Actions, Words and Reality

I’ve been contemplating how to write this post for a while. I’ve been thinking about it but I wasn’t sure I had the cojones to actually put it out there. In the end I felt it was worth saying, because maybe, just maybe it will help someone to read it. And maybe it will help me to write it too.

So lately there have been some awesome pregnancy announcements on different blogs that I follow. These pregnancies are always the result of IVFs, FETs or IUIs. Very few people that I follow are trying without any kind of intervention anymore. It makes sense; this is an infertility community after all.

Except that I’m not actually infertile. At least not yet. And sure I’m steadily approaching the famed one year mark of trying that the medical community uses to make the initial diagnosis of IF, and sure I’m taking the (probably many, convoluted) steps necessary at Kaiser to see an RE, but I am not infertile. I don’t say that because I would be ashamed to wear that title, but because I have not suffered enough to be included in the club.

So, there have been a few pregnancy announcements lately and I’ve been watching them closely. I’ve been watching the way women announce their good news and I’ve taken note of how their readers respond. I’ve been doing all this because I want to make sure that if I ever have good news to share, I share it in the appropriate way. But recently I realized that I can’t take notes from these wonderful women because their situations are incomparable to mine. They are all IFers who have undergone treatments to get pregnant. They have EARNED their good news. If I were to get pregnant I wouldn’t have earned it, not in the way they have. I can’t share my good news like they do because I have not struggled nearly as hard to get to my happy place.

And here is the part where my dear readers–the ones who comment on lots of my posts and obviously care about me and would be thrilled if I had good news to share (even if it hurt them, and it will hurt many of them, too many)–tell me that of course I’ve earned any pregnancy I may be lucky enough to enjoy and here we don’t embrace the Pain Olympics and everyone’s experience is valid and yadda yadda yadda.

And that is all fine and good, except that it is NOT the way most women feel in this community (though I totally believe it is the way my amazing readers, or at least my amazing commenters) feel. I can say that with relative certainty because I have SEEN women reacting in a way that clearly indicates otherwise. I have seen women tear down bloggers who didn’t need medical assistance to get pregnant. I have seen others fail to include them. I’ve seen those bloggers get fewer comments on posts, or fewer followers in general. I’ve seen it over and over again. So people can say all they want about this community being a Pain Olympics-Free-Zone, but the actions of many would suggest otherwise. And actions, as they say, speak louder than words.

You see, people can say all they want to the contrary on this post, on my blog in general, but the truth is, any pregnancy that I may achieve without assistance is not as precious a prize as a pregnancy achieved through ART. Any struggle I’ve endured before seeing an RE or taking Clomid or undergoing an IUI or IVF or an FET is not as worthy as the struggles of those who have faced those hardships. And I’m not saying this because it hurts my feelings to see my pregnancy as less than. I’m saying it because it’s absolutely is true. My difficulties aren’t as intense as the difficulties that others are facing. What I have been through this year is the bare minimum of suffering, it is the foundation of the IF experience, on which all the real hurt and pain is built. EVERYONE in this community has dealt with more than me. That is just the truth of the matter.

And it’s just the truth of the matter that if I get pregnant in the coming months, people won’t be as happy for me as they would be for someone undergoing IUI or IVF. It’s understandable, I didn’t have as much on the line, either emotional or financially. My attempts didn’t require the sheer resources that IFers have to gather to attempt to build their families and so a disappointing result isn’t as devastating. My problems pale in comparison.

I notice it already. When I get a BFN a few close friends are very kind in consoling me, but I don’t get the 30+ comments of support that someone who faces a failed ART cycle receives. And I’m not saying I should, I just gave it an au natural try. Nothing special. Nothing bank breaking. I can do it again next month. But the thing it, it is only ever all I can do. I’m not allowed to try anything more yet, these cycles are the only chances I’ve got, at least for the foreseeable future. And it’s hard to be stuck in the minor leagues, not knowing what is wrong, recognizing all the while that even though it’s bad, everyone else has it so much worse. Which means I should keep my bitching to a minimum and if I do get a BFP, I should share it in as tasteful and low-key a manner as possible.

