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Posts Tagged ‘infertility’

Sometimes, it takes more than one chef to make a delicious meal, and today it seemed to take more than one blogger to write a blog post! My best-girlfriend-soulsister-favoriteshoppingcompanion-vicariousmotherofmydaughters Emilie wrote a blog post that moved me so much, EVEN before coffee, that I ended up writing my blog post in her comments!

Being the loving and responsible woman that she is, she rescued a dog from a bad situation and was musing about the decision she made to relinquish the dog to animal control.

As I stated in her comments, she absolutely did the right thing by that dog and by her family, who aren’t in a position right now to take a dog into their lives. And what follows is the thought that sprang forth organically as I commented:

But…..one day…one day….I know you will fall in love with a dog. People talk about dogs being child-replacements, but it’s not always so. There’s something a dog gives you that no other human being can give you, not even a child. It’s a special love that I think that displays another facet of the infinite love of God. It’s not replacement child love; it’s dog love. And for what it is, it’s perfect.

So, yes, you did the right thing with Lucky. But one day, if -you’re- lucky, a dog will find you when you’re a bit thin on acceptance, perhaps a bit wormy inside from the challenges of being human, running in and out and dodging the traffic hazards of modern life. And -that- dog will adopt you and say to you with its eyes, “Don’t worry, Lucky! I’ll take care of you!” “

That’s it. That’s how the dogs in my life found me, even the ones that I seemingly adopted. They take care of the human part of me. They are the love that never judges, always stays by me. They only want to be with me. Even when there’s nothing they can do to ease the hurts of my life, they somehow do . They ask for so little and so much. All they want is me.

True, sometimes they need food, walks, baths, and combing. But who really benefits from fulfilling their needs? Certainly, the dog benefits in the short-term, but the long-term benefit is mine. By allowing me to stop worrying for a moment and care for them in the most basic, tactile ways, they smooth the callouses that form too often on my human soul.

And as I stated in an earlier post, I know they are not children. They can never fulfill the role that children play in a parent’s life.

But I don’t think that sells them short, because I’m pretty sure that children can not fill the role that a dog plays in my life, either.

I know that, even if I’d been blessed with children, I’d still have a house full of dog hair, and even after kissing my children goodnight, I’d still crave that tender, loving, accepting, and soul-nourishing kiss from my dog.

Dogs are dogs. And that is a God-blessed existence unique to dogs.

[On a side-note, Georgia State University featured a story this week about dogs in education. It’s an interesting read, and futher underscores the importance dogs play in the human existence.]

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I’ve been battling my usual reproductive health problems recently, and without going into the gory details, I’ll just say that I’ve been monitoring a couple of different conditions with the Marvelous Dr H for several months now, waiting to find out how this will all play out.

To say I’m on edge about it would be putting it lightly.  A lot hinges on the outcome.  If it goes the way we think it will, I will most likely have a hysterectomy sometime soon.  Or we could just keep ordering blood tests, ultrasounds, and MRI’s until I’m a pint low and start attracting metal objects as I walk through the hardware store.  (Hmmmm…possible occupational hazard in a room full of computers.  Everyone knows that computers and magnetic fields don’t play well together!)

On Wednesday I went in for my usual round of images and phlebotomy.  Only this time, the Marvelous Dr H threw in a special treat for me: a CA-125 test, a tumor marker for cancer. 

Before anyone freaks out, let me just say that the Marvelous Dr H is about as conservative and cautious as they come, and I love him for it.  He told me when he ordered this test that a positive result would be very unlikely, and not to worry, that he was just dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s before we do anything irreversable.  So, I’m not worried.  Nevermind that I’ve had almost every other possible gynecological malfunction, I’m not worried about the results of that test.

No, I’m not.  Really, I’m not.  Just because a doctor mentions the “C” word with respect to my reproductive organs does not mean that I’m going to pine away with worry until I get the results.

However, I find myself eagerly looking forward to hearing the aforementioned negative result.  It’s like a punctuation mark that changes a question to a statement. Did you know that punctuation could be reassuring?  Let me give you an example. Read the next two statements aloud.

1.  I know how to get there?

2.  I know how to get there.

Which statement inspires the most confidence in you?  Uh-huh, I rest my grammatical case.

Anyway, I am looking forward to getting the test result.  So today, I get a little pop-up message that says, “You have a test result waiting in your inbox”. 

I drop everything I’m doing to log in to the provider’s website.

I open my mailbox.

I take a deep breath, and open my test results, only to learn….

I’m not pregnant.

Wow.  Wow.  How about a nice poke in the eye to go with that poke in the eye?  After more than eight years of dealing with infertility one way or another, I can’t say I’m surprised to learn that little bit of information.  Not exactly a revelation. 

It’s as though the all demons of infertility couldn’t resist one last jab at me, to say, “Yeah, well, before you go and have that complete hysterectomy that will forever end any possibility of a Divine Miracle Pregnancy for you, let us just remind you one more time, you are not pregnant.”

I can’t really explain how I feel about this recent blip on my infertility radar.  I’m angry, not at the fact that I’m not pregnant, but just at the sheer affrontery of being reminded of it.  And then I’m irritated at the fact that I can still be angry about these things. 

