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January 23, 2017

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Maryann

Hi Maya! I absolutely love part 1. It sounds all so familiar! I would like you to write about how to deal with feelings of grief and not being heard or understood among family and friends, feeling of shame and inadequacy while among pregnant women or people with kids. It used to be such a struggle for me when someone announced pregnancy or if I was among pregnant women and pregnancy topics, that after such gatherings, I used to always ball my eyes out on the way home. How to deal with those emotions, when you don't want to be this jealous and bitter person, but your heart breaks into million pieces for so long with all the failures, gazzilion dollars spent and diminishing hope. How to decline politely baby shower invitations or gatherings with babies and not to feel guilty?
I echo what Claire, very nicely wrote, about how the years of this struggle and lack of support or understanding and empathy from family and friends shaped those relationships today. Even though today, we are the parents of donated embryo gorgeous baby, I still can't shake the feeling of sadness and resentment of all those years when our struggles were disregarded completely. It feels like they were completely oblivious to our pain and evenmore that they acted entitled to their parenthood. I hope time will heal wounds.

Don't Count Your Eggs

THANK YOU all so much for being on board with my little project here. Hearing feedback really helps as I try to take my personal ramblings and make them useful. I'm going to try to post a new snippet on Mondays, giving me the weekend to focus a little bit. These issues of guilt and shame and inadequacy and panic and cursed-- YES! I write a lot about that because I experienced these feelings, we all do/did. I'm keeping a running list of topics so feel free to throw more out as they come up. I think I'm going to start with where I started...meeting Noah at 20 and being not at ALL ready to have a baby, but knowing when the time came I would want to...with him. And that disappointment when what you expect or planned or assumed just doesn't seem like it's going to happen. I think that's the first stop in terms of shock or anger or denial-- it's like, wait, the cute guy I married and wanted to make babies with??? that's a no-go? And I'm 30? Stay tuned...

Claire

This is such a fabulous idea and read! This is such a gift to the IF community - I'm excited and grateful.
Love all of the feedback above.
I echo it, as well as felt I needed a survival guide to continue to fit in with, respond and react to, and not want to murder, family and "friends". As their lives progressed, and ours regressed, it was a terrible experience to be stuck with all these conflicting feelings. I always felt like I had to be the bigger person, facilitating and lumbering through endless hard situations, to make it better for everybody else, and often in the midst of terrible news or extreme stress. A few people realized infertility and pregnancy loss (over years) as the legitimate crisis (mental, physical, emotional, financial) it is, but most didn't want to "go there" or just avoided us and our weirdness, making us feel all the more shame or lack of worth.
I've realized through therapy that since infertility is not an obvious struggle or loss, and since most can't relate, there is a real lack of education and understanding, and therefore, support. It is easier to avoid awkward conversations if we haven't broken a leg or need to rehabilitate ourselves or something. Nothing visible, an invisible struggle. And trying to help others understand doesn't always go well - and then you feel worse than you did before.
I'm fortunate to now be a mother, but I personally find myself still shaping my feelings about friends and family around how they were (or weren't) to hubby and me over this past decade. There were a lot of people who busted in smiling and with a lasagna after 8 years, and I was different and lonely person by then. It is easier to be there for the happy times and he parties, but those who are along for the other rides in life are far fewer. So now this is what I try to talk about in therapy, and the ways I hope to move past my feelings and better myself after this past decade.

Heather

I relate to all of the stories shared here. The hardest part for me is feeling successful in so many other areas of my life, and feeling DEEPLY inadequate around pregnancy and giving birth. I beat myself up about not trying sooner, staying with an unhelpful therapist who discouraged sex for too long, and lately...just having so many negative feelings about my body. How it failed me and my husband, how it doesn't even feel like my own anymore as I try IVF then donor embryo and then what? The spiral and negative self talk is overwhelming. Trying to do the "right" thing, eat the right food, try healers, acupuncturists, naturopaths, even psychics...if I could just do "XXX," it will work this time. So, for me, tools around loving my body and myself through this time would be particularly helpful to hear.

Pamela

The worst part of all of this for me, by far, was the fact that it wasn't just me feeling like this -- it was my sweet husband, too. I couldn't STAND the fact that he was suffering as much as I was, and I felt responsible for it. He never made me feel that way, but I couldn't help it. I felt like I was hurting him every time I had to give him more bad news, and that absolutely killed me.

