Surviving and Expanding Our Thinking

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Note: This particular post came together after reading Ann’s question on my last entry and Karen’s insights into what it means to be a survivor — originally prompted by a post on Schatzi’s site. Phew. You see how we all help each other come to greater understanding and acceptance? All of the comments you leave give me ample reason to continue untangling the complicated threads of infertility and the challenge of surviving in today’s ‘never give up’ culture. If I don’t say it often enough thank you for taking the time to read and comment. You are instrumental in helping us all feel less isolated in our experience.)

Ann asks: You’re in a different place than all of us. Is it sometimes difficult ideas2for you to read the blogs of women still in the midst of IF?

Yes and no is the short answer.

I wrote a little bit about this in a post a few months ago called: In the DFZ.

For years I hoped we would succeed in conceiving and delivering our own child in the face of long odds. I secretly fantasized about the day we would surprise ourselves and our family and friends with news of an elusive pregnancy (and oh, did I have fun spinning that fantasy)!

I hoped that after years of wandering around the infertility wilderness we’d find our way, eventually, to the promised land of lamaze, diaper duty, and well, you know, all of the symbolic and real aspects of raising little ones. I worried (quite a bit actually) that it would be awkward to fit in or feel at ease in the clubby world of moms and dads after having been on the outside looking in for so long.

So back to answering Ann’s question more directly. Some 18 months ago, it would have been downright impossible for me to read glowing blog entries about pregnancy success. But I’ve worked really hard to separate out my feelings of loss and not to resent the success of other infertiles. Do I backslide? Well, there are days even now when it’s painful to read about the wonders of pregnancy knowing it’s something I’ll never experience firsthand. Accepting and celebrating someone else’s success against the backdrop of my repeated failures is something I’ve had to learn to do … it’s something I have to do because resentment led me nowhere.

I decided when I launched this blog that I needed to release the smoldering anger I harbored toward fertiles in particular and pregnant couples generally. It was time I told myself to be more magnanimous.

Is it easy? Not in the least. I still find myself wondering on those tougher days why someone else and not me. Those are the days when I spend more time visiting the blogs of those still wrestling with what comes next.

What matters to me most is that when someone does succeed that they continue to take into consideration just how much others continue to struggle, and not abandon those who cheered them on when they faced darker days, that they celebrate their good fortune but not turn into Momzillas at the expense of those around them in their physical and online world.

Not long ago I thought it would be impossible not to feel intense jealousy when fertile or women in IF treatment conceived. Just as I once couldn’t wrap my head around secondary infertility — after all these moms and dads already possessed that long sought prize, a child of their own. I know now that there is no use assigning a value to loss or suffering of any kind.

My new hope is that being kind and encouraging to those who’ve made it to the other side that they in turn will be kind and encouraging to those still surviving. You see, the survivor traits Schatzi highlighted and the new mental mapping that Karen is engaged in helps me to see that maybe, just maybe after IF treatments end that we can all live a life where sadness and wistfulness are minor rather than major players, replaced instead by a survivor’s mentality.

It has taken me a very long time to get where I am today. My next assignment is to accept that while I’m physically infertile I can still find happiness and purpose, and in the process, embrace all of the other things that life has to offer.

P.S. If you would like to express yourself on the subject of Infertility, please join in Bea’s latest IIFF – International Infertility Film Festival. I’m working on an entry. Would love to see yours, too.

10 comments

  • Bea

    Looking forward to your entry!

    Interesting thoughts on the topic, as well. I’d like not to turn into a Momzilla in the event of success – and I hope if I start people will tell me to pull my head in. I can only imagine the huge effort you’ve put in to get to this attitude. You have much to offer.

    Bea

  • “My next assignment is to accept that while I’m physically infertile I can still find happiness and purpose, and in the process, embrace all of the other things that life has to offer.”
    I want to borrow that sentence please! You say it so well, and it’s what I feel exactly. It’s women like you that helped me pick up my head and look the world in the eye knowing that I am strong and I can get over this heartache. Thanks once again! 🙂

  • Ann

    Thanks for answering my question so completely. I admire you for being such a big part of the IF blog community, even though it can sometimes cause you pain. I have to admit–when I have a big list of “unread” posts in my Bloglines, I read yours first because I know it’s always going to be a good one.

  • I appreciate you adressing this, as I had wondered this very thing. You manage to be insightful, thoughtful and supportive to all of us in the IF blogland… irregardless of where we are in the process. What a blessing you are!

    I absolutely believe that “sadness and wistfulness” can be minor players in our lives. I think that will look different for everyone… but I believe it is not only possible, but will happen if we continue to search for it, opening up our lives and hearts to new possibilities.

    That is my wish for you.

  • Sorry I have been commenting lately. Somehow my computer would freeze up when I tried to get to your blog last week. I’ve always enjoyed your reading your blogs and I always make sure I have some time to read yours because I find you have so much insight to share. I admire your strenght and courage to get to where you are today. I can only imagine how hard it has been and wish you lots of happiness and success to come. I’m going to try to catch up on some of your older posts.

  • “I know now that there is no use assigning a value to loss or suffering of any kind.” Very true, but it’s not easy to learn this.

    Another great post. Thanks.

  • SA

    I get a lot out of your blog, though I don’t know if I’ve commented before. I hear what you say about people trying (thoughtlessly or hastily) to make the conversation easier on themselves with comments like, “why not just adopt,” or “it’s not so bad not to have kids,” etc. I have a question that I’d like to ask. I don’t know if this is something you’d want to write about, but I would be interested to know how you went through the process of thinking about adopting, and then deciding to live child free rather than to adopt. I’m asking this not because I think it’s a weird decision that demands explanation, but because I’m trying to work through my own feelings about – I guess, about the best way to get beyond the pain and loss and lack and resentment against not having choices, that comes with infertility. If you’d ever be willing to share your thought process about adoption and deciding against it, I’d be grateful. And I hope you don’t see this question as too intrusive. If so, I apologize, it wasn’t my intention. I’m just looking for help.

  • Sully

    Bravo.

    I am so glad to know that others feel the way I do, and have. I sincerely hope that I am mature enough to handle those obstacles like you are!

    Bravo again!

  • …and so you have taken a life altering event and not allowed it to defeat you. Instead you have turned it into an opportunity to help and encourage others, to give hope, strength and understanding to women and men who are where you were and where you are now, and where you will never be able to go. I say you have come a far way indeed.

  • Great post…Thank you so much for your support during my adoption process. You are one gracious lady 🙂