Monday, October 24, 2005

Have we changed?

What has infertility done to us? My mother told me I have changed. Not in relation to infertility but in general. I attribute a large part of what she said to our battle with infertility... she disagrees (whole other topic). I realized that she just doesn't get it. She never has and she never will and, to be quite honest, I'm glad she doesn't get it. I'm glad my mother has never known (or will ever know) the pain I've been through. We bash fertiles for saying the wrong things to us, for making stupid remarks, etc. Think about it though... do we want them to understand? Truly understand? To truly understand would mean that they would have been through it themselves and I know I would never wish that upon anyone. So, to all of the fertiles that I love and have lashed out against, I'm sorry. I see myself as being a different person now. A little sadder, a little harder. I'm sure it's much deeper than just that but I just can't put it into words. I belong to a club I never thought I would join. Hell, I didn't know it existed. Once you join this club, you are never out. You may have children through luck, ART or adoption but once an infertile, always an infertile. But this club we belong to, look at the people who are part of it... I've met some of the most amazing women through this club. Friends who are going through ART like Cecily with a whopping 334 beta today, to Barb who, I truly believe, is one of my soulmates to my dear friend Liana who has been my voice of reason and an incredible source of strength. Just look at the list on the left side of this page - every single one of these bloggers have touched my heart and my soul. With the exception of a few blogs listed, these blogs deal with adoption, infertility or both. Thank you all for "getting it".

22 comments:

  1. I know I've changed. I thought about it last night while I was laughing with Alex about a joke. I thought to myself this is the first hard belly laugh I have had in a long time. Sad really, I used to laugh like that all the time.

    I'm thankful for the friends I've met because of IF, like you! Take care.

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  2. Julie,

    You make such a good point. For a long time I didn't self-identify as an infertile, even though I read these blogs, but after a series of failed IUIs and IVFs I came to the sad realization that I am infertile. What made it much more bearable was feeling that I was joining this extraordinary group of incredible, honest, supportive, beautifully literate women. I agree with you that I wouldn't want those I love to know what this experience has been like or the sadness of it, but I often wish I could share this amazing community with them.

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  3. Oh for Pete's sake. I'm a fertile, and if there is one thing I do NOT do, it's take it personally or disagree with women who are infertile who lash out. At me or at anybody else. 99% of the time they are dead-on right, and the 1% of the time they are being maybe a little irrational, well who the hell wouldn't be??

    I have Interstitial Cystitis. It's horribly painful and makes me want to die. People, even those like doctors who should know better, can be disgustingly self-absorbed and idiotic about it. And just when I think that it must be me, and that I must be overly-sensitive and that other people aren't actually a huge lowing herd of fuckmunches, I'll talk to someone who doesn't have IC, doesn't know how I'm feeling, and have them say the right thing. The polite thing. The kind and thoughtful thing. They will express sympathy without making me feel like a cripple or an idiot.

    They express it without trying to "get it" or say "I know just what it's like! I had a UTI once". They just express it simply and from the heart. That's when I know the rest of the population really are idiots.

    I think that so many times it's the intention. "Feel better" can be meant and said a thousand different ways, and 999 of them set me right the fuck off. 1 of them can touch my heart deeply and help me feel less alone.

    As a Damned Fertile, I can't tell you how much I appreciate that you don't want me to know what you've known. I can't tell you how sweet it is that you want to give assclowns a pass on shitty behavior, or the inability to understand that someone else may be going through something unfathomably painful.

    On behalf of the Damned Fertiles who get it, I'm sorry that 99% of us that you run into are too self-absorbed to understand that you're feeling and expressing something that you have 100% right to feel and express.

    In other words, if they don't get it, the whole sympathy-without-being-patronizing-thing they should FUCKING TRY HARDER. There really is no excuse and no reason they need to be given a pass.

    Most especially your goddamned mother who is supposed to love you no matter what, and help you through pain rather than judge you for it.

    I'm sorry they don't.

