8/27/2008

The sting of infertility

I've received many heartfelt messages, and have been told many times that they wish there was something they could do for me. Most even told me that they just don't really understand what I'm going through, so they don't know what to say. And that's ok. But how can I describe the feeling of isolation and being "different" to people who cannot possibly know what that feels like? Infertility is one of the biggest challenges that life has thrown our way. It is hard to see beyond the immediate pain of infertility. Everywhere I turn, I'm faced with that fact. I would say about 99% of my friends and family have at least one child and/or are currently pregnant. How can I find a way to be happy for others without always focusing back on myself?

They are members of a club that I may not ever be able to join. They would talk for hours about their pregnancies, sharing morning sickness stories and talking about which obstetrician was best. This would launch them into stories of their first pregnancies and deliveries. I spent long blocks of time saying nothing because I had nothing to contribute to these conversations. Each time one of the babies kicked or moved for the first time, I was reminded that I may never get to experience that. Life had denied me a basic experience shared by almost every other woman on the planet.

I feel like I don't fit in anywhere. I'm in my mid-30's, and most of the people we know became parents in their mid-20's. My husband's childhood friends have children ranging in ages from 11 to 21. My friends are either single and not even thinking about children or married and have young children or are currently pregnant. This means that I am in a different stage of life than most of the people I knew, which made me feel like the "odd man out." Jerry and I were talking about this a few days ago, and it's hard to imaging that we could've had a 13 or 14 year old had infertility not been a word in our vocabulary.

Some of our friends are childless by choice. It must be nice to have a choice in childbearing. I've heard people refer to these couples as DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids). I did not want to be a DINK (although we're just single income now, so would that make us a SINK?). I've read about how DINKs were choosing not to have children; instead they lead very lavish lifestyles involving travel and acquiring nice things. That did not describe us at all.

So we felt like we did not fit in anywhere. One set of friends talked about their children all the time, and the other set talked about their travels. We knew nobody who was in our situation, and this makes us feel very lonely. We eventually stopped attending functions such as baby showers and the like. I do admit that I attended a baby shower earlier this year; however, I debated back and forth on whether or not I was going to attend - not because I have anything against her (on the contrary, I think the world of her) but because I was afraid that I might lose my composure and bawl my eyes out. Jerry and I were sad but really enjoyed shopping for my friend's baby shower. We were sad because the stuff we were getting were not for our baby but for another family's. And the joy came from looking at all the baby items and thinking that maybe one day people will be attending OUR baby shower.

The last few weeks, I've been having trouble sleeping and trouble with controlling my grief. After years and years of BFN after BFN after BFN, it doesn't get any easier. This last BFN was extremely hard - I felt more hurt and sadness than I ever thought possible. I am at wit's end on how I am going to get through this. With each new grief, we relive the past grief as well. I remember the fear I had when we were first diagnosed as infertile. I just assumed that we were a fertile couple, so I had no reason to fear infertility. But when the doctor diagnosed us as male factor infertility, I was in denial. I mean, I was only 25 and Jerry was 29. This had to be a mistake, I thought. But reality set in right after our first official BFN back in 1999. What a rude awakening that was. No one ever warned us that we'd ever feel the paralyzing sting of infertility. After 9 years I still feel the sting as if it was just yesterday. It wasn't until July 2006 that we started letting family and a select group of friends know.

Sometimes, all I need to feel "normal" again is to hear someone else say they're going through the same thing. It's not that I wish infertility on anyone. On the contrary, it's just that I need someone, particularly someone who really understands, to tell me that it's normal to feel this way...That it's normal to feel anger, to feel sad, to feel extremely bitter...all at the same time. I hardly recognize myself anymore. Infertility has forever changed me. Infertility took my identity and gave me a new one.

Anyway...I've joined a couple of infertility boards and tried to be active there. It's comforting to talk with women who've been there and done that and are still battling infertility. Yes, it's a battle, and what an uphill battle it is. Even though I've never met these women, I feel a strong connection with them. And that helps with the loneliness I feel.

No comments: