Sunday, October 31, 2010

How does it feel to be infertile?

I've never been asked by a fertile person how it feels to be infertile.  No infertile person has ever had to ask how it feels.  However, I have often found myself wondering if I could explain to a fertile person how infertility feels.

It's so abstract.  I won't die from this disease.  I've not lost any limbs.  I don't have any visible scars.  In my own case I've not lost anything tangible really.  I've lost clusters of cells, even my one miscarriage was a blighted ovum; a non baby.

The only way I can describe how being infertile feels is to equate it to what I imagine it would be like to love a child...

Infertility feels like loving a child...but the exact opposite.

I imagine that when a child is born the parents feel overwhelming feelings of joy, pride, happiness, and love.  I'm sure it is indescribable.  I'm sure it is emotionally debilitating, makes you reevaluate your life, makes you change your life for the better.

Infertility has made me feel that way too...but the exact opposite.

I imagine that when you are a parent the love you have for your child permeates your life in all sorts of little ways.  I'm sure that sometimes that love catches you off guard in little moments.  You remember your love when you see a picture, hear a comment, or smell a scent.  I imagine that love for a child is like a pleasant whisper throughout the day.

Infertility has made me feel that way too...but the exact opposite.

I'm sure that everyday as a parent is not good.  Just as everyday without children is not bad.

However, if a fertile person ever thinks to ask me how it feels to be infertile; if a fertile person ever wants to understand; I would tell them to think of all the intense love they have for their child, all the little ways that being a parent makes them happy.  I imagine the intensity of feeling is the same.

But where they have love I have bitterness.
But where they have hope I have despair.
But where they have peace I have heartbreak.

And just as a parent will always be a parent.  I will always be infertile.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Innocence of When

Saturday I was shopping at Pottery Barn.  As the cashier rang up my overpriced candles a young girl came to the counter, gift card in hand.  She asked the cashier, "Can you see if there is a balance on this?  I got it for my wedding and I can't remember if I spent it."  The cashier checked and told her that she had $100 balance.  "Can you use this card at Pottery Barn Kids too?  It doesn't expire, right?" she asked.  The cashier affirmed that she could and it wouldn't. 

At this point the young girl turned to her friend and said, "I think I'll just wait and use this when I get pregnant."

I bristled inside.  "When I get pregnant.... When I get pregnant...  When I get pregnant..."  The words rang in my ears all day.  Part of me wanted to tell her, "Yeah right.  It might not be that easy."  But another part of me realized that for her it probably would be that easy.  "When I get pregnant" is the world that most people live in.   Most people can save their Pottery Barn gift cards received as wedding gifts and use them at Pottery Barn Kids a few years later. 

I remember living in the world of "when".  In that world I saved money for nursery furniture.  In that world I prepared monthly budgets that included daycare, diapers, and formula.  In that world I picked out baby names and worried about how I would feel when Tony was home with the baby on summer break while I went to work.  I clung to "when" for a long time.  Even after starting IVF I still spoke in "when" terms as if the force of my will could get me pregnant.

Eventually "when" slipped away and became "if".  I couldn't plan a vacation that I might not enjoy if I got pregnant.  I couldn't buy adult furniture for the "nursery" because where would I put it if I got pregnant?  Changing from "when" to "if" was incredibly painful.  Hope was slipping away.

Thinking of this yesterday made me wonder where I am today.  I am a long way from "when" obviously.  If "when" were a location on Earth it would be midnight there when it is noon here.  But I also realized that I am moving away from "if" as well.  I don't plan for "if I get pregnant" anymore.  This is a good thing.  I'm living my life.  This is also a sad thing. 

And I'm not quite sure what it means.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Joneses

If you have curly hair, you want straight hair.  If you have straight hair (all together now) you want curly hair.  I happen to have naturally curly hair.  Sometimes I want straight hair, but mostly I am OK with my curls.

My mother is an incredibly jealous person.  She is focused on what others have that she does not have.  She is constantly questioning what people had to do to get what they have and always condemning people for getting more.  Don't they have enough?!?!?!  In ways this has jealousy ruined my mother's life.  It impacted my life as well.  Growing up, sometimes I wasn't allowed to invite friends to the house if their house was nicer than ours. 

I really try to control jealousy in my own life.  My philosophy is that everyone's life has happiness and sadness.  Some people might hide the sadness and all you see is the happiness, but it is still there. 

Infertility really tests this theory of mine, but even when a friend of mine's first IVF worked while my third IVF failed I could recognize that her life was not perfect.  She had a successful pregnancy.  She also had a husband with a lot of baggage (including troubled children) from a previous marriage.  She had a town house that was underwater and she could not sell.  She had a pink slip from her job and no prospects for a new job in this economy.  Yes, her IVF was successful, but I wasn't volunteering to trade places with her.

When I posted that I was becoming a workaholic I didn't tell the whole story.  At the time I was up for a promotion; an amazing promotion to a role for which I am unqualified, too young, too inexperienced, and for which there were many other more experienced candidates. 

I got it.

I received many heartfelt congratulations from colleagues, but I could see the jealousy in some people's eyes.  I could see the questioning.  "Why is she in that job?  Why does she get all the breaks?  Why? Why? Why?"  I understand their questioning.  I have had some amazing career opportunites.  I have been lucky to be at the right place at the right time. 

I wanted to answer the unasked questions I saw in their eyes.  I felt like saying, "Thanks for the congratulations.  I'm not as lucky as you think.  I can't have children.  If I could have children I probably wouldn't have even applied for this job.  I would give up this promotion in a second if I could go back and have a successful IVF.  Don't envy me."

I definately have my moments when I wonder why.  Why did I have to lose my father just when our relationship was starting to mature and bloom?  Why did I have to move in junior high; the worst time for a girl to move and change schools?  Why did I have to pay for my own first car, my own college education, my own wedding?  And why oh why have I been afflicted with this fucking disease called infertility???

My life has sadness.  I also have blessings.  We all do.  We just have to recognize them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Ovary Monologues

No one has ever really asked me where I came up with the name of this blog.  It's not my name.  I didn't make it up.  Early in my career as an infertile there was one particular nurse who would show me to the exam room and say, "You know the drill; bottoms off and on the table."  It stuck with me.  She was so nonchalant about the whole thing; the whole thing being showing your vagina to a stranger.  Of course eventually taking my pants off because the normal course of business.  I almost absentmindedly disrobed at the dentist office once.

If I had to rename my blog today I would call it "The Ovary Monologues."  Of course when this blog started I didn't know that my ovaries would cause so much trouble.  I didn't think of my ovaries much at all.  In sixth grade I learned about them in a sex education class.  Over the years I didn't think of them much after that.  I thought about my uterus when I had cramps or when I imagined a baby inside.  I thought about my vagina (no comments there).  My ovaries were ignored.  Totally neglected.  Abandoned.  Overlooked.  A non thought.

I remember the first time I saw them.  They were bountiful and luscious and full of follicles.  I was so proud.  Then I found out they were too bountiful, too luscious, and my cycle was cancelled.  I was disappointed, but still proud. 

Shortly there after everything changed.  My ovaries failed me.  They failed to produce the proper quantity of follicles.  They failed to produce the proper quality of eggs. 




It was a total blindside.  These little thought of organs suddenly took center stage.  They were ruining my life. 

I haven't seen my ovaries for months now.  I'm making peace with them.  They just couldn't do what I wanted them to do.  That's just the way it is. 
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