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  4. Thanks for honoring me with a mention here. I don't see myself as a source of anything but neuroses, but I am glad that we've met through the curse of infertility.

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  5. I know I've changed... in many ways for the better. I'm more empathetic. I am more sensitive.i take better care of me. I'm also a little more jaded and bitter, but I'm glad I've changed... Just like I know I'll change when i have a child.
    Change is good. :)

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  6. Thank you for putting it so well. I'm glad we all have each other, it makes the unbearable a bit more tolerable.

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  7. So well said. You're right about not wanting everyone to get it. My mother drives me up a friggin wall with her well meaning but inappropriate comments but then again, she's had 5 children. What the Hell does she know about IF? If she did know from IF, I may not be here. What's more... I don't need everyone to get it. I have all of you.

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  8. Anonymous11:11 AM

    You said it well, I too have changed, not sure how and just like you I really don't want to know how deep. I cherish our "philly group"....they are the people in my life who without a doubt no matter what, understand how I feel and alwasy have a good thing or helpful piece of advise from the heart. I will not let infertility run or ruin my life but it's there and I can't hide from it. Your son will be here soon and so much will change, so much happiness to share to prepare the rest of us for when it's our turn!
    Chrissi

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  9. Yes. I have noticed a little rift between me and the rest of my family, too. It makes me a little angry that they don't and will never get it, but now that you mention it, you are right. I don't want any of them to know what this feels like. It is better to be a little angry with them then to have them suffer like we have suffered. Thanks.

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  10. You are the best and you know I love you!!! We absolutely were meant to meet... our lives were meant to intertwine....fate has taken over with our friendship and our boys!

    Yep - I've changed. And I think for the better. Infertility sucks! I do my best to be sensitive to others - no matter what challenges they face. Nope, I won't always understand, but I won't pretend to understand. I've even come across some insensitive infertiles....ones who IF treatments seemed to "come easy" for. I've met Infertility winners who were upset at the sex of there babies. UGH! It makes me crazy! And I've met fertile myrtles who were actually sensitive...they didn't understand....how could they? But they were sometimes better than some insensitive infertiles.

    A friend once told me, "everyone has a cross to bear". I think of that often. Getting to this point of being so close to having the family that I have dreamed of for so long has been difficult, challenging and absolutely horrific at times. I hope and pray that means I get a "free pass" on some other difficult time down the road.

    Wow...that just all sort of came out. I feel a little better now. :) Thanks for such a great topic!!!

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  11. Oh yea - I have changed. Infertility and loss made me VERY bitter for awhile. Being a year and a half past the last failed cycle I am not quite as bitter - and of course adopting my little Mayan Princess is helping! But I will always be different. I will always hurt. I think it's ok as long as we can keep it check.

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  12. I know I've changed. I'm still changing. It's odd to feel like you've completely lost control over the direction your life takes.

    I'm grateful for the fertiles in my life who, though they may never really get it, try their very best to be supportive and considerate.

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  13. Infertility has changed me drastically, and not for the better. That makes me sad, but, maybe I will yet find some redeeming feature in this suffering.

    I do think that we infertiles are often too hard on "clueless fertiles." I do try to grin and bear it when remarks come from people who mean well and only want to help, as opposed to those who don't care and are deliberately unkind.

    I know I've said many stupid things in my lifetime to someone going through a crisis that I didn't get--so I want to be more forgiving now that the shoe is on the other foot (not that I always succeed, mind you). And I also wouldn't want fertiles to totally understand, not because I don't want them to suffer as I have (sorry Julie, but I'm not as sweet as you are), but more because it would sort of suck the big wad if they got the babies AND incredible sensitivity AND compassion--I mean, why should they get the baby blessings along with all those wonderful character traits too? That's not fair! :-)

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  14. Julie, that was just beautiful. You are such a sweetie. Of course, selfish old me never thought of it that way - I would just mutter "dumb ass" in a semi-audible tone. You are much more gracious. I am definitely not the same person I was almost 2 years ago. And I am glad to be who I am today, I'm just sorry about the path I had to follow to get here.

