I like metaphors. And I’ve used many and seen many to describe what infertility is like.
Its a marathon. It’s like being placed on hold. A rollercoaster. A maze. (source) Like being lost in the desert without water. (source) Like trying to get your car fixed without knowing what’s wrong with it. (source) Like a tornado that destroys. (source) Ok, I used more similies there, but you get the point. I’ve said before that infertility changes you as a person. It tests your faith, your marriage and your finances.
3 years is the length of time our journey took us. Over a thousand days. A thousand days of questions without concrete answers. A thousand days of fear and hope mixed together in such a way that was often hurtful rather than helpful.
A fellow blog friend recently wrote a post about those of us who are pregnant after infertility. About the influx of pregnancies in the blogosphere lately (there have been a TON!) and how our blogs change once this happens. Because they do change. They change to reflect the change in our lives, as they should.
Pregnancy after infertility becomes its own journey. While I am always infertile, I’m not currently fighting to get pregnant. But I don’t feel as though I really belong with those who haven’t taken a path like mine – not because I’m trying to separate myself, but because the journey is simply not the same. The entire course looks different. It bothered me at first because I couldn’t figure out which “side” I belonged to. The fact of the matter, though, is that no two marathon courses are the same. No two journeys to build a family will be the same.
I’ve written about fear more times than I can remember. That we would go broke trying, or that it would destroy our marriage. The fear that I would never be a mother. That we would never be parents. Our blogs change from journey to celebration, but with it still comes fear: a fear of loss (and I am sure this is even more so for those who have experienced a prior loss), of complications, of things like an incompetent cervix and premature labor. There is no such thing as a “normal” pregnancy after going through infertility treatments. A physically normal pregnancy sure, but not mentally. Because while we are so grateful to finally be here, we know how long it took, and how there are no guarantees that one pregnancy means another will follow. The kicker is the fact that those still in the trenches would give just about anything to be worrying about a viable pregnancy – because at if you’re worrying about that, you’re pregnant. And that our updates, even with fear laced within them, are a reminder that you are still stuck.
Being stuck sucks.
The paragraph I wrote above about fear that we would never be parents – I originally wrote it in present tense without realizing it. I’m guessing partially because both consciously and unconsciously I know we aren’t out of the woods yet. While writing that paragraph, though, I was back there. I did it because we never forget. We never forget what it’s like. We never forget what we’ve been through, and we never forget about those who are still struggling through it. Infertility and its’ effects are permanently a part of us. It changes us as people, it changes our relationships.
Our future path changes, but we don’t forget the one we took.
November 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm
I hate that the moment you’re pregnant you’re no longer part of the club or you feel like you have to pick a “side” It’s as bad fertile women make infertile women feel. Or my sister in law who always makes me feel like shit because she has 3 kids and I’m just a stepmother. “You dont know you never had your own kids” This sort of divisiveness within this community is exactly what makes me wonder if I am meant to be part of it.
This business of no belly shots because its going to hurt someones feelings and no pee sticks as long as they are positive because no one wants to look at your potential albeit hard earned success.
You’ve articulated this a lot more diplomatically than I would have. But I share a good many of these sentiments and commend your ability to tread so carefully around a such a sore topic in the IF community.
What about someone like me? Who failed before I even really got started? Where the hell do I belong?
November 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm
You belong with us, Jeanette. Past or present struggles with infertility – we all belong together.
November 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm
Im sorry Theresa, I wrote that at a time (last night) when I was really feeling sorry for myself. I apologize for kind of hijacking your post. It was selfish, but unintended.
November 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm
You didn’t hijack at all. No worries!
November 13, 2012 at 12:46 am
This is so true and so well stated. And do you know what? Even once those babies are in your arms, it will still be with you. Infertility will change the way you parent. I know I am a different mom, and even a better mom, because of what I went through to have my daughter. As soon as I gave birth to her, I was filled with fear in a new way — afraid I’d still lose her (to SIDS or something else tragic) and afraid that she might be the only chance I get to be a mom (which has only increased now that we’re trying again). At the same time, though, I don’t take one single moment for granted. I try to never complain after a hard day of tantrums (hers AND mine). Even the late night feedings when I was tired and lonely, I was able to remind myself that it was so much better than the alternative — not having a child at all. Like with most life-changing journeys, the infertility journey is not one that just goes away when it’s over. Pregnancy after infertility is really just a continuation of the journey. It will never leave you, and you will always be a part of this community. You just get to be one of the success stories — something to give the rest of us hope. 🙂
November 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Yeah – I sometimes imagine myself unable to sleep because I’m freaked out the babies will stop breathing in their sleep – and then I remind myself to worry about one thing at a time.
