Friday, March 28, 2014

What I need you to know about infertility: Part 1

Dear loved one, I know you want to be helpful and infertility is hard to understand. If you can forgive my sometimes cynical tone, I think you'll find this helpful. 




1) I am as relaxed as I can possibly be. Infertility is a full-time job all it's own. I miss work at least 4 times a month for last minute appointments that are based on my dysfunctional body's cues. I am using nearly my entire salary to pay for medications that my Cadillac Insurance plan (read super expensive) doesn't cover (while they quite happily pay for abortions and birth control). I don't have the option to "not think about" my infertility because I have to constantly monitor my body for "signs" to determine when to take a given medication and to write up charts for my doctors to read at the end of the month (When I skip this step because I just can't bear to focus that much on infertility the doctors refuse to adjust my treatment plan without that information). I've had to leave work in the middle of the day on more than one occasion because my doctor's office called and said I needed to give myself a shot an hour ago.

When you tell me to relax you imply that my infertility is somehow my own doing. Telling me to relax only stresses me out more. I am already spending more than I can afford to "relax." I have a detailed self-care plan developed with the help of a mental health professional. Your advice to relax makes me question myself more. It makes me bewildered and frustrated that the extensive steps I've already taken to "relax" apparently aren't working. It highlights another thing I'm not doing right.

If you think I need to relax then help me relax. Send me a gift card for a massage. Call me and ask me to go for a walk. Take me to get my nails done. Pray with me. Make us dinner. Better yet take me to a comedy club. I could use a good laugh. Whatever you do, don't tell me to relax. I'm doing the best I can given very un-relaxing circumstances.

2) I need to talk. Infertility is so isolating. People don't want to ask about it because they don't know how to handle the answer. They don't want to "pry." Please don't avoid asking me how I'm doing because you're afraid I'm not doing well. If I'm not doing well that's even more of a reason I need to talk. Talking helps me process things. It helps me connect with you. I don't expect you to have the answers. In fact, I really don't want you to try to give me answers. There are none. Infertility isn't fair. There's no good reason I've been dealt this hand. Infertility is now a part of who I am and I need to be able to share that with you. I need to give voice to my pain. Being able to share my story reminds me that people do care. It reminds me that even though I may feel a crushing sense of sorrow and isolation that I am still alive. That other people want to know me. That I am worth knowing. That I am worth something. That I am still bearable to be with.

When you don't ask- no matter how I try to rationalize it- I'm left feeling like you don't care. Oh and if you really don't care, then don't ask. I'll know by the way you listen or don't. 


3) I am in a constant state of limbo. I had an awful headache the other night. I knew an Ibuprofen would help but I couldn't take an Ibuprofen because Ibuprofen can inhibit ovulation. Well, I never ovulate anyway so I might as well just fix my headache, right? Well, no because what if this is the month where all the expensive medication is finally going to work and I mess it up because I took an Ibuprofen?

I am tempted to throw myself totally into my career. It seems like a good way to distract myself from the pain of my shattered dreams for my family and future. If I can't have the life I dreamed, at least I can accomplish other great things in the world. Right? Well, if I accept the career building opportunities that come my way then I won't be able to miss all the work I normally miss. I won't be able to attend all the doctor's appointments and ultrasounds. I won't be able to scurry off in the middle of the day because I forgot the injection I need right now. 

If I accept all those career building opportunities, I'll be taking time away from relaxing which I'm told is pretty important (see #1). So go for balance you say? Well, that's what I'm doing. But balance leaves me feeling pretty mediocre. My body has failed me and I want to feel like I'm worth something. Career success seems like a healthy enough Plan B, but I don't want to sacrifice my dream for a family for my career. So I don't. But then again there's no guarantee that all this balance will result in the family I so desperately long for. How will I know when to give up on balance and focus more fully on my career? How will I know when I have no other choice than to make my career my consolation prize?

I can't go all in. I'm constantly hovering above two worlds- one I'd quite happily leave in an instant if I could but as things stand, it offers my only chance at feeling somewhat competent and worthwhile- the other I desperately long for but can do little more to attain. I stay- an unwilling visitor- in the first world- not knowing if I should make my home here or not. All the while, my efforts to earn my place in the second world take away from my worth in the first.


