Not Sure How I Got Here…


…but I’m in a pretty good place right now. This despite having an older laptop stolen from a back room in a week when roofers were crawling all over our house, new doors were being in stalled and electricians were wiring. There were just too many subcontractors employing temporary crews. I discovered the loss only when I was going to transfer some photos that were stored on it.

Sigh. I had backed up most of the data recently, but not all of the photos. It’s those that I’ll miss the most — and yeah, it and had my entire iTunes library on it, too. But still, the theft didn’t send me into orbit the way it might have in years past. I’ve just become more zen-like (okay, everybody, say it with me…) since infertility changed the way I see the world.

Being in a good place has me a wee bit worried especially since we’re coming up on the mother of all Norman Rockwellian periods — the time of the year when, tra la, the images online, on television, in the stores — everywhere you turn — show happy shining faces of proud parents and cherub-like children and if you don’t fit that ideal well, you can’t help but feel a bit deficient, sad, left out of the party taking place around you.

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Infertiles aren’t the only ones left standing in the cold. We’re joined by a sub-set of singletons who would prefer to be part of a couple and others who have suffered loss. Hmmm. Not a jolly crew to be sure, which is why it’s essential going into this season to have your game face on and your expectations set low. Just knowing there will be episodes that suck BIG time makes it that much easier to cope.

I was reminded of this again when I was strolling down the hall past a supply/copy room at work. It always seems that I need to get a new folder, staple refill or copy something at the same time one of a handful of women in our office is using the room to well, let’s just say, restock their babies food supply. It’s usually a blow to my senses, the proverbial sucker punch when I see that door closed with a handwritten post-it note reading “privacy please.” It brings it all home again. The closed door is the perfect metaphor. I’ve been shut out of a major life experience. I’m outside of the circle of women who can conceive and nourish their children.AAUGH

When the supply room was first assigned to do double duty as a temporary lactation room it made my blood boil. Arrgh! Did I really need to be reminded of my infertility on such a regular basis? Surely there had to be a better, less conspicuous place to conduct this bit of biological business. But what was I going to do? Protest? It would not exactly have been sisterly of me to deny them or make a scene so I gnashed my teeth some and challenged myself to face it like the infertile warrior that I am. That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

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And that’s why I think I’m in such a good place at the moment. But there are others who are having a tougher time. I’ve read recent posts from women who are walking down the
same path I am — carving out a life after treatments didn’t work —
and they’ve had a few setbacks. They are not in such a good place. I’ve also received emails from women from virtually every corner of the world who aren’t comfortable leaving their thoughts in the comments section that remind me just how deep the pain can go, how lonely this time of year can feel.  By the way this is not just a Western or Christian phenomenon. I’ve received emails from women in other parts of the world who live in cultures that effectively shun and totally devalue infertile women and the Internet is their lifeline.

So taking a cue from Mel over at Stirrup Queens I’m opening up the living room here for those who need to vent. I’ve found the best way to work through the not so good place is to let it all out. You’re welcome to do so here.

P.S. And if you need a good look at how and why it’s difficult to explain and relate at times given the unpredictable nature of the way infertility colors our world, check out this excellent post by Chicklet over at Bloorb.

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15 Responses

  1. Christina

    November 20, 2008 4:20 pm

    Oh God — the lactation room. Should we translate “Privacy Please” to mean “Keep Out”? What used to drive me nuts at my old job was the way the birth announcement of every baby born in that family-friendly company greeted me each time I went through the glass doors to the floor.The poster would stay up almost until the mother came back to work. Those glass doors were never bare,and as the months rolled on, and I ran out of money and health for fertility treatments — well, you can imagine how hard it was to go through those doors each morning.

    It’s much easier, now that I’m based at home. I don’t know how I could have gone on in that office.

    But I’m in a great place right now, at almost 49 (tomorrow!) I just told a new friend, herself a mother and grandmother, how glad I was to be in such a good place about it. And yet, just four years ago, I was in a terrible place, and questioning everything.

    I wish I could share a magic secret of how I got from there to here. For me, it was travel that got me out of my funk. And lots of journaling and writing. But my heart goes out to others who can’t get out of that bad place. There’s no one-size fits all solution, but blogs like this one are a huge help.

    • Pamela Jeanne

      November 20, 2008 4:48 pm

      Thanks, Christina! And a big ‘ol HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you. So glad you’re in a good place (and oh, what a grueling experience it must have been walking through those doors!)

    • stepping up

      November 21, 2008 12:41 am

      Your comment spoke to me as Pam’s always does. I was thinking of travel to get to the next step, and I’m curious. Did you go solo? Any great places or routes that spoke to you? I’d love your thoughts. Thanks to both you and Pam.

      • Christina

        November 21, 2008 10:43 pm

        Re — the travel cure. Ironically, I won a writing fellowship to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia in June of 2006 — when we had wanted to adopt from that country and been turned down. I travelled alone, without my husband, arrived in a beautiful city where I didn’t know the language a couple of days before the rest of the academic group. That made me connect to my younger self — I studied and worked in Europe in my youth.

