Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Looking ahead to the looking back narrative

Thank you very much for your warm comments on my last post. I feel better: less stuck in that spiral for now, although I know I will revisit my grief. That's just the nature of the process. What I'll muse about today is inherently more positive.

I've observed (however unscientifically) that after harrowing journeys through the inferno of multiple failures at conceiving or gestating a child, a significant proportion of you have found success or are well on your way. A few of you are still in childless land and suffering. I am here with you and like you, doing everything I can to bring our child(ren) home. I've recently been thinking about how infertile women who now have a child or children once felt hopeless, thought it would never happen, suffered through a thousand disappointments and overwhelming anxiety. And then they got pregnant. Or got the call from the adoption agency. And then went though the pregnancy or met the birth family. And at some point brought their child home. It appears from my very naive reading of this bringing-home-of-one's-child that it "draws a line between so far and from now on"* Life will never be the same, they say. From reading your blogs, that's the sense I get, but you will correct me if I'm way off on this one.

So, in writing or talking with some of you recently, I've been wondering about the looking back. As I struggle through this terrible time, I find myself thinking about what I will think and feel about this period of my life once it is over. And how the bringing home of our child will change my sense of these awful years (told you this post was more positive: I am speaking as though I will actually bring a child home!). I have been articulating for myself and some of my close friends that this experience of infertility has changed me at my core. Right now, it doesn't feel like a welcomed change, or one that's made me a better human being. I feel like a diminished version of myself, and have felt this way for 3 years. I have found myself unskilled at compartmentalizing this experience, and have seen my failure at becoming a mother reach into and rattle the foundations of my marriage, my self-concept, my professional identity, my body image, my friendships, my social self and I could go on. Do I really think a baby is going to steady all of those pillars? No. I'm not an idiot. Will it prove to me that earthquakes can shake foundations but not make them crumble? That's one of the questions I ask myself. 

Clearly, having a baby doesn't erase the infertility. It probably changes one's relationship to it though. How will I look back on all of this? I don't know. What will be salvaged of my old self, pre-infertility? I'm not sure. Who the hell will I be once I'm not consumed by thoughts about treatment and time processing all of the emotions relating to this experience? I hope to find out.

In the mean time, CD1 is arriving on Thursday, which will ring in the start of the mock cycle. Dele.strogen IM injections here we come. And with reluctance, I have to do a HPT. I guess if we need to prove that a wheel is round, we will make it roll, but it's been demonstrated time and again. The wheel is round, my friends. Augusta's ovaries are closed for business.

Now, let us see about my uterus. It may be able to do what it needs to for the growing of a fetus. A girl can hope.

*Ani DiFranco, 78% H2O


  1. Hmm, I just went back to your last post to try and comment, but there didn't seem to be any place to do so. Harumph. I can't respond to this as someone who has brought the baby home--only as someone who has a baby on the inside who will, Universe willing, be with us before too long. I know everyone is different, but I think that once a baby seems like a truly real possibility, your perspective does shift, almost no matter what came before. And as though you will actually bring a child home is precisely how you ought to be speaking--it's da truth! May it reveal itself sooner rather than later. Lovelovelove.

  2. Blogger wouldn't let me comment on your last post. But, I wanted to let you know how much this resonated with me. It feels so good to know that others felt as I have, this sense of "It will never work for me" and then it did work. Because I am still in that "It will never work phase" and it's so hard to believe right now. I can't even imagine " the other side" but surely, we are on our way there... right?

  3. These are questions I'm still answering for myself. It changes everything, bringing home a living child. And at the same time there are things it doesn't change. The fact of loss. The "lost" years. But of course it changes the narrative because the end is a happy one. It takes out some of the sting, maybe? Sometimes I catch myself thinking, "It was worth going through all of that horrible stuff in order to get there in the end." But of course this is false...it's not like you put in your time in order to reap the reward. Because there's no saying what kind of time will elapse, nor what the outcome will be. It's a complete unknown at that point. It's only a known quantity in retrospect.

    I took a hypnotherapy class between losses and the woman who ran it said that in the 30+ years that she'd dealt with loss and infertility, she had never met a woman who did not - whether by ART, adoption, donor eggs - get there. Her own daughter had two children via donor eggs. At the time I thought she was kind of full of crap (which was uncharitable of me). There had to be women who didn't and I was so certain I would be one of them. In retrospect, though, I think maybe she had a perspective that I lacked.

