Putting Emotions Into Words


wordsWhen an experience literally changes your life it’s difficult to put the ensuing emotions into words, to translate just how fundamentally your world has altered. Trying to untangle those emotions and make sense of them drove me to begin this blog.  It’s been hugely helpful to see how others put into words the ideas that are sometimes just beyond my grasp. When words capture the essence of what I’m feeling, I can address it.  I can take another step forward.  That happened today.

On another infertility blog I read the following:

“Losing a baby is something you can revisit…you are always trying again, trying to erase the sadness and failure. It’s the hope that in the end a pregnancy will succeed, that forces you on. The point does come when we begin to grasp, even without foreknowledge of the future,that our efforts are likely to be in vain. It takes an incredible strength to accept that fact and stop reliving the same experience.”

It does take incredible strength. With infertility we are forced to revisit our losses many times over. The reminders of what might have been are everywhere, every day. This post made me consider the coping strategies I rely on: I close my door when the office talk turns to cheerful pregnancy banter, decline invitations to events centered around children, and spend time with other couples who do not have children.

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In our child-centric society, the world does nothing to acknowledge or accommodate ‘infertiles.’ No it’s up to us have to accommodate the fertile world. We are forced to adapt, to try to fit in whether it’s uncomfortable or not. In the middle of a large business meeting yesterday, a note was handed to a senior exec. He interrupted the discussion to announce the birth of a new baby born to a colleague. I couldn’t help but wonder … would they have stopped the meeting to announce the negative outcome of my last IVF round?

While the vast majority of society is quick to apply significant emotional support to parents who deliver or bury a child, they dismiss the experiences of ‘infertiles’ and the loss of their much sought after children. It’s as though if there was no actual birth certificate the babies-to-be didn’t count.

And as I grow older I learn that the revisiting of our loss doesn’t just come in the form of baby showers, announcements and nursing moms, they also come in the stories of dance recitals, little league games, high school honor rolls, first dates graduations…

When the embryologist told us our embryos were among the best looking she’d ever seen, Grade 1, I joked with my better half that, of course, they’ll be Rhode Scholars. The dreams I had tied up in the printed ultrasound picture of our embryos were the same dreams that parents have for the children they tuck into bed each night.

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But in our society dreams and aspirations for children-to-be, they don’t count. The logic seems to be if you didn’t change a diaper and nurse your child your loss, like your child, is imaginary. Pull up your socks, get over it, get a puppy, find a hobby, just stop thinking about it so much.

Those are just some of the messages society sends to those of who live with IVF losses. Oh how I wish it were that easy…


13 Responses

  1. Drowned Girl

    April 17, 2007 9:02 pm

    I’m glad my thoughts helped you crystalise your own. I don’t know what I’d do without the way the internet has helped me to find kindred voices and feel less alone.

    It’s salutary how close the parallel experiences of recurrent miscarriage and ART failure really are.


  2. Aurelia

    April 18, 2007 3:16 am

    So true, and so sad. To be honest, I don’t think the world accomodates women at all in any choices. If we can have kids bosses moan about daycare, and benefits. If we can’t or don’t have kids, we get bothered with stupid questions or people make assumptions about us.

    It’s like there is no winning, no sympathy.

  3. surjit

    April 18, 2007 6:11 am

    Hello, your feelings are understandable.No doubts about it.We are all here to perform different roles God has earmarked for each of us.May be God has different plans for you.My best wishes to you.

  4. Ellen K.

    April 18, 2007 12:36 pm

    It is hard, too, when there is no physical proof that a child ever existed or could possibly result. I have never been PG. I saw pictures of my ready-to-go follicles from my IUI ultrasound, and that’s it. I mourned that failed cycle more than the others, because I saw what I had lost… and they were just gametes, but they had potential. The memoir “The Hollow Heart” by Martina Devlin talks about bonding with embryos post transfer. It’s quite touching.

  5. foreverhopeful

    April 18, 2007 10:23 pm

    This is so true. I agree that we live in a fertile friendly world and for those of us who are infertile, we are left to battle this alone. People have no idea how hard it is to want a child and not be able to have one. People have no idea what it feels like to lose the hope of a child even if you only carried it for a couple of weeks or more and even one that was conceived in IVF that is an embryo. Its still a life and its a still a loss. I have a link to a article in my blog I always found helpful about infertility = death. This is part of it:

    If you’ve ever experienced the loss of a loved one, you might have a frame of reference for what I am describing. That’s not to belittle the grief associated with death, nor is it to say that the feelings are one and the same. They aren’t. But they do share the emotional exhaustion, the intensity of pain and the complete isolation. You are alone and helpless.
    Infertility is death, but with this tragedy there is no funeral. There is no gathering of friends and family. There is no closure.