I still haven’t learned the result of either my ultrasound or my CA-125 test.  I still haven’t talked to the Marvelous Dr H yet.  But the good news is that now I’ve worked myself up into a nice rolling boil of indignation that will last at least a few hours.  Because at this rate, at least I’m not worrying.

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I love mothers

I really do! Yes, there was a time during my worst days of depression when I looked at mothers bitterly, as a “they”, and was sure that they looked at me with disdain, or overlooked me completely. But there’s no getting around it, I’m surrounded by mothers, and I’m thankful for each of them because they teach me so much about myself and womanhood.

Not only that, but sometimes, their motherliness shloshes over the brim of their cup and spills a little onto me. And who doesn’t want a little extra mothering? Take for example, my friend Emilie’s comment on yesterday’s post. Hm……which sounds more productive to me – going to see a doctor who will just tell me that there’s something going around, or having Emilie come and fix me matzah-ball soup? [She’s not Jewish, but man, can she make matzah-ball soup!] I know which would make me feel better, faster, and it ain’t Doc Broc.

But, hey, it’s not always about me. [And you’ll never know how much it pains this Aries to say that…] There are moms in this world that I love who are kind enough to let me see their world. To share in their triumphs as moms, as women, as humans. When moms share their lives like that, it makes me feel as though they aren’t saying, “you wouldn’t understand – you’re not a mom”, but rather, “I want you to understand; you’re my friend and my sister, and I need you to understand me.”

Emilie’s post today was like that. Yeah, I confess, I’m the friend who suggested Neosporin. [It made sense to me, since I sometimes use it as lip balm.] But I enjoyed that glimpse into her daily concerns and her pride in finding a solution. I’m proud for her. She’s a great mom! And while I can’t understand what it must be like to see your infant daughter with a painful and out-of-control case of baby acne, I can understand what a relief it is to be able to bring comfort to someone you love.

Another mother I enjoy following is Ree, the Pioneer Woman. Today, she posted about her joys of homeschooling her children. I particularly enjoyed this post because I had wanted to homeschool my children, before infertility whisked them away from me. In fact, I went to school to study education in order to understand the learning process and be the most effective homeschooler I could be. Being able to read her post today allowed me to imagine for a moment that those were the expressions I might have seen on my children’s faces. The homeschooling world, the mom world, the family core of hearth and home, are so often private worlds, alternate realities that I can only imagine.

Unless moms occasionally open the door for me and invite me in.

Thanks, Moms!

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Here’s something new…

Okay, I’m strange, and maybe a bit conflicted. I admit it.

If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you realize that sometimes, I talk about gardening. Sometimes, I talk about the rest of my life. And sometimes, I talk about infertility. This is kind of a problem for me, because I don’t want to define myself by my infertility, I don’t want my life to be about infertility, and yet it’s always there. And I have a lot of friends who, frankly, don’t want to read about my infertility. They have lived through the worst of it with me, and they are ready to move on.

And not only do I not want my life to be about infertility, I don’t want my blog to be all about infertility either. See that tag cloud to the right of the page? I’ve worked really hard to try to get the other tags to be larger than “infertility” and yet I can’t seem to manage it.

But when I do post about my dealings with infertility, I get a lot of responses from readers, sometimes very personal, and always very anguished, comments from other women who are going through their own struggles. And because infertility is very isolating, I really do feel that we need each other. Infertile women are the only people who really understand what it’s like to be an infertile woman and all that entails.

So I did the only thing I could think to do. I started a new blog, just for discussing infertility issues. For discussing life issues. For discussing hope issues.

blessedarethebarren.wordpress.com

It’s a strange name. It’s a strange thing to even consider that, as infertile women, we can feel blessed. Stranger still, we can be blessed. It’s the hope I cling to, that there’s meaning in my suffering, and blessings for my life.

You’re welcome to visit, to stop in, to converse if you want to. Occassionally I will still post something here about my feelings as they relate to infertility. Afterall, it’s still a part of my life. Sometimes I’ll cross-post, because although I don’t want my life to be about infertility, infertility can’t be pigeonholed into just one area of my life.

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I saw where you visited my blog today. 

I saw where you searched on the terms “infertile women no children christmas“, and my heart broke for you. 

I know where your heart is right now – the Christmas holidays are coming up, and you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to live through them without breaking into a million jagged pieces.  How will you face your extended family and your cousin with the new baby?  So you started searching the internet for advice, for help, for the reassurance to know you’re not alone.

You’re not alone.  I’ve been there.  Every woman who has ever struggled with infertility has been there.

We’re all here together, but the shame and pain of infertility even keep us from reaching out to those who might actually understand how we can be afraid of Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or family reunions, and maybe even tomorrow.

If you visit here again,  please leave me a comment or send me an email.  I wanted to reach out to you, to see if I could help in some way, but you went away leaving only that faint trace of your visit. 

