THE SHORT OF IT:
Dedicated yoga practitioner, certified yoga instructor, blasphemous, irreverent yogi. Reverent gardener. Innate writer. Former flutist with future visions of continuing to dabble. Budding advocate and activist. Griever extraordinaire. In love with and profoundly shaped by the children I’ll never get to meet. New, pervasive interest in all things sociology and no idea what to do with it (thanks, random music degree!). Yet.
Childless not by choice infertility survivor, IVF veteran, trauma survivor. Body work junkie now approaching holistic modalities with severe skepticism (thanks, baby making!). Histadelic and pyroluric mental illness survivor.
Foodie, wine and cheese lover, fan of comedy, especially satire. Spontaneous dancer. Gifted at relating to children. Homemaker, fixer upper home owner and renovator, interior design amateur.
Massachusetts native, Rush fan, Red Sox fan, James Bond addict. Quintessential Gen-Xer.
So not charming. Empathic, impatient, quirky, hot and cold, incisive, sarcastic, passionate, sensitive, persistent, flawed. Talkative introvert. Fair AND unrepentantly snarky. Atrocious speller. Excessive eye roller. Mocker of self and anything else deserving of mocking, “It is what it is” subscriber, questioner of everything.
THE HEARTBREAK OF IT:
Time spent TTC: 4 years From 2010 – 2014, age 38 – 41
No pregnancies whatsoever
Me: endometriosis stage 3 (not diagnosed until age 40)
Husband: no fertility problems
1/11 – 1/12: IUI’s – 5 failed, all done with injectables
7/12 – Hysteroscopy/Laparoscopy to remove stage 3 endometriosis. Almost no damage to my ovaries.
1/13 and 3/13 – IVF’s, 2 failed
4/13 – husband and I diagnosed with HLA gene compatibility issues. The unfortunate combination of both of our HLA allele genes causes my body to not recognize our embryos as genetically different, thus my body cannot create an immune tolerance to them.
6/13 and 9/13 – IVF #s 3 and 4 with neupogen added to protocol to circumvent HLA issues. Both failed.
1/31/14 – Our last fertility treatment, IVF #5, an FET, failed.
Was treated for highly elevated NK cell activity with an intralipid infusion for all five IVF’s
Money spent on baby making (not including therapy, anti anxiety medication and years not able to work) – $77,000
Total embryos transferred: 24 day twos. (17 grade a’s)
ASSLOADS of holistic measures that, although somewhat interesting and beneficial to my overall health, were totally pointless in procuring a pregnancy: Acupuncture, maya abdominal fertility massage, reiki, energetic allergy treatments, endless stupid supplements I don’t care to list, correction of a vitamin D deficiency which was actually not stupid, weight gain, alkaline diet (upon which I promptly lost half of the weight I gained), and a nutrient dense “fertility” diet. During my Ayurvedic consultation (which was before we found out that we couldn’t conceive on our own) the practitioners suggested 21 days of abstinence prior to trying to conceive. Um……fuck that!! To this day, five years out of trying to conceive, nothing makes me cringe more instantaneously than the words “Have you tried acupuncture?”
Beyond the fertility treatments –
Year 1 – Reeled from the loss of our children, experienced early phase grief numbness, realized adoption was not a possibility for us. Came out of fertility treatments with PTSD and continued to experience occasional panic attacks.
1.5 year mark – Slowly started to discover the need for and benefits of meeting people with similar experiences.
1 – 2.5 year mark – Grief roared. Went through the fire, the “feeling your loss deeply” phase of grief. Continued to find outside world social situations and people in general unbearable, violating, and completely lacking in any sort of resonance whatsoever.
2.5 – 3.5 year mark – raw phases of grief slowly begin to make their exit
Years 3 and 4 – was hit very hard these years grappling with my changed self and wrestling with the massive social losses rendered by infertility and involuntary childlessness
3.5 year mark – a level of motivation in life (aka giving a shit) and ability to assimilate into the future slowly begins to emerge
4.5 year mark – a distinct fading of triggers is noticeable
5 year mark – This milestone finds me still affected by social losses and challenges (which are to a degree never-ending when involuntarily childless) but a bit more detached from them, exercising massive amounts of self-care, continuing to cope with a culture that doesn’t get it, and integrating my losses and experiences into my burgeoning new life.
THE LONG OF IT 2019:
I started writing this blog during the dwindling days of 2013. At the time I had six embryos on ice, and was amid the unbearable wait for our final treatment. It’s strange to think now, but I don’t recall I had even heard of being “childless not by choice” back then. A product of feminism’s “you have complete control over your reproductive destiny” generation, it’s no wonder I was vulnerable to the perception of complicity in terms of non parenthood. The smothering vibe from reproductive medicine is that you didn’t get a child because YOU stopped treatments. Even in counseling, living a child free life is billed as a “choice” (albeit a valid one) right down to the very last bell.
I would learn that upon decimation, taking the one and only road that gives you and your beloved the chance to save yourselves is deemed a choice only by those who haven’t been there themselves. And so in the year following the start of this blog I was to learn this experientially, as well as a boatload more of human misconceptions surrounding the procurement of parenthood. As if the landfill of misconceptions on human reproduction wasn’t already more than a person could stomach!