I plan to be one that doesn’t take things for granted and realizes that even in the bad days its better than it was before. A friend of mine who also did two IVF’s before getting pregnant said that everything is easier to deal with [as far as raising her children] after infertility. It makes a lot of sense.
November 13, 2012 at 8:14 am
I am in the same club but I will always be an infertile…the only difference is that I won a battle of finally getting pregnant with the hopes of having a baby to hold
November 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm
November 13, 2012 at 9:23 am
Ahh yes. I’ve been thinking these thoughts a lot lately. Well done. It’s a weird place to be. I had really only just gotten started on the infertility journey, only knowing about our MFI diagnosis for about 8 months before we got lucky on our first IVF.
I know I’m still a part of this community, but there is a subtle shift. I know I have everyone’s support, but it’s probably not easy for people to continue to cheer you on, while they’re still suffering.
I feel almost guilty that it happened so fast for us, when I see other people suffer through round after round. Yet I still know I had a tougher, scarier plight than all of my friends IRL, who know nothing of what it’s like to contemplate never being parents, or what it’s like to stab yourself with needles over and over, going through the most invasive IF treatment available, just for the chance at a baby. And I know it’s not over now, or when we want to have a baby in the future.
Again, it’s a weird place to be. But I am so grateful to be here.
November 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm
I’ve thought similarly – while it took us 3 years, it was only one fresh IVF attempt, and so sometimes I I find myself feeling almost guilty. But then I have to remind myself that is silly – still, I know we were lucky.
November 13, 2012 at 9:36 am
“There is no such thing as a “normal” pregnancy after going through infertility treatments. A physically normal pregnancy sure, but not mentally. ” So true, so what I’ve felt, specially in the early months, and so difficult to understand for those women who haven’t (thankfully) gone through this infertility path.
November 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm
November 13, 2012 at 10:24 am
While I can’t identify with infertility (on the contrary, I felt it was a bit too easy for me…I felt for a few weeks like I was in the shoes of a teenager with an unplanned pregnancy, freaking out, haha), I have had several friends who have been through this journey, and a couple more who will eventually go through it, but they’re just not to “baby-wanting” point yet…..I can say though, that I feel for each one of them- and each one of you- for all you have had to go through, whether you’ve been successful yet or not. I hope I won’t ever be one of those people who makes someone feel bad just b/c they don’t have their “own” children, or they don’t have a “belly shot” to post yet….I think we should all learn to rejoice in one anothers’ victories, and weep with one another when there is failure and the waiting is difficult- whether it be babies, or anything else that we have the opportunity to be envious of (one friend took 5 years to get pregnant, but her husband makes an awful lot of money…you bet I’d love to have some extra money laying around like she does, but she would sometimes rather have a couple more kids by this point!!)…..I commend all of you for your strength in weakness, and for soldiering on. I hope each of you gets a happy ending :-)))
November 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm
I appreciate your comment as someone coming more from the outside. The fact that you are aware and concerned about becoming “one of those people” means you won’t.
November 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm
I have written a few posts related to this topic. I definitely felt isolated at the beginning of this pregnancy, but as the IF blogger pregnancy boom has started to take shape, I feel like I have more blogger friends who understand what I was talking about and how I am feeling. After 3 losses, I feel like I can’t take anything for granted and even at 18 1/2 weeks I still don’t feel safe. I am not sure I ever will. It is nice to know that there are ladies out there who understand how I feel. I still follow all of the same girls I was following before who are still in the trenches, but I have found that it is harder for them to relate to me now. I guess that is just how it goes. Thanks again for this well written post.
November 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm
It is harder to relate, and understandably so, but yes that just seems to be how it goes. I totally get if someone can’t read a post of mine that’s related to pregnancy if they are having a bad day/week/month/whatever – I would just hate to be, well, left out.