Involuntary Childlessness in the Human Conversation

Scenes from when it works, Illuminations on what goes wrong 

Today I am dedicating my blog to National Infertility Awareness Week and to the launch of Justine Brooks Froelker’s latest book The Mother of Second Chances, based on her blog Ever Upward releasing on April 17th. For five weeks 25 amazing women will share their stories of infertility and loss as part of this incredible blog tour, because together we can shatter the stigma.

Click here for the scheduled list of participants and posts, running all of the way from March 27 – April 28!!  We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We’d especially love to see your own broken silence by sharing your own infertility story using the hastags: #NIAW, #infertility and #EverUpward.

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I recall walking out in the world during the two years following my fertility treatments feeling like the teacher from Charlie Brown – voiceless.

The portrayal of even a smidgen of my experiences brought forth endless platitudes. Blank stares and silence filled the space where ceremony and ritual, verbal acknowledgements (try I’m so sorry for your loss) and casseroles are supposed to be in the event of that which is world shattering.

Close to 20% of the female population aged 45 and over in the United States (and in many other countries around the world) does not parent.  It is likely the majority of this population is child free not entirely by choice, hopefully one day soon there will be an actual statistic available.  IVF has now been around for 40 years, providing many of us with a towering pile of failures.  And yet the human conversation still lags far behind reality.
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Emotional Labor Misconceptions

In the face of involuntary childlessness, grief and recovery

How am I going to live THIS life in THIS world?

It’s one of the questions that has adhered itself to every aspect of my being since stopping fertility treatments three years ago. It’s a question that has become only more throbbing as I make my way back out into the world and initiate my life rebuilding process. It’s a question that is unavoidable. And how could it not be? My experiences trying to conceive, the physical absence of my children and our loss of parenthood colors everything.

I’m not alone in this. When one has come through and out of the wanting of parenthood in any way shape or form, finding themselves on the other side of their dream or pursuit or hard work without the desired children in tow, we are all in some version of a related boat.

Thoughts, feelings and instincts on this question percolate in our systems. We organically, if not subconsciously, become silent, unseen coping skill factories, working overtime to generate a new life that makes sense to us, a new social normal and perhaps most of all, self-preservation.

I was recently made more consciously aware of part of my process when I read Cathy’s latest post, Are You Doing More Than Your Fair Share of Emotional Labor? over at Slow Swimmers and Fried Eggs (Thanks, Cathy!). Realizations rising to the surface were of course prompted by the writing and investigating of fellow infertility survivors because where else would they come from? There’s no context out in the wider world acknowledging the plight forward for those of us who wanted children but couldn’t have them, even most if not all infertility support groups are tone-deaf towards this journey. (more…)

Sweet Words

A doctor finally gets it right

I have two major biochemical imbalances that caused chronic and sometimes suicidal depression between the ages of 17 – 29.  They were finally diagnosed and pretty well treated by the Pfeiffer Health Research Institute via a prescribed nutrient therapy program.  While I should normally get re-tested every year or two, for me, this was just one more thing that got pushed to the side during fertility treatments and the subsequent loss of our children.

I think most if not all of us have situations where our infertility collides with challenges and crisis we faced prior.  Those experiences can be internal, or more external, as it was when I was driving to my first Pfeiffer appointment in four years about a month ago.  I was pondering how I was going to explain the infertility/childlessness trauma/PTSD amid grief symptoms amid symptoms of my biochemical imbalances with a dash of peri-menopause thrown in while marinating in that all too familiar not knowing if I was going to be seen, heard and taken seriously. (more…)

#StartAsking Reproductive Medicine to Prioritize Patient Care

Dear Reproductive Medicine,

I’m one of your patients.

I went through five IUI’s (all done with injectables), one hysteroscopy/laparoscopy surgery for stage 3 endometriosis, four fresh IVF cycles and one frozen.

I also, during my four year trying to conceive trek, unexpectedly dealt with PTSD that went undiagnosed for quite some time and entailed panic attacks, many of which took place in your waiting rooms.

My husband and I have now embarked on the third year of grieving and mourning the loss of our children, notably all by ourselves.  And no, we don’t consider our departure from reproductive medicine and the pursuit of a family with children a “choice” upon which our grief can be blamed.  It was, rather, the only sane and responsible action to take under the circumstances.

Yes, I’m one of your patients.  A patient who, two years and three months out of her final treatment is disturbed by many aspects of the care she got….and didn’t get…..while in the care of reproductive medicine.  Prompted by this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week theme, it’s time to #StartAsking. (more…)

#StartAsking Ok, I’ll Ask the World

7 Things To Know About Infertility

 

Dear People in the World,

In the spirit of this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week #startasking theme, I’m asking you, people in the world, heck, I’m imploring you, once and for all to please take the disease of infertility seriously. (more…)

A Week in the Life of an Infertility Survivor Pt2

Aunty Sarah

It was three days after Easter.  I awoke with a slow bleed into consciousness.  I know there are those dramatic shoot up from the pillow in the still of the night bursts – this was not that.  But something was…..wrong, amiss somehow. (more…)

The Illusion of Back to Normal

“I only sobbed for a couple of hours.  And then I laughed because it was just so absurd.”

“Holy crap”  I said.  My friend who was unexpectedly and tragically widowed four years ago was in LA filming a movie this year in mid-February.  She got through the whole of Valentine’s Day without a trigger, and it seemed her chosen tactic of ignoring the day had triumphed as she was driven back to her hotel.  Looking forward to chilling out after an intense week of work, she arrived at the hotel only to find a Valentine’s extravaganza of sorts in the banquet room in proximity to hers.  She was greeted at the hotel by dressed up ladies in the arms of their dates and “relaxed” in her hotel room to love ballads galore and amorous prompts filtering through the walls from the over eager MC across the hall.

Kind of like unintentionally stumbling upon a church service or a restaurant on Mother’s Day in our world.  Triggering times a million?  Oh, I think so. (more…)