On surviving infertility

Disclaimer: this is a small look into the mind of one infertile. It’s not pretty, but it’s honest. Go ahead, judge away, I don’t care.

A lovely someone was telling me recently that his wife is pregnant and it that happened in their very first month month of trying. He was a little gobsmacked and elated that it happened so quickly.

We chatted about babies and how it changes your life and I wanted to reach over the table and give him the biggest hug, I was THAT happy for him.

I am grateful that they didn’t have to go through the drama of trying and trying and waiting, of unsuccessfully peeing on sticks, laparoscopies, being poked and prodded, the removal of dodgy Fallopian tubes and the roller-coaster of IVFs. That their marriage wouldn’t be tested and no bitter tears would be shed when everyone you hold dear fall pregnant at the drop of a hat. (And we were luckier than most people battling with infertility.)

I wasn’t a happy person when we couldn’t have babies, looking back at that time there was a lot of mere existing going on. It felt like my life was mocking my inability to conceive and it was hard to be happy for my dearest friends having the beautiful, beautiful babies that I could not.

But for the first time I realised after chatting with that very lucky guy (who is going to be a GREAT Dad by the way) that the hurt is gone. I am genuinely, 100% happy that it worked first time for them.

It was the most liberating feeling to know that I’ve let all that hurt and anger go and that in its place there is only these things: joy, gratitude and love.

Buckets and buckets of love.

Infertility and PND

I’ve been toying with a question for a while that I don’t think there would ever be a definitive answer for: Is the occurrence of PND in Infertility Survivors higher than in Moms than managed to fall pregnant naturally*?

Here’s some of what I went through emotionally and still do, the rest I have thankfully managed to either forget or block out.

The first thing I always say about my pregnancy with Daniel is that I was in denial about being pregnant for most of it.  I underestimated the complete mind-fuck that was IVF and I never really gave myself the permission to sit back and relish the fact that it worked, first time nogals.

With IVF your hormones are all over the show, you vacillate between wanting to tell everyone and no-one what is going on and then, when it works, you have to decide whether you want to disclose immediately that you are pregnant or not.  I think an IVF pregnancy actually lasts for 11 months: 1 month to plan (best case scenario), 1 month to execute and 9 months of being pregnant if all goes well.  Our bodies were built to carry a baby for 40 weeks, but when we go through fertility treatment we put an enormous amount of additional emotional strain on ourselves that lingers way after we give birth.

When Daniel came home I had no idea what to do (like any new parent!) and the weight of the responsibility I felt was enormous.  I felt like I had wanted this baby SO badly, I had better take care of it properly.

As a result I didn’t feel that blissful or smug about being a Mother as I have heard some of my friends say, I just felt petrified beyond belief.

Looking back over being a parent for the last 6 odd years I see how that feeling has never really left me, it has often robbed me from enjoying the simplicity of just BEING with my children.  I often talk/write about how wonderfully easy Etienne’s relationship is with the kids and I realize now that I’m still carrying that exaggerated burden of responsibility with me.

I’m reluctant to do something without them just for myself (like go to the hairdresser for 2 hours on a Saturday), I feel like I have to WANT to be with them 24/7 when I’m not at work.  I wished to have them here, how could I dare to want to be without them?

I sometimes feel stuck in a evil cycle where I don’t want to fight with them, but then I get so cross when they misbehave and then I feel terrible for getting cross.

I hope to think that they are well-adjusted and happy children, but in many ways I think I put a lot more pressure on our kids because I so desperately want to get it right.  Besides my natural tendency toward OCD’ness of course, besides the fact that I was a prime candidate for PND anyway due to a history of depression, but I do think surviving infertility added to the mix for me.

Did/Do you have PND?  What is/was your experience? Did you muddle through or get help?  How are you doing now?

*Disclaimer: I am by NO means suggesting that PND is worse for Moms that conceive naturally, it is a very real and very scary thing to go through.

Food and infertility

I don’t see myself as an hysterical person, but when I read articles like this one, I feel just a teeny weeny little bit hysterical.

It’s no secret that I don’t eat red meat and as a household we are careful with meats and try to buy free range/organic whenever we can find and afford it.  This is part due to reading My Year of Meats and All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki about what goes into our food without our knowledge or permission.  If you haven’t read her books, you should really try.  They aren’t just very well researched, they are also very well written.

The biggest reason I feel a little hysterical is because a lot of what goes into our milk, meat, potatoes and apples is making us infertile.  Even worse: it’s making our children infertile.  I have a well documented history of infertility and seeing all this really just pisses me off as infertility is an issue very close to my heart.

It also pissed me off that we try to make healthy choices for our children, but we are doing the exact opposite by giving them the “healthy” foods we do and forcing them to eat them.

Picture this:

“Dear, eat your potatoes, and don’t worry that they are full of pesticides, they are good for you.”

“And while you are at it, please eat that lovely spaghetti bolognese we made you with canned tomatoes and I don’t want to hear a word.”

That derelict vegetable garden of our is about to get a make-over I think.  We already have a compost heap with beautiful compost and a laid out veggie patch, we just need to keep it going and keep the delinquent dogs out.

Watch this space.

And no, I haven’t listened to any Alanis Morrisette in days.  Just so you know.



Infertility and Baby Showers

I was reading this giveaway post on Melinda Connor’s blog earlier today and I was taken right back to when we were in that suspended state of Infertility.  Because you really live in suspension.  That state where you never stop dreaming about a miracle, fear being confronted with other people’s joy and self-hatred because your body has failed you so miserably and you really just want to be pissed off at all the people that are having babies.  Horror at the amount of people having abortions, even though I support the fact that they had a choice to terminate it just hurt that we were battling so much.  I constantly felt like the Scarlet Woman, like people would look at me and judge me for not falling pregnant at the drop of a hat.

We were lucky in that we knew what the problem was (my manky tubes) and what our option was (IVF only).  But there were no guarantees that IVF would work for us.

One of the hardest things for me was all the babyshowers as all my friends seemed to be having babies in the 3 years we were falling around.  I missed out on a LOT of babyshowers.  I once even bought a gift for the Mom and got Etienne to drop it off at her house.  I felt really shitty, but I couldn’t bear the thought of it.  And you know what?  Most of my friends understood and gave me the space to deal with things as I saw fit.

I have to write this post, because if you are reading this and you are battling infertility I want you to know it’s ok.  Take all the time and space you need and don’t feel obliged to accept invitations to events that will leave you drained and upset for days after unless they are really important.  It’s not worth it.  Life is too short.

BUT.  Be polite and tell the people that matter why it’s hard for you.  You owe them that.