        Infertility gives you tunnel vision — I connected to my city self (I’m a 20 year Nyorker now relocated to the country) — being part of the genetic chain is one way to be in the flow of life. So is walking down a vibrant city street. I picked up Russian easily, I was helping everyone else by the time they arrived — so I wasn’t this semi-sick, infertile, failure self, but the sophisticated world traveller I was since I first jumped on a plane by myself at 15 to live with a French family. I also saw how crazy and poor (yet great) Russia was, and why the adoption system is so screwy there. The trip was a big turning point for me. I love solo travel — you think it’ll be scary, but it’s so easy to buddy-up when you’re on your own.

        • stepping up

          November 23, 2008 12:37 pm

          Sounds like you had an incredible experience. Thanks, so much, for the input. (I was thinking solo.)

  2. Calliope

    November 20, 2008 6:27 pm

    amazing post, as always, m’dear.
    I can not believe your office has a lactation room in the supply room. sheesh!
    The holidays totally suck for single gals. I wish we (the internets) could all just have a big meal together & ditch the annoying parts of our families.

  3. Barren Babe

    November 20, 2008 11:06 pm

    The best way to cope with ‘that time of the year’ is to have travel plans that don’t involve family. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand how excruciatingly painful December can be to those who are infertile or who have suffered a major loss. Then there are the Christmas cards full of baby/children photos and the nauseating newsletters are like salt on wounds. (I have found that destroying these photos/newsletters post-Christmas can be quite cathartic.)

    I still can’t believe that they made the supply room at your office a makeshift lactation room. Is it just me or do you find it…revolting? What about the restroom? What did lactating women do at work before demanding special rooms for emptying their milk ducts?

    Keep your chin up and paste a smile on your face. Be strong. This too shall pass.

  4. Catherine

    November 21, 2008 1:36 am

    Would you eat your lunch in the restroom if the office anorexic found it ‘revolting’? This must be painful but is hardly intrusive, smug or gloating behaviour, I can’t see how they can avoid feeding their children, it isn’t in the same class as the photos on the glass door. I know this is a space to vent but there must be better targets than lactation rooms.

  5. chicklet

    November 21, 2008 4:28 am

    Hmmm, no need to vent tonight, cuz like you, I’m in a good place… but I’m sure that’ll change any second when the five couples around me who got married this year all announce their pregnancies before I ever even have one. Cuz while I’m in a good place right now, I foresee bad places, bad thoughts, and bad “lactation room” type experiences where I wonder if I’ll ever get to be a part of this.

  6. beagle

    November 21, 2008 3:12 pm

    Attaining a zen state deserves some big congratulations!!

    I have not been venting much these days. Partly because I am truly feeling lucky right now and partly because the path I took to get to my lucky (aka the infertility “journey”) has taught me not to sweat the small stuff (most of the time). I also don’t feel as entitled to vent as I used to.

    So my mini vent? (Since you’re inviting one) It’s that people, in general, are so damn nosey, invasive, inappapropriate . . . in SO many ways. I’ll leave it at that. So, even in my lucky state of new found happiness, stupid and rude people bug the crap out of me.

    So . . . I can’t exactly claim zen here, but I can say that I’ve come a long way baby . . .

  7. Irish Girl

    November 21, 2008 3:53 pm

    I’m in a pretty good place here, too … most of the time. I think it is mostly due to how busy I’ve been and am about to be.

    I have one tremendous sore spot going into the holidays this year. It is pregnant women, especially those who are ’round about halfway through gestation — for I came *so* close to being one of *them* this holiday season. I would have been showing by now, rubbing my belly at holiday parties like they do. Their growing midsections are just such a visual and frequent reminder of what we lost this year. It kind of sucks.

    I know I have gained in other areas, I know I’ll be ok, we will survive; but, this season I wish all the pregnant ladies would kindly stay home and out of my visual field. Not gonna happen, though.

  8. loribeth

    November 21, 2008 4:38 pm

    Not sure how I got here either (cue the Talking Heads…). As you pointed out, whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself for whatever reason, all I have to do is look at the problems some other people are facing, and I remember just how fortunate I really am.

    Sorry about the laptop. And the lactation room. I haven’t run into one in my own office, although I am sure some departments/other companies in this building might have one. Of course, our maternity leaves in Canada are generally much longer than in the States (the federal government provides up to a year, most of it paid), and I know many women make a point of weaning their babies before they return to work.

  9. luna

    November 21, 2008 7:50 pm

    ok, trying to recreate my comment the internet ate…

    I’m so happy to hear you are in such a god place. I’m not big on the game face so this time of year is not always so fun. mostly I’m looking forward to the time off, and lots of good food and wine.

    yikes abut the lactation room. so not fair. whoever thought I’d have offered up my room for use by a nursing mom? at least I was a full city block away at the time…

  10. Me

    November 25, 2008 3:21 pm

    I read this post last week … but when I came over to read your newest post I scrolled back through this one to read my favorite part again:

    “… the mother of all Norman Rockwellian periods — the time of the year when, tra la …”

    You could NOT have chosen your words any better! Fabulous!

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