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  15. Hi. I've been lurking for quite awhile and I just thought I would say something.

    Just to put it in perspective, I'm not a mother. I have no plans in the near future for becoming a mother (although the desire to have a baby is getting increasingly strong - that I can understand). I don't know if I'm a "fertile" or an "infertile" - all I know is that I'm a woman with typical woman desires.

    That being said, I applaud you for your post. I don't think any "infertile" actually wants anyone else to really understand - to really go through it.

    Infertility, like any sort of traumatic event, does change a person. In fact, its probably worse than say, losing a loved one, simply because you've lost a part of yourself that you assumed was there all along. It means you have to figure out, again, who you are.

    That being said, I think (and I said, I think) all the members of "Club Infertile" really want is for those who haven't been through it is to grab a clue and instead of offering the old cliche's (which I won't repeat here)and well-meaning advice, to offer up something along the lines of, "I'm sorry to hear that. I don't know what its like, but if you need me to listen, I'm here." And if they can't do that, then acknowledge it, and grab the clue that for all their well-meaning advice, it actually hurts, just as much, if not more, than the old "Life goes on" at the death of a loved one, for example.

    Tha's my opinion. :) Best of luck in your travels.

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  16. Delurking to thank you for this great post. IF has changed me much more than even acute tragedies in my life, because it's chronic, and just works its way into every crevice of a person over the years. I just feel a lot older and wiser than I once was -- for better and for worse.

    Krissy, you rock -- thank you for that post. I am very sorry about your IC -- strangely, my one presumed fertile friend in real life who has been wonderful to me through IF also has IC. I'll not presume to even imagine I can truly understand, but through her I have gained a tiny measure of awareness about how horrible and debilitating and misunderstood it is.

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  17. Beautiful post Julie. I know that I have certainly changed as a result of IF. Sometimes I'm OK with that and sometimes I'm not. I think one of the biggest losses I suffered is the one of my faith. This was something that was so huge in my life and now I'm not sure it will ever be the same. Its weird how once you find out you are infertile, you always see things through IF glasses. I'm not sure that ever goes away. I'm glad you have people in your life that get it.

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  18. Julie - I could not have said it better.

    I also have had a very hard time with my mother as well as my sister re: my infertility and now even my adoption. They don't seem to get any of it. Oh they 'think' they get it but it's been a struggle to talk with them for the last 3 years. I feel like I've lost my connection with them and I feel kind of alone in that regard.

    I also feel that I have changed so much because of all of this. When I watch my wedding video I just cry because it reminds me of all the hopes we had on that day to have a baby. We started trying that night and looking back we laugh through tears at how naive we were.

    The changes in me are for the better and the worse. I'm a stronger and more sensitive person but I am also more jadded and bitter. My husband and I had to deal with a major life crisis right off the bat in our marriage but luckily it made us stronger rather than tear us apart.

    I'm glad you wrote this post because it really made me reflect on the person I am today. Thank you and I hope Dylan comes home soon!

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  19. Would it be inappropriate for me to say, "Amen, Sister!"??? ha ha ha

    I'm glad most women don't get it - and I hate that so many do, but where would I be without them? Without you? Others who do get it and do understand and are willing to share their journeys so mine is a little easier. Thanks for that.

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  20. Anonymous3:32 PM

    Julie, you are such an amazing person. Thank you for that.

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  21. Anonymous12:50 AM

    Julie,

    Hey again....now I just have to chime in here and tell you that everything you said about infertility, is JUST how it is. And has been. And was. For ME too...bet ya didn't know, huh...Yep, even us singles have faced the same shitty struggle and all the same heartaches and more. Sometimes worse for not having a soul mate to help bear the pain....however....
    Uh, I am a few paces ahead of you in your journey and I will tell you this....Once that baby boy is placed in your arms, your heart will change. It will not make the IF go away, it will not pave over the course of your life thus far and all you have had to endure...but it will place a joy in your soul that you never thought possible. You will love this baby fiercely (in fact, you already do, don't you...?) and in that love, comes a great relief from the suffering. You never quite forget the infertile you, but to the forefront, comes the new "MOMMY You" and you'll see all of life in a different way.

