Welcome to the September addition of squawk box! I am getting nearer to the bottom of the barrel again for these lovely stories and REALLY want to keep this up and running. Please consider sending me YOUR unique infertility journey or any tid bits you’ve learned along the way! I look so forward to reading them.
Today’s squawk box is awesome but I should definitely mention *trigger warning* for abuse and domestic violence. It is sent in by the spectacular Lindsay Fischer. She is a published author who has spent much of her time covering abuse and recovery… but then she landed the label of infertile.
She has felt a huge shift lately toward opening up about her infertility journey and is starting to advocate on the side. Her newest book- The Two Week Wait Challenge: A sassy girls guide to surviving the TWW is a funny and easily digested book about, exactly what it says, surviving the TWW and the general hell that infertility puts you through. It’s a fast and light read as far as infertility books go! Her post here is more raw but seriously on point. How infertility can make you focus on self care… and that’s a good thing. Have a read…
Old Wounds Heal New Ones
Written by: Lindsay Fischer
Published with the author’s permission.
*on surviving abuse that caused – and helped me heal from – infertility via self-care
Most of us reading this are doing so because we are members of the same unspoken, often stigmatized sorority. We are the luckless ladies who struggle, in one way or another, with conceiving (or keeping a pregnancy). The less fertile Myrtles, the REAL empty-nesters, the heartbroken, hopped up on hormones minority who don’t have the option of making “whoopsie-baby” jokes about our kiddos.
There’s an irony involved in recounting our long-gone days of preventing pregnancy, believing drinking from certain water fountains might result in a babe. Heck, my friend with endometriosis laughed at our last “Help Lindsay cope with a failed IUI” lunch that, had she known getting knocked up would be so hard for her, she might have had a little more fun in her younger years. Hey, if others can make jokes, I think we’re entitled to a little laughter too.
We’re all given the same “just relax” or “you can beat this” pep-talks from those who are privileged enough to have zero clues what we’re actually facing. Infertility a scarlet letter, it’s a trauma, research states is as stressful as a cancer or HIV diagnosis.
…Just take a moment to let that sink in.
This post isn’t about bashing those who don’t have the same complications we do. I’m happy for my friends who conceive without Clomid (or wads of cash for treatment). In fact, there are many parts of me that wish I had what they do, but there are other parts of me certain what I’m facing will help me grow resilient and learn valuable lessons.
I know, no matter what happens at the end of this journey, I will be a better person for it. This lesson? One ingrained in me over the last seven years as I dealt with another trauma that changed the course of my life; a devastating blow, to say the least, I survived domestic violence with a $20 in my pocket, a half a tank of gas, and next to nothing else. Goodbye, dignity and self-worth. Hello, PTSD and financial ruin.
I know, I know. We read so many sad situations on infertility blogs; the unhappiness of those battling baby blues, the absolute devastation of miscarriages, and the hard choices of anyone who decides to quit putting their body through science experiments and take a different brave path toward parenthood (or life without kids). This is why, after detailing with so many of my own moments of weakness as an abuse survivor over the last seven years, it was a no-brainer for me to make the leap into sharing this side of myself when my doctor finally said, “If this IUI doesn’t take, you’re going to need to go straight to IVF.”
At that point I’d done 24 two week waits, with 18 of those being ones I survived knowing infertility terminology. I was temping, I was testing, I was tracking. It was terrible. But it wasn’t as awful as I think it could be, the damage less powerful than that of my 18 months with a sociopath who financially, sexually, physically, emotionally and spiritually stole everything. Mostly, that was because of the work I did while in trauma therapy.
It is because I learned about self-care.
Now, when I am triggered (whether because of DV or my empty womb), I come up with a plan to take care of me before I do anything else. Am I overly exhausted? I’ll nap when I’m done with client work. Did I just get another BFN? I need to remind myself why I’m worthy of love. Is my DH having a hard time understanding why I’m in a funk today? It’s time for an Epson salt bath.
I swear to you, all of you, this is what keeps me sane.
Think about it: we are so focused on this one (albeit huge) aspect of life we lose sight of everything else around us. Some of us don’t want to be intimate with our partners, others don’t want to be around pregnant friends, and we’re sick and tired of having to put on happy faces for other people who can’t comprehend why we’re so grief-stricken. Nothing but baby-making matters in many moments and we sacrifice our own sanity in an effort to build our families.
It’s hard to say sometimes because people generally don’t understand me and this sentiment, but even though I almost lost my life, I’m thankful what I’ve been through has made what I’m going through that much easier to process. I still have to occasionally remind myself I am important and worthy of care, but I have committed to providing that care to myself on a daily basis so I don’t lose my shit every time a well-meaning person tells me “it will happen when it’s time.”
The truth? Focusing only on fertility means the neglected pieces will stick even after you’ve figured out how you can expand your family. They don’t rehabilitate because you’re happy again if they’re already swallowed by muck, so you either dig them out when this journey reaches a new chapter or you keep them out of the bog by embracing the value of self-care as you struggle.
You have seen so much pain and so much unhappiness, and it’s not fair you shouldn’t also see how important you are to the universe. You provide a gift, a love, a joy that nobody else does exactly like you, and when you hide it away or bury it deep, the disservice is to everyone, including yourself.
And it has to stop.
Take care of yourself. Learn to love yourself when you feel unworthy. Take time each day to practice self-care that can help you not only survive today but move forward through each leg of this journey with better coping skills. Read about overcoming obstacles (Brene Brown is magic), explore the world with new eyes, and don’t you dare stop dreaming, sister.
You deserve a piece of comfort in the chaos. Self-care will provide exactly that.