24 Ways Losing My Children to Infertility Has Changed My Perspective

My answer to the piece in today’s Huffington Post Parents, “20 Ways Motherhood Changes Your Perspective”

Alas.

I try to be the better human, I really do. Today was no different as my eyes passed over the Huffington Post Parents article, “20 Ways Motherhood Changes Your Perspective.”

I fought the temptation. “Don’t read it, S. You’ve got things to do”. My (supposed) higher minded approach to rebuilding my new life I didn’t chose is to focus on myself, not on what’s going on around me.

Apparently, that goes better on some days than on others. And to be honest, my raw material in this department is pretty shabby. So I succumbed, gambling that this might be an opportunity to vent some justly earned smugness.

One part amusing, one part mildly irritating, it so did not disappoint. Considering the author was writing about what is all too often lauded as the toughest job on the planet, the only job that can make you know “real love” (haven’t you HEARD??), I found its trite fluffiness rather amusing. I’m like, “That’s all ya got? That’s as deep as you can go on the supposed epiphanies of motherhood?” The author may as well have put ME down for a nap.

As I acknowledged she has just as much of a right as anyone to blatantly appeal to the asses the masses, I also noticed some of the “changed perspectives” she listed could come from many other life situations besides parenthood. That no doubt provoked a few justifiable eye rolls. After all, it’s not as if parents have a monopoly on “true multitasking” or on seeing the world through the eyes of a child. It seemed as though this was implied, albeit unintentionally.

In trying to exercise my one drop of maturity for the day, I made an attempt to pinpoint where (in me) my irritation was coming from. The escape of “Yeah, I’ll give you a list!!” multiple times from my lips while reading hinted it was time for a little self investigation.

Was I bothered that I could not connect? In reading about how motherhood changes a person I may as well have been reading Arabic. Was it that my own list of changes is so drastically different from those of the cultural norm of motherhood? Was it that I needed a list at all? Do I have a genetic disorder that leads me to be irked by generic simplicity through no fault of my own? Probably all of the above.

Is there anything I can do about it? As with most conundrums and debacles that ripple from the disease of infertility and involuntary childlessness, the answer was mostly “No”. Shocking, I know. I could however, make my own list, a list that my mind already seemed to be composing with the fury of a raging panther.

I piggy backed on the original list whenever I could, which you’ll notice is practically never.

So here it is folks,

24 Ways Losing My Children to Infertility Has Changed My Perspective

1) Life isn’t fair. Lend a hand whenever you can, to yourself first if life was unfair to you.

2) Grief is a necessity, not a choice.

3) There are a multitude of other ways to contribute to the world besides raising a child, none better than the other.

4) Being a Mom unequivocally does NOT make someone a more compassionate person. Awareness does.

5) Connection with one’s most visceral of selves is something not everyone has had life force upon them, but it makes you more alive.

6) I’m stronger than I ever knew.

7) Pain is undeniably human. My emotions don’t get the better of me, they are the better of me.

8) We live in an emotionally averse, and thus grief averse culture.

9) I still drink coffee, but I need wine. Lots and lots of wine.

10) Abidance, validation and a non – judgmental ear are the three best things you can provide a person in crisis. “Fixing” always strikes out.

10a) The above are easy to preach and complex to practice.

11) A lot of shit happens. What surrounds a person in their life is not necessarily a reflection of them.

12) Silence can be deafening, it takes a present person to shoulder a quiet home.

13) Grieving the loss of one’s children while adapting to a child free not by choice life in this pro-natalist world could very well be one of the toughest jobs on the planet.

14) Grieving the loss of the future you wanted and thought you would have is a real thing. I live mostly in the present, knowing full well no one is promised anything – this moment is all we really have.

15) People “meaning well” does not give them a free pass to say hurtful, minimizing things in response to the loss of one’s children. Or in any other life crisis for that matter.

16) The world needs a whole new paradigm when it comes to perceiving and talking about human reproduction.

17) The world needs a whole new paradigm when it comes to valuing women outside of motherhood.

18) Evolvement, sleeping in, traveling, freedom and a tsunami of personal transformation are just nifty but are no replacement for the children I lost and they never will be.

19) What doesn’t kill you can break you.

20) What doesn’t kill you or break you can still really really suck.

21) I don’t have to justify my life to anyone. (But if you ask, I will answer you.  With the utmost directness, regardless of any discomfort that may cause).

22) In spite of everything I’ve gone through, I amazingly haven’t forgotten how to see the world through the eyes of a child.

23) If your parents stood by and unconditionally supported you through your infertility and childlessness, as all good parents should do, you gain a new and deep appreciation for your parents. Not all parents do this, however.

24) Having come through four years of trying to conceive, one surgery, ten failed fertility treatments and grieving and mourning the loss of our children with both myself and my marriage intact, I know my capacity to love is as vast and deep as anyone’s.

