Please, please, please … tell me your story

FeaturedPlease, please, please … tell me your story

I am searching for women with similar experiences; I want to reduce the isolation of our particular pain by connecting with one another and by sharing our stories. This tiny bit of support can make an enormous impact on our lives.

I am especially interested in creating a support network for women who have no biological children. It is exceedingly difficult to find women in this category (at least where I live in the United States) and the support available specific to this life experience seems to be non-existent.

I want to hear from all of you who feel they share some part of my experience and would like to gain support from one another. PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!! 

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This is MY Life!

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** UPDATED September 26, 2017, see end of post. 

This is my life, and I’ve decided to live it. Nobody else can live it for me, after all.

I STEPPED AWAY from social media, turned off the radio, and insulated myself from emotional triggers that would drag me into despair. I sought help with my debilitating grief and began to take my life back.

I CHOOSE TO LIVE without crippling sadness and without the overwhelming preoccupation with an idea of something that I’ll likely never have. I choose to not be distracted by that preoccupation. That preoccupation that sucked all the energy from me, that created barriers to the loved ones around me, and that veiled my bright and fortunate life in a murky shadow.

I haven’t wanted to, and currently don’t plan to, continue to write about how infertility has and does affect my life. I don’t want infertility to define my life and I am, instead, prioritizing thoughts and actions that lead me to brighter days and relationships.

I’m disappointed by infertility, but I’m no longer grieving. While I wish it were different, I will not let infertility keep me from happiness and drown me in sorrow. I will not let infertility keep me from a satisfactory, healthy, and even incredible life.

I choose to be who I am, who I want to be, and …. to live the life I dream.

MY DREAM JUST NEEDED TO BE REFRESHED.

******

UPDATE!! 

I am searching for women with a similar experience to share our stories and support one another. 

As it most reflects my own situation, and I don’t know anyone else with a similar experience, I would especially love to meet women who have had multiple lost pregnancies and no biological children. But, I want to hear from everyone!!

I want to hear from all of you who feel they share some part of my experience and would like to gain support from one another. PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!! 


More of the day-to-day

I still catch myself thinking of names for the children I will never have.

I still feel shocked and unaccepting that this is my experience.

I still want to avoid every pregnant woman and swaddled baby I see in public.

I still avoid my facebook feed like the plague.

I hate that the joyful news of a pregnancy or birth is tinged with sadness and envy.

I am overwhelmed with sadness when I imagine the rest of my life without my own child. I melt into despair that I will never have a chubby toddler scream “mommy!” and hold me around the neck; I will never give a first haircut (or likely any haircut because that’s bio-mom’s staked out territory); I will never loose myself in the eyes of a baby at my breast; I will never have a baby, child, teenager, or adult child need me or seek my comfort out above all others; I will not have an adult child to visit and adore when I am old and without other family; I will never get to parent a child with only my husband and truly have the power to make decisions and actions as a parent.

And I say these things even while I have a stepdaughter, because while I adore her and thank the universe for her … she has another mom, her “real” mom as kids so painfully put it. I am not her mommy, I am DiDi- mom#2. Her bond is to the woman who birthed her, babied her, and babies her still; the woman whom she looks like. When my daughter is grown, her loyalty will be to her biological mother, not to me. And based on past actions, I don’t believe her biological mother will be charitable enough to let my daughter treat me as a mother without guilt or other consequences (I do, however, understand that it would be very difficult to share my child with another woman). The joy of being a mother of any kind is shadowed by the fact that I am not “the” mother and that she is not “my” daughter and I am not legally a parent with parenting rights.

I mildly resent my husband’s lack of enthusiasm for considering options to have/acquire a child with me (surrogacy, adoption, etc). I believe the resentment lies in that I feel he’s satisfied because he has a child who looks at him in adoration, with eyes that match his own … something I will never have without his help, although I crave it; meanwhile I see him with his child everyday.

There is no way to remove myself from the painful reminder that I will not have a child of my own. Everywhere I go, it’s there. At work people discuss their children and grandchildren on a regular basis; at the general practitioner the nurses are discussing breastfeeding; at the grocery store … forget about it: pregnancies, infants, and children of all ages abound; at the bank a toddler is visiting grandma who works there and the teller tells me the story of how she adopted her granddaughter; the radio is littered with references to parenting, childbearing, motherhood, etc.; the library … like the grocery store; hospitals, ugh; restaurants, movies, swimming pools, movies (I now HATE happy-marriage-and-baby endings).

I’m running myself ragged to distract myself from my grief. I’m filling my life with responsibilities to keep myself from slowing down enough to reflect on my childless reality. I want so badly not to hurt and yearn and grieve.

 

 

Living. 

