I Did It

Speaking out on Infertility Survivorhood

The question came up suddenly with no warning.

“How are you a teacher in your daily life?”

I was in my first full day of yoga teacher training, the significance of which was not exactly minor. Although I’ve taken many unofficial and organic steps in my journey forward, specifically with writing and embracing the grieving process, this 200 hour training is the first tangible “goal” I’ve committed to since losing our children. And it’s something I would not be doing, at least not now, had I gotten to have children, and I can assure you this truth was lurking as the training drew near. It is, partially for me now, a blatant symbol of this new life I didn’t chose. (more…)

Staying True Part 2

How yoga REALLY helped me through infertility

“Don’t use the word infertile, your uterus will retract from the trauma. Remember, she hears you.” As it turned out, the Maya abdominal fertility massage alternative to other higher powers was not all that much more appealing to me. I determined early on the idea that one of my very own organs demanded I be a good little girl was NOT going to be a useful tool in my quest for a child.

“My uterus ain’t that dumb” happened to be my first ponderance on the issue. (more…)

THROUGH

A deeper meaning of yoga on the beach

I used to be magnetically sold on the idea of “rising above” life’s scars and tragedies. Something about the concept appealed to my ego driven thirties, as it can, depending on one’s interpretation, imply elements of “better than” and “willpower conquers all”. Externally, it is a measure by which we judge others in crisis, which is already a cultural mistake in and of itself. How often do we hear “It’s amazing, she’s just not letting it affect her” or “He didn’t let this change him at all” as an approving assessment of how someone is dealing with a loss or a trauma? (more…)

Resolve To Let People Know More – Infertile On Board

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, April 20 – April 26, 2014, my post,

INFERTILE ON BOARD

It’s no secret in the infertile community. The general public has at least a few marathons to run to get itself into shape on the subject of infertility. That is why I’ve been emboldened by the work I see from our community lately. From this year’s advocacy day coming up on May 7th to articles on infertility in major newspapers, the efforts that people are making on a grand public scale are slowly but surely making a difference.

There is something else that we ALL can do, each and every one of us, even those of us who can’t always be directly involved with the aforementioned crucial work for our community. It is something we can all do any time to effect change on the current state of misinformation and insensitivity held by the public on the disease of infertility. We can all speak up in our “ordinary” life moments, resolving to let people know more.

In my early days as infertile, one of the first things I noticed as infertility began to tighten its grip was that there was really no space held by the outside world for the experience. Claustrophobic by nature, I was plagued with the question “How am I going to live authentically in a world in which there is no space for me?”

The more I started opening my mouth and speaking out the more I started to realize – it was often painfully clear the novice with whom I was conversing was likely talking about infertility, with a real live infertile nonetheless, for the first time. I was puzzled by this, given the fact that what was happening to me was hardly uncommon (infertility effects approximately one in eight couples). The myths, lack of understanding, and cluelessness towards the struggle and depth of loss stunned me to the point of making my head spin, especially considering infertility is not the result of anything I ever did wrong. It is not the result of anything I ever did or didn’t do or didn’t do enough of PERIOD. “Now I know how people who knew the world was really round felt walking amongst those who continued to insist it was flat!”, I’d tell my husband. “We infertiles are in this world as a statistic”, I’d ponder, “but we’re not yet really in it as living breathing feeling human beings.”

In everyday conversation as well as in the landscape of daily life infertility awareness seems to be on an extended coffee break. It is in this very space where infertile myths are perpetuated, and where the trauma, grief and loss brought on by infertility all too often gets dismissed. Why not tackle the problem at one of its main sources, where the spark is most potent? If more of us spoke up, if more of us where forthright about this disease of infertility we did nothing to procure and its devastating life side effects, what positive social change might take place?

With the spirit of “to each his/her own” as the presumed backdrop, here are some musings on how we infertiles can expand our space in this world. Sometimes the greatest changes are forged with baby steps. (Oh, the tragic irony!).

What if more of us started responding to people who go on about their pregnancies, unaware that hearing about them can be an excruciatingly traumatic experience for some, with something like “My third IVF failed three weeks ago. While I certainly don’t wish you anything bad, I really don’t need to hear about that right now.”

