There is not, to my knowledge, a 12-step process for getting the upper hand with Infertility. So I guess that leaves me no choice but to make one up.
- Acknowledge that you can’t get pregnant the ‘old school’ way — it doesn’t seem to matter how many candles have been lit, whether the mood-setting or the spiritual kind.
- Consult an army of specialists — you’ve followed advice found in books, online or compliments of old wives tales to no avail; proceed to western medicine-staffed fertility clinics eager to sell you services.
- Spend boatloads of money on treatments with low percentages of success — meanwhile your friends procreate like mad, remodel their homes, buy new cars and otherwise stimulate the economy.
- Explore the Eastern practice of medicine — why not? you will leave no stone unturned.
- Avoid malls, parks and any child-themed locale — there’s no need to subject yourself unnecessarily to that which you cannot seem to have.
- Buy a ticket to Denial — any place is preferable to the reality of Infertility land.
- Declare war on all smug parents — these thoughtless creatures are to be avoided at all cost.
- Withdraw from social obligations that revolve around other people’s children — self-preservation becomes essential at this stage.
- Start an Infertility blog — express your thoughts and properly vent your pent-up emotions; discover a little utopia along the way, your own Private Idaho as it were.
- Exit the Infertility treatment maze — you’re tired of running into dead ends; arrive at either successful treatment, child-free living or pursue adoption (in the latter case be prepared for more expense and invasive procedures).
- Hang out in Infertility Rehab — slowly attempt to re-engage and co-exist with friends and colleagues and their child-filled lives … perhaps write a book?
- Fully re-enter society— accept that you’re forever changed by Infertility but know that society, largely, will never fully understand what you have been through and/or continue to battle. (Warning: re-entry can be exacerbated by those who don’t give a flying fig about Infertility’s collateral damage.)
So it’s occurred to me that I’ve been hanging out in step 11 for a while. It’s not a bad place to be. It allows me to modulate access to the dominant parenting universe. Twinges of sadness and longing about what could have been continue, albeit with less intensity. The biggest challenge at step 11 remains controlling the impulse to reach across the table and slap silly any one who deigns to whinge to me about their children or parenting responsibilities. Hey wait a minute, that probably explains why I’m in no hurry to jump to step 12.
Feel free to test these steps. Edits and extensions are welcome.
March 7, 2008 8:57 pm
We did #6 recently…knowing I just had to get away and regroup felt good, but coming home is hard too.
March 7, 2008 10:48 pm
I’m at step 10, is that good or bad??
This really does sum it all up!
March 8, 2008 2:26 am
Oh boy… teetering toward #10 myself here. Funny how it scares the crap out of me, but also offers little peeks of happiness and relief to imagine.
Speaking of #5 and 7, I was just noticing tonight — as I tried to relax with a Glamour magazine (which I thought I was getting too old for) and there were at least 50 or so pregnancy mentions/mom stories, maternity ads, etc. Feels like even the ol’ safe “escapes” (e.g. even bars, as you know!) are so saturated with mommy-culture. It’s hard to find an oasis!
March 8, 2008 6:19 am
I “stole” your 12 steps to IF recovery to post in my own blog. I believe I have given you proper credit but I wanted to make sure it was okay AND let you know that if I need to change how I credited you that I am happy to do that. Please let me know.
PS Your blog has given me hope that if treatments fail I can be a functioning part of society still. Thank you.
March 8, 2008 10:37 am
I’m at the ‘drink loads of alcohol’ stage – number 13?!
March 8, 2008 7:14 pm
PJ – thank you for being so sweet and continually checking on me. It means a lot.
March 10, 2008 12:43 pm
Great list, PJ – I can identify with so many of these steps.
I’m still ricocheting in between numbers 1 through to 9 – not sure whether I’m ready to move to 10, 11 & 12, but starting to worry that I may be closer to the end of the road than I’d like.
March 11, 2009 12:49 am
Whoa …. me, too. I don’t know if I can ever get to #12. I am still devastated and hurting awfully bad. Seems that EVERYWHERE I go there are pg women. Even at work there are several men whose wives are pg, just found out they are pg or just had a baby. It is driving me crazy!
I like the alcohol thing now and again. Not a big drinker though.
March 10, 2008 2:58 pm
I think I’m stuck with you in #11. Does anyone ever really move permanently into #12??
March 10, 2008 5:30 pm
I think I’ve lingered for an eternity at #6. It’s just so cozy here…
March 10, 2008 10:52 pm
I’m in Stage 11 for sure. Slowly reconnecting to mother-friends. I will eventually need another type of support group.
Maybe there should be a come out of the closet step. That’s where you actually admit to people you’re one of those “crazy” women who tried IVF multiple times, it doesn’t always work, how difficulty infertility is to accept, and that they have idea of what they’re saying when they say insert idiot comment here.
March 11, 2008 2:51 am
Step 12 is definitely the kicker. But you’ve come a damn long way to eleven!
March 25, 2008 12:54 am
I’ve made it to step 12, but what continues to amaze me is how easy it is to rocket backwards when something unexpected strikes me…I guess that means I must have skipped some of the “coming to peace” dribble along the way…IF is and forever will be a cross to bear…it very much defines who we are, how we live and it creates a slippery sloe that keeps surprising me…we’ve been off the treatment roller coaster for more than four years…we have a child through traditional surrogacy, but IF still haunts me…almost every day.
March 25, 2008 5:02 am
Thanks for your comment. It’s reassuring to know that there are elements of the altogether daunting infertility experience that aren’t peculiar to me alone. Appreciate the time you took to write. Best, PJ