I haven’t had a period in three months. I’m not pregnant (I took a pregnancy test last month to confirm). That’s the shitty thing. It’s not like I’ve had a hysterectomy, so there’s still some eensy chance it could happen, despite the overwhelming and horrendous odds. So it can’t disappear from my thoughts completely. I peed on a stick because we were going to a birthday party and I wanted to drink my three beers in peace. I am still jealous (nasty word/emotion, but … it’s close to what I feel) of the child-bearing, giving life, creating and having a child of your own shared genetics. Maybe I am just jealous is having a beautiful baby that would be just ours and that would really be mine. My step-daughter was never really mine and I never got to love her as an infant. I will only ever understand and feel a small portion of motherhood. 

Anyway. We’re in Albania. On the trip we planned last summer before our last IVF attempt. We bought travel insurance in case we got lucky and got pregnant. We didn’t get lucky, so here we are. It’s pretty awesome. Today we’ll walk in the sun and 50+F along the coast, looking out at Corfu. We’ve dined on seafood risotto, lamb ribs, stuffed eggplant, fresh tomatoes and lemons, and Rod’s been trying desserts as we move through the country. (The food is ridiculously inexpensive) we drink tiny mugs of espressos twice a day. We read in bed. We walk through Roman ruins in the rain. We take the road less travelled and take more than twice as long to reach our destination as we thought we would- but we take in the incredible vistas and beauty and quiet along the way. 

Since my desperate and pathetic post of rage and bitterness I sought help from a counselor. I was able to seen immediately and I went once a week for three weeks. The first appointment I basically cried and blubbered for over an hour. I was recommended to a physician to see whether a prescription drug could help me get out of my grieving funk faster. I’ve never taken prescription medication for anything other than fertility, sinus infections, and with my heart surgery.  I don’t do prescription drugs. I never “needed” them. But I felt so thoroughly terrible that I wanted to try it. I was given a prescription of low-dose Wellbutrin. Apparently, many people take it just to help cope with the seasonal depression rampant in northern areas. Then a lightbulb slowly started to brighten … I’ve felt off my game for years. And guess what? Every winter is terrible, and every summer is pretty great. Even during this whole fertility debacle … summer was awesome! Every winter it seems like there is something that depresses me and makes it nearly impossible for me to crawl from my bed, and easy for me to go straight to it after work. But maybe it could have been prevented and I could have been living more? I think so. Just because I grew up in Alaska (or maybe because I grew up in Alaska?) doesn’t mean I’m impermeable to seasonal give-me-some-frickin-sunshine depression. Crazy. 

The second session with the counselor I cried less. The third time I think not at all. She said I graduated from my crises and sent me on my (not-exactly-merry) way. My prescription was increased a level and there it remains. It. Is. Phenomenal. I haven’t sobbed since starting it. I’ve been teary only a handful of times. I don’t feel overwhelming sadness and self-pity and fits of absolute rage at the universe for not letting me have a baby with my husband. I do get sad, and it still sucks, and seeing mothers with their children can still hurt- but I can get out of bed every morning and live my life to a greater degree of satisfaction. I can be “me” more. I am more “me.” And that feels flippin fantastic. 

Sarandë, Albania

Unfortunately, Not Even Incredible Bread Heals a Broken Heart

I guess that’s what this is. A broken heart? I hadn’t thought of it in that manner until reading how another woman described trying to overcome childlessness: “it’s not the flu – it’s a lifelong thing. I am happy now, but, not having children broke my heart. No doubt about it, it broke my heart.” (From the BBC story, When childless isn’t a choice.)

I’ve been struggling.

My initial flippancy wore off after a couple weeks, and the other realms of grief have bared themselves. I keep thinking, this can’t really be the way it is- it can’t be true. It’s not supposed to be like this. I’m in shock. Denial. I’m angry, and frustrated, and immeasurably sad. And there seems to be no relief, with reminders at every turn, nearly every hour of every day.

My plan was to imagine, plan, and accept my future as it now must be; that’s supposed to help me move on. If I can see how amazing and fulfilling my life will be, despite not getting to hold my baby that my husband and I created with our love and inhale it’s sweetness ….then I can move past this shock and live a full life. I was doing that … and somehow I slipped, I guess. I suppose it was naïve to think I would get through this that easily. I am torn between my good fortune and how even my blessings seem to make things tougher, at least right now.

I am blessed with the most amazing daughter. She is, quite literally, the best child in the world. I love her dearly and know how fortunate I am to have her in my life. That doesn’t change the fact that her presence reminds me that my husband has a biological child, but I don’t. He’s daddy, but I’m not mommy. I don’t look into her golden eyes and see myself. I don’t stroke her hair and recall her fuzzy bald head and infant smell. I’m not the one she clings to with innate need. And when I see her biological mom, breathing in her younger son … how can I not feel that stab of envy, twisted with painful longing? And every week, I return her to her biological mom; the woman my daughter reveres and who gave her the siblings I wasn’t able to.