Back then though, I was reeling from the suffocating silence that I received from others, and that was expected of me in the wake of the perpetual trauma and untold loss rendered by trying to conceive a child. I sensed that my life and self had been permanently altered, and worse, I wasn’t allowed to be open, free and honest with that. So the creation of this blog was a battle cry of sorts against society’s infertility gag order. It was the assertion of sacred emotional ground typically denied those who are struggling to have or can’t have children. It was my fortress in defense of the lens I had been forced to view life through that most want to deny. To be robbed of my story on top of my children would have been too much to carry and I knew it.
Five years later, this blog is still about championing unseen and unheard perspectives, flying in the face of stigma and taboo, shameless emotion and illuminating the non dominant social norms of infertility and involuntary childlessness. It is about the daily process, and obstacles encountered, of integrating these unseen and unheard perspectives, as well as initially harsh emotional realities, into some form of a functional and eventually reinvented life.
While I’m committed to documenting this highly internal and unchartered life long process of recovery and living without my children, I learned all too well along the way that my own actions towards grieving, healing and eventually living again is not all there is. As grief is in part a dialogue with one’s community and no man (or involuntary childless infertility and IVF survivor) is an island, as they say, I have found myself in a life long relationship with a society that does not do its part. And thus I suppose I’ve expanded outward in the past five years, increasing my scrutiny and highlighting of our culture’s failings when it comes to acknowledging and including the childless not by choice and those who can’t bear children.
Five years down the road on this journey I find myself different and still contemplating the ever elusive mysteries of healing vs adapting. Does it really get easier or do we just get stronger? Today I find that my triggers are less potent and some of the social awkwardness of non parenthood has evened out (stress strongly the word SOME). I find myself less engorged by the present tense that dominates in grief’s early phases. The here and now actually takes on a shred of fathomability at times, and I have a renewed ability to assimilate my life into the future. An unexpected (though waxing and waning) level of detachment towards society’s infertility and childlessness shortcomings allows me to be, paradoxically, less ok with them than ever before. It is my hope that this blog can do its small part to serve as a catalyst for much-needed social change.
While this blog started as a commitment to take immense pain, devastation and a completely unforeseen reality head on, I now find myself moving towards the place of taking life – including all that needs to change and all the stuff I didn’t ask for – head on again. Thank you for joining and lending your voice to this unprescribed journey of ours.
THE LONG OF IT, 2014:
As a student of yoga I’ve been taught that the most powerful and potent thing we’ve got is the present moment. When you’re dealing with infertility, your life becomes so much about this great thing that might happen in the future. This great thing that will have to come from more struggle and hard work than the average person has to endure to get a family. And then it doesn’t, if the infertility goes on long enough. And this great thing that might happen is supposed to somehow completely negate all of the pain, hard work, and devastating life effects of the present. I reached a certain point in my infertility where I realized this is an insane way to live, basing my present outlook and mood on a future possibility. A future possibility that we now know will not happen. So I applied my yoga training and started to look at, acknowledge, and commit to living in the now of infertility. It has been surprisingly horribly sucky, but personally I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My writing mainly exists for my own therapy, which has become paramount in importance since the ongoing life crisis of infertility continues to be excessively minimized by society. In doing so it ends up providing an uncensored view of what my life is like living with infertility. My writings contain my honest thoughts and feelings as I experienced them in my tough moments. I make little effort to be nice, balanced, easy, appeasing or appealing. Infertility is none of these things so why should stories about it be? I also make little effort to acknowledge the light side of baby making. First, I have through no fault of my own, not received the privilege of getting to experience any of this. Second and more importantly, the light, bright, and notably EASY side of baby making is always front and center in our society, media, and world. It achieves exclusivity, blatantly leaving out the 12% of our child bearing age population who have trouble having children and thus fails to tell the whole story. My interest is in showing truths that exist when you are living with NOT receiving the best and easiest case scenario, a healthy pregnancy. Truths that I’m afraid are told too little and silenced all too often.
I’m well aware that there are many valid viewpoints on baby making out there other than mine. What I noticed when I really started dealing with the ramifications of infertility, and started talking about the feelings and challenges that came up, were the responses I would get. Dismissiveness abounded. “Don’t say that”, “You shouldn’t feel that way”, “They were only trying to help”, and so forth and so on. Through subtle yet persistent inference you start to receive the idea that because you aren’t completely happy about the aspects of pain and unfairness that are hitting your life, your emotions and opinions don’t count. That they are lesser or wrong somehow. Well quite frankly I beg to differ. I do not write this blog to say that I’m right. I do write it to say that the challenges and pain of infertility are just as real and valid as the joys of someone who receives their family easily. They are equally deserving of their place in life along with the happy part of baby making everyone WANTS to hear.
Although the argument has been made (mostly by people who HAVEN’T experienced it) that infertility is not the worst problem in the world, many people who have lived it would disagree. I would at the very least say it’s a hell of a lot higher up on the list than society realizes. It has affected and challenged every aspect of my life in ways I never could have imagined. This blog is about those daily moments where I struggle with the changes, challenges, tough emotions, awkward social situations and loss infertility inevitably brings. It’s a very difficult lens to be forced to look through and admittedly not even close to the life I would have chosen for myself had I been given any say. But it is MY lens. My view from the infertile world. Welcome to it.