Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fertility Shaming

When I was deep in the trenches of infertility, there was nothing I hated more than Mother's Day. I dreaded that holiday more than any other. Partly because it was a reminder that I was not a mother, so I had no reason to celebrate. But also because I hated how I would be treated on that day. If I went to church, they would hand me a flower and say it was because I was a women who had the potential to be a good mother. But after the first time that happened, I avoided church like the plague on that Sunday each year.

Each year, it was hard to honor my own mother and mother in-law because the pain was too much. Because not only was it Mother's Day, but also seemed to be a day to honor grandparents also. So not only was I reminded I wasn't a mother, but also that because of me, they weren't grandmother's. (Realistically, I knew that wasn't my fault. But as the oldest child of each family, I had put that extra pressure on myself.)

With all of that being said, this post may come as a shock to most. But I'm noticing a growing trend, fertility shaming. Maybe this is only my opinion, but I feel like I must speak out.

Maybe its because I'm in such a healthy place now. But I don't remember ever being so hateful to motherhood in general. I would find myself trying to justify some mother's over others and I would baffled at how some could be mother's when I couldn't. But I never felt like I was at war with all mothers in general.

I noticed this trend slowly. Someone would post a meme about being a grandmother. Or about how the greatest gems around a neck were those of your child. (You know the ones that make you think, blah, blah, blah. Big deal) Sure, it would sting a little bit, but I would just scroll by. And I don't think I ever saw a person attacked publicly over it. But I've seen rants on private groups and they make me sad.

But now that Mother's Day is approaching, I feel like the haters are coming out. I almost feel like they want the day cancelled in honor of their grief. I no longer hate Mother's Day, but still have very mixed feelings over it. I wish there was a way it could be a day to honor mom's, and yet those in the infertile community could have no idea it was that day and therefore it would be just another day to them. But I know that's not even possible in our over commercialized world we live in.

At first, I just tried to ignore this fertility shaming. I remember the pain. It feels like it will never end. But yesterday, I found myself trying to leave a comment on a blog post a mother had written. It was your basic, "the house is filthy; its mac n cheese for dinner. But I wouldn't change it for anything." I wrote a long comment about how I used to wish that was my life. I would trade my clean house for not clean. But I wasn't given that opportunity. Then I realized I couldn't comment as anonymous, so I didn't want to post the comment.

I'm not against anonymous comments; I allow them on my blog. But I also feel like if you can't say something and attach your name to it, maybe you shouldn't say it at all. I allow anonymous comments because I want someone to feel like they can freely express themselves without reviling too much about themselves. But if its a rude comment, I delete it. Anonymous should be for someone scared, not angry.

I keep going back and forth on my feelings here. In reality, most of these hateful things I have seen are on private groups; groups for childless people only. So mom's and grandma's probably have no idea. Which is the way it should be. As an infertile, we need a safe place to vent and cry and curse.

Still, I can't help but wonder if these feelings help a person find peace and healing, or if they actually slow down the process. I believe its the latter reason. If you cling to hate and bitterness, it becomes a part of you.

That's the point I'm trying to get to. Infertility sucks. It hurts. Sometimes you think you are going to die from the pain. Sometimes you wish you would. But don't stay in that moment. I believe, that if all you do is curse mother's and grandmother's for their happiness, you will never find your own happiness. Its not their fault they aren't living in the same nightmare you are; don't hold it against them. I can't walk around and always expect my family and friends to pretend they don't have kids & grand kids. I wouldn't want my misery to rain on their parade.

Could they be more supportive? I think that is a mixed question. Honestly, most people are pretty sensitive to my situation. Its only every now and then when I want to choke someone until they understand. But I can't be that way to everyone, because not everyone is that way to me.

I think there can be a better balance. Don't ignore your feelings. Doing so will only let them pressure and build up until they explode in an ugly fashion. But don't stew on them forever. Acknowledge the pain, but then count your other blessing. I hate not being a mother. But right now, I'm extremely grateful that I'm able to go back to school. I wouldn't have done it if I had kids. I hate that I'm not a mother, but I'm not going to lie, I love sleeping in on the weekends and having a quite house.

If you are still pursing treatment or adoption, my prayers are with you. I hope it works out. But whether it works out or not, I wish you happiness. Don't wait around waiting for it to happen. Find those moments now.

Monday, April 27, 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Infertility Tattoo

I would like to get a tattoo to represent my infertility. The problem is, I'm not sure what I want. I've considered something that represents just the two of us. Or something to symbolize our loss. But I'm still not sure what I want. I do know I want something unique. I don't want to just Google the infertility symbol and do that.