I feel like I could have dealt with everything else reasonably well if it hadn't been for that element of it. If it was just me suffering. But to put him through all that? I just don't have words to describe how bad that made me feel.

I meditated sometimes and came to a realization that I could no more take his pain on myself than I could drink water to hydrate him. And honestly if I would just deal with me, and support him, of course, but not feel so constantly, horriblye guilty about it (and thus more stressed and sometimes snappish, etc), we'd both be better off.

But that was a hell of a lot easier said than done.

AG

I struggled with anger and refusal to accept the most, out of any other stage. I'd either be stuck at those stages or I might improve a little but then something would happen and I could be right back to one of those in a flash. Another thing not mentioned is feeling that you must not be good enough which is why this is happening and everyone else who gets a baby, it's because they are good people and worthy and deserving.

I wish I had something to help me figure out how to help a spouse on their journey, when you've already moved past it. Example, feeling ready to move to adoption and no more fertility treatments but your spouse can't let go of the genetics.

The newest stage of emotion is guilt. So my IVF worked and somehow my brain/heart has forgotten all the turmoil, heartache and suffering we've been through to this point that I am racked with guilt that it worked and why do other women continue to suffer? Not that I want to keep suffering either but rather why does anyone have to go through this? And feeling this guilt, makes me feel worse because shouldn't I just be ecstatic and beyond happy and nothing else matters? It's not so simple.

Pamela

Really enjoyed the read, lol. Ah, how naively we thought a position change and a few OPKs were all we would need...

I do agree about the shame, and also the feeling of deep inadequacy... Not even inadequacy but, like you say, feeling cursed by the universe. Like the universe is deliberately punishing you. Like you must have done something really bad to deserve it... and people will think you're "less than" when they find out you're struggling. In my case I remember being a bit judgmental about certain things, so sure they would never happen to me. And if they'd never happen to me, they must happen to some "other" kind of person.

And then when it did happen to me... was I suddenly a different kind of person?

It's hard to articulate, but I felt deeply cast out of what I thought was supposed to be the normal flow of humanity. And I kept just gritting my teeth, willing the next thing to work, or the next thing, and I'd be back in the proper flow, back being the "right" kind of person.

It's painful to admit all of this, because I never in a million years thought I actually harbored those kinds of feelings. I didn't think I was judgmental. But it turned out, certain things were fine for other people, but God forbid they happened to me! And that added another layer of feeling like a terrible person.

After a while the strain was too much, and I finally did accept that this was really happening to me, and it wasn't going to work out in most of the ways I had hoped and planned. And that was OK. It's OK when it happens to other people, and it's OK when it happens to me. Deeper down that the panic about being different was that core belief that we were meant to be parents, and we would love the hell out of any child that came into our care.

I'm tentatively pregnant now with a donor embryo (or two). (I say tentatively because the second beta didn't double well, but the next two betas did.) I'll have the seven week ultrasound next week. And it's scary to know how easily the rug can be pulled out from under me once again. But for now it's wondrous to think a baby or two might be developing inside me, and they are absolutely mine and my husband's and no one else's. And if we're lucky enough, we just can't wait to meet them.

Jen

LOVE IT!!

Totally agree with Jojo and the topic of shame. It's probably the main reason my hubby and I kept so quiet about our own struggles. Now that we are on the other side I don't feel any shame at all and am a lot more open about everything. But at the time it was such a strong feeling. And just feeling generally inadequate when everyone you know and every social gathering is focused on pregnancies, babies, kids etc. Also for me was a sense of panic which seemed to slowly build with every passing month and every procedure that just didn't work. And fear that things would be this way forever and how would we cope with that.

 Jojo

Well for starters I simultaneously laughed and cried reading that first paragraph. It gave me flashbacks of our own absurd attempts that were at first even amusing and then became increasingly desperate to the point where I would lie in bed with my legs up after sex and feel so stupid with the Doctor's words of 'you have a less than 1 percent chance of conceiving on your own' making the rounds in my head.

I would love it if you approached the topic of the instinct we have to feel shame and how to tackle that early. It makes this whole battle much harder and also perpetuates the silence around Infertility.

Xo

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