Confession time. I’m grateful that I have a full time job but not for the usual reasons. Yes, it helps to cover our operating expenses, provides some personal satisfaction and ensures that I’ll have something to live on in my retirement years, but my job may — more importantly — be responsible for keeping my sanity (nearly) intact.
Seriously, the last few days AF has been my constant companion and with her comes an exaggerated version of the most annoying thought loops — thoughts I’d love to turn off permanently. A lobotomy, however, does seem a bit of an extreme solution. Instead I have the following echoing in my head:
My uterus is useless, totally and absolutely useless
How is it possible that obese woman over there could get pregnant and I couldn’t?
I’m never going to experience pregnancy? Really? No, that’s right you’re not…
This hole in my heart never seems to mend; will it always be such a chronic ache?
Phone calls, meetings and presentation development can and do occupy my thinking for the better part of the day, tabling those annoying thoughts, but only temporarily. Even when AF is no where to be found, they lurk.
When I’m alone with my thoughts they inevitably steer back to some variation on the infertility theme even when I’d like to be thinking about something else. Even my trashy reading has been hijacked. Have you noticed that People magazine has become “Celebrities and their Babies” magazine??
I caught myself driving back from a business lunch today wondering what on earth I would do if I didn’t have work to take my mind off of the nagging and ever present “how is it I wasn’t able to get pregnant” thoughts.
I even found myself going off on a mental riff this morning during my jog trying to imagine how women like me throughout history were able to go about their merry way in the world not feeling like they were walking around in a broken body. How did they cope?
Now that I’ve had some distance from the infertility treatments, that intensive, full-blown medical intervention stage of my life now seems like a bad dream — like it actually happened to someone else. Yeah. Weird isn’t it? I guess I’m left feeling a bit shell shocked by it all.
UPDATE: I just stumbled upon this interesting discussion on the NYT blog about psychotherapy.
P.S. I’d like to formally thank the very kind reviewer who pulled the Coming2Terms assignment in the Blog Roundup Extravaganza. I was very touched by what you wrote as well as by reading the moving posts that others highlighted across the infertility blogosphere.
July 25, 2007 3:09 am
It’s really true–you can walk away from the treatments and the procedures and the processes, but you can’t walk away from IF. Hang in there, sweetie.
July 25, 2007 3:43 am
It does seem to permeate everything, doesn’t it? I know that even the paranormal vampire romances that I tend to read have started to have pregnancy themes! I just read one that I was going to review, but I just can’t bring myself to since I’m not 100% open on my public blog.
Even at work I can’t escape as everyone is talking about their ultrasounds! And I work with all men!
You are an incredibly brave and together woman compared to where a lot of us find ourselves.
July 25, 2007 8:29 am
I have no answer. If you find one, publish it loudly. I guess eventually the breaks in between thoughts get longer?
July 25, 2007 11:21 am
Well, you did ask.. 🙂 I wrote on my blog a few weeks ago –
This quote from Arthur Golden’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” explains my philosophy on negative thoughts in your head..
“I made up my mind to be like the fisherman who hour after hour scoops out fish with his net. Whenever thoughts of the Chairman drifted up from within me, I would scoop them out, and scoop them out again, and again, until none of them were left.”
You have to scoop those negative thoughts out, or else you end up dwelling on them. But you have to replace them with something, too. My preference is to replace them with a positive thought. It might sound overly simplistic, but I have found it to work on many occasions so I guess it’s worth a try..
Maybe it is time to set a new goal that you can focus on, something to daydream about and work towards. Only you can work out what that might be.. 😉 or whether you actually want to move forward, or need to stay where you’re at for a bit longer..
July 25, 2007 12:00 pm
So true. IF never goes away. Well, it hasn’t yet … though I hope one day it will.
July 25, 2007 2:19 pm
If you figure out how to quite that internal dialog, please let me know. I think after years of obsessing, those pathways in our brains are good and strong and it is hard to break free of them.