I already have one tattoo and love it. It really doesn't have any symbolism behind it, except that it was my first tattoo. I had to think on it for two years before I decided what I wanted. But I have loved it so much, I've decided I want a 2nd one, but this time with some meaning behind it, hence the infertility.

I want something to remind me that infertility didn't beat me. I was bruised, but never completely broken. Or something that shows how Josh & I are our own family. That we can be complete without a child.

You can find more of this weeks #MicroblogMondays posts HERE.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Finding My Voice

I actually had a different post started for today, but then I read Feeling Alone over on Mel's blog, Stiffup Queen. I started to post a comment there, but it was quite long, so I decided to just do a blog post instead.

Earlier this year, I met someone who was going through a similar experience to my own.
The first time I tried to offer advise, I felt like they brushed me off. But I understood. Infertility is hard to go through. You don't think anyone understands your pain.

Somehow that ignited something in me and I wanted to share more, not only with her, but with the world. For 10+ years, I have felt like no one understood me. But I had to place part of that blame on myself. I had never been brave enough to share my entire story. I had never been brave to bare my soul and tell ALL the ugly details.

I started by blogging a lot more frequently on this blog. Some of those posts were easy to write. Others, I really struggled with wanting to expose that much. And still some, remain in draft mode until I am ready to share them.

Each post, I put a link on my Facebook page and then in an infertility group I am part of. I always encourage everyone to share my link. I'm not looking for attention for myself. I'm trying to help fertile people understand what its like. And I'm trying to let other infertile people know they aren't alone.

I have been amazed at the people who have reached out to me. Some of them, I knew they were facing a struggle of their own. But others, I had no idea. Its hard to share a story that is so personal and heartbreaking. I remember the fear. I didn't want to speak up for myself, only to be told, "Oh, it'll happen, when its time."

I hate to admit it, but it hasn't made the impact on the fertile world I had hoped it would. (Actually, deep down I think I knew it never would, but I still hoped differently.) I still feel like most of them won't get it. But there have been a few that I have felt like I have reached. I believe, that because of my blog, they have had their eyes opened and now have a better understanding. They'll never completely get it, because it will never be their own reality. But I think it has helped them to be kinder to those they know that are infertile. 

If you are feeling alone, please know that you are not. Even though each infertility struggle is different form the next, we all still share the same pain. The longing to feel your baby grow in your belly. The ache of wanting to hold YOUR baby in your arms. If you can't find your own voice to share your story, please let me be your voice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sometimes There Isn't a Miracle Baby

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.

I'm part of a Facebook group for childless couples. They are a group for those who are no longer trying to grow their family, but instead, trying to make peace with their situation of a childless life. Everyone is in a different part of their healing, so its a pretty diverse group.

Yesterday, one of them mentioned how they kept reading infertility posts, but they all seemed to have the same theme. "Hang on, it'll happen. See our miracle baby. We are living proof it ends." This started a great online conversation. I said my two cents worth, but now I have to do a soap box post.

My short response was:

"I think they are trying to keep hope alive. Once their dream comes true, I don't think it means they forget the pain. They just think it's going to end. They no longer can comprehend that for some, it never happens. I don't see them as being malicious, their just hoping your story ends like theirs, with a happy ending. They can't see past that."

But after posting it, I kept thing about it. Then I stumbled onto several posts that were similar. Suddenly, I better understood why the original poster had been upset. It seems like every story you read ends with the same results. "Keep trying, your time will come. It took us "X" amount of years, but look at our happy family now."

I know people in that situation. They tried for years and years and finally got their happy ending. But this post isn't about those people. Its about the ones who never get the fairy tale ending.

I use to try compare my situation to others, but I've learned that each couple is different. Each couple faces their own unique medical issues. Each couple must go through a deep soul search to decide what they are open to. IVF? Sperm/Egg donation? Surrogacy? Adoption? Foster care? There is no clear cut answer and it is different for each couple. Only they can decide what they want to try. Only they can decide what is best for them.

Only they can decide when they are done. I think we all reach a breaking point where we just can't try anymore. Even when you decide to stop treatment and move on with life, it still kills you. Its hard to give up on a dream. After all the years, all the money, all the treatments, all the waiting, its hard to walk away with nothing. Especially when its something that you have chased for so long.

Not every case of infertility ends with a miracle baby. 1 out of 8 couples are infertile. But not everyone one of them eventually has a baby and/or adopts. I tried a Google search to see how many couples never resolve their infertility, but if those numbers are out there, I couldn't find them. But there are several couples out there who will remain childless for life.

