Lessons (So Far) On The Often Lonely, Maddening Infertility Journey

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lessons-learned-e1324389749537Here we are: post 100.

Pull up a chair, get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and join me for a look back.

100? I’m, well, a bit stunned. Seven months and counting since Coming2Terms arrived on the scene. Who knew I had so much to get off my chest and out of my head? And I’m not even in active treatment any longer — just letting that wicked, twisted Mother Nature do her thing (or not in my case).  Clearly infertility as a topic offers plenty of fodder for observation and discussion. You’ve made that clear, too, since I started writing with:

  • More than 70,500 hits – 70,567 at this point in time
  • 858 comments
  • Three citations – Thinking Blogger, Courageous Blogger and Rockin’ Girl Blogger (many thanks!)

Now is as good a time as any to take stock of my situation. What have I learned? Enough to fill a library and then some, but here are the top five takeaways so far:

  1. Suffering alone or in silence magnifies the infertility burden. For more than a decade only a handful of people in my life knew of our infertile status. While deeply personal, infertility is best managed with the help and support of sensitive, empathetic people. The diagnosis is traumatic and, left alone with it, a couple can feel overwhelmed and alienated. Damn, before this blog and your kind comments and support, there were days when I truly thought I was losing my mind (and thanks to reading and sharing your blogs, poor Mr.  Pamela Jeanne now appreciates how “normal” my emotions and responses to infertility truly are).
  2. While the pool of informed, sensitive and empathetic people available to infertiles is entirely far too small, our collective efforts can go a long way to raising awareness among the fertile world about the complexity and pain that infertility brings to millions of couples around the globe.
  3. Speaking of the globe, I’m blown away by how small the planet gets when you have a live-changing condition like infertility in common.  This blog routinely gets visitors from just about every state in the U.S., province in Canada as well as regular visits from the U.K., South Africa, Ireland, Australia, France, Germany, India, Singapore, Morocco, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Japan, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Mexico, Portugal, Bolivia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Philippines and Kenya. I wish I could meet each and every one of my readers in person so I could personally thank you for taking the time to read, contemplate and, at times, comment on what I write. If you’ve been too shy to say hello in the past, I’d love to know your story, too. Please feel free to say hello. (If you’d prefer that I not publish your comment for privacy reasons just say so. I’m eager to know more about you, my blog visitors.)
  4. The emptiness of infertility never leaves us entirely but the starkness of it does diminish with time helped along by the kind and loving understanding of family, friends, colleagues and strangers alike.
  5. The negative emotions and experiences stirred up and inflamed by infertility (sadness, fear, anger, despair, hopelessness, envy, alienation, frustration, deprivation, aggravation, depression, disappointment, blame, hatred, resentment, bitterness, apathy, shame, hostility — did I forget any?) can wreak their own havoc when buried or left to fester.

Here’s an anecdote to put a finer point on that last lesson. For years I had a nagging, persistent ache in my neck and shoulders. This knot caused lots of discomfort and physical pain that no amount of heating pads or massages could untangle. I recall one massage therapist a few years ago attempting to work the knot out throw up his hands and ask, “what on earth are you so angry about?” He proceeded to tell me that often times bottled up anger manifests itself in knots and that in addition to physical attention the knots need to be worked out in other ways, too. (Yeah, whatever, I thought. I paid for a massage not a new age encounter!)

So, guess what I noticed recently? That ache in my neck and shoulders is all but gone now. Seems my writing and your regular comments have helped address and put into context many of those negative emotions.  I’m not only in a better state of mind, I feel physically healthier, too.

Now, I’m no saint (evidence on that score can also fill a library)! That’s why I reserve the right to backslide from time to time and offer up snarky comments when the spirit moves me. But after 100 posts, I can honestly say I’ve made some progress in coming to terms with my infertility. I hope I can continue to help you do the same — as well as enlighten those fortunate enough not to have any idea what they’re missing on the infertility journey.
Now here are the top four of 100 posts based on number of reads:

Join Me in the Twilight Zone (and be sure to read the comments, they’re quite thought-provoking!)
The Selfish Route? Are you Serious?
Putting Emotions Into Words
What Does It Feel Like to be Someone’s Worst Nightmare?
and my most cathartic creation, my entry in the International Infertility Film Festival.  Peace.

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13 comments

  • You inspire me. Truly. Keeping on writing, friend. You got it goin’ on!

  • Happy 100, PJ!

    I hope you keep writing for a long time to come.

  • Happy anniversary, Pamela Jeanne. I enjoyed reading your previous posts, and the interesting comments.

  • Bea

    Great lessons there, P. I’m sure you’ve got a few more to come.

    And I’m not surprised you had that neck pain! Glad it’s eased now.

    Bea

  • Well, I am certainly grateful for your blog. Maybe, with time, your readers will lose some knots, too.

  • Geohde

    Do you mind if I have a glass of wine anyway?

    Congrats on all that thoughtful posting.

    xx

    J

  • Happy 100th Post!!!

    Your deep thinking writings have been thought provoking and inspiring for many, me included.

    Cheers!

  • Happy anniversary! Keep up the GREAT work. : )

  • JJ

    Happy 100! How awesome! I love your beautiful writing, and look forward to 100 more posts!

  • Congrats on 100 post. I’m glad writing has helped you work through all the emotions that IF has brought. People don’t realize how deep the pain of IF can be and how much it affects everything in our life. You’re doing a great job of building awareness and I admire what you are doing. I too have had many tension headaches and went to every massage therapist to fix the tension in my neck/shoulder. You got me thinking that maybe its all the stress of IF and not something physically wrong with me.

  • Wow–congrats on making it to 100! It’s really wonderful that you were able to sit down and think about what you’ve learned. I look forward to reading your top 4!

  • Kudos on your 100th post! I am happy to hear that the pain you were feeling has diminished. It’s amazing how our bodies respond to our emotions both in good and bad ways. Thank you for sharing all of this with us. The points you make are so perfectly spot on. I suffered alone with my infertility for several years before finding support both locally and now in blogland. Bad days still find me, but it is nothing like it was. Thanks for the role you play in helping bring people together.

  • I congratulated you on my blog, but haven’t had time to come and hug you in person. So here I am, congratulations and may you have many more entertaining posts my friend! Thanks for being so supportive, for worrying about me when I don’t post as often as usual, and thanks for being so inspirational 🙂