Monday, October 6, 2008

Things I learned from IF.

I don't know if I can consider myself "infertile" anymore, but I will always know that I went through infertility to get where I am. And after all is said and done in my own journey, completely taking in the fact that I have succeeded, I can say now that I am actually glad I went through infertility.

To be honest, I'm even glad I had to go through the IVF route. I have learned SO MUCH MORE about the real issue of infertility. By actually living through something like this, I've developed a huge understanding of the issue women face. And still face. I would have never known had I not done it. It's unfortunate we IFers have to complain about how the "fertiles" just don't understand. But without going through it, how can we even hope they understand? Only recently have we started chiseling off the tip of the IF iceberg to feed snow cones to the mainstream.

Back to why I actually consider myself lucky. While I think EVERY MOTHER considers herself lucky she got pregnant and while EVERY MOTHER loves their children beyond comprehension, only a mother who suffered IF can actually appreciate the miracle of conception and carrying a child to full term. Hell, even me, who took 18 months to conceive the first time, took my pregnancy for granted. Once I got that second line, it meant I was going to have a baby 9 months later. No doubt about it. I was telling everyone I knew immediately. I started buying cute little baby things. Sure, I knew there was a risk of miscarriage, but it was still a small risk to me. A risk that most likely simply wouldn't happen. So I choose not to worry. And this is what we (IFers) complain about fertiles for. But I have to admit, without going through it, there's just no way for them to know. Hopefully with the whirlwind of IF information hitting the public through the right channels and even through hollywood, it won't take a personal relationship with infertility to understand it.

I think the BEST THING about having to suffer through infertility is I learned the right way to deal with ~anyone~ trying to conceive. I used to tell women "it'll happen!" and now I know some women won't have a child. I've learned to NOT say stupid crap like "there's always next month!". I know not to stuff rainbows and puppydogs up anyone's ass. I learned that the phrase "I'm sorry" was simply the best response I could give. More doesn't need to be said. Just to feel for the woman and to let her know you are sorry for her suffering. That's all I need to say.

One of the biggest things I've learned is how to deal with women who have suffered a loss. True, I've always been sensitive to the issue of pregnancy loss, but there were three things I had wrong:

1) I always thought the "bright" side of m/c was in knowing the woman CAN get pregnant. I thought that was always something at least to hold onto. And now I know losing a child is NOT a bright side of ttc. Knowing you are creating life but can't hold a pregnancy can even be worse on a woman. I will never ever say "at least you know you can get pregnant" ever again.

2) I used to think a chemical pregnancy or any other early m/c was "easier". Now I know losing a child at any stage is not easy. I used to compare the aspect of losing a child at 20 weeks with a chemical pregnancy. Sure, they are different and the mother will handle the loss differently, but no matter what, they are ALL lost children. And I can see now that an early m/c can be even harder for a woman to deal with because she's not getting the support someone who lost a child further along would get. Or she thinks she's not as deserving of support so won't ask for it.

3) I used to think molar pregnancies were also "easier" because it wasn't really a baby to begin with. And while a molar pregnancy was never an actual child, to the woman, it was. They got the joy from the bfp and the pain from the m/c. They felt every single emotion. But to say something like "at least it wasn't a baby you lost" just totally dismisses all these feelings they really felt. I am guilty of saying that to a close friend and I realize how that sucked. I recently apologized for that.

I wouldn't wish infertility on anyone. But since I did go through it, I can appreciate the things it has taught me. And I can honestly say I am glad that I got the opportunity to learn these things. I cringe thinking of all the things I said in the past to IF women who were hurting.


Jenera said...

I've learned a lot from you just by reading your blog. I learned a bunch of stuff regarding IF and the treatments and what not that I never knew existed.

Having had a loss myself, I look at pregnancy in a completely different light. I almost wish I could go back to the day when I hadn't suffered a loss and was excited from day one. I feel like we missed a lot of celebrating with this baby because we waited three months to tell anyone. Even my hubby was a bit concerned when my brother told us they were pregnant and he was barely 8 weeks. It affects our men more than we might think.

