You are not alone. That's the message this year for National Infertility Awareness Week (#NIAW). You are not alone. Do you believe it? It feels like one of those things we all say but a lot of us have a hard time believing it. Feeling it. I don't feel it.
We are absolutely so much less alone than our spiritual sisters that came before us. Think of how alone it was more than 30 years ago? My parents tried for years. My mom says she had every test you could imagine, she read all the books she could find, and got nowhere. 3-4 years in they adopted my brother. As much as they loved him, that didn't heal the hurt of infertility. She still wanted to carry a child, give birth, and nurse a child. So they had more tests. They went through different procedures. She cried a lot. She was alone. She didn't have social media or any support. She
didn't tell people because she didn't want to hear people tell her to
relax or for them to offer her their kids. She didn't know of any
support groups. (Happy ending: 7 years after adoption she went to the doctor with the flu and found out she was pregnant with me. 3 years later she has a 10 year old boy and 3 little girls 3 and under)
Now we have internet. We can connect with people who understand way more of how we feel than the average person. We have support groups, both virtual and physical, and where there may have been some support groups back then, now we have more, and we can find them. We can connect to them. We can find people so that we aren't alone.
But I still feel alone. No matter how many people I meet who have been on this road, we all have different experiences. Different things that affect us. Different triggers that tick us off or make us cry. We all approach things in different ways. We can't really understand what another person went through or how their experiences affected them emotionally. I will never know what it feels like to pay for In Vitro Fertilization and have it fail. One of my regular prayers is that I will never know what it feels like to lose a baby after hearing its heartbeat. Some have no idea how it feels to get pregnant after trying for years, tell the world, and lose it a week later. And you can't untell that kind of news.
Most people I have met seem to eventually get their miracle. Though intellectually I know I'm not, I feel like I'm the only person who won't have a baby. The only person who is filled with motherly instincts, who would give away my (relatively) uninterrupted nights and my late weekend mornings who will never have the option. I know I'm not alone. I'm not the only woman who has wanted a baby this bad but will never get one. But knowing something intellectually and feeling it for me is separated by a huge divide. I deal with it by ignoring it. By not thinking about it. By
compartmentalizing my infertility away from every other part of my life.
I'm really good at that. I know it's not healthy, but I just put those
thoughts in that same box and be on my way.
When it comes to infertility (or any other difficult life situation), the best way to not be alone is to find people that, if they aren't on the same page as you, maybe they are at least somewhere in the book. Find people who can relate to the first time you found out that having a baby, the thing that seems to be the easiest thing in the world for all of those teen moms, was going to be harder for you than for the majority. Find someone who can relate to X amount of barren years. Someone who can relate to an excess number of failed months, of seeing that red stain and knowing that once again, this is not your month. Remember that you are not alone. Even though it feels like it.
As for how to go from knowing you are not alone to feeling like you are not alone, I'm stumped. I suppose that knowing it long enough and well enough and having enough evidence that points to not being alone, maybe the feelings will follow.
- I'm a 29 year old self identifying hippie and amateur photographer. I've been married since Summer 2006, and we started trying to get pregnant the summer of 2007, I have 2 cats and a dog, and I work as a secretary in a prison. This blog is about my battle with infertility and life, love, faith and happiness in the face of infertility. All pictures in the collage and those that I post in my entries were taken by me, unless otherwise stated (or if they are of me of course). Come visit my photography page to see more of my work here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hannah-Love-Chandlers-Photography/282550090053
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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One of the other Jewish traditions that I've read about is the Mikveh, which is a ritual bath that women go to before they get married, and each month after their period, after giving birth or having a miscarriage, and some women go in the 9th month of their pregnancy for good luck. The simplest way to describe it is like an immersion baptism, but you immerse yourself. If you want to know anything about the Mikveh go here. This ritual intrigues me, I guess I like the symbolism of a spiritual cleansing.
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This doesn't really have anything to do with my point behind the post, except to say that I like some of the ceremonies and rituals of the Jewish faith. Anyways I was browsing a blog on Kveller about modern rituals about families, childbirth, and infertility and came across this ceremony created by a Jewish couple to help themselves and others deal with coming to grips with the loss of their dream of having a baby. This couple has decided (or had it decided for them) that they will no longer be trying to conceive. They don't know if they will attempt to adopt or try to find peace at living child free, but regardless of where they go from now they have to grieve the fact that they will never have a biological child. There are many aspects of this ceremony, each step meant to help the couple face and cope with the grief they are dealing with as they choose to stop trying to conceive. At one point they crumble some bread and throw it in the water to symbolize the casting away of regrets and what-ifs. There is a memorial part similar to the cutting of the black ribbon that is done after the death of a close family member, but they cut blue and pink ribbons to memorialize the babies that they will never have. There are foods that have special meanings and specific prayers that they say. In the end it is a way of saying "we're done with this chapter, let's tackle the next" as well as saying that they will no longer let infertility define them.
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It sounds like a nice way to attempt to get some closure after coming to the difficult decision to stop pursuing your dream of having children. Closure is so important. A lot of people have been on this road. Some for only a few years, some for many years before finally getting their miracle. But some of us never see our dreams realized. We started trying almost 8 years ago, and we actively tried for about 3 years, then off and on the rest of the time. We've decided to stop trying (again). There are several sensible reasons behind our decision. But as much sense as it makes and as much progress I have made in the last several years at being okay with all this, it still hurts to think about never having a baby. Sometimes I think about going on Birth Control to regulate things and take the not knowing away. Sometimes during intense cramps and bad periods I even think about getting a hysterectomy (they are that bad). Whatever happens I'm ready for some closure. I don't want to have a ceremony or anything, but it seems like some small acknowledgment of that closed chapter in my life and of facing a very different future than I envisioned would be nice.
Has anybody ever done anything like this or have any suggestions?