Not every case of infertility ends with a baby. But just because a couple choose to move on, doesn't mean their infertility is over. It will always be a part of us. We will always be reminded of what we are missing. That doesn't mean we can jump back in and try again. Somethings can never be resolved. That's a part of life. Its not fair, but that's how it is.

This week I not only want to promote infertility awareness, but that there is also a community of childless for life people out there. They seem to be the ones that are forgotten. I want to show the world that even when you don't get your miracle baby, life can still be happy. I don't want to be the story of a miracle. I want to be the story about survival. A story of an alternate happy ending.

Monday, April 20, 2015

#MicroblogMonday: Hormones

I often wonder why my body was cursed, just enough, that it couldn't have a baby, but not so much that I still get my monthly visitor, Aunt Flo. Well, almost monthly. My periods can be pretty sporadic. I never know if I'm going to go 2-3 months with no period, or just the normal 28 days.

That is where the problem lies. The days leading up to my period, I get emotional. Super emotional. Cry over spilled milk emotional. But it never dawns on me why I am that way until my period actually starts. Then the light bulbs goes on and its like "oh, no wonder I've been so moody lately."

Last week was bad. Once I realized, there would be no baby #2, I lost it. I spent all of last Sunday in tears. Monday, was only slightly better because I was trying to keep on a happy face while at work. But inside, I was a wreck.

Finally, on Tuesday night, I realized Aunt Flo was upon me. As much as I hate her, it was almost a relief to place the blame on her for my recent emotional turmoil. Because now that she is gone, I've returned to my normal self.

You can find more of this weeks #MicroblogMondays posts HERE.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Good Mom

Do you ever meet a stranger and wish you could go back and say something to them? Several months ago, I met a lady. She admitted that she was struggling as a mom; she felt like she wasn't good enough. I have thought about her a lot since then. I wish I could go back, wrap my arms around her, and tell her that I could see she was a good mom. But since I'll probably never get that opportunity, I decided to write a blog post instead.

I have yet to meet someone who suffers from infertility that isn't quick to pass judgement. We see news stories of babies found in dumpsters and wonder why God would give that baby to someone else and not us, when clearly we want one so much. Or we know someone who is on drugs. Why does God bless them with babies, but not us? We will even question why someone can have 5, 6, 7 (or more kids) and wonder why they couldn't just have one less and we could have just one? Just one? Is that too much to ask?

But with this lady, I felt like I could see her sweet spirit. Not only could I tell that she wasn't one of the above, but I could just tell that she tries her hardest. Maybe its because of the guilt she was feeling that helped me understand she is a good mom. She cared that her child was suffering in school. She felt bad for loosing her temper one night. She just wanted energy to be able to be the best mom for her kids. I think those thoughts and feelings she shared with me are what pointed towards her being a good mom. She cared so much that it hurt.

I know I don't have first hand experience, but I still can appreciate that raising kids is a LOT of work and it can be exhausting. I don't look at mom's and think I could do better. Personally, I wonder how you do it all. Parenting is hard. But you make it look beautiful.

Keep up the good work. You are a good mom.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Road Goes Both Ways

This is one of those posts that I have worked on for months now. Its one that I'm worried will hurt feelings. But I remind myself I have feeling too. Sometimes the only way I can express those feelings is by writing them out. That being said, I am ready to talk about one of the sore points of our infertility.

My husband and I joke that we are the least favorite in our families. I don't mean that literally, but let's face it, when you don't have kids, you get left out.

A lot of the time, if we don't make an effort to keep in contact with family, we can go weeks and weeks without talking to them. Seriously, once the holiday's are over, we won't have much contact with our families until usually the summer months when everyone is doing family reunions and picnics.

I can't speak for all infertile couples on this topic, but a lot of them that I do I know, this fact bothers them. Like I stated, we don't have much contact. But I've noticed a trend. A lot of the time when I contact my sister in-law about something, she'll mention her mom being there in the last day or two.

Here's the thing. We live literally a mile from his sister. We have lived in our home for almost 2 years now. In those 2 years, we have gone to his parent's house several times. I won't lie; sometimes a month (or two) passes between those visits, but we do go occasionally. There are members of my husband's family that haven't even seen the inside of our house.

Let me clarify, this post is not an attack against those people. I just want to make a point. Remember, the purpose of these posts are to bridge the gap between infertile people and fertile people. I'm just trying to show the other side of the coin.

