Today is a Squawk Box day! Yippee! I love squawk box days. They remind me why I keep this blog going. They remind me that we all need a place to vent our stories out and that we also need a place where others can come read these stories and feel bolstered. I am still going to keep posting these awesome reader contributions until I no longer receive any! So if you’ve any stories you feel like sharing with the rest of the infertility community you know what to do…
Send them here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s story comes from Kristie. Kristie is a reader and has been wonderfully supportive of me in my journey. I like to think that if we knew each other IRL we would get along famously and be friends. Her story, and this peice, shows you all her supportive spirit and will hopefully send some strength and love down the interwebs. May it find you when you need it.
The image I have chosen today is of a large tree with its root system exposed. We all need to develop a strong support network on this journey and I hope that Squawk Box, this article, and this blog are a helpful part of your system. You are all a part of mine!
The Other Side
Written By: Kristie
Published with the author’s permission.
I am writing this from “The Other Side.” After 6 failed IVFs, one early miscarriage, plus one successful (but VERY stressful) adoption later, I am officially a Mom.
They say “getting old isn’t for the faint of heart?” Screw getting old. Bring on the Metamucil, cuz I’ll be the oldest Mom on the block! And to that I say: “Who the F cares?!”
Just don’t EVER make me relive being (fairly) young and infertile.
We started trying when I was 34. I never just “wanted” to be married. I was a Seinfeldian disaster. Nobody fit the bill until I met my perfectly flawed hubby, who was perfect for me (…which isn’t to say that we always get along; that’s the definition of “delusion,” not “marriage”…). But I knew that, someday, I wanted children who were half me and half him, which I thought would be the coolest thing in the world.
I can surmise that we *should* have started trying for a family earlier, but … blah blah blah … it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I never did receive a satisfying answer to why I couldn’t conceive, though there were numerous complicating factors: I had “diminished ovarian reserve” (for which I started sobbing right in front of my poor, unsuspecting Dr – though really, how could he NOT be expecting that?!), endometriosis, and hypothyroidism.
Anyway, here are some things I learned on my own personal journey through infertility hell that I hope will help you:
1. Be your own medical advocate, because no one else will. Ask questions. Don’t be satisfied with cursory medical responses. I knew I had a thyroid imbalance, though it wasn’t until my levels shot way up above the “old normal” standard (which *I* had to inform my Dr. had changed) AND I lost my one and only (albeit “low beta”) pregnancy, that my Dr. finally agreed to put me on medication. Also, switch Dr’s if you’re not totally happy. You need to be your own advocate, always.
2. Talk to your family about your medical history. Only after my early m/c did my Mother think to say “Oh, I thought you knew hypothyroidism runs in our family.” Nope, no, how would I know that UNLESS YOU TELL ME (and btw, WTF, Mom?!!!)
3. You and your spouse are likely to process emotions regarding infertility, and the ups and downs of treatment VERY VERY differently. Be prepared. It sucks. You may feel very very alone, and rest assured, he (or she) will also feel very very alone. It’s hard to deal with immense grief on your own, but even harder to coordinate your grief and yet try to be supportive of someone else in their grief. Our biggest fight was over whether we should have a plan established for our “next step” in case a current round of IVF failed (my preference and my need), or whether we would just “wait and see” what happened first (what? that’s not a fucking plan! we need a backup, here!).
4. Feel what you need to, when you need to. Don’t feel guilty. Yes, there are starving kids in India. Yes, people through history have had lives much harder than yours. But guess what? Fucking BILLIONS of people can (and have) had kids, and you CAN’T. That is some really shitty karma right there, my friend. The fucking UNIVERSE is off on this one. And that REALLY REALLY DOES SUCK ON A COSMIC LEVEL!!!!
5. Avoidance IS the best policy. It’s a survival tactic. Baby showers, babied friends, anything baby. Close friends will understand and, though sad, some friendships will change. Be prepared. Also, don’t let anyone get away with those pat little sayings like “oh, you just need to relax, it’ll happen” or “I bet if you adopt, you’ll get pregnant!” or (my personal favorite) “oh you are SO lucky you’re NOT pregnant, it is SO uncomfortable!” Tell those people, nicely but firmly: “I know you’re only trying to be helpful, and that you can’t understand what this is like as you’re not in my shoes, so that’s why I feel the need to tell you that what you’re saying is actually very UNHELPFUL. I would give my left eye – my LEFT FUCKING EYE – to have the ‘unpleasant’ experience of being pregnant. So next time, please just say that you’re sorry, and that you’re thinking about me….” I did this, just once. And it was the only time an unwittingly insensitive comment DIDN’T make me cry.
6. Join an online chat group or find a therapist who specializes in infertility. I lived on TCOYF.com. Thank you, Ladies. I am still (mostly) sane, because of you. 🙂
7. Other than that, I have no advice. And neither does anyone else! Everyone has their own journey and has to figure out their own path through this ridiculous morass. My path involved a horrible unending depression, my “Dark Days.” I would force myself to act normal every day for my high-powered job as an environmental attorney, only to sob uncontrollably in my car on my way home each night. I did this for YEARS. And that took a very heavy toll on me. I have permanent bags under my eyes now, as a result, which PISSES ME OFF EVEN MORE! Add insult to injury …
At some point, though, and despite “ever-promising results” with egg quality through each successive round of IVF (and that one stupid goddamn “positive” on our 5th round, which made us keep going…) we had to quit. We were totally in debt, utterly exhausted, and beyond emotionally spent.
The change happened suddenly for me. Lightning fast. I woke up one morning and flipped the switch. THWAP! Just like that, I was DONE. No more IVF. No more hope of having a child who was part me and part my perfectly-flawed hubby. That was an ideal I had been unable to let go of, but suddenly it was gone. As if I’d hosted the funeral and buried the child I couldn’t *naturally* have, forever. Poof!
I was ecstatic. Giddy. I suddenly knew there was some little kid out there who was meant to be ours. (Though, had someone told me this BEFORE I’d gotten to this place on my own, I would have wanted to rip their eyes out…..because nobody can tell you what you’re ready for, or when you’re read for it, ever!).
I won’t gush much about my daughter. Adoption can be equally stressful and difficult in relation to trying to conceive through infertility – and it WAS stressful for us. But it was also meant to be for us. She *is* our daughter. MY daughter. So much so that I forget – literally forget (!) – that I didn’t give birth to her. Having my husband, who’d initially been hesitant to tackle adoption, thank me later and say he couldn’t imagine life without her, was simply amazing too. In the end I feel it was all worth it. Although its hard as hell to keep going and finding the next step.
So, from the other side, cheers and you’ve got this!