Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Your" Infertility

I've been away from blogging for a while.  It's not due to Lent.  I'm not convinced God think's it's spiritual growth to disassociate from the Net but I'm not questioning somebody who does.  I've been away just because there have been so many bad things happening in my life I didn't want to detail them here and I no longer write at work, so it doesn't leave many opportunities to blog.

I have plans to call Dr. Elizabeth tomorrow morning to sit down and chat with her and get some ideas about next steps with my health.  I keep trying to get better on my own but I slip back easily (even when I take expensive vacations) and it's not getting better to the point where I can get back to a normal life.  Cryptic much?

My husband would not support any part of what I'm about to write but he doesn't read my blog at all-he doesn't know the URL so I need not worry about him judging me here.  Yeah, it's great he's back but life is not a fairy tale.  My biggest problems right now are exceeding pressure at work with no corresponding promotion or raise, the fact that I have no meaningful support networks, and I continue to struggle at some level with infertility.

In an argument today, my husband was retelling me what I think my problems are and he said the words, "your infertility... uh, our infertility...."  But as any married woman knows, the latter part although it came a mere fraction of a second after the former part, was much too late.  I get reinforcements EVERYWHERE that infertility is MY problem.  My parents continue, mostly from my mother to freeze my eggs, get IVF, do something, anything other than what I'm doing now which is nothing.  Apparently, doing nothing in this, my culture is not acceptable.  I'm not sure that attitude is isolated to the secular community.  Catholicism can dish it out, too with NaPro.  Jeez, it's been forever since I wrote that abbreviation.  How many bloggers are out there that are doing nothing on the fertility front?  Two?  Yes, it's isolating.

And I'm 35.  I'm not idiotic to not think about dwindling chances.  I mean, if I throw in the towel now, have I forever fucked myself over?  When I'm 45 will the crushing regret reveal itself?  The truly sad part about this is that it has nothing to do with a kid, a person, or parenthood.  It's about shedding the stigma of infertility.  I mentioned two days ago to a woman I had just met with six terrific kids which I was lucky enough to hang out with for a few hours that I was infertile.  She offered up the forever reassuring story about her sister that couldn't get pregnant, tried IVF a couple times, gave up, and a couple years later got pregnant and actually gave birth to a living, healthy child.  Wow!  Who hasn't heard that story before.  The mother of six also told me that she had two miscarriages in her twenties, thought she'd never have kids, and look at her now.  Her Marine husband also recently abandoned the entire family, but no matter, the kids are great!

Miscarriage is one of those topics I feel is truly being talked about and women are getting support from lots of different places; friends, media.  In Mass, during prayers of the faithful, you can put in "Baby so-and-so" as a deceased person and everybody understands that, that is a terrible pain.  But at least you can give that pain a name.  Not so with infertility.  It's nebulous because if you never get pregnant, you don't register especially in Catholicism where conception is king.  The personhood movement is predicated on "the moment of conception."  If you never get to that point, what are you?

The truth is that every month we try to get pregnant and fail, I'm having a miscarriage.  It's the thought that counts, right?  If my intention, my whole desire and actions are to get pregnant, and I don't, it's a miscarriage.  I'm often tempted to put in my Baby [ATC's surname] into the prayers for the deceased.  I'm entitled.

Ok, let's get to the second problem.  During the six months that my husband lived elsewhere, not one of his friends called me for any reason; to get-together, to see how I was doing, to check in.  Nothing.  And now that's he's back, we're just back to good!  It's like the whole social experience was dependent on my husband.  I told him last weekend that at least I can now foreshadow what it'll be like when he dies.  Nobody will be around for me (save my family and my handful of close friends.)  Why the hell did we invite anybody to our wedding?  What a waste of money.  If the people who witness this all-important vow in front of God and company don't get around to paying the slightest bit of attention to you, what was the point?  We should have eloped to Vegas and has our union blessed during a regular, week-day Mass.  At least with strangers present, I wouldn't have expected anybody to follow up.

And maybe all of this is because I'm 35.  I'm coming into a lot of awareness about my own values.  Not my husband's, not my family's, not my company's.  Proclaiming self-determination while married is indeed a struggle.  I can list all of my demographic characteristics and that wouldn't tell you who I am.  I'm not an archetype.


  1. I agree with you in part about miscarriage and IF being one in the same. Every cycle you do not concieve you are grieving the life that could have been, it is so hard. I don't hear talk and support for those who have miscarried at all at the parish I am from and I am at a VERY pro-life big family parish. IF sucks, which is a reason I helped to start an IF support group that includes all, those who have miscarried, IF, secondary IF, those going through adoption and fostercare. Our crosses are each so different but at least we can try and support one another. There have been times during this IF journey that we have done nothing and times where we feel compelled to start treatment again. I go back and forth with NaPro treatments a lot, to NaPro or to not Napro. I noticed from your sidebar that you have seen Dr. Stigen? Which means you maybe in the SoCal vicinity. Sorry to sound stalkerish but if you ever wanted to come to our support group you are more than welcome! Praying for you!