How will I share a BFP on this blog? I honestly don’t know. I don’t feel I have the right to really celebrate it. I already have a child. I haven’t had to seek medical assistance to get pregnant (at least this post is about a hypothetical unassisted BFP). It just took a long time, nothing to whine about really. So how do I share the news without hurting those who are suffering so much more than I, who have, and will continue to, suffer so much more than I, who have done way more work to earn a pregnancy than I have, and yet still aren’t celebrating one themselves? Who, quite frankly, deserve it more? How do I quietly put it out there so that others don’t feel so much pain or despair? I honestly don’t know the answer. There doesn’t seem to be a good way to go about it.

I’m sure this post is going to upset people, hell it might even piss people off. I hope you all know that I only say these things because they are true. They have always been true and they will always be true. And I respect the truth of these words, even if that truth puts my pain in perspective. It SHOULD put my pain in perspective, because honestly, my pain is not that great. What other people in this community go through is so much worse. And I shouldn’t receive 30+ comments of congratulations about a BFP I managed to achieve between my own bedsheets. My struggles are the minor leagues and when they are over I will get the minor league ovation that I deserve. My shit is not major league material. It’s not prime time sports, and it will never be treated as such.

The truth is I’m kind of stuck in this weird no-mans land. I don’t belong to the land of the fertiles where all my friends get pregnant in one or two months and get to plaster it all over Facebook when the pee stick is still wet, and I don’t belong here where people struggle for so long and through so much, grasping at fragile BETA numbers with the meager hope they might signal a viable pregnancy, many times facing the crushing reality that they don’t. I’m just someone who has a not-so-easy time of it, and when I get pregnant the fertiles won’t care that it took almost a year and the infertiles won’t recognize it as being much of a struggle and it will just be what it is. My thing. My insignificant burden to bear.

And I accept that. I agree with it really. I just want to make sure that my response and my announcement take these realities into account. And I’m not quite sure how best to do that. How do you best remind a community that you identify with, but that doesn’t identify with you, of why you don’t really belong, without rubbing the unfair disparity in their face? That is the question I have to answer and I worry there is no answer to be found.

13 responses

  1. Interesting thoughts. If I read a bfp post from you, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be thinking “oh well, its not an ivf pregnancy, I’ll pare down the accolades”. I remember a previous post you wrote on ttc sex and how it affects. . . well, lots of things. I remember nodding through it, identifying with so much, if not all, of what you wrote. I understand that, the loss of spontaneity and just funsex that comes from more than a few months of ttc. I never connected that with an infertility label, or a ‘however many rounds of whatever invasive treatment’ tag – those thoughts you shared just put us both in the same place, regardless of what either of us has brought to the table. That ‘worthy’ thing . . . I’m interested to see what your other commenters have to say on that. It honestly wouldn’t have crossed my mind.

    The infertility label I have some thoughts on – the issue is on Mr Stinky’s side and obviously this affects US as a couple and OUR ability to procreate (successfully), its still weird sometimes, not having an infertility diagnosis myself – I feel a bit of a fraud. Yes, miscarriages, and yes, failed ivf, but yeah, how much, really, can I say on this subject when its never been proved that its me who really ‘belongs’. But then there’s heaps of people with unexplained/undiagnosed, who don’t seek help for whatever reason – I guess we don’t hear so much from them as from what I have seen, bloggers tend to be pretty proactive in this stuff.

    You know, in terms of how do you ‘announce’? I guess you do it authentically and sensitively in a way that you would be ok with reading yourself. You can’t please everyone, and you have a right to be happy with this news when it happens (see what I did there? Mr Stinky would be so proud! Positive thinking’s easier when one’s’ not thinking about oneself). I dunno, I didn’t really think of this when I updated my blog, maybe I offended someone or a few people, who knows? I certainly remember the 2010 pregnancy I was aware that I just started blogging and a month later was pregnant and writing about it – then again I didn’t have any readers so less of a sense of the internal censor with that!

  2. This is interesting. To be perfectly honest, I struggle with my recent BFP because I didn’t work too hard for it. I injected some drugs, had a couple appointments, embryos were thawed and put in, and POOF. PREGNANT. This has been nothing like the quest for my first child. My sister pointed out that this was easier than the approach fertile people take (and then she used the word ‘deserve’ which upsets me so much). She is right. It was easier. And I feel a bit guilty about that when it comes to people still TTC the normal way, like you.

