2016.

In January of this year, I started this blog. I started this blog because my older sister implored me to share my story. I started this blog because infertility was ruining most of my relationships and this was an outlet. I started this blog because I liked putting into words the madness swirling around in my head. But, I must admit: I also started this blog because I was sure I was going to have a baby. I didn’t doubt the process when I started this blog. I didn’t ever think I would have a miscarriage when I started this blog. I saw this blog being a nice distraction on the infertility detour of life, but I expected that in a few months I would post a picture of my smiling face and growing belly in that gold dress, leave a little note of inspiration to any other infertiles who read my journey and then call it a day. Goodbye to the sad girl with a gold dress.

But it’s been a year and I’m not the same person who started this blog.

This year has been a challenge to say the least. I’ve experienced the most profound happiness and the most indescribable grief. I’ve learned a lot about love and loss. I’ve learned how hard it can be to say goodbye, even if you never truly had the chance to say hello. I’ve learned lessons in human kindness and compassion, but also ignorance and selfishness. I’ve learned a lot about strength, acceptance and healing. I’ve found devastating pain in silence…when there aren’t any words to say or heartbeats to hear, but I’ve also found unbelievable peace in words…others and my own. This year has taught me lessons I didn’t want to learn, lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn and lessons I’m still discovering the meaning of.

I’m leaving this year wiser, kinder and more accepting. I think loss can make you bitter. I think not getting what you want in life can make you angry. I think pain can make you hard. I’m proud I didn’t go that route. I’m thankful this blog and the people who read it have reminded me that I’m not the lone survivor from some devastating accident on Infertility Island, there are plenty of people to survive on the island with. Smart, compassionate, thoughtful people.  And those ‘lucky ones’, lounging on the mainland or sailing smooth waters in fertile speed boats…they can help too. They may not understand the island, but they’ll send you care packages when you need them and anxiously await the day you get off the island.

There are not enough ways to write thank you to express how truly thankful I am. So just…thank you, thank you, thank you.

My heart has been heavy with hurt this year, but now, I leave it filled with gratitude, love and a sense of peace. I cannot say it’s been a pleasant experience getting to this place in my life, but I’m thankful that I’m here. I like the version of myself I’ve become this year.

In truth, I have no idea what 2017 is going to bring into my life. I anticipate plenty of challenges (island life is never easy), but I’m happy and I’m hopeful. And I think we could all use some happiness and some hope in 2017.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the amazing Neil Gaiman, because…well…words.

“I hope that you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.” –Neil Gaiman

My Voice.

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook while waiting for the night shift to come in at work (valuable use of my time) when I stumbled across a link a former classmate had posted to an article he wrote titled something like “Understanding Infertility”. I opened the article with skepticism…what could this male who is currently not trying to have children understand about infertility? I discovered (via said article) that he works in the infertility field (in what capacity I do not know), but the point of the article was to provide statistics, facts and basically spread awareness; all things I internally cheered him on for. That was until I got to the second to last paragraph of the article where he wrote “and if you’re a couple who has to do in-vitro…so what?” and then went on to talk about the availability of in-vitro services in the United States. SO WHAT? I yelled in my head. SO WHAT? I text my older sister in all CAPS with a screen shot of the paragraph. SO WHAT?

So I did the mature thing…I waited 24 hours, I let the anger subside and I reminded myself this persons goal was clearly aimed at education and awareness. So I decided the best thing I could do was educate him and make him aware that I took offense to (what I felt) was a poor choice of words. I wrote him a private message applauding his decision to publicly address infertility, I thanked him from infertiles everywhere…and then I kindly told him I felt his choice of words (specifically ‘so what’) were both insensitive and inappropriate. I explained that IVF is never an easy decision (as the phrase ‘so what’ implies), IVF is a terribly difficult process and many people do not have success with IVF (myself included). I explained that his language minimized what can only be described as the most emotionally, physically and financially exhausting experience I have had in my entire life.  I applauded his efforts, but encouraged him to consider his word choices carefully if he chose to address infertility in the future. My exact quote: “If you’re going to speak on such a personal subject for many I think you must be cognizant of the impact your choice of words carry.”

I received a response from this person. He apologized if I was offended, tried to justify his message and acknowledged how difficult things must be for my husband and I. Truthfully, I felt his response was slightly condescending, but I accepted it for what it was and put it to rest. He tried. I tried. Water under the bridge-I certainly don’t have energy to waste throwing negative vibes regarding this into the universe.