Even though all of these things are hard, we can all take a lot of lessons from them.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. There are so many things I've learned on this journey. You've hit the nail on the head with a lot of them. This is something I need to be reminded of every day - because often times I forget to be thankful.

DCat said...

I agree with you in so many ways. I have always thought and felt that women who have dealt with IF have just a different appreciation for their children. I can't explain it but I believe it's just a deeper, deeper something. It's not better, not stronger just different if that makes any sense. We adopted our DD at birth and because of what we went through to "get" her gives me a different level of appreciation for her. I can't explain it. I just know that when I look at her I still continually thank God for bringing her to us.
I also have the same level of appreciation for my battle with IF. It made me a stronger person and taught me so much about myself.
Great post!

elephantscanremember said...

I agree 100%. I am thankful to have learned so much from this horrid (at times) IF experience. At this point, I know I am not guaranteed to ever get pregnant, and when I tell people that, they just don't get it. I have faith that God CAN help me. Who am I or they to say that He WILL? (Those who've never been through this tend to get those two notions mixed up.) I will enjoy each day as it comes, pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and post-pregnancy.

Carrie said...

You rock. Well said.

I love the line "I know not to stuff rainbows and puppydogs up anyone's ass." That's awesome. I may steal it.

:) Carrie

Jewels said...

Thank you for that post Nancy, I'm sobbing, It feels good to hear you say that. While I agree and have too become more realistic and have a different response to women suffering IF vs. when I first started TTC, in this post, your words validate my pain. Sometimes I feel dumb because I still hurt so bad.
This post just told me "It's Okay to hurt - still"
You may not shove Rainbows and Puppy dogs up my Ass, but you are supportive and bring me sunshine.

Anonymous said...

hey girl - it's elcubana. been following you on your blog now to see how things are going, and loved your post on "what you've learned". i kind of feel the same way - can i really consider myself "infertile" anymore, now that i have DS#2. I still go with yes, we had 2 years of IF issues - even if in the end it was always "unexplained secondary infertility" and we finally conceived. doesn't make up for the months of tests and TTC and BD and meds and apts., etc etc etc. and yes, i'm learning too, that "i'm sorry" goes a long way with IF friends.

Not in the Water said...

I really liked that post.

Ironically, a new teacher at my school is going through IF and even tried my doc. She told me she m/c'd at 4 months. I didn't know what to say to her...and when we talked about failed clomid cycles I still didn't know what to say.

But I agree I'm sorry is effective enough sometimes.

IF just sucks monkey balls.

jenn said...

A terrific post- I also agree 100%. Even though I know how short & easy my journey was- having felt even a little piece of it has made me appreciative & more supportive.

Laurel said...

I don't know what it personally feels like to deal with IF but I know what it feels like to have a loss. I know what it feels like to have people say to you "well now you can have fun trying" or "at least you know you can get pregnant". Freaking people... Anyway, I also now have a great appreciation for what the IF community goes through. I cannot completely understand how an IFer feels because I haven't gone through it. I cannot understand the notion of feeling like you may appreciate your child more than someone who has had it easy because they are none the wiser and I am sure appreciate their child as much as they think is possible. But I understand the huge amount of emotion that goes into this journey and that joy when and IFer gets her BFP and when she actually delivers her baby and a little bit of when the IFer has to realize they might have to remain a family of two or one for that matter. I laugh and cry with each and everyone of you and because of this I appreciate what I have and hope to have much much more. Even though I KNOW that I might not have it easy in the coming months and years I can appreciate that I am not alone.

chicklet said...

When I take a step back, I've learned a lot too, and definitely come a long way as for how I support friends. For me though, I would wish it on people - just a little. I'd never want anyone to go through all the IVF's and drugs and all that we've gone through, but I'd like everyone to question their ability just a little, to try for just that little long to wonder, because I'd like people to have SOME semblance of what it's like instead of being so careless.