    My best friend reminded me the other day, that had I not faced all the terrible, gut wrenching pain of all the years and YEARS of infertility (which is only colored more by not having the available "product" as most married women do...LOL)....and then scarred by the fact that not only was I infertile, but I was diseased and ALL of my parts now are missing....well, she reminded me where I've been. And she said that I had to go there to get my daughter. I never really thought of her as a 'consolation prize', like some people do when they watch us try and try, and fail and fail, and ultimately move forward with adoption...No one knows unless they are in the club! Yeah, what a crappy club....trust me, we have paid our dues. But, I digress.

    My baby girl came to me and though she didn't cross out the horrors of the infertility, I am in a place now where I know it's real and good and strong, and life is amazing... She is MEANT TO BE MINE and when you see Dylan and you hold him in your arms, and when you kiss his face and smell his hair and bite his little toes...
    Then you'll know.

    So, I've said all this to say....I really could appreciate your post and where you are coming from. Been there, done that. My reply in short would have been
    "Amen, sister, and pass the biscuits!"

    Hugs to you while you wait,
    Jen
    Mommy to the Amazing Addison Grace!

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  22. Julie,

    I have never been in your situation, but reading your blogs and reading the comments from your wonderful support network have really opened my eyes. I knew that IF is a devastating, protracted, long-term struggle, but your blog has brought a personal face to it that I have never been exposed to. So thank you, for that.

    It's ok to be angry at those who just don't "get it". Some people never will, no matter how much you try to explain to them. Heck, I even gave my ex-husband a SCRIPT of things to say and do when I was upset about something (along with the marriage counseling), and he never "got it". He never understood how I felt. That's why we're divorcing. Some people just will never understand. It's not their fault, it's not that they intend to be mean, heartless or unsympathetic, they just don't have the ability to understand.

    I pity them, really.

    It's ok to have the jealous streak of the fertiles who get pregnant without abandon. It's ok to question why you, as a wonderful and loving couple who will give the BEST home a child could ever have, are denied the gift of a bio child. It's ok to feel all of these things, and to be upset at the constant patronizing comments from others who just have to have their noses in your business and offer their unsolicited advice and judgment.

    But at some point, these feelings may take over. They can spread like a poison. They can make you bitter, cynical, angry, sarcastic, and even judgmental. You are a sweet, loving and passionate person. Don't let this horrible tragedy take that away from you forever.

    You will never "get over" not being able to have a biological child. Anyone who says you have to do this is just doesn't get it. You don't get over this, just the same as you don't get over the death of someone close to you. But you can live your life to its fullest, even with the tragedy and grief. And moving on is on your schedule alone, not anyone else's.

    I know it's hard not to be angry, bitter and cynical. But as in any grieving process, the last stage after denial, anger, bargaining and depression is acceptance. Acceptance that the situation is the way it is, it is not fair, but there is nothing you can do to change it. Acceptance that your life will never be exactly what you dreamed of, but that you can still make your dream come true in a different way. Acceptance that you and your husband are good people, and you will give a wonderful life to a child that otherwise would not have that opportunity.

    When you get there, you will know.. because you won't feel you need to be angry anymore.

    The support network you have here is just amazing. The sheer number of people who show such compassion, understanding and love to each other in this difficult situation is staggering to me. You all are wonderful people, all of you. Bless you for caring so much, and for helping each other through this.

    Dylan is a very lucky little boy.. he doesn't know it yet, but he will. You will be the best parents you possibly can be to that little guy. I hope he can come to you soon.


    Hugs,

    -Slinky

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