I’m Not the Only One to Hide in the Ladies Room?

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I don’t eat nearly as much chocolate as I once did. Why? Blogging feedback. Yes. The comfort of chocolate pales in comparison to the soothing that comes from reader comments (and no calories!).  The latest round took me to something of a “comment high” (think runner’s high — though damn my asthma! — I have never managed to run long enough to get that desired effect).

For far too long I thought I was on the verge of losing my mind … that my response to the “fertile world” was an anomaly. Even now when I’m feeling surrounded — e.g. alone in a room full of happy, cheerful parents swapping stories — well, it’s just so reassuring to realize how not alone I am. Apparently running for cover — to hide the ladies room — amid kidpalooza talk is not an uncommon response among my people. We’ll have to work out a silent code so we can find each other. With all of us being so exceptional at the silence thing it shouldn’t be a problem.

Humor aside, your comments also make me think. They shed light on how heavy our hearts can be as a result of shattered hopes and dreams. A new reader comment and question from Jennifer K came to a previous post of mine — one that talks about how difficult it is to cope with infertility since we’re forced to relive the pain and loss associated with it every day. She writes:

I happened to come across [your] post today while looking for support to deal with my latest disappointment. I am 40, have been trying to conceive for 5 years, and have given up on treatment after 4 unsuccessful IVFs and not a single pregnancy – so you’d think I’d know better. But this month my period was one day late and last night I fell asleep thinking of due dates, and baby names and cute ways to tell my husband. I swear this morning’s reality check was devastating as my first failed IVF.

Jennifer: I just ache for you. I know exactly how this felt. How often I’ve been in your shoes or wanted to simply hide from the reality you describe…

I am not comfortable (for now) with the other options available to me, but today I feel like I’d do anything just so I don’t have to continue feeling this same pain over and over again.

I had the thought that perhaps women in my situation who eventually become mothers through adoption or donor eggs are able to heal from infertility at about 99%, while women who choose to be childfree, or have that status forced upon them by circumstance, can only ever hope for 80% recovery. What do you think?

I don’t want to still be feeling this pain when I’m eighty. (Funny I almost wrote when I’m a grandmother – see how hard this is!)

The recovery question is a tough one, Jennifer, (and I invite my readers to weigh in, too). Not long ago I wondered if there would ever be a day when the intensity and pain you describe would ever lessen. It engulfed me, and all but took over my life. While I’ve learned to smile again, the darker days haunt me still. They live in my memory just beneath the surface. When people describe the joy of feeling their baby kick for the first time or seeing and holding their babies just after birth, I’m catapulted back to the devastation of hearing that my fragile embryos didn’t succeed. It is near impossible to convey to those who easily built their families how badly I wanted to conceive with my husband — so badly that I was willing to risk my body and my financial security.

No Need to Hide

I can’t speak for the recovery of women who went on to adopt or succeed with donors eggs, but I can tell you that the recovery from what we’ve collectively experienced doesn’t happen over night. It takes time. It takes grieving. It takes support and compassion from caring and sensitive people to help us get back on our feet so that we have the fortitude to live in a world that doesn’t understand or give much (if any) thought to the pain we carry. I’ve channeled my emotions into writing. I know others who have found comfort devoting their talents and generous spirits to causes, people or initiatives that bring a different sort of satisfaction.

More than 10 years ago my husband and I agreed when we embarked on the last leg of infertility treatments that we didn’t want to have regrets when we were older. We wanted to know that we could look back and know we did our best. And we did. It wasn’t easy to arrive where we are today but we are fiercely devoted to each other and we know we are not alone in what we’ve lived through. Neither are you, dear Jennifer.