37 thoughts on “24 Ways Losing My Children to Infertility Has Changed My Perspective

  1. I always enjoy reading your blog, but wow – you knocked this one out of the park!! Love it!!! thank you for posting. xoxo – Kristine

    • Hi Kristine – I’ve been struggling with how my experiences have changed me, as well as with the ability to voice it. Thanks for the resonance:-)

  2. I so admire your candor. I find it so hard to share my story because so few under infertility & this always makes me feel very vulnerable. Hopefully brave women like you who are willing too put thereselves out there are paving the way for a society less focused on the importance of procreation & it’s defining a women’s worth. Thank you for being a crusader. xo

    • Thanks so much for your supportive comments, Wendy. Wow. At the risk of repeating myself I’ll say it anyway – I totally hear you on the vulnerability. Not an easy feeling to accept, never mind sit in, AT ALL. There have been times the hurt from people’s indifference to the loss of my children has rendered me speechless, and times when I’ve stayed silent because I simply could not afford to add another wound to my pile. Combine that with a determination to not be silenced and have my/our story robbed from me too, on top of everything else, I may as well be juggling porcupines. Healing and time do make the skin a little thicker though (and I stress “a little” here!).

      • People do not know what to say or how to feel because for the most part, only those who have experienced infertility can understand the sense of loss. When someone dies, everyone can understand that sense of loss. But the sense of loss associated with not fulfilling the dream of motherhood, a goal that you obsessed over constantly and did everything in your power to accomplish somehow for most people does not resonate the same sense of loss. It makes them uncomfortable and they can’t think of any words to comfort you, but we know that there are no words. Sometimes no words are just what we need, sometimes just a hug will do in that moment. I would rather most said nothing then to try to navigate a terrain that they are not equipped to handle, because that is okay too. xo

      • Thanks for making this point on abidance, Wendy. I guess sometimes words can be very NON – validating – while silence/presence can be the most comforting thing, especially from someone who couldn’t possibly “know”.

        Infertility, and especially losing one’s children to it is definitely worthy of “I just can’t imagine” status.

  3. ALL of this!! I was going to start with a list of , “especially #…” until I realized they are all “especially”. I hate more than anything that every one of these meant so much to me personally but thank you for writing it.

    • I know, right? I should have prefaced the whole thing with a “if you connect with even one of these points, I’m sorry.”

      I’ve thought of a few others since I posted – damn that OCD!! Maybe I’ll keep the list going….

  4. When I saw the introduction to your post, I went and read the article, then whipped off 20 points of my own (I might post them – I’ll think about it). Then I came back to read yours. What a wonderful post!

    You’re right – it was mildly irritating. The whole “you don’t judge other mothers” thing was rubbish. She might not, but just get them talking about breastfeeding or not, co-sleeping or not, “crying it out” or not, and you’ll see plenty of judgement! And you’re right, so many of her points are applicable to other situations too – infertility/childlessness, chronic illnesses/parents with illnesses, simply ageing (and the wisdom that comes with it), etc etc etc.

    • If your points end up morphing into a post I’d love it, Mali. I’d be so interested to see how a decade + of perspective shifts and doesn’t shift things.

      As far as the judging other parents point, I found that amusing because I never did that much (believe it or not!). Unless I see someone doing something blatantly wrong, which of course now shifts me into “yeah, I’m sure YOU get to have a kid” gear with the greatest of ease, I still really don’t see the point. You never know the back story of a situation, I assume most parents know their kid better than anyone else, and crying and meltdowns in public happen, they are a part of life when you’re 4 (and a few other ages). You don’t need to be a mother to get that some things have many answers, some have none, and that most of life is trial and error.

    • Thanks. Absolutely – trauma and loss expand us in ways that should not be underestimated or go unnoticed. For me, this does not serve as an equalizer for my losses or as reconciliation of any kind, but it is there.

    • Abby, you are so welcome!! I’ve been struggling with voicing this for the past few months so I was like “wow” too, that it randomly slid out one day. I guess you just never know….

    • Thanks, Greg. When I feel overwhelmed by it I always remind myself that there are many parents out there who are open minded and who do appreciate differences in parenting status and in the ways people contribute to the world. Better yet, I’m fortunate to call some of them my friends. But yes, the collective is still rife with arrogance and ignorance, as you said, and is long overdue for a vastly expanded perspective.

      PS So sorry about the Mets. They are not even my “official” team and it was painful.

  5. This has to be one the most honest, true and completely brilliant pieces I’ve ever read on infertility and loss – wow. You’ve absolutely nailed it, every single point is so true and summed up so perfectly. Amazing. Thank you for this xx

    • I’m taken aback – thank you so much!! I never assumed people would identify with this, I really thought it was just me. On that point it seems I was way wrong.

      • Honestly – I’ve read so many posts about infertility, but very few that I’ve identified with and really felt hit the nail on the head as much as this one. You absolutely captured it all for me, it’s amazing xx

  6. Love this list! Every word is so true!

    I didn’t read the original article because I need to mentally prepare myself for trick-or-treat tonight and I’m sure that it would piss me off (and 11am is a bit early to start drinking wine, even by my standards).

    • Smart choice. You really should wait until at least 1:00 (pm, that is). Oh, and you’re so right, for us, combining Halloween and a “20 Ways Motherhood Changes Your Perspective” article would be like an athlete competing in a Marathon and a Triathalon on the same day. It’s much better to pace things.

    • Are they privy to eye rolling and mindless snark? Gosh I hope so.

      Seriously, thanks so much for the vote of confidence:-) I really appreciate it.

    • Thank you!! I thought of submitting it but it dawned on me the fact I was pointing out the holes in another Huff Post piece kind of knocked me out of contention. Didn’t think of that as I was writing it – not too saavy of me:-)

  7. I love your list. I am sorry that sappy article on motherhood ruined your moment, but glad you you turned it into an opportunity to assert and re-affirm your truth.

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