    Pain olympics? They’re out there but I truly feel like its more a question of who you identify with. When trying for Matthew, one blogger who was in her first year if trying (who did get pregnant) drove me nuts because she took the “its not fair” angle. I could not identify with her at all. People doing IUI were hard to follow closely because I wanted a relatable experience so I could compare protocols. That’s what I needed back then. Its not what I need now. Today, I’m all about the entire experience – not just the protocol. I follow all sorts of IFers and its great – great perspective. I support them all, but I do tend to throw more rah rah support to the gals trying for their first baby. I especially pay close attention to those doing IVF because I can lend more appropriate perspective and support having been through it myself.

    And I follow you closely.

    I want nothing more than for you to get your BFP. I think of you every time I post about this potential pregnancy. What you are going through for baby #2 is what I went through for baby #1. That is 100% relatable. I hate that you’re having to live month to month and that is why I’m excited about you seeing an RE. You have worked hard, much harder than I did this time around.

    See? Pain olympics and I didn’t suffer more. 😉

    (I absolutely hate the term pain olympics, btw)

    When you get pregnant, you most certainly earned it. You know that I believe that every pregnancy is earned – I wrote a whole post on it. Your next pregnancy will be hard-earned. It already is.

    I will totally celebrate your BFP (and there will be one!). 🙂

    • I thought a lot about your post about “earning” and “deserving” when I was pondering and then writing this post. It was actually one of the impetuses for this post, so thank you.

      I also appreciate your thoughts on your recent BFP. I have actually had moments of jealousy reading about women who are trying for their second and are able to move straight to treatments because their diagnosis warrants it while I have to waste an entire year failing to get pregnant. But them I remember that there is so much more involved with all that and I have no idea how much it costs or what emotional toll it takes. The truth of the matter is even if I see an RE I don’t know if I can even afford treatments. I have no idea what Kaiser covers or how much it costs and I can’t bring myself to research it because I’m too scared. If the RE becomes an unattainable thing I have nothing to hope for and I’m just not ready for that yet. So I just wait and hope ignorantly. It’s all I can bring used to do at this point.

      • I think the cost of treatments is one of the most daunting things when new to IF. The testing alone is expensive, and then treatments pile up and it’s very scary. I hope that Kaiser covers some things for you.

        That being said, I’m still looking forward to your RE visit. I think sometimes we just need to be told what is going on. I hope they can figure it out quickly for you. I have high, high hopes for your appointments!

  3. You need to read Courtney’s post on “deserved” pregnancies.

    To be honest I think all pregnancies are deserved.

    Will someone be as excited for me if I get pregnant again the second time? Probably not.

    In the end don’t worry about how others perceive your BFP and just be happy that there will be an end to the mind fuck of trying.

  4. I’m curious as to why you compare yourself to other bloggers so much? You are sad that you don’t have 30+ comments on your BFNs, but maybe you don’t have any many readers as the blogger you are comparing yourself to. Does a high number of comments really make you feel better?

    Every pregnancy, whether it was obtained naturally or with medical help, is something to be congratulated.

  5. I don’t want you to feel alone in feeling like that, because as you will see from all these comments there are many of us in this ‘infertile’ world that haven’t gone through all the medical procedures that others have.
    I too have not yet classified for my countrys requirements to be recommended for ‘infertility treatment’ and I still feel guilty that I am able to get pregnant on my own, even if does take me a few years/months and horrible miscarriages. But you are also right about ‘no mans land’, we don’t fit into this fertile world either, we are not made the same as others. So where does this put us? This puts us all in our own special infertile land, perhaps its not as heartbreaking as those in the IVF/IUI etc world, but we still have put it in time and effort and research to get to where we are. We are not ignorant of these other worlds like those over fertile people in happy land, but we are still learning and discovering what may be ahead. When you get your BFP announce it in your own way, if people are going to be rude it is their prerogative but they have no right, it’s just their way of coping with the jealousy and pain. (Yes, funny to think some people could be jealous of where we are.) Much like we feel when someone announces that “oh it just happened! im now pregnant” as soon as they find out, which I must admit I feel those pangs of pain/jealousy too. This is life, life isn’t fair and doesn’t grant everyone the same level of ability and we just have to suck it up and find our own happiness.
    You are NOT alone in this awkward in-between world, and I wish I could make you feel that you are worthy of your BFP/title, but either way there are many who will be happy for you and will stand by you and they are the only people who matter.