  2. I'm nearing 45 and I'm not going to look back with regret...I know I've done all that I could to be a mother. I am proud to follow the church and I tell people dr is going to create my child in a petry dish..done.

    You are right...IF is an "our" issue...not mine only. If we were to have a baby that child would be "our" baby..not his or mine. Boy, your dh and family sound kind of insensitive...I would avoid the topic with them (not your dh of course) as much as possible. My own mother can be insensitive...I rarely bring up IF now.

    I know my dh and I have friends that wouldn't talk to me unless he was around and same with my friends. Your thoughts on this subject did make me think about that though. Interesting.

  3. I'm not doing any for my infertility at the moment, besides acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I did have a six hour surgery back in November, but that was as much for pain relief as for surgery. Continuing without surgery was not an option for me.

    I'm firmly of the opinion that constant doctor's appointments with all of their inconvenience and expenses, high doses of medications with their attendant side effects can break us spiritually and physically. The church, in typical fashion, prohibits IVF, which can also break couples, but says nothing about the fact that other therapies can be exactly as devastating when they bear no fruit. Each couple needs to decide how much they can take, and stop before they get to that point.

    DH has several friends who I absolutely cannot stand. I don't mind if he hangs out with them, but I never go along. I think making friends is hard as a married woman. It's something I struggle with myself. People don't seem to reach out to married women as much, plus many married women want to socialize as couples, which means that not only do I need to get along with a potential friend, she has to get along with DH and we have to get along with her husband. The dynamics of couple friendship are exponentially more complicated. Couples with children never seem to have any time; there just aren't enough hours between the end of work and their kids' bedtime.

    I'm sure your husband is a wonderful guy; you married him, after all. But the way you write about him in these pages, you kind of make him out to be a jerk. I know I get in rages towards my husband, when I convince myself that he is a lazy, inconsiderate boor. But then the cloud passes, and I realizes that I wasn't being fair to him. I hope the way you write about your husband is just an indication of ordinary marital ups and downs and not his true character.

  4. First of all, I want to agree with this: "The church . . . says nothing about the fact that other therapies can be exactly as devastating when they bear no fruit." ART can be condemned on straightforward grounds: the means involved are disordered by definition. But that's not the only way something can be disordered. You can have disordered eating even though eating (per se) is not disordered. And when pastors and super-Catholic medical practices give out instructions for (for example) SAs done "the Catholic way," I wonder - what are you people smoking? So there's no contraceptive use; great. What is ordered or right about these actions? What is healthful for the human person expected to do such things? I think the whole thing is sick.

    For myself, I finally came to the conclusion that I wasn't mourning the loss of a baby (though maybe at one point I had been). I was mourning something I had a hard time naming, and couldn't complain of to anyone else: the loss of ME as a mother - the life and identity I had dreamed of for myself. That sounds terribly selfish. But it's a dream that, for most every woman, is fulfilled - a dream considered noble and selfless and virtuous when it comes true. The me who would have been a young mother - the person who consumed my sense of self since I was a teenager - is dead and buried. All that I wanted to happen, will never happen. That's about as low as it gets; and yet, in that tragedy we can live lives filled with joy. A great paradox of the human condition.

    With respect to the friends - I would be quite irritated myself. But here's what struck me most: you referred to them as "his friends," the people who didn't call you. Were they never both of your friends? If that's true, I think you need to make your own, specific friends (and I am well aware how hard that is as a married woman - either they're couples and they will stop inviting you if your husband doesn't show up, or they are singles and in order to spend time with them, you have to leave your husband behind. For my part, I've been more successful with the latter arrangement, and from your description of your circumstances, I think you would be, too).

  5. I think I'm one of the two not doing treatments- maybe? I totally get your thoughts about being able to pray for miscarried babies, etc. and not being able to name what we have. I often wonder if children will greet me in heaven- the children I wanted to have. It's weird, but it's an image that is in my head. This whole infertility thing is a dying to self like misfit said. It's giving up what you wanted for your life and there is a death and grieving. Your honesty is going to help you accept whatever life brings. My life resembles very little of what I dreamed. Saying the litany of humility and The Serenity Prayer have helped me accept my life. Take it or leave it. You have the greatest gift it seems: fortitude. Missed you while you were away.

  6. I know how tough it can be to develop strong friendships as a woman, especially in your 30s. I, too, moved to an area near where my husband grew up, and most of our friends were his friends first. The friends I had who live in this same general area now are people that I don't have much of anything in common with anymore. But trying to figure out where I fit and who would be worth trying to befriend is difficult. I gave up my job, which I hated and was very stressful, to try and get healthier and increase our chances in TTC. It seems that most of the women I know are either focused on their career or their children (or both); I have no career and no children, so how much can we have in common?