So, despite all this, I’m a mother. The duties that go along with it contribute even more reminders of what I will never have. School drop-offs and pick-ups are hard enough. I’m afraid of how I might react at the Christmas show. I couldn’t stop the tears at her piano recital. Elementary schools are no place for a woman going through what I’m going through, and yet, what choice do I have? I still want to be my daughter’s mom, and fulfill my role well. But the pregnant women, the parent’s holding hands with their mini-clones, the siblings interacting … it’s hard to just say, “I won’t ever have that, but that’s ok, because I’m going to travel more than them.”

I know the joy of siblings. I wanted so badly for my daughter to have a compadre in our household. I wanted, so badly, for her to have a sister. We’re blessed again, to have my sister’s family near; the cousins get along famously and it’s a second best to siblings. Yet again, though, the children I love wreak a bit of havoc on my heart. Watching my sister love her babies. Watching my parents love their grandchildren. Watching my daughter race around with her cousin laughing uncontrollably. It’s wonderful. It’s terribly painful.

The feeling that nobody I know can really relate makes it worse. Not even my husband, even though I know this has been hard on him too. He is wonderful and I have no complaints; but he has experienced fatherhood and will always be our daughter’s daddy. My mom is crazy about her grandchildren and proud of her daughter who provided them. Her children were always her greatest priority, and now it’s her grandkids and their mom. It leaves me feeling bereft and undervalued because I can’t provide a next generation. It leaves me feeling frustrated and distraught that children and family are how we gauge ultimate success in life- so where do I stand? Where is my value? And while I know that life is much more than getting knocked up and carrying babies to term … the preoccupation with and status derived from children and grandchildren is overwhelming. I walk down the hallway at work and nearly crumple when I overhear a colleague innocuously and proudly exclaim that she has five grandchildren. But, for me, if anything happens to my husband, I no longer have a daughter. I have no claim by blood or legal status. If I lose my husband, I lose my family. But I refuse to think of that. And when we’re old and gray and the grandkids come to visit, will it still smart? Because I’ll see my husband and his ex-wife in their little chocolate eyes and grieve for the blue eyes that were never born?

If I were grieving a lost loved one, there are people who have experienced that. If I were only grieving my lost pregnancies, there are women who have mourned after miscarriage. But who has lost pregnancy after pregnancy and still failed to have a child? Who do you know that is a step-mother, who also lost multiple pregnancies and experienced failed IVF, who wanted to have kids but was never able to? There are very few.

I guess I’ve just let myself sink into a pity party. I’ve let myself deny my blessings instead of rejoice in them. But I just want to scream at my family and the world around me, “Do you have any idea what this is like?! Do you have any idea what I’m going through?!” Maybe I’m craving a little bit of pity. For my family to comfort me and let me blubber on their shoulder. How else can they know how hurt I am? And I guess that’s what it is, I’m not craving pity, but recognition. Recognition of how shitty my situation is and how hard I’m fighting to be a nice person everyday. My fight isn’t visible and I feel neglected and isolated in my struggles. If I hide the tears that I cry every day, how can I share this burden that will otherwise break me? And how do I get past this and move on when there is no break from the incessant reminders?

I know I will get through this, I know that this depression will lift. I won’t let myself be broken and waste this short life. But at times it feels insurmountable and that there are too many obstacles to overcome the grief. And now that I’ve blasted this page with self-pitying words and filled my lap with tears, I want to erase all of this and deny that I’ve sank so low. But I need to be honest with myself and need to get this out. I need to be able to look at this and think, “Ugh. That’s not me. Time to shape up.”

The bread that helps distract me but doesn’t quite mend my broken heart.

But I’m Good …

I shouldn’t have left the “sad news” post so … open ended on how I was feeling. 

Initially I was shocked- I thought we would pass the first hurdle. But this was easier to deal with then I thought. And maybe the harder emotions are yet to surface as the results and implications sink in. But I don’t think so. I think I’m just free now. Free to be me without the clouds of uncertainty shadowing me all the time. 

Now we now. Now we move on. Now we live. 

In fact, I was so ok that I didn’t have to take any alone time. I played cards (Dutch Blitz!!) with my family minutes after the final results were known. And I decided to make my “hobby bakery” debut at our elementary school bazaar this weekend. Mad rush since I decided … the day before 😬

My fantastic husband is still, and even more, incredible and amazing. His love, support and his strength are … exactly what I need every day for the rest of my life. 

Anyway. I should’ve added that I’m actually doing really well. I don’t need sympathy or pity. It hurts, and there will be moments when the hurt is deeper, but overall I’m looking forward to moving on.