Sunday, March 15, 2009

Please Read This

I know I have posted infertility articles before, but this one is so TRUE. I got it off of a great blog: Adoption....Changing Lives From Beginning to End I have inserted a few thoughts of my own in Italics. If you are having a hard time understanding just what we have gone through the last few years please read this article!

*For Infertility and Emotional Stages, the author is unknown. However, the information is from the Adoption Education Resource Manual, LDS Family Services, Kearns Agency.
Infertility and Emotional Stages

The most common first feeling of infertility. For us it wasn't as surprising as it is for others. We were already kind of prepared for it. But even then it was still a surprise. Because even if you know bad news is coming, you still hang on to a small shred of hope that it won't be bad new. This was the shortest stage for us.

"This can't happen to me!" Denial serves a purpose. It allows the body and mind to adjust at their own pace to events that might otherwise be overwhelming. Denial often comes into play at the time of miscarriage or stillbirth. The loss is too enormous and sudden to endure. It needs to be processed and piecemeal until it can be totally acknowledged.

Infertility is a personal and embarrassing subject to discuss. Many infertile couples keep their problem carefully to themselves. This has two very unfortunate consequences: first, the family, friends, and peers of the couple may presume they are using birth control or do not desire children. This leads to needling and pressuring to start a family and fulfill society's dictates that families should be continued. Second, the partners, if they do not confide to others about infertility, must necessarily turn to each other for support, understanding, and sympathy. Often this is an impossible request because both members of an infertile couple are under stress. This is one of the biggest stages we have gone through. For us, it was easier to isolate ourselves away because the pain was just so overwhelming that we didn't know how to share it with others. Like it mentions, this could have been an unfortunate thing for us to do because now that we try to share our feelings it seems to create tension and misunderstandings. I think some see us isolate ourselves and they think that is because we need space. But really we isolate ourselves because it is easier that way. If we know that going to something will be uspetting to us, it it easier to not go at all.

When a couple enter into investigation and attempted treatment of their infertility, they surrender much of their sense of control over their bodies and destinies. The reaction to loss of control and helplessness is often anger. The anger may be very rational, focused at real and correctly perceived insults. Sometimes the anger is more irrational and may be projected onto targets such as the doctor, or an adoption worker. The real target of the anger is both the situation and the self. Anger which isn't acknowledged or released is often repressed and may lead to chronic depression. And sometimes anger comes out and hurt the wrong people. We have had a hard time learning to control our anger at times and end up lashing at those we love. We are sorry.

Guilt and Unworthiness
People try to make a cause-and-effect relationship between infertility and something they have done (or not done) in life. Infertile people frequently decide that they are not being blessed with a pregnancy because they are in some way unworthy. Pregnancy is being withheld as a punishment. Even though we know that Infertility is a MEDICAL CONDITION, we still have moments like this. But how can they be avoided when we see others blessed with babies that we feel are less deserving. I have these moments several times a day. Those kids aren't buckled up, I will always buckle my children. Why can drug addicts have children and we can't?

Depression is a real legitimate state of sadness, despair, lethargy and vague symptoms of distress. When infertility is marked by an end point, such as final knowledge that pregnancy will never occur, depression gives way to grief. I go through this cycle a few times a year. It's nice to know that it is a real legitimate emotion.

"Death. Death of a lot of things. The end of the Jones family and the Jones' family name. It dies with us, because of me. My husband is the last of the male children in his family. Death before life ...before we even knew our child, because he never existed. The hardest part of this kind of death is the fact that it is the death of a dream. There are no solid memories, no pictures, no things to remember. You can't remember your child's blond hair or brown eyes, or his favorite toys or the way he laughed. Or the way it felt to be pregnant with him. He never existed."
There is no funeral, no burial, no grave to lay flowers on. The couple often grieves alone. The infertile person may entertain fears or fantasies that the fertile partner will leave--or worse, will stay and be secretly hostile and condemning. The feelings may lead to a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy. Please re-read this part. With infertility it really is the death of our children. It doesn't matter that we have chosen to adopt. Our children that we dreamt about are dead. There is no easy way to say that. And unfortunately, there is really no solid way to grieve it, but our grief is real. Do not try to convince us otherwise.

The Course of Normal Grief
The first state of normal grief is usually shock and disbelief. To absorb the loss so that they will not feel overwhelmed. The second state of grief is actual suffering. Experiencing the painful feelings of sadness and emptiness. Weeping and sobbing, loss of appetite, exhaustion, choking or tightness in the throat. This "grief work" progresses, and the acute state of suffering will usually pass within several weeks to several months. Finally after the third state of grief, recovery begins. They will establish relationships and new interests as well as show renewed ability to experience pleasure, diversion, and satisfaction. Grief, of course may be reactivated, but the suffering is never as acute again. Each time I grieve, it does seem to be just a little less painful than it was the time before, but it is still very real. I think we have healed a lot, but I think there is still more healing to do. We will ALWAYS grieve the children we couldn't have. We will love the children we get through adoption, but even then we will still grieve that what if's.

Why Grief May Fail
There are a number of very understandable and logical deterrents to normal grieving in infertility: Loss of a potential, not an actual. Friends and family are frequently not aware of the infertility problem, and hence, they do not rally to give support. Loss in miscarriage or still birth, although tragic, is more conducive to normal grief work. There may be uncertainty over the loss. Some people have likened it to the feeling of having a loved one missing in action in war.



Meka said...

Dead on! I was stuck in the anger phase for a long time. It's such a weird trial, no one really understand it's a medical issue so they give advice that only makes things worse sometimes. I wish the church had more resources about infertility, I am so grateful to the support group though! That helped me so much knowing that all the feelings I had, others had to. Really the best thing people can do is just listen and sometimes just saying "that would be so hard" is all I want to hear. How is your kitty doing? I have a stroller for my cat too! I had the need to push a stroller! You do what you have to do to get through the day! Wow sorry its so long!

misty secrest said...

hey savannah! i was just lookin at your page and thought i'd leave a quick hello. its been a while! i'll for sure have to come up and visit soon! i miss you all! i'm also staying very mindful and prayful for you and josh!

love ya lots!

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