  6. Interesting thoughts. I’m not diagnosed infertile, and I’m coming up on the year of trying mark as well. I unfortunately don’t have any insights for you. I know that should I get knocked up it will be announced on my blog rather early. Not with a shower of confetti and balloons released, but with the beginning of a pregnancy long panic attack. My news won’t be exciting and joyous, it will be desperate and pleading. I feel I’ll receive support from my readers. I doubt I’ll lose many of them, although to be honest I’m still surprised anyone reads it at all so if I did lose any I’d probably just assume it’s because they’ve reached their quota of how many times they can read the F word in my blog and had to go.
    I can say there are people that it’s easier for me to hear an impending pregnancy from. But I don’t think it’s a deserving factor, it’s how much I’ve grown to care for them. If I don’t particularly like a person (mostly in real lifers, I don’t read blogs where I don’t like the people) the jealousy stings a bit more than when someone I love announces it, regardless of how hard or easy it was for them to conceive. And above all else I just try to remind myself that I don’t know their journey. I don’t know what they were going through 5 years ago, or will be going through in 5 years. No one is having a perfect life.

  7. I like Amelia’s comment, a lot.

    I’ve been musing over this post for a while. I think it’s true that those TTC without medical attention DON’T receive as much attention. I don’t think it’s because of the Pain Olympics, but rather that those going through medicated cycles have a dramatic arc that draws in readers (how many eggs will be extracted? what will the happen with the shots? how many follicles will develop? Then, the beta and the doubling number then the ultrasound): it’s just a compelling story, and readers really get drawn into and want to know: what happened? Whereas, TTC naturally has two highlights: the OPK maybe shows ovulation, then the pregnancy test is positive or negative.

    All this is to say: I want to make sure in the future that I try to pay just as much attention to the TTC naturally bloggers.

  8. I understand where you’re coming from. It’s really a weird place to be part of this community when we haven’t even done one IUI. I am shocked and feel undeserving when I receive such amazing support from people trying longer than me, have never even gotten a BFP or have spent much more money than we have trying to make their dream come true. But those details aren’t important. Don’t focus on that because everyone has a different journey and face different struggles in their lives. But your pain and fears are similar to ours. The bottom line is we’re all in this together and your BFP will be both celebrated and envied, just like all the others. Hope this helps!

  9. I know this is something that has always troubled you – feeling like a “fraud” in this community because by some external “objective” measures you haven’t gone through the same experiences that a lot of other ALI bloggers have. I’ve never, ever seen you that way – and if you’re a fraud then so am I because all I ever did was 3 cycles on clomid. And my second pregnancy was almost a complete surprise, totally unassisted. But the emotional experience of struggling to build a family and the frustration and heartbreak that goes with all of that, how can anyone measure that, or compare it on any kind of scale? Everyone deserves the support that they need. And its sad that we tend to flock to the high-drama tragedies – we do, I know we do – I do it too – and the less dramatic stories get less attention. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less heart-breaking.

  10. I am not much of a commenter on blogs these days — but I read yours faithfully and always mean to comment — and as, with this post, sometimes there’s a momentum that moves the discussion forward while I’m still trying to figure out what to say — Sometimes its difficult for me to cast myself back to the place where I was when I was TTC — in part because it was so difficult. The blogosphere was maybe a bit of a different place — but I did find, in the beginning, that blogs were my source of solace — but too — information for my own way forward — so first I was unexplained — and then I couldn’t even face IVF for my own personal reasons so I waited quite a while to really bite that bullet — and when I did I found there were answers — it was a great relief — and if the time should come that you find yourself working with an RE I hope that for you. No matter how long one tries — as Elizabeth says — it’s heartbreaking. Even I — who am committed to my family as it is — stepson and Z — feel this deep stirring when faced with recent pregnancies of acquaintances (women from my old and rarely attended mom’s group — remember them? two pregnancies there) and from Z’s old class at school — (two pregnancies there) — This is hard. Be gentle on yourself if you can be. I think these same thoughts — in the sense that my own IVF journey was quite charmed –I had no way of knowing it would be — in fact we borrowed an unthinkable amount from my mother-in-law so that we might do the shared risk program — other than not having BOTH embryos implant — we were successful and I often feel sheepish when I come across other women… I had a good friend, Louise, who went through nine cycles of IVF to become pregnant with her daughter Kayla — only to be diagnosed with melanoma before Kayla’s first birthday. I miss her everyday — but I know too that Louise supported me — cheered me on, loved ME — no matter that I was successful on my first try — because we were friends.

    Your friends are wishing you nothing but love and holding out hope for you — no matter the route of your journey..

    XOXO

    Pam

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