Surviving and Expanding Our Thinking
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.)
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.