Wordgirl said...

Oh Nancy,

Your website is not only a wonderful source of support and humor -- but knowledge too -- and I was JUST thinking about the post of how IF affects motherhood --

XO -- thank you for your email the other day -- proof not of dorkiness, but of your heart.



Nikki said...

I'm one of the unfortunate ones that has faced infertility, and has suffered pregnancy loss.

I agree with you - until a woman goes through infertility herself, she will not understand the pain of one suffering from it. I'm also sure I may have said things in the past to people - unaware of their actual situation, and, like you, I cringe at the thought of it.

I got pregnant last year after 6.5 years of IF, and despite the long long time it took us to get there (or perhaps because of the long time it took us to get there), we completely took it for granted. Like you, we too told people right away, and "assumed" there would be a baby with us 9 months later. I mean, I was infertile, and that meant I could not GET pregnant, right? I lost that pregnancy, and 2 more after that. Now I know better. I can't get pregnant, and I can't stay pregnant.

There are so many lessons I've learnt. I've learned how to be sensitive to others' situations - not just IF situations, but any life situations. I've learned to be strong, and be hopeful.

And strangely - in my case, I do see the bright side of my pregnancy losses as proof that I CAN get pregnant. I wouldn't say that to any other woman who has suffered a loss, but for me, that's what brought me hope to try again.

Amanda said...

Im with you. I have changed so much during this crazy journey. Ive dealt with a loss that nearly burned me to the core. And not only was I able to pull myself out of that, but It helped me to understand so much more than I would had I not had to go through it. I don't consider myself lucky (yet) but I do know that I'll never let it get me down. (not again.) I just appreciate things SO MUCH more now.

Sara said...

Powerful post, Nancy. Thank you for sharing.
I, too, have a newfound respect for all women who are ttc or who have lost a child, no matter what stage of pregnancy the loss happened.
Isn't it amazing how we evolve as human beings?

JamieD said...

It shocks me to talk to newly pregnant women and discover that the possibility of a m/c never crosses thier mind. It makes me feel like a freak.

I agree, the TTC journey has really opened my eyes.

sara said...

Wow - you have left me speechless! This is so true I don't even know what else to say. The things I used to say to people before we went through infertility and IVF make me shudder sometimes. I honestly think I said them because I didn't know any better. And although I haven't walked through everyone's shoes - at least now I think before I speak. Hopefully that helps me avoid hurting someone, or at least even just one more person. I think the thing I can relate to most is that sometimes the best thing to say is just "I'm sorry."

Nancy - you did such a good job writing this. Thank you so much for sharing it with us! (and thank you so much for your kind words lately - they sure have meant a lot)

Jendeis said...

A beautiful post. You're so cool, you are my idol. :)

Topcat said...

Nancy, that is just such an awesome post. I LOVE how your blog is always so different. Cannibals one day, serious IF issues the next.

You totally just taught me some things on what NOT to say to women who have experienced early miscarriage.


Geohde said...

"I know not to stuff rainbows and puppydogs up anyone's ass."


I couldn't have said it better myself,


ssbean said...

This is my first pregnancy, and honestly if I had gotten pregnant soon after TTC I really don't think I would appreciate the pregnancy and be as prepared as I think we are. It gave me time to think about what it means to bring a baby into this world. I met lot of wonderful women in my TTC process who I learned a lot from as well, you being one of them. I too wouldn't trade my time TTC.

Anonymous said...

I have learnt so much from my infertility too... how not to take the small things for granted, how to hang onto hope despite the odds and the list goes on and on and on...

I love that most people going through IF can recognise that although it SUCKS HAIR BALLS it can teach us something too...

I hope that I can overcome this infertility of mine someday.


Morgan said...