To quote a dear friend, "I wish family would realize that the road goes both ways." Sure, we can come there and visit. But they could do the same.

Another friend pointed out, "Well, if you're hostile or grumpy towards them, maybe they don't feel welcome." To which I responded "Well, if they would make more of an effort, maybe we wouldn't feel grumpy about being forgotten."

I couldn't tell you what the turning point for me was, but lately, I have noticed I have become more  brash about this issue. I no longer ignore the fact that family gets weekly visits, while we, only 1 mile away, never see anyone.

My husband claims he likes our quite life. And I couldn't agree more. But its just one of those things that bother me and I can't seem to be quite about it any longer. I don't need weekly visits, I just want to know we aren't forgotten.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hope Poem

I thought I let go of you.
But recently,
I feel it stirring within me.
I feel it growing.

I don't want it to.
I keep telling it I am okay
with the way things were.
I moved on.
But still, I can feel it inside me.

There are others more deserving than me.
Others who are still trying.
I pray for peace. Is that too much to ask?
I'm not asking for a miracle, just peace.

But still, it burns inside of me.
I don't want to go down that road again.
I'm not willing to risk my heart again.
Hope whispers, "but it could be different this time."

I don't want to hope.
I put it to rest.
Please let me rest too.
Just peace is all I want.

(This poem is property of Savannah Christensen. Written on 4/14/15.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

#MicroblogMonday's: Baby #2

Josh and I never wanted a large family. Most days, we just planned on 2 kids. (Maybe a third, but we could never agree on that.) Since we only planned to have two, I wanted them to be several years apart. If I was only going to do the baby stage twice, I wanted to savor every moment. So we decided that when the 1st child started school, we would start trying to have baby #2.

This weekend, it hit me. If things had gone as planned, we'd be trying for baby #2 about now. Our little girl would have started Kindergarten this year.

Realizing this opened the wounds back up this weekend. I spent most of yesterday in tears. I could write more about it, but I'm still pondering several things in my heart, so I will save that for another day.

 You can find more of this weeks #MicroblogMondays posts HERE.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Draw Your Infertility

Years ago, we attended an adoption conference. Most of the classes focused on the many aspects of adoption, but they also had a few infertility classes, one of which we decided to attend.

During the session, we were each given a piece of paper and told to draw our infertility. I drew a woman holding a baby, surrounded by family and friends. Then I drew myself in the far corner, standing alone with a tear on my face. (Really, it was just stick figures, but that was the image I was going for.)

I finished and looked at Josh's paper, only to find it was blank. I asked him why he didn't draw anything and he said, "because there's nothing to draw, there's no sperm."

After everyone was finished drawing their pictures, we hung them up on the wall. The instructors gave us wadded up, wet paper towels and told us to throw them at the picture, as hard as we could, while telling our infertility how it made us feel.

As I threw mine I yelled, "I hate you." Those 3 words held so much meaning. I hated our bodies. I hated those who had what I couldn't. I hated the waiting. I hated the world.

For me, that was one of those moments where the flood gates open. I bawled and bawled. Normally, I would never open up like that in a public setting, but everyone in there was having the same experience, so it felt safe. Also, I was so caught up in my own grief, I couldn't have told you what everyone else was doing. When we started, I thought it was a dumb idea. But by the end of class, it had helped me to confront my grief.

Many times since, I've heard others say they are so mad over their situation, they just want to smash something against the wall. One woman even said she wanted to buy a box of glass jars to smash, but it seemed so wasteful in the end, and she didn't want to have a mess to clean up.

As weird as it sounds, try this out. Maybe you'll just end up with a wet wad of paper on the floor. But maybe it will help release some of the feelings you are having a hard time expressing.

Monday, April 6, 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Easter

This year, I actually found myself grateful I didn't have kids for the Easter holiday. Friday, I spent most of the day cramming for a test in my math class. To say I am stressed over this class is an understatement.

Saturday, Josh asked me why I didn't do any egg hunts with the nephews this year. I told him that no one invited me, and since I was so busy with school, I didn't make the effort to invite myself.

Most of the time, I have to make myself the 3rd wheel. But I'm with my nephews, so I don't mind. But this year, with all of the extra stress from school, I was actually glad to be able to skip some of the holiday madness.

I still made a small gift for each nephew. This year, I found a way to turn a beach towel into a basket, which I filled with a few small toys.

Josh and I also exchanged baskets. I think that's my favorite tradition. Its our way of saying we are a family all on our own. We also decided to stay home and have a quite dinner by ourselves.

You can find more of this weeks #MicroblogMondays posts HERE.