Although my husband was initially hesitant about me freely divulging the amount of money we spent on fertility treatments and other failed holistic measures, I decided it was worth the minor risk. In a world rife with angst over the price of diapers and the burden of college tuition, surely room can be made in conversation for the misfortune of the $77,000 my husband and I spent on NOT getting pregnant.

It is often not in our best interest to attend baby showers and even other social gatherings that have the potential to be loaded emotional landmines. (Thank you, Captain Obvious). What if we more habitually responded with an honest “I really appreciate the invite, but with all we’re going through with our infertility the situation will be too painful for us right now.” Possibly followed by “Although I can’t tell you when our response will be different, any future efforts to include us would mean a lot.”

How about “That’s scientifically unfounded” or “That’s not true” as consistent responses to the groovy infertility myths we get unabashedly pelted with? Now, one may not care to go to the extreme of pointing out, upon being told to “just relax”, that attributing infertility to stress is just another cheap and easy way to blame the victim. Those dalliances can be saved for those of us who are prone to (all too frequent) bouts of orneriness (a-hem). Point being that simple and uncharged can be highly effective.

It brings Eleanor Roosevelt’s tried and true “You must do the thing you think you cannot do” wisdom to a whole other level, doesn’t it? But what if there could come a day when these responses and conversation topics were actually socially acceptable? Where instead of being tied up with how to hide and avert life we could funnel our precious energy into garnering well deserved support and caring for our battle weary selves? It’s an idea that cannot come to fruition unless we start to speak and act, resolving to let people know more.

The yoga practitioner in me seeks balance through opposition. When to stay silent and when to hold back is just as important of an inquiry as is how and when to speak and act. In reality, there are many situations where we could harm ourselves more by speaking. Each individual needs to be mindful of what those are for them. From social complications in the workplace, the fallout of which would take too much energy to handle, to strained family relationships we’re not ready to deal with, potential ramifications always need to be considered before pulling the trigger. Sometimes simply sitting in a tough moment awash with our cyclone of emotions is job enough for our neurotransmitters, thus pushing ourselves to do more can be unreasonable.  Those of us who pursue medical treatment need to give ourselves leeway when we’re too psychologically altered by fertility drugs to respond to emotionally brutal situations with the necessary degree of rationality. And then there are those times when we’re just not up for hearing it. When I can vividly see the headline “Infertile blasted to smithereens by her own volatility, suspect who told her to relax and take a vacation will not be charged….” in my future, I back off. The intentions of self compassion and self protection need to be in place, and the principle of “what is going to serve me best now?” needs to be given its due attention before we speak and act.

In the world we infertiles are everywhere, so why not put ourselves everywhere in the world? I used to get so disheartened driving around suburban Long Island. My eyes would always catch the advertisements of people’s familial statuses, white stick figured and otherwise, on the backs of cars, especially in all of my harsh moments. And then one day it dawned on me, I work just as hard as an any average parent, not to mention I suffer a lot more. I deserve a sign. So I special ordered one.

 

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Oh, yes I did. Please don’t think that has been ANYWHERE but on the back of my car since I purchased my sign in May of 2013. No one has ever commented on it, but I know it’s there. And if it makes one or two people do a double take and go “hmmm” every day, then it’s doing its job. There are situations and circumstances where it is in one’s best self-interest to stay under cover. The perpetual suppression of one’s truth, however, has an effect on the human spirit that is profoundly un-nurturing. I am here, after all. We all are. All 7.3 million of us. But the world won’t know unless we keep saying so, resolving to let people know more, in venues both big and small.

 

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Just another regular day at Whole Foods. If you look closely you can see my sign holding its own against one of its fertile counterparts.

 

Click on http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 for basic information on the disease of infertility.

Click on http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week.

 

As almost always, I leave you with a sauwong (that’s Long Islandese for “song”) that I feel reflects the theme of my post, by my favorite band Rush.

 

CLOSER TO THE HEART

And the men who hold high places

Must be the ones who start

To mold a new reality

Closer to the heart

Closer to the heart

 

The blacksmith and the artist

Reflect it in their art

They forge their creativity

Closer to the heart

Closer to the heart

 

Philosophers and ploughmen

Each must know his part

To sow a new mentality

Closer to the heart

Closer to the heart

 

You can be the captain

And I will draw the chart

Sailing into destiny

Closer to the heart

Closer to the heart