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.)

12 responses

  1. It could make sense to tag things both TTC #2 and infertility, or just one or the other. If I weren’t so lazy I don’t do tags, I’d say that there are decidedly times I’m thinking/writing about infertility alone and how it works/changes me/my life, and others where it’s very much “in the trenches” impacting that ache for another baby.

    I’ll say it again: I’m so sad that this is where you are and I hope things grow and get happier from here.

  2. I’m so glad you have a great support system already built-in.

    As someone coming from an opposite place (looking at infertility in my rear view mirror and remembering that time when I had absolutely no support whatsoever) I just want to make sure I am there for you in all the ways no one was there for me. Because while infertility is God awful, suffering in silence takes that shitty pain to a whole new horrific level.


  3. “It’s not that I don’t feel hope, I guess it’s more that I don’t know what hope looks like here.” Yes. That’s the biggest thing, the hardest thing, about infertility. Finding that hope, again and again, through all of the Suck.

    But I also want to echo what jjiraffe said – I’m so happy you DO have a support system already built in. We’re here to help you through this and work towards whatever form your hope will take at some point.

    For now, let yourself feel what you’re feeling. And for the tags? Use both. Because they’re related. TTC#2 includes Stumbling through Infertility.

    Lots of hugs and love and light being sent your way, sweetie. Abiding with you in the dark.


  4. I didn’t think you’d end up here, either. But here you are. You will figure out what to do next, and what to hope for. It’ll take some time, and it may change. For now, though, I think the numb haze and the shock are totally normal.

    (and tagging is not a science. I’m not terribly good at deciding what to tag which way. you’ll figure that part out.)

  5. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to want.” I have struggled with this time and time again. Should I just want one child because I’m “lucky” to have one given everything we went through? Will 2 children be enough? Will I want 3 simply because I have embryos left to use? I honestly don’t know what I want – and it’s because of IF. I will never know what I really wanted, versus what the universe told me I could have.

    This is a hard place to navigate, especially early on. It’s so hard having these hard conversations with our partners, because we fear what they’re going to say. What if he doesn’t want to go as far as I’m willing to go? What if he isn’t open to donor sperm/egg? What if he won’t even consider adoption? Those fears kept me from even asking the questions. At this juncture, take it one day at a time. The meandering road you’re on will lead somewhere, it just sometimes takes a while to get there.

    We are all here for you. Still cheering you on.

  6. what you say about “participating before joining [the] ranks [of the infertility community” … I do think that there’s a reason we align ourselves in ONE community, even if we arrive at it through different experiences. It’s why I felt like I had a support system here even before that day when my doctor handed me a poorly photocopied handwritten piece of paper with INFERTILITY written in clumsy block letters across the top. And though you are in new shoes traveling this road, the people who are here holding you are the ones who have felt you belonged — not because of a diagnosis but because you understood — all along. The label changes everything, and nothing, all at once. Sending love.

  7. I was like you in many ways. I was in a different community – but one which embraced those who faced infertility after loss. I had two losses, but always felt confident in my fertility. Till I wasn’t. But I was lucky. I was surrounded by women who had been through loss with me, and who faced infertility with me too. And it made the process so much easier. In some ways, that on-line infertility support that was separate from my IRL relationships gave me a refuge to run to when the IRL world was too hard. I hope that we, the women around you in the virutal world, can give you that support too.

    It took me a long time to say the word infertility, so don’t feel bad that you can’t embrace it just yet. Goodness, I still struggle with it, still choose who I say the word to, almost 10 years on!! So go easy on yourself.

    • One thought as I’m going to bed…it’s always so hard to be a new card carrying member of a club. It shocked me when I joined the miscarriage club. To this day I still have to give myself a reality check that yes-I am a member of the special needs club. Just tonight as I’m reading the reports for B’s upcoming IEP, I thought, “How is it that I used to run IEP’s and now my daughter is having one??” Whenever I hear the words spina bifida or cerebral palsy I think that those are words that apply to other people’s children. But really, they apply do B. It hurts. It’s unfair. And it’s really really hard to get used to 😦 I’m sorry.

  8. I agree with Noelle- it’s a shock when we first join one of these “clubs” and it takes awhile to accept that we are legit members. There’s a lot of denial, at least there was for me, but I think that’s a built in coping mechanism. I hate that I am in the special needs mom club, but at the same time, I have built amazing relationships because of it. And you will too. And even better that you are already such an impact player in this community. You have already made such a huge difference because of your honesty in your writing, and I know you will continue to do so.

  9. Pingback: Credentials « Stumbling Gracefully

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