So what’s the point? The point is one year ago I would never have written this person about their article. I would have been disappointed with the language, but I would have let it go. I specifically remember a year ago someone else posted on Facebook about how angry she would get when people asked why her and her husband didn’t have children yet (they opted not to have children by choice) because she knew people who struggled to conceive and she recognized how insensitive it is to constantly question a childless couple. A man wrote back on her post something along the lines of “people need to stop being so sensitive. If you can’t get pregnant just say you can’t get pregnant and people will leave you alone.” I remember being so mad at this stranger on social media, I remember drafting scathing responses in my head…but I never wrote anything. Truthfully, my mindset was ‘not my friend, not my problem, not my fight’.

But, it is my fight. I own infertility now. I’ve said it before (and I’ll say it again) infertility is like joining a club you never wanted to be part of… I didn’t sign up for this, but I’ll be damned if I let non-members be this clubs voice. I’m all for any (and EVERY) one discussing infertility, spread awareness, don’t let it be the silent heartbreaker it is. But if you’ve never piled up negative pregnancy tests like Jenga blocks, cleaned the kitchen at 3am because of Follistim induced insomnia, lived through the sheer agony of having your partner inject Progesterone into your butt, requested a band aid instead of tape after a blood draw because you’ve learned from experience it’s easier to pull off, notified the doctor your right ovary is always difficult to see on ultrasound, rejoiced over follicle counts and fertilized embryos, kept your legs up  for hours after an embryo transfer, happy-danced in the kitchen over a positive HCG, cried on the stairs after an ultrasound where your babies heart refused to beat or lay on the bathroom floor wrenching in pain as your miscarried your Warrior embryo…you don’t get to be my voice. You can speak for yourself, but you cannot speak for me. I will own this club membership, I will own my story and I will share it with as many (or as few) people as I want to.

Over these past two years, since we were told IVF was our only option of conception, I’ve felt the control being taken away from me. I went from someone who overly planned every aspect of my life, to someone who let the biggest thing in my life be dictated by others. I couldn’t control our infertility, I couldn’t control SMA, I couldn’t control my 9 embryos not maturing or my 3 embryos not being healthy or my 1 precious embryo not beating their tiny Warrior heart. But I can control how I handle all of this. I can control how and when and why I tell my story. And I can speak up if I feel someone else is demeaning my story. Other people can have their own narratives, but this club, my fellow infertiles, we have to own our memberships. Our Club, Our Voices.

WordsWednesday

 

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here, on this earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt or death brushes near…let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” –L. Erdrich

“That’s a pretty good problem to have”

I’ve been in a rut lately…not the crawl into bed and cry for hours while watching the scene where Bailey and Mandy Moore try (and fail) to say Dr. Percy in Greys Anatomy (don’t know the scene?!…saddest one ever)…not that kind of rut. Just a feeling not quite like myself, probably going to cry in the shower, take a break from blogging and not want to see friend’s kind of rut. It’s probably the holidays, possibly hormones, definitely just our life right now. It’s a normal rut, one I’ve been in before, one I’ll be out of eventually.

But, then last week I had an interesting experience. An old classmate reached out to me after reading my blog just to send some positive vibes my way. A co-worker mentioned how much better I look (aka I don’t always have terrible bags under my eyes) since starting my new job. I worked out for the first time (in a long time) and didn’t feel like I was going to die.  And then a friend said something to me in a text message that really hit home… she wrote “You’ve got so many peeps that love and care about you. That’s a pretty good problem to have.” (All her words, including ‘peeps’)

*Insert me…getting the hell out of my rut*

See, sometimes I think we all just need to be reminded people care about us. We need to be reminded that even if we’re not that impressed with the calls being made in this game of life: we still have a pretty strong cheering section. And sometimes we simply need to remind ourselves that life can be pretty crappy sometimes, but we cannot spend all our energy staring at that crap…we (okay, mostly ME) need to look past the garbage.

I needed that rut reality check. I needed someone to remind me that yeah: some truly awful things have come my way lately. It’s okay to cry on our Warriors due date (and multiple days after), it’s okay for the green jealousy monster to sit on my shoulder while I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed (soooo many babies!), it’s okay to spend an entire day off watching Hallmark Channel (the Christmas movies are everything). But if I stay down there, in my woe is me rut, I might miss this amazing life I have.