    I think infertility is still a loss (like a death) but a different kind. Its still a loss we need to grieve and something that just doesn’t go away from our hearts and desires. I pray for strength and peace as you move on with your journey. I know its not an easy path. Big hugs to you.

  6. starfish

    April 19, 2007 3:57 pm

    Even though we now have an adopted son, the assumptions the fertile world makes still pisses me off. In a meeting the other day, a client was going on and on about his 4 kids. I knew there was at least one other infertile person in the room, and I wanted to scream SHUT THE F*&^ UP to this person so badly. Since I’ve been there (and still am in some ways) I never assume anyone wants to hear about my son.

  7. Deathstar

    April 19, 2007 8:52 pm

    So my last two eggs are gone. We did a natural FET at the end of March. Good looking eggs we were told (A-). Too bad my uterus is crappy, I said to myself.

    Made it through the 2 week wait, just living in the moment, and of course, a BFN. Started spotting days before but I still had hope until I had a full bleed on the pregnancy test day. I guess I already knew the week before. I was watching some stupid soap opera character give birth and I started to get menstrual cramps. My temp was down. I tried hard not to freak out, just kept on going, tried very hard not to Google myself crazy. Kept busy.

    So no more looking back. I can’t go through this again. As much as I love that hopeful feeling, you know, the one day where your breasts feel full and you feel good, you take a walk in the sunshine and think positive thoughts and feel hopeful. You rub your belly and whisper stay, stay, stay. You smile at babies in strollers. You feel confident. Such an addictive feeling.

    Walking the dog this morning, I almost made it back to our place without incident. Yes, I saw not 1, not 2, but 3 new mums, coffees in hand, babies in strollers/joggers, one even had a dog. Sigh.

    Talking to my husband last night, he shared a little of what he goes through. He told me that he thinks about our “daughter” all the time, what she would look like, her characteristics he was sure she’d have. He had mapped out her whole life. My heart broke. I never knew. I guessed he felt that way, but he rarely talks about how he feels, he doesn’t like to dwell on it. He doesn’t talk about this with any of his friends.

    I feel like I’m causing him more pain if I press him. You’re right, there are no funerals, your friends don’t really understand, and you’re constantly reminded of what you don’t have.

  8. Pamela Jeanne

    April 19, 2007 10:47 pm

    Oh, Angela, I feel for you. I can completely empathize with what you’ve described. It’s so cruel to have that little bit of hope, that confidence snatched away, and then to have the immediate reminder of what might have been visited upon you during your walk the next day. Your pain is my pain.

  9. Rachel

    April 21, 2007 2:34 am

    “He interrupted the discussion to announce the birth of a new baby born to a colleague.”

    Man. I have so been here. Talk about Catch 22… if you don’t smile, you’re a resentful bitch. If can force yourself to crack one, you burn with anger on the inside for not being honest, and not being heard.

    There have been days when I’ve been able to rejoice in other women’s good fortune… but it gets harder as I check off another new day sans baby on my calendar…

  10. pluto

    May 10, 2007 10:45 am

    I first read this posting of yours a couple of weeks ago. And I’m struck by how much it and other postings on this blog have helped me to see the million cosy assumptions of the ‘fertile world,’ and to see how alienating that world must often be.

  11. JenniferK

    April 28, 2008 7:46 pm

    I happened to come across this 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.

    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!)

  12. Ficelle

    August 1, 2008 3:47 pm

    I’m sooo happy to stumble on your amazing website through Ms Heathen’s Reproductively Challenged blog. I have no idea at all where I am in my infertility but I think I have to start accepting & cope with it real soon. Your blog might greatly help me in my journey to infertility. Thank you so much for sharing yours. (Sorry if my comment is no way in connection to your post 🙂

    • Pamela Jeanne

      August 1, 2008 4:09 pm

      Glad my blog will be a help in working through your own emotions. This experience is unpredictable and challenging in more ways than one, but if you’re here you already know that…

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