The “I” Word
I can’t tell you how odd it is writing about “infertility.”
That may seem even stranger for you to hear, as that is what this community is about, but I will remind you that I have never suffered from infertility. I’m a card carrying member of the “loss” part of our little club and with only one loss to my name, my card was of the flimsy cardboard variety, the kind little kids make when they’re young and playing “business” or “store.”
But on Friday it seems I was handed a sturdy, heavily laminated, INFERTILITY card, complete with embossed name and membership number. It’s a really long number. A LOT of women were issued their cards before me.
I knew my card was coming. It was definitely in the mail. I’ve been throwing around the “I” word since we started our testing in the beginning of December. But honestly, I thought my Infertility card would resemble the one I was issued for Loss, a throw away piece of flimsy card stock with the “I” word written in chunky, child-like letters.
I was not expecting this hulking piece of plastic that now weighs down my life.
And yet here I am. I have my credentials. I’m writing about infertility now. And it feels so strange.
I wonder how many women participate in this community for 3.5 YEARS before actually joining its ranks. Probably not that many. I am a rare specimen. A unique breed.
It’s strange how all those years, all those countless blog entries about infertility, didn’t prepare me for actually being infertile myself. I never thought I’d write about infertility as it pertains to my life. It just wasn’t a label that pertained to me.
I will admit that while my 3+ years in this community has not prepared me to incorporate infertility into my identity, it has prepared me to understand infertility, and how it is affecting my life, my job, my marriage, my motherhood.
When Mi.Vida doesn’t respond to my grief in a way that I feel is appropriate, I know he is just processing his own grief differently than I am. When a cousin cheerfully suggests there might be “some adorable baby out there just waiting for me to adopt,” I know she is just trying to support me in the limited ways she knows how (that’s right people, I got my first “why don’t you just adopt,”–I am officially part of the club). When I find it impossible to function properly at work I know it’s okay to give what I have, even if that is nothing close to my normal 100%. When playing with my daughter makes me simultaneous immensely grateful and incredibly sad, I know I’m not betraying her or our love for each other.
When I feel a deep and utter sadness–wrapped up in an intense longing–reading about other bloggers welcoming their second children into their lives, I know they wouldn’t begrudge me my pain. I know they would understand.
And that is nice. It is comforting to know this is all normal. That I am normal. That my grief is normal. And understandable. And valid.
There are also times when my years here probably don’t help. When Mi.Vida and I have our first “hard talks” about where we stand on these issues and I sense we could feel very, very, irreconcilable different about the treatments we are comfortable pursuing and the money we are prepared to spend, I immediately think of the bloggers I know whose marriages have dissolved over similar differences, and I begin to fear the worst.
But mostly my time in this community has helped me to weather this storm. Having watched so many women fight against infertility and eventually overcome it gives me hope. And of course all your amazing support–which I will acknowledge more thoroughly in a future post–has been, well, my life line.
Seriously, how many women already have so many supporters when they first find out they are dealing with infertility? Most women don’t start their blogs until they’ve been in the trenches for quite some time. My blog, by distinction, is transforming to incorporate the “I” word right before everyone’s eyes. And my incredible, kind, supportive, amazing readers are rising to the occasion in ways I could never have imagined, let alone hoped for.
I’ve spent the last few days in a numb haze. Honestly, I think I’m in shock. I’ve cried a lot, sure. Sobbed really. There has been a lot of sobbing, actually. You know the kind, the ugly cries, that rack your body, leaving you a contorted mess on the bathroom floor (or your classroom floor, whichever is most readily available). Upon hearing the news I’m pretty sure I suffered an honest-to-gawd panic attack. I REALLY wished I had a bag to breath into. But most of the time, the time I’m not sobbing, I’m still in shock. I’m numb. I’m unfeeling. I’m just going through the motions, making it through the days.
Except, for when I’m reading a comment, or an email, or a DM. Then I feel it, that almost imperceptible warmth, shooting its fragile tendrils through the natural anesthesia to awaken my comatose heart.
These past days have been some of the more difficult of my life. They’ve reminded me a lot of my ectopic pregnancy in their feelings of overwhelming darkness and despair.
It’s not that I don’t feel hope, I guess it’s more that I don’t know what hope looks like here. What form will hope take, that of improved test results for both me and Mi.Vida? Being able to raise the funds for treatments? Retrieving a certain number of eggs? Magically getting pregnant on our own when we realize we’ve reached the end of our road? Finding peace in our family of three? I don’t know what hope looks like anymore. I don’t know what I’m supposed to want.
The only thing I do know, is that all of you will be here for me as I figure it out. And that is a gift whose light is the only thing more overwhelming that the darkness, the only thing that can overcome the despair.
So thank you, as I navigate my new life with the “I” word. As I learn to live with it. As I learn to write about it. I’m sure I’ll take missteps, I’ll commit faux pas, I’ll inspire you to shake your head and chuckle at what a newbie I am, and I thank you in advance for bearing with me as I get used to the club rules.
I do promise I won’t flash my shiny new card too much. Even I know that is gauche.
(I added a new category–Stumbling through Infertility–to my blog and I realized it doesn’t make sense to tag things as both that and TTC. It made me sad, that tiny, seemingly insignificant confirmation, that I’m not walking the same path, that my road ended and now I must forge ahead through the harsh underbrush, unsure of where I’m going or how I might get there, a palpable reminder of how much infertility scares me, how unprepared I feel for this terrifying new world.)