Friday, April 22, 2011

Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge: Pregnancy and Parenthood Resolve Infertility? I Think Not…

*This blog entry is part of a public education campaign through RESOLVE to help celebrate National Infertility Awareness Week, held April 24-30 this year.  The 'Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge' seeks to ask, "What is the biggest infertility myth and how has it effected your life or the life of your friends and family members?" The following is my answer:

Had you attended my baby shower, witnessing my round belly and mile-wide smile, surrounded by blue streamers, or had you been at the hospital when my son was born pink and screaming, I appeared as any expectant or new mother would have.  I talked about nursery patterns and breast pumps and pregnancy symptoms as if it were second nature, as if it were just something that happens for everyone, but I had a secret.  I knew it didn't happen for everyone, and I knew that well.  That belly of mine was hard-won.  After many years of trying to conceive and undergoing fertility treatment, I can thankfully say that my dream of becoming a mother has been realized as I am the parent of a beautiful toddler boy via IVF. Yes, from the outside looking in, my infertility appears fully resolved, doesn't it? I won the prize, my backyard is littered with toys and the family Christmas card is complete with a kid. But, I ask you to look more closely, for the fight for that prize has altered me in ways I will never be able to describe.

Infertility was never an isolated event in my life, I know that now.  It was with me all that time, well beyond the first positive pregnancy test, through my entire pregnancy.  It was with me when I sat shaking before every obstetrician's appointment, wondering if that heartbeat might prove elusive. It was with me contemplating how to return an already assembled crib or how to bring myself to put another needle into my abdomen if my hard-won dream suddenly slipped away again. It was with me as I pretended to complain about morning sickness, but secretly delighted in it, knowing it likely meant he might actually stay. And it is with me today knowing that my son may never have a sibling. 

Infertility is a thief for if you are lucky enough to finally be with child, it is with a trepidation that leaves you at first whispering your good news rather than shouting it from the rooftops as you might have done years before it trampled your heart, leaving the pregnancy journal empty for fear of jinxing your immense fortune.  As I walked around with my full belly, growing with life, I would find isolated moments when I would feel like a fraud, as if I had tricked the general public into thinking that I was like any other.  But I wasn't. And quite frankly, I still don't feel that I am.

You see, infertility taught me to expect the fall because after months and years of tests and doctors visits and hormones and needles and even after all that, "I'm sorry, you're not pregnant", and living in a medical existence as a patient and not just expecting the bottom to fall out, but actually seeing it happen time and time again, infertility has become an echo that has colored everything. 

I know intellectually that being infertile was never a reflection of who I am or what I deserve, but it still shook the core of how I feel about my body, my femininity, myself, beyond conception and pregnancy. When I was overdue with my son and eventually induced, I silently blamed this on my body being 'too stupid' to know what to do. When I struggled to breastfeed and after many, many lactation consultants eventually had to plead defeat and go the way of formula, it felt like another cruel blow made by infertility.  It was the failure of my body to do what should have been innate, what every other woman around me seemed to be doing with ease. And now, after almost a year-and-a-half after my son's birth, our savings have been depleted and I am faced with a small slice of time during which assisted reproduction will work. But because of money, I may not get the chance to add to my family again.  My choices are depleting with every day that passes.  I still resent the control it has over my life. Infertility never seems to leave my doorstep. 

Even participating in something as benign as a Mother's group, I look around and wonder, are you one of us? Have you been in the trenches I know so well? Do any of you know the sting of failure month-after-month? The burn of a one-inch needle in your flesh driven by your husband night-after-night? Do any of you still cringe inside when you hear pregnancy announcements, even after having your own child? My questions are often answered quickly as talk of having a second or a third is passed around haphazardly, and I know that someone even close to my shoes wouldn't discuss it in this way.  I still search for my IF sisters, knowing that at the end of the day, only they will not be driven away by my innermost thoughts, the wounds that still lay open.