I had a molar pregnancy, and yes you are me it WAS a BABY. Like any other pregnant women I saw the two lines and thought.."wow in 9 months im going to have a baby". I couldn't go to the dr. until 8w, and until then I bought things early, like an idiot. When I found out it hurt SOO friggin much, I cried and cried and everyone outside the sono room could hear me and they starred at me like I was an idiot when I walked out with tears down my face. I think it was the first time I saw DF cry too, I'll never forget the feeling.

Melody said...

Just really love you for everything you said here.

I am deeply grieving the loss of my chemical pregnancy from March/April just now, even though I'm well on my way to having a baby I never would have known had that baby survived. It's the dream of that other life that I will never be able to completely let go of-- even though I was only 5 weeks along when it happened and I am very pro-choice.

Hollie said...

Thank you Nancy for putting into words the things that IF women think about and face daily. I agree so much with what you said. Especially that pregnancy after IF seems so wonderful and scary at the same time. I am so grateful and excited to be carrying one of God's children in my belly. I will never take that for granted. And IF girls are so well informed about what can go wrong that sometimes we worry too much. I think it's ok for women to assume everything will be ok as long as somewhere in their mind they know it might not be.

And I agree that a lost pregnancy is sad at any point and should be treated with much care and concern. The loss of my son's twin was very hard on me, and although I had much reason to be happy, part of me was very sad and depressed.

WiseGuy said...

Amazing to go through your blog and best of luck to you. Yes, I saw ICSI...and I hope that someday I will make a success out of my infertility story!

Kaci said...

Thank you Nancy. I have stalked you since you were on the TTC board before you had Allie. I've had close friends deal with IF, and there have been days where I've had no clue how to respond to things in their lives. I've gained a lot of knowledge by asking questions, but sometimes I hate to ask because I don't know that they want to talk about it. So I read your blog, and I click from one commenter to another, gaining more knowledge at every turn. I am sure I've said offensive things, to people I hardly knew and unfortunately to those dear friends. I am sorry for those times and do try to be careful with my words. Thank you (and the rest of the IF blogging community) for putting it out there, and opening this fertile's eyes.

Not only do you raise awareness of the depth of the problem, you help us learn how to be a better friend and be more understanding to our friends and the strangers that we might meet who are having to deal with infertility and loss.

So thank you.

Misty said...

Nancy thanks for this post. I don't think that people don't view a m/c early in PG as they do in 2nd tri. You hit the nail on the head about people saying "Oh, well at least you know that you can get PG", like that is some scientific achievement. Oh wow thanks! I have had 5 confirmed m/c's with no baby to show for it. Please don't tell me that I should be thankful I know it can happen. Recurrent PG Loss is just like unexplained IF. The RE's just try drugs by trial and error until they get a good fit. Right now I'm so frustrated b/c I'm at my 10th month with my RE and 4yrs TTC, with some answers, but not all. After 4 attempted C's w/IF drugs I was only allowed to TTC 2 C's b/c of my history of m/c's. Now the past 2 C's my RE is baffled as to why I didn't get a BFP. Nothing is making sense. Now I'm about to do another test (Reproductive Immunophenotype) to see if its my own immune system rejecting the embryos. This is a very emotional battle that unless you've walked in it, you don't know. I've tried to explain to fertiles but its like I'm wasting my breathe.

Thank you Nancy for helping others to understand and being such great friend.

Becca said...

Thank you Nancy for putting into words what many feel.

While TTC my #2, my two best friends were also TTC. One had four miscarriages (now has a healthy 3 month old girl) and the other is 19 weeks pregnant with a little boy after almost 3 years TTC.

I know it was very hard for them to watch me get pregnant relatively easily (8 cycles) and then have my DS while they were still trying. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty and sad for them, but stalking your blog and message board posts truly helped me know how to approach both my feelings as well as theirs.

Thank you for sharing your hurt and frustration - it did have a silver lining.

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful post.