I think women in history coped just like you are coping. Sometimes I imagine what it must have been like in a culture where a woman’s sole purpose was to have children and it was, of course, always her fault. Makes me feel fortunate that women can choose different roles in our culture. Not that is easy, just more accepted.
July 25, 2007 6:50 pm
Echoing what others have said — if you find out, let me know.
July 25, 2007 9:16 pm
I wish I had the answer for you Pamela….! I think you’ve been through so much and your heart/soul has a lot of healing to do and wounds that will take time to heal. It sounds like to me after all you’ve been through you are slowly starting to find yourself again and slowly attending to and trying to heal each of your wounds. IF can beat us up in so many ways. I think you will find a new you with a new direction but it just may take time. Hang in there and hope those negative thoughts turn into positive thoughts.
July 25, 2007 10:59 pm
I don’t know what to say. i’m trying to find the answer myself. I thought it was turning to God and letting him handle everything, but it still hurts alot.But to repeat what others have said, if you find the answer, let me know!
July 26, 2007 12:51 am
All I can tell you is that it does get better with time, but it will never totally go away (or at least I don’t think it will). Most of the time I am OK, but once in a while I will get stabbed through the heart by a glance from a happy baby across the room and know I just have to deal with that for the rest of my life.
July 26, 2007 3:02 pm
Also in the if you find the answer let me know. It’s a daily struggle at this point to keep it at bay. I think I’m “better” because I have a good day or week and I am in fact moving on to a new phase, but still, the injuries of the ART phase still haunt me and sneak up anytime I let my guard down. Trouble is, it takes a HUGE amount of energy to keep the guard up.
I wish you well in your own quest for finding the balance.
July 26, 2007 3:46 pm
You know, one of the things people said to me in the past that irked me beyond anything, was that things will get better. Most of the time when we’re hurting we want to be cuddled and loved – we need LOTS of TLC and DON’T want to hear that it will get better even though we can’t stand the pain. But it’s true, it does get better: the hurt doesn’t go away, you just grow stronger.
To me, coping with IF and coming to terms with it means that I acknowledge my emotions when they appear, and I don’t try to wish them away or think I shouldn’t feel them or feel quilty when I say out loud how they make me feel and act.
You’re one of the strongest women I know, and you’ll get through this, even if these words are the ones you really don’t want to read right now. I’m thinking of you a lot, and I hope you will find the peace of mind and heart you want and need.
July 26, 2007 11:15 pm
I have known some pain myself, but never what you are feeling. I do know you have to take it (boring but true) one day at a time. I think you are making such a positive contribution by making those of us who are ignorant more informed, and giving those who share your pain the knowledge that they are not alone.
July 27, 2007 1:46 am
I wish I knew how to re-direct my thoughts. SOme of them are downright uncharitable when it comes to the fertility of others……
July 27, 2007 4:15 pm
I wish I knew how to completely get rid of them also. Some concepts in a few of R.ichard C.arlson’s older books have helped me, though. He talks about how we pay too much attention to the thoughts that move through us– we give them too much importance. What ever we give our attention to will grow. He says to picture them like leaves moving down a creek… The ones that we know are unhelpful, we should just ignore and they will move on.
It seems a bit simplistic… and obviously it isn’t a cure all. But I do have to say that after reading those books, it has become much easier for me. My negative internal dialogue is quiter than it used to be (which I suppose isn’t saying much… my head used to be very noisy!). If you are interested, let me know and I will pass on the titles.
July 28, 2007 12:32 pm
Healing is such an elusive thing. There are days that I think that I am finally AOkay and then the reality of how I feel jumps up and smacks me in the face. I think that it just takes time and lots of it – TM has been cancer free for 10 years now and I can still smell the hospital and remember vividly how he looked when undergoing treatment. Whenever he gets sick and has the “green” tinge to his skin I freak out.
I have to admit that IF has been super tough – I can’t get over the constant state of mind where – “This should just work, why the Fxxx is it so hard for me?”
I wish that I had some words of wisdom. Know that you are not going through this alone.