but that one of us seriously needed to get off the train to show the other of us that it could be done. Since she has an "issue" (post-ovulation bleeding), and the only thing they could ever find out with me was lackluster hormone levels, there were many times when I was afraid that her bleeding would easily be fixed and she would have three kids easy peasy. Just shows you that you can never anticipate infertility. We ended up conceiving on our own, and she is still bleeding. She has been nothing short of unbelievably supportive to me, as we still talk often. I have to admit that I am not sure I would have been quite as amazing. Sure, I would have tried, but I don't think I could have done any better at being the one still on the train, while she washing diapers and setting up baby swings.

Infertility is weird on friendships. Even those steeped IN infertility. As I just mentioned, K and I are very close "thanks" to infertility, and my pregnancy after infertility has not changed one bit of our friendship. Likewise, I have had several other friendships that were made based on this common struggle, and even as those ladies adopted or became pregnant before I did, we are still very good friends. Even a few non-infertility friendships have managed to remain strong despite those girls becoming moms before me. Of course the super-fertile women who take their fertility/kids for granted are nearly death for infertiles. But what is the weirdest is when friendships based in infertility do not survive a pregnancy. It saddens me greatly when (in my personal experience) an infertile woman cannot cut another infertile woman some slack in the way the latter responds to the former's pregnancy... how can you forget how it felt to know that someone else had been blessed while your arms were still empty?

I hope it is has been completely evident during my pregnancy that having the opportunity to create and carry this baby has been one of the most humbling and amazing times of my life. I do not take anything for granted, and many days, it is hard to believe that the Lord had it in His plan to allow us to "overcome" infertility. I have not forgotten any of you who are still in the trenches; I still weep when you weep, rejoice when you rejoice, and I understand if reading about diapers is the last thing you want to do. A dear friend commented on my reflective post on Friday: "I want to hope but it just hurts too much. I'm so glad that you got your miracle...", and it made me reconsider my post in a new light....

All my "year later" posts this year are infertility success stories of the most obvious kind: after a long battle, we are finally expecting a baby. But what if we hadn't been blessed this year? What if we were celebrating Bert's "gotcha day" without freshly-washed diapers on the changing table or without an infant seat in my office? What if we had continued to eat organically and lead healthy lives and enjoy our dogs and strive to be a fulfilled family of two? Would I still feel like we had overcome infertility- would I still feel like we were an infertility success story?....

What is the most inclusive definition of an infertility success story that you can be comfortable with? Does it have to mean that the couple conceives or adopts a baby? Can someone be an infertility success story without growing their family?

Without wanting to seem like I was the perfect infertility struggler, I would like to think that we were well on our way to being an infertility success story. On December 30, 2010, I wrote about what I thought 2011 might bring:

"I don't really think anything big is going to happen for us in 2011. I think we will continue loving each other and our dogs, paying down our mortgage, reading good books, making wonderful food, and falling asleep at 9:15pm. I think in the eyes of most people, we will be kind of boring. And I think in the eyes of society, we will be less than a family.

But I think 2011 will be a good year. And I'm not trying to be vague just so next year at this time I won't be proven wrong again. I have high hopes for it in every way except for expanding our family."

Despite the fact that I didn't think that our family would expand, we had every intention of living each day the best it could be, and not cowering in the dark scary shadows that infertility can cast. It had taken months after our failed IVF(s) for us to reach this conclusion and commit ourselves to living this way. But we had decided to make a change for the better in how we lived in 2011. And I'd consider that a success, a triumph.

I know this is long, and I hope that none of it has been hurtful or oblivious or lacking compassion. I am so gratefully, humbly, amazingly almost 31 weeks pregnant, but there will never be a day when infertility doesn't touch my life in some way. I may seem like a knocked-out-of-the-park infertility success story, but just because we "overcame" infertility this way doesn't mean that when your family expands, infertility goes away, or that you have to be pregnant or adopt to be a "success" story. I truly believe that just as we are all unique and precious, there is a unique and precious resolution to our infertility battles.

