Monday, March 3, 2014

Infertility in the present tense?

In so many ways my life is complete now that Ms. Magpie is here. And I feel like for the most part I strike a pretty good balance juggling the past and the present, acknowledging the sad times and uncertainty, the grief leading up to our daughter's arrival, but not dwelling there. And also relishing the gratitude and feeling of wonder that she has now arrived so fully - plunk - right into the center of our lives. Generally, my reproductive history feels similar to other non-striking aspects of my personal stats: I have freckles, I'm right-handed, I am pear-shaped, I wear glasses, I struggled with infertility and loss.

But sometimes infertility rears its head up again and proves that while dormant, the pain associated with our history hasn't entirely gone away.

This weekend was one of those times. One of my neighbors who has a child Magpie's age and I were talking and she let me know that she is expecting her second child. Makes sense, Magpie and friend are 16 months old now, optimal spacing between siblings in a normal non-infertile situation, etc. I felt a teeny tiny pang, but not much. I was OK, I thought. But the longer my neighbor talked, the more painful it felt. She let me know that actually she and her husband had been shooting to get pregnant two months from now, but they are "so fertile" (unfortunate actual quote) that they got pregnant right away. Ah yes, me too, I hate when I get pregnant sooner than I planned! (please note sarcasm). At another point she said something that led me to think that maybe there had been one prior pregnancy before the one resulting in her current child and she clarified that no, they'd tried twice, gotten pregnant twice, and would be having two optimally spaced kids.

There is a chasm I've felt before that sometimes opens up between me and another (fertile) person; well, right then and there, I felt the chasm appear and then expand, her on her side taking for granted that you can plan for a child and get pregnant and everything turns out just fine, and me on the other side thinking every second is a precious miracle not to be taken for granted, something wonderful...and precarious. We stood on each side of the chasm talking, except she didn't even know that the divide was there.

And with the awareness of the gulf between us, I felt that twinge. That old familiar pain. That sense of, wow, what would our lives have been like if we had gotten pregnant - and stayed pregnant - when we first tried, six years ago? If we hadn't lost the six pregnancies, if we hadn't had all the failed IVFs, all the heartbreak, all the financial strife, those months and months of absolute hopelessness after our sixth loss when we didn't know what to do or which way to turn?

Of course, not productive, these thoughts. But the whole situation pricked at this place in me that is usually silent.

We are who we are, the grateful and astounded parents of Magpie. And at the same time we are not the people, not the parents, who we would have been. For good and for bad, this journey has changed us. And surprising to me, some grief remains. Dormant, quiet for the most part, but present still.

And standing there, on my side of the chasm looking across at this other woman, I thought of those of you still struggling to have a child. I wish for every one of you still in the trenches that your time there be short. I wish for you to learn what you can from the trenches, because I suppose that since you are there anyway, there are some gifts that can come from suffering. But may your stay be brief and a baby come into your arms soon, ever so soon.


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  1. Ah yes. I've felt this chasm open up between a friend and me before. In my case, it was with an old friend of my husband's a few years back. He had been debating whether to share with her and her husband while out on a double dinner date that we were TTC and had recently suffered a miscarriage when they volunteered that each of their children had been conceived her first month off The Pill and perfectly planned so that not only would the children be spaced their desired optimal 25 months apart, but so that her maternity leave would coincide with the holiday season each time.

    Needless to say, we said nothing to them about our TTC efforts or our miscarriage, and in the years since, have never told them anything about our infertility or our use of IVF or donor eggs. I really don't think they'd get it. How could you understand our experience, if that part of your life came so easily for you?

  2. Hi Mo,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.
    I too, had a similar experience after having a baby. I bonded well with two friends from my mother's group. About 18 months along and know how it is. They both announced their second pregnancies.
    I was surprised at how painful it felt.
    We went through a further 15 months of IVF treatment during which time their pregnancies developed and their babies were born. It was very painful. Fortunately we eventually fell pregnant again. And now I finally feel complete as a family of four.
    But I fought really hard for our #2. I had to borrow money from my Mom and many of our family and friends begged us to give up after witnessing five further unsuccessful cycles of IVF. They told us "you have a beautiful daughter, why put yourself through all of this again? Just be happy with what you have."

    I'm so glad I fought.

    Go for it Mo. You're incredibly wise and so so strong. You'll find a way through.

    Caroline x

  3. From the trenches, thank you.

  4. I have said time and time again infertility changed me forever. We had our twins after a miscarriage and 3.2 years of trying and IVF. We went on to be one of "those" stories and had an accidental miracle 18 months later. Even that will still not change the way I feel when someone tells me how easily they got pregnant or the ones who take it all for granted. I will forever remember that pain. We think about trying for another one but just because we got pregnant easy with the third doesn't change the fact that it took a lot of heartache for the first two. It gets hard to decide if you want to go through that again. I'm not sure I've ever commented on your blog but thanks for coming back and writing. I love your honesty.

  5. I do know that feeling. So so painful. I was talking to a potiential mom friend who got Pregnant while casually dating a guy shed know since childhood, then they decided to make it official. We were ostensibly talking about a friend of hers who was having trouble getting or staying pregnant, and when I disclosed the lengths I went to get and stay pregnant, she said "but it's over now, you have your boys." I said no, it's further from the surface, less raw, but it's not over, never truly over. And don't get me started on my neighbor who wore a skeleton in her baby bjorn on Halloween!

  6. Exactly. You took the words right out of my heart.

  7. Thanks for sharing this. I am not infertile but trying to be there for my friend who is going through years of ivf. I don't know what that's like but reading your blog makes me understand it a bit more. I hope that makes me a slightly better and understanding friend.

  8. Beautifully said, Mo, as usual!

  9. Thanks for sharing this and thanks for thinking of us still in the battle for our first.

  10. It sounds so painful. And shy would you put yourself out there for more heartache by telling her about what you went through? You are already vulnerable. I wish we could tell those blithe innocents what we went through and let them know the la la land they got lucky enough to live in. I wish for that so we could spread the word far and wide. I don't feel the pain so string these days and am almost defiant in my disclosure of what it takes for some people to just get within view of a take home baby - especially when I meet an ignoramus on the subject. So next time someone says something like that, I'll call them out and I'll do it for you as well as for me and all the others who are part of the ALI community. (( hugs ))

  11. thank you.
    worst i've encountered was some idiot at dinner at a work conference asked if i had children, then how long i'd been married, then, wait for it... why didn't i have kids? wtf! another colleague gave him a dirty look.

    afterwards, i came up with what i almost wish i'd have said, my answer that will clue in the clueless: "because they all died before they were born."

  12. This is such a thoughtful post. Difficult when the chasm is there and only one person is aware of it. ~theunexpectedtrip


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