16 comments:

  1. The state of limbo!!! You couldn't have said it better. Should I take the advil? It's a week before "ovulation" so it should be OK....but what if? Is that a hoax anyway? Should I drink this cup of coffee or am I damning my fertility by enjoying one cup a day? Can I eat cheese anymore? Should I go all in at work and get really into various projects only to have less freedom to TTC?OH THE LIMBO!!! When dealing with IF, nothing is the right thing, or so it seems. There is contradicting advice for nearly every choice you can make in day to day living and enough to drive a sane girl mad!

    Thank you for writing this.

    I hope this letter is healing for you. To be able to get your honest emotions and thoughts out on "paper."

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    1. Yes! You so get it! The list is endless! We have to constantly question every choice we’re making- way dietary recommendations against the recommendations to lower stress (and boy to extreme diet changes cause stress)! Even having a cup of coffee becomes a major dilemma! Your post was really what inspired me to write this so thank you. I think it has been healing already just to clarify my needs to myself.

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  2. I can completely relate to this. No one knows the "right thing" to say, because there is no "right thing." Just knowing that someone is thinking about you and praying for you is enough. I am doing both, right now! xo

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  3. You made laugh out loud at #1! "Don't I look relaxed?!?!" ha ha ha. You're so, so right - it's next to impossible to not be bothered, stressed, un-relaxed by all the demands IF places on your body, time, heart, work, relationships, etc. I love the advice of "help me relax." The other two points are great too. I'm always so grateful for friends that let me just talk. I have a few who aren't afraid to ask "how are you?" are listen to the truth (which is not "oh, fine"). Such a blessing.

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    1. Glad I could make you laugh:-). The advice to "help me relax" was something I got from Amanda. She mentioned it in one her posts and it just hit me, "duh!" Why aren't people doing this? Yes, friends that really listen are such a blessing!

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  4. Yes, yes, and yes! All three!! You've captured everything so well here. I'm really looking forward to reading Part 2 (and so on).

    I especially identified with this line -- "How will I know when I have no other choice than to make my career my consolation prize?" One of the hardest parts of this is that state of limbo. Who knows what'll happen one cycle, or even one year from now. It could completely change everything. Or everything could remain completely the same. I really thought last year on mothers' day that I'd be a mother by the next mothers' day. Well, that's not seeming very likely. How many more mothers' days must I live through before I'm finally blessed and finally out of limbo? And that's another reason why it's so hard to see other folks our age with kids... they probably didn't have to wait around for years for their dreams to come true. It just happened. And they never had to know what limbo was like. Hard stuff.

    Thanks for a great reflection!

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    1. Thanks, Stephanie! Ugghhh, yes the Mother's Day thing. I hear you. You're right most people don't experience "limbo" and they often take so much for granted...

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  5. Thanks for writing this! As someone that is not going through infertility, this is really helpful to me as well, and I hope will help me think about some of the practical aspects of infertility that don't always occur to me and hopefully help me to be more sensitive to those in my life dealing with that!

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    1. I'm glad it is helpful. That is really good to hear!

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  6. Oh goodness, if I had a nickel for the number of times I didn't take an advil or whatever when I had a migraine, because it could mess things up... I'd be rich. :)

    Why is it that relaxing is the number one suggestion? I think I finally asked someone who gave me that comment if they would say the same thing to someone with cancer. IF is a medical problem. Relaxing will never take it away.

    Praying for you!!

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    1. Seriously not being able to take an advil for fear of altering your entire life course? Talk about pressure! I'm sorry you know the feeling too.

      Good for you for calling someone out! I have been shocked by the level of ignorance about how to be kind/respectful to people facing this struggle.

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  7. Such a good point about infertility being a full-time job! Most of the time, I feel like it is my job... though that also emphasizes that it's a high-stakes gamble. If at the end of all this, we still haven't succeeded how will that affect my career options? What would I end up doing with myself? I have no answers to those questions; much as I am a plan ahead type, I think that's a bridge we will have to cross when we get there.

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    1. Yes, we'll cross that bridge when we get there but ughhh to not have the slightest clue when we will get there... this could go on for easily ten more years... I know you've taken a little bit of a different route- staying home. How has that been for you? I know you said you had some success right after you left your super stressful job. Do you feel confident in your decision to be home right now?

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  8. "I can't go all in." I'm not sure truer words have ever been said. I've often described it as sitting on a fence between two roads, trying to balance on top of it until I know for sure which is really mine.
    It is impossible to describe the tension between the life we have and the life we want.

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  9. Your post took me right back to my mindset when I was in the thick of IF and all the treatments. Well said. It's such a hard road. I will pray for you, Infertile in Minnesota!

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