    In a lot of ways I'm still working this out for myself. I still cry over my losses. But I'm able to view the person who went through them...externally, to a certain extent. She's me but she's also a different person from me, because she didn't know that - yes, in fact - she WOULD get there.

    I never marked those losses, never honored them aside from blogging about them. I like to think I will one day. That Mr. D and I will one day soon buy a house with a garden and I'll grow four things - trees, bushes, whatever - and they'll function as memorials (even if I don't tell another person about what they are). Strangely, my desire to do that has only increased since having O.

  4. Sigh! I love that you are putting yourself in this positive place, if only for a moment and ever so speculatively. I think what's been most magical for me is that just as infertility infected every corner of my life, and made me more wretched than was appropriate about everything (career, relationships, THE WORLD, myself), so parenthood has infected everything. It doesn't actually make me feel better about such things, it makes me not care anymore. People told me your "priorities change", and I think this is part of the standard package, but I also think when you've come to it after a lot of yearning and heartache and feeling awful, it's like extra relief. This is so incoherent, but I think what I mean is that parenthood won't fix anything that's actually wrong, but that you might be surprised at how many wounds it soothes, even if it can't heal them. Just one of the many reasons I want this for you more than words can express.

  5. i like how "bunny" said, parenthood will soothe many wounds. I think that is true. In many ways I think the path of infertility and adoption has made me a better person and parent.

    I don't think I would've been half the mother I would've been without it (not saying those that haven't gone through IF aren't great moms)-I am just saying it changed my personal perspective on the difficult, and/or occasional monotonous days of motherhood that occur.

    Also I think, if I had become a mom way back when, I would've been so much more clueless and anxious about what I was doing and maybe what others thought about me. etc.

    Would I have liked to have skipped the painful years of IF. Part of me says yes, just because I know how difficult it was and who likes pain? But a larger part of me, says no, because I can see how much it has changed me, and I like that. And I love the amazing child it brought into our family :D

    Keep looking ahead.

  6. I think the best way I can explain it is this. You remember the awfulness of IF but you are able to hold it at arms length, it no longer has the power it once had over you. The nicest thing an RE said to me (when I was sobbing in her office) was "5 years from now when you have built your family none of this is going to matter". She was right.

  7. Hey Augusta...I tried so hard to comment on your last blog but was unable to for some reason. Just glad to read that you are in a better place today. As for your question about life after baby after IF...well I think I take parenthood for less granted than I would have otherwise. The demands of parenthood today sometimes makes me angry at how terrible my life felt 4.5 years before LN10 arrived. I feel like it robbed me of some of the best years of my life. If I could, I wish I could go back to the past and live life with a little more vigor and less depression - but that's totally impossible to do when you have no idea what the future will exactly entail. I do find that my spirit is recovering and that the old Lisa is starting to shine through....but a better Lisa...one who is more empathetic to other persons and their challenges.

  8. I want to believe that there is a worth it moment. Some wise person made us promise at some point to plan to build a family no matter what. And yet I have stood firm in touting that there are no promises for a happy ending. At any one spot on this journey, the crap could have stopped falling on our heads and I would have said it taught me some lesson. Being stubborn and convinced that I couldn't rest until I knew that I had done everything I could have done is the only reason I kept putting myself out there. What I know from this fragile angle is that the experience has shaken me to my core. Marriage, happiness, and livelihood have been in the mix and destroyed and rebuilt. The only thing I am sure if is my capacity to face awful things and survive. I may have nevr known I could, but know that whatever the future throws at me, I will come up for air.

    It can work for you. Hold tight to that even if you can't believe it wholeheartedly. You have shown great love in this pursuit and the child that is out there will benefit greatly by the depth of love carved to bring him home. You deserve this to happen and I will continue to believe for you. I believe all of this will make sense on the other side.

  9. So sorry I've been a bit behind and I wish I would have been one to offer some kind words of encouragement with that last post. Glad you felt supported by others.
    In terms of parenthood after IF, it does change things. I was in a very negative, bitter place after we lost Lily and I remember feeling very hopeless at times. I remember finding it almost impossible to even be near conversations of pregnancy and new babies at work after our loss. Now I can not only hear those conversations without feeling I'm going to burst into tears but I can participate in them. That's not to say everything is easy either, I still feel a tinge of sadness when I hear of someone easily conceiving or when people ask me when we're going to have another baby (yes, I already get that question even though Ian is only 7mths old!).
    Sending love and thoughts your way my friend, hold to the hope and the child the future holds for you