#startasking National Infertility Awareness Week

28 Apr

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This week is Resolve.org’s National Infertility Awareness Week.  You can read more about Resolve, their advocacy efforts, and infertility here.  It’s a great site with tons of resources for both couples suffering through IF and also friends and family members looking for advice and ways to help their loved ones cope (or just get a better idea of what IF means).

We have been on this roller coaster for 6ish very long years.  I have blogged for #NIAW every year that I’ve kept this blog.  Every. Year. This fact alone makes me sad.

2015

2014

2013

It’s hard when it’s been so long not to be angry, disgruntled or depressed or any other negative emotion you can think of.  I stopped blogging publicly about our issues after what I felt were judgmental comments were made to me and to us.  Maybe I shouldn’t write about all of this.  Maybe I should only write about the good stuff that happens–there’s certainly enough of it to fill up an entire blog.  Because even for all the grief of infertility, my life is full of beautiful moments.

 

But I’d be lying if I said our struggles with IF haven’t shaped me, haven’t made me sad (even depressed at times)–and not writing about those things–ONLY writing about the happy things–would make this blog a sham.  Just another “look at my perfect life” bullshit story like so many blogs are.  And that’s not true.  No one’s life is perfect and I refuse to be fake on here.  As we have delved deeper and deeper into treatment, the more things that just flat out don’t work (my body responds to pretty much nothing), the more that we have started to come to terms with the reality that we may never become bio parents, and we’ve started to work through what other options exist and which of them would fit best for us.

 

All that being said, I try to regularly practice gratitude because, like I’ve said, my life is actually awesome most of the time.  So this year, for NIAW week, I’d like to #startasking what good has come of our battle with fertility.

  1.  We can easily do what we want.  I’ll start there because it’s a favorite thing for ignorant/tactless parents to point out in an attempt to “make us feel better” about IF.  (FWIW, you shouldn’t say this to anyone with IF.  It’s super lame that I’d even have to point that out.)  We are aware that life without kids is very different than life with kids.  We are also aware of the changes that would be made and the sacrifices that come with being a parent–sleep being a major one.  So while there are no kids in the picture, we live it up.  We book a spur-of-the-moment trip to Ireland.  We go canoe-camping.  We ditch dinner plans and end up at Windjammers at 7 on a weeknight for dinner and drinks. We run whatever races we want and we train however we want because there are no little humans depending on us.  And it’s nice.  Along those same lines, we have extra money/space.  Well…to be fair…fertility treatments are not cheap.  Even when covered partially by insurance, which luckily is the case for us.  Many people, though, pay entirely out of pocket.  But we don’t have to buy clothes and shoes for kids who are constantly outgrowing them (little weeds that they are), foot the bill for extracurriculars, or find room for more “things.”  And that’s also nice.  Basically we don’t have any of the “inconveniences” (as some parents like to make them out to be) of having children.
  2. I have learned to let go a little bit more.  I like control.  I like planning.  I like researching and knowing what’s coming and not being surprised.  But with fertility treatments, there is no “for sure.” At least, not for us.  My body has responded differently to every round of medication we’ve done, even when it’s been the same medication and same dosage.  There has not been one cycle that’s been the same or even similar.  When meds should take 7 days, they often takes 20+ with me…but the numbers are all over the place, so the only guarantee is that we will do meds longer than “normal” people do.  Getting phone calls the day after blood work and hearing “come in now” completely disrupts any and all plans that we may have made for that day.  And I hate it.  But I’m learning to let go and just roll with it.
  3. I have learned that I have someone in my corner.  Always.  Even when it’s really shitty to be in my corner.  Those marriage vows are for real, yo.  Through awkward doctor appointments (where he makes jokes or holds my hand depending on what I need), through tear filled nights, through complete melt downs about life and how unfair it is.  Eric is there every step of the way.  Also he is good at giving me shots…except the first night, when he stabbed me with the needle…but I digress…
  4. Babies are lucky.  When you start looking at statistics for how many cycles (both medicated and unmedicated, for infertility patients and “normal” women) end in live births, the numbers are shockingly low.  The fact that we are surviving as a species is astounding to me.  The things that need to be in place for a baby to be brought to term…well…I’d say a huge amount of luck is involved in baby-making.
  5. I am stronger than I thought.  I don’t care what they say–catheters through your cervix hurt.  The HSG test that I had was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.  Nightly shots for weeks on end, blood draws ad nauseum (one of the girls at the lab was like, “how much longer are they going to make us torture you?”), and dealing with the disappointment of negative test after negative test…those tests have all made me stronger mentally.  Maybe not when it comes to dealing with all of the IF crap, but certainly when it comes to dealing with the other not-so-nice things I may have to deal with in life.
  6. I am still weak.  Enough said.  I appreciate the people in my life who are there for me when I’m at my weakest.  The ones who can see how tired, scared, depressed I am, and love me through those moments instead of expecting me to “get over it” or “put on a happy face.”  The ones who ask me how I am or what they can do.
  7. We aren’t here to fix each other.  There are things in life that can’t be fixed by friends.  All we can do is be there for each other, listen to one another.  No judging, no “well at least you…” Just pure empathy.  Here’s a seriously amazing video about that.  I mean seriously.  If nothing else, watch this.
  8.  Empathy (coupled with a shared struggle) has led to true connections with amazing people.  People I had no idea couldn’t get pregnant, struggled to get pregnant, are still struggling to get pregnant.  It’s like a little sisterhood.  Granted no one actually wants to be a part of it, but man…the women I know going through this shit are some of the most supportive, most loving ones I’ve ever met, and I would never have known them if I weren’t a part of this group.
  9.  That being said, empathy comes from many people, not just those who literally have been through or are going through the same things you are.  Some of our “fertile friends” have also been the greatest.  From being gentle with their pregnancy announcements to giving us our space to understanding why we might say no to a kids’ party (but inviting us anyway) to asking a simple “how are you?”  I have no idea how to navigate all the feels that come with wanting a baby, not being able to have a baby, then watching other people get/have what you want…especially from an up-close view of being good friends.  I’m sure our friends with kids don’t know how to navigate their feelings about being happy for their kids and still trying to be tactful of our feelings.  But I’m glad that we have friends with kids who are willing to try to learn how to maintain those friendships, to feel the feels with us instead of judging us for the feels we experience.
  10. Life goes on.  I never imagined I’d be here.  I thought I’d have a mess of a kids by now.  But then I also never imagined I’d have an awesome dog, go on super sweet camping trips, run 50 mile races…  Life may not work out as I’d planned, but it does keep going and things do seem to work out.  I have no idea what will happen as far as babies go.  But I DO know that regardless we will have adventures for years to come.

 

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