My prayer for all of us today, no matter waiting or pregnant or mothering, is that we can trust God enough to let him show us and wow us with what our infertility resolution will be.

9 comments:

callmemama said...

I posted about a similar topic the other day, but for me adoption has erased almost all of the pain of infertility. Probably not permanently, but a girl can dream, right? I find myself eager to let go of it all and live in the "now", where as before we became parents, I refused to let go of anything. Parenthood was my only focus and I was pretty damn sure I wasn't going to be happy or whole without it. Not necessarily the healthiest of attitudes, but I'm only human after all.
Maybe because of that attitude, most of my friendships didn't really survive infertility...although I would say infertility is the reason I couldn't make new friends more than it ruined my older friendships. It's hard to make friends when everyone your age has two or more kids already :(.
I'm so happy for you and love to see how much can happen in one year!

eggsandsperm.com said...

This is such a lovely post. I constantly wonder what today would be like if I weren't pregnant now, and the thought haunts me. It never, ever really goes away.

Miss Mac said...

Well said. It doesn't go away and I think about it every time I look down at my belly or feel a kick. It does feel like living in a dream... only now I'm selfish because I've fallen in love with this baby already and I want the dream come true! Just want to beat IF and be there to tell others it can happen! So can relate...

Whitney said...

Beautiful post, thank you! I think it is so special that you remember what it was like. I hope that if I ever do get to be a mom, I will remember what it was like to be the one left behind. So many seem to forget.

myjourneythruinfertility said...

what a beautiful post. thank you for sharing!

Melissa said...

Such a heartfelt post; I think I say with on behalf of all IFers that you do not nor did not take this pregnancy forgranted. You welcomed every symptom, every step with open arms. I really like that about you :)

Hooray to 30 weeks!

NLY said...

I think you bring up a great topic. So aften, I only hear "praise God" or "God is a God of Miracles" after a miracle pg has occurred. but what about the miracles for those of us who will never see a pg? Isn't it a miracle that I can simply go on with life? isn't it success that our marriage has survived this? Isn't it a miracle that we can rediscover joy and peace (over and over again) in the midst of our pain? It doesn't occur to people to acknowledge God for those small miracles. I've already been cheated out of having a family, but don't cheat me out of the ability to be the recipient of these small miracles and successes even if it doesn't include a baby. I think it's so important to remember, like you mentioned, that success can have different definitions than just pregnancy. I know I need to remind myself of this all the time.

the misfit said...

Beautifully said. For the record, if I get any advantages from still being a childless infertile, I may have some cred here - and I don't think that you've ever been insensitive. I think you've been honest and open about the meaning of your pregnancy after infertility (to you), and it seems to me you've handled in a way that's totally authentic to who you are. Though I have much work to do on being generous toward those who have "crossed over," I do understand that for many, the pain they suffered is something they remember as very ugly, and would like to forget as quickly and thoroughly as possible; and so they lose themselves in the frivolity of diapers and nurseries, and do not acknowledge the deeper changes that accompany those lighter things. If I may be so bold, I would say that it seems to me that those who have been really "authentic" in becoming parents, acknowledging the bad with the good, bearing the burdens of those who are still waiting, not trying to forget or deny the experiences of their erstwhile comrades or deny their own past experiences, and embracing healing not as an instant change with pregnancy but as a long and serious process, which may not finish in this lifetime - well, I think those are people who accepted infertility with a spiritual dimension while they were still childless. It seems to me that those who owned the fact that they were suffering, who accepted that God's will might not be what they had originally expected, and who didn't turn away from their faith with that knowledge, but sought to understand a God who might will such a thing for them, have made the transition smoothly, rather than with a jarring change of personality. I'm not claiming I'm among those who were so wise, but I guess I have the mixed blessing of being aware of what I've not accomplished. And it seems to me that you've done an admirable job - a real IF success story, before pregnancy and after. I hope to be one one day myself :).

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