In empathy,

Trish

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To begin, I need to thank my friend, Emilie, for pointing out to me that this was National Infertility Awareness Week. Her reminder is not only an indication of what a kind and sensitive friend she is, but also remarkable in that she gave birth to her second child just ten days ago! I’m so fortunate to have a friend in Emilie, who not only understands my situation and feelings regarding infertility, but shared my journey through every step. And by sharing, I mean that she also suffered the traumas and stresses of two very difficult years while of her own infertility experiences as she struggled to get pregant via ART. If you want to hear more about her story, be sure to check out blogservations.wordpress.com to read her blog.

Because today is the last official day of National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to close out the week by thinking about what infertility awareness really means, and how it is observed. I had a long drive in my car last night, from Macon back to Atlanta, and so I had plenty of time to think about it.

First, I think that, admirable as it is to have a National Infertility Awareness Week, the first week in November may not be the most appropriate time to bring attention to our plight. How about the first week of May, as we approach the agony and indignity of Mother’s Day? That’s when women inflicted with infertility wish and pray that people would recognize that all women who wish to be mothers aren’t. That when the minister preaches a sermon on the blessings of motherhood, and how children are a gift from God, the infertile women in the congregation can’t help but cringe inside and wonder, “why wasn’t I blessed with children? Why didn’t God grant me children? Was I bad? Did I offend Him? Does He not trust me with children? Does God think I would be a bad mother?”

Another appropriate week for National Infertility Awareness Week would be the first week of June, leading up to Father’s Day. This is the time when infertile women feel particularly guilty and inadequate, and often angonize over how their husbands feel, if they grieve and feel a sense of loss, as the calendar approaches that day that celebrates fatherhood. “He deserves to be a father, to not have a broken wife. He would be such a good father. Would I have had sons that look like him? What would he have looked like holding an infant child in his strong and loving hands? Does he blame me for not giving him children to rough-house with, to throw a baseball with, to teach to ride a bicycle? Has he forgiven me for failing him in this?”

Halloween is another time when infertile women are particularly aware of their loss and their invisibility. No children to dress in cute costumes, but watching an endless parade of children laughing and running happily across our lawns. Yes, we know we can turn off the light and refuse to open our doors to them, but we are drawn to them and desperately want to have children in our lives in whatever way possible, despite our pain.

Finally, the week that for me would be most appropriate as National Infertility Awareness Week would be the week leading up to Christmas. How painfully aware is the infertile woman of her status during this time! Everything about the holiday season revolves around children. Santa Clause doesn’t come to our homes. There’s no reason to get up early and rush to our presents. There’s no excited eagerness, cookies left on plates next to a glass of milk, no working late at night as a parenting team to assemble toys. Even the life of the extended family revolves around children. The families with children get to make the decisions regarding when and where the extended family meets to celebrate the holidays. And the infertile women smile, and whither a little a little inside while trying to comply and not seem like a “whiner”. Afterall, we have no weight in the argument; we haven’t provided the grandchildren, we haven’t any stock in the Christmas get-together.

So, after 700 words, here’s my point: National Infertility Awareness Week is obviously scheduled for the convenience of those who don’t suffer from infertility, so as not to interfere with more child-friendly observances. For the rest of us, we observe Awareness of Our Infertility Week at multiple times throughout the year.

[Postscript: I do not intend for this blog to be a blog about infertility, but a blog about me and my thoughts in general. No doubt, my struggle with infertility have influenced my thoughts and continues to have an impact on my life. But, I try not to define myself by my infertility – I am more than an infertile woman. And this is more than an infertility blog.]

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Before I start with this, here’s a bit of background. I struggled against infertility for about six years, and have stuggled with infertility for the last two. I think there is a wide distinction between the two states.

The first, struggling against infertility, is that period during which you give your all, and I do mean all, in order to make it not so. To become fertile. To win the war against the bitterness and frustration of infertility. For some, this struggle ends with adoption. Others, such as my friend Emilie, actually emerge from the struggle having achieved pregnancy against great odds. For myself, the end of the struggle was the decision to stop trying, and to resign myself to childlessness.

The struggle with infertility is what comes later, when you stop striving to reverse it, and struggle with the realities and daily living of your life beyond the crisis of infertility. It’s the feelings that stay with you. It’s the way you live with the many recurring pains of infertility, knowing that you won’t really ever escape it.

I don’t think one ever completely heals from the wounds inflicted by infertility. Instead, I feel as though the struggle has left me as a kind of amputee – my dream for my family has been severed away. My wound is healed over, but has left me incomplete. I have phantom pains, in which my inner “fertile imagination” forgets the reality, and whispers to me, “when you have children…..”

So here is my summary thought on Infertility Awareness Week: I appreciate that RESOLVE and other organizations are working to bring the struggles of the 15% of couples that suffer from infertility to the attention of the general population, and particularly to our policy makers. Infertility treatment is too often perceived as a lifestyle-choice, or an elective-medical process, or worse, not perceived at all, but treated as a private shame.

But infertility awareness is not just for the fertile world. I need it too. I need to be aware of how infertility, and the struggles against and with infertility, have shaped me into who I am. I need to be conscious of how a dozen decisions each day determine whether I sit in a corner and define my life by my infirmity, or whether I win the race, even as an amputee marathon runner.

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