But for all the bad it has given me, infertility has matched it with good. I know it seems unlikely with everything I mentioned above, but I have found surprising resources inside myself I otherwise would have never been aware of: resilience, persistence, empathy, sisterhood, gratitude.  A chance to know what I was capable of. A chance to stand beside others and fight.  A chance to experience a feeling beyond grateful, beyond blessed.  Infertility has literally changed the lens of how I see the world, for better, for worse. For both. And well beyond conception and parenthood.  Make no mistake.  Even after claiming my 'prize', infertility is something that will always be a part of who I am, in my heart, in every breath I take, and when I hold my child, no matter how far I 'appear' to walk away from it.

Want to get better educated on infertility?

Learn more about the basics of infertility here.
Learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, April, 24-April 30, 2011 here.


Ordinary Girl said...

Well said. I relate to so much of what you say here and I still struggle with infertility in a real way every day even though I have my beautiful baby girl. It doesn't just go away. It wasn't some isolated event that happened to us. It's so nice to know I'm in the presence of someone who understands. I can't wait to read more. And I hope your husband is on the mend soon.

ICLW #117

Esperanza said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Happy ICLW! (#67)

Claudia said...

Well said! A take-home baby is an extraordinary gift, but it's notthe pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it's not the end of the story. The story goes on. Unfortunately.

Very well said - hope this gets out there and busts some myths!

Anonymous said...

Happy NIAW to you! Thank you for your blog!

lostintranslation said...

Very well said, thank you! Here from ICLW. I'm also parenting after 5 years of TTC and fertility treatments (finally IVF worked) and we are now hoping to add a second child to our family - so back into the IF trenches.

Mrs. Mroch said...

Beautifully put. Thanks for your post.

annie said...

Very well written and so true! Thanks for sharing and Happy ICLW.

Sam said...

Stopping by from ICLW! I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading your post, so well written! While I am still pregnant, I can relate to everything you are saying, from TTC'ing 2 years to getting the elusive BFP. I don't think we ever forget.

Thanks for sharing!

Ludicrous Mama said...

Thank you. It's like reading about my life, only I was never aware that I felt/thought this way. But it's all so true, and exactly how I feel.
Having a child doesn't negate the desire for more, nor does it negate the issues that made the first one so hard.
Luckily my grandma was able to give us money for the first IVF, and our current insurance covers IVF this second time around, so we haven't had to beggar ourselves financially, but I was totally where you're at before we realized the insurance covered it!

Carrie27 said...

Wow! So much of what you described is how I have and still do feel, even with three children. I know my fight was not as tough or challenging as it is for some, but it was still a fight that changed everything.

Thank you for putting into words what I have never been able to do so, so beautifully.

Kelli said...

Thank you for your beautiful post!

Lisa said...

K-Sis, infertility IS a thief. So well put.

I'm sorry that it continues to steal moments from you...and my big hope is that, one day, you and your wonderful DH will have a sibling for Baby G.

Like you, I am happy for a surprising resource that IF has brought me...our sisterhood.

Sending much love~~~here for you.

Krissi McVicker said...

Thank you for this! I have been there definitely, and in some ways I still am there. I have finished completing my family (with a 4 year old and 19 month old twins after 6 IVF cycles) but infertility is really not a closed chapter in my book. It still lingers in many ways. Your post was quite honest and I thought it was really well written.
I now write a blog to help others through their journey and wanted to know if you would like to share your IF success story? I try to post a new story each week to inspire others. Thanks so much in advance! Here's the link for more info:

Anonymous said...

This was perfect. I know, without a doubt, that however and whenever I finally become a mother, this battle has changed me and it will never be something that isn't a part of who I am. Thank you so much for sharing this.


Carmela said...

Hi! Visiting from ICLW. What an incredibly beautiful and well written post! It truly brought me to tears. I feel exactly this way about IF, and I imagine once we do conceive, it will still be with me. You are such an inspiration and an encouragement. I look forward to following your blog.

ICLW #65

Kelly said...

Agreed. For those who get their take home baby, it doesn't erase IF (and, IMHO, it shouldn't).


Tami said...

What a wonderful post! You expressed the feelings of every woman who has experienced infertility - and with incredible beauty. You are a talented writer.

My miracle babies are now 20 and 19, but infertility is still a part of me. While it is no longer a daily thought, it is always in the background, coloring my views on many subjects.

Thank you for being brave enough to share your story and your feelings.

Amy said...

Awesome. Thank you.

astral said...

Excellent post! You put into words what I am also feeling.

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