Let’s talk about it… or not. Let’s cry about it… or not.
« Or not » – two simple little words, yet such a powerful decision.
My last blog did miracles for me. I kept wondering “should I post such a sad note or not?” I am happy I did. Why? Because I think it’s important to show the shattered side of fertility.
Here’s a little insight into me: I’m wired to be that happy go-lucky girl who smiles through life and enjoys every moment, every adventure, every journey. I love that I am that person. People around me love that I am that person! It’s therefore hard – for me and mostly for those around me – when I am not that person… On paper, we all accept that every single one of us are multi-dimensional people. However, we tend to only show the smiles, the happy moments and our best side. But why? To avoid making others uncomfortable, that’s for sure. It’s polite. It’s easier. You also don’t want others thinking that you are showing that ugly side just for the attention or the need to be seen, the need for encouragements or even the need to be loved. Asking for help when you feel broken has always been taboo, but why? Why can’t I be that happy-go-lucky girl but also the shattered sub-par, broken bodied one? Why can’t I exist in both those worlds and it be ok?
Part of me knows the answer: in part, it is because we think that those who have not been faced with the adversity of infertility will internally roll their eyes and think “here we go again”, “as if it’s easier to be a mom of three”, “when will she be over it”, “I don’t get it, I’ve never wanted kids and I am not broken”, “you can adopt, no?!”, “stop stressing, it will happen”, “you have time”… Reality is that some people will think that way – it will show and it will sting. However, others won’t. And some may just awkwardly not know what to say. If you are willing to normalize the pain of infertility, you also have to normalize the reactions to that pain. And accept them (which is the hard part).
In the same vein, those every day givens that will make you feel like infertility is “rubbing it in your face” – they have to go… Your cousin Francine popping out baby number three – it is not the universe telling you she is better than you. Her uterus may be better than yours, but you may have the better hair 😉 The bus full of happy kids as you exit another “no progress” doctor appointment, is just that: a bus full of kids! The mom complaining about her child over cocktails – you’d do the same… I am dishing it out now, but believe me, it took a while for me to let go of those givens. It is so easy to become self-centered when you are battling infertility because, despite it all, you do feel alone. It’s your body. No one can truly understand your body, but you. Plus, you never really get answers to your “why me/why isn’t it working/why did it not stick” questions , so it is hard to rationalize what is happening. I’ll admit that, despite being an educated, well-rounded individual (who asked 101 questions, read her medical file start to finish plus way too many fertility articles to admit), a small part of me still finds it difficult to see baby posts, watch tv shows with happy pregnancy announcements or even miscarriage scares (because mine were more than scares). The bigger part of me though knows that it’s on me, it’s normal and it’s ok to feel this way. With that, slowly, I’ve been letting go. It takes time to heal mentally from that shattered feeling left being by infertility.
Truth is, there are two sides to infertility. Just like there are two sides of all of us. There is that first side that is all smiles and hope, happy quotes, photos from the doctor’s office, crossed fingers, baby dust and pineapple everything… then there is that second side. The struggle. The thousands of needles, the buying pregnancy tests in bulk, the weight gain, hormonal unbalance, the crying, the screaming, the dark place your mind brings you to when you feel the most broken… the acceptance that it won’t be this month, this year or ever… the feeling that the one thing all women are destined to do – that little task of bringing life into this world – that you are not even good enough to do that… Two very different sides. It really is up to all of us to decide if we should – or not – show both those sides. Your answer to that question could create powerful change.
Someone asked me recently to recall that commercial of the girl sitting on the bathroom floor, nervously looking at a pregnancy test before cracking a happy smile. She said: “you and I have probably been on that floor more often than her. Hell, we’ve probably bought more tests than that happy girl has!!! So why are we not represented in those ads?” Because infertility doesn’t sell… people are uncomfortable with sadness being so upfront (or any emotion that stays unresolved). “So what’s the solution?”, she continued. Well, there isn’t really a black and white solution but we can “SPEAK UP!” I truly believe that, like for many other under-represented topics, as soon as there will be less taboo surrounding infertility – once that “not pregnant” sign, those needles and those miscarriages will be less about failure – the dialogue will have a chance to change. For that to happen, we have to feel like less of a failure…
Many of you reading this have had at least one miscarriage. It is ok to say it aloud without feeling shame or a sense of “I’m sorry to burden you with this topic”. I’ve had three! That doesn’t make me less than you… nor does it make me better than you, as it doesn’t make me the Einstein of infertility! My miscarriages were early ones, so I can’t start to understand the women who have had them later in pregnancy. I can, however, understand the hurt. I can understand the desire to not feel broken – the desire to feel as normal as the person who has never experienced that kind of loss. I understand the fear that you may never be able to have a successful pregnancy. I understand the willingness to move on and I am happy when I see many succeed at doing just that. Some are even lucky enough to have children afterwards. Or not… to each their journey and I understand that now. Which is why I feel this urge to talk about it.
In my last blog, I asked if there was a fertility CAA. There isn’t BUT there is a fertility band-aid and that is THIS. Writing. Talking. Discussing. Sharing information. Not only does all of this do good for me but it does good for others in the same situation – others who may not be able to talk about their journey just yet or others who are, but may feel shame when they see uneasy faces as soon as the topic is brought up. I think it also does good for those who haven’t experienced the trials of infertility. It’s not easy. If you feel like you can’t truly understand, know that “how are you?” goes a longer way than “I’m sorry”. “Do you need anything?” means more than “don’t worry, it happens”. “I wasn’t sure if I could tell you about my pregnancy” makes us feel even more like a fragile doll that could crack at any moment (telling us may/will hurt, yes, but at least you value that part of me is strong enough to take the news). When that uncomfortable feeling starts creeping up and tries to silence you, know that this is when you can say: “Let’s talk about it… or not. Let’s cry about it… or not. Let’s make a baby. Or not. I’m here whether you want me here… OR NOT!”
Those powerful two words – “or not” – give us the power to chose what side of us to display and the opportunity to one day shatter the taboo of infertility.
I’ve chosen the “or not”… it’s time. I’ve tried – IUI, IVF and embryo donation – I can’t say otherwise… My boyfriend and I have had our first interviews in order to foster-to-adopt and it’s an exciting new route in our journey and it is the journey we are now choosing to concentrate on. I still feel nervous, though. After so many fails, no matter what route is taken, one just hopes that the universe will say yes this time around! It was a somewhat easy decision as I have always wanted to adopt, but I just thought that I would have my own kids first. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to mourn the “or not”. I’ve had to let go of the routine. I thought it would be easy to stop the pills, supplements, needles after 3 years… yet I see them in my bathroom and wonder if I should have tried again. The or-not decision was a tough one and that is why I am still here. Still writing. Still blogging. Still healing. However, I’m ready and that is a glorious feeling.
TO BE CONTINUED…