I often receive emails asking for support & advice from fellow infertiles, whether they’re blog readers, from the infertility support forums or through Face Book, I get daily emails and messages from broken women asking for support, encouragement, advice or just to dump some of their stuff on someone who understands.
And I understand, boy do I understand. We had a long infertility history, longer than most, we also experienced almost everything infertility can throw at a couple, barring a neonatal loss, we had multiple chemical pregnancies, multiple first trimester miscarriages, multiple tests, X-rays and surgeries, we did multiple artificial inseminations, we did multiple invitro fertilitzations, we did a frozen embryo transfer, we were faced with the choices between surrogacy, using donors and just about everything else infertility can throw at a couple.
So I get it. I understand the way infertility leaves one feeling alienated and a freak and ugly and horrible for the terrible thoughts that one has during this journey. I know what its like to beg your partner to leave you so that he can go on with a “normal” woman and have a family of his own. I know what it’s like to contemplate suicide. I know what it’s like to live in a dark and twisted place, void of happiness and surrounded by emotional pain and trauma that that brings.
One of the questions that I’m most often asked is if it’s normal or ok to hate ones fertile friends? Is it ok to not feel happy for a friend when they announce their pregnancies? And while I don’t know the answer, I will say this, it’s perfectly normal, under the circumstances to feel that way.
This morning I was thinking about one particular incident that happened to Walter and I many years ago and I wanted to share it here. It’s evidence of how infertility puts the funk into dysfunctional!
I had two very close friends at the time, both of them fairly newly married, while Walter and I had already been married for more than 4 years by that time. One day out of the blue Friend A called me and told me she was pregnant. I was totally blind-sided by her announcement and instead of feeling happy for her, I felt the familiar stirrings of jealousy and self pity. When was it going to be my turn?
I was devastated.
Driving home that afternoon, Friend B called me. I thought she was calling to check if I was ok after Friend A’s announcement earlier that day. But what transpired was my worst nightmare. She started the call not asking if I was ok, simply stating she had to tell me something. I laughed and asked her if she was going to tell me if she was also pregnant? I was greeted with a pause and then a well, yes, actually I am. I was shocked. How could this be happening to me? How was I going to survive this? How was I going to make it through the next 9 months with both my closest friends being pregnant while I struggled along trying to achieve what others seemed to achieve with ease?
I was deeply depressed, so much so that I took a leave of absence from work for a couple of days and spent them crying in my bed.
I also knew that all my emotions were being made worse because I had PMS and my period was due any day now. Having been infertile for more than 4 years by that stage, I tracked my cycles carefully and always knew exactly where I was on any given day of a cycle. As with most infertiles, that weekend, I decided to do a pregnancy test and was blown away when it came up instantly positive. Repeat blood tests over the following days confirmed that I was indeed pregnant and all my beta results were right on track and perfect. Things were progressing “normally”, as a side note, there is no such thing as a normal pregnancy for an infertile, especially one with history of repeated miscarriage. I had to shove progestrone suppositories in my vajajay twice a day, I had to have injections to prevent my own body from attacking the developing embryo. It was tough. I was terrified, having had 5 precious miscarriages. It was not a happy or easy time for me, but all I kept thinking was… maybe this will be my perfect ending. Getting to share my pregnancy with my two besties while they were pregnant too.
Friend A was the first one to reach the six week mark and go for her first scan. We were all shocked and to discover that she was further along than initially expected and her baby was showing at 9 weeks gestation. A few days later it was Friend B’s turn to go for her 6 week scan and of course she came through that with flying colours. There was talk of how we were all going to share our first scan pics the following weekend because my 6 week scan was just two days away.
The night before my 6 week scan was due, I was anxious, I was terrified, my hands shook and I was overcome with an ominous feelings, scans had never gone well for me, scans never showed a baby that was developing on track. Scans always brought me heartache and devastation. I didn’t sleep well that night and at some point in the night I got up to use the bathroom, only to discover the traces of blood.
I knew what was coming. I knew it without having the horrible scan, without hearing my Dr sigh as he moved the dildo cam around inside me trying to get a better view of our struggling baby. And then he confirmed what I already knew…. the baby was not developing normally and was showing about 5 weeks of gestation and not the 6 weeks we expected. More blood tests were ordered. Blood tests that I endured with a blood pressure cuff pumped so tight onto my arm that it caused my hand to spasm and cramp and my arm to turn blue while the nurses repeatedly stuck me with needles in an attempt to get my collapsing veins to co-operate. That first blood test took more than an hour to complete, it was so sore, I was so distraught that I sobbed the whole way through, I knew I had to have the tests but didn’t see the point, past experiences had taught me was lay ahead.
Four days of repeat blood tests and it was confirmed that I was indeed having another miscarriage. I was devastated. Walter was angry. I hate my friends. I hated their pregnancies. I hated the ugly person infertility had made me, so self absorbed, so tuned into myself and my pain that I couldn’t see anything outside of that.
That night, me overwhelmed by emotional pain and Walter, overwhelmed by anger at what infertility was doing to us, we started to fight. We had a huge blow out, in our kitchen in our town house. The screaming quickly escalated. And before I knew what was happening, I turned, grabbed the first thing in view, which was our kitchen door, and I started pounding it. I punched and kicked that door, screaming bloody murder, till I lost my voice and was out of breath. I punched that door till my knuckles stood swollen, red and bruised on my hand and my foot throbbed from the way I’d been kicking it. I pounded on that door till the first cracks started to appear in it. Then Walter took over, he pounded into that door, with his head, his fists and his feet and eventually he ripped it right off of it’s hinges.
With both of us emotionally and physically spent, I collapsed in bed and cried myself to sleep. About a half hour later, I heard the front door being knocked, it was our neighbours, who were convinced that Walter and I were involved in some kind of physical altercation with each other. My female neighbour was screaming at Walter to bring me to the front door, she refused to leave till she had seen me and was sure I was in fact not beaten to a pulp. I guess our screaming and door pounding must have been heard by the entire complex.
The next morning was garbage day and we duly pushed our black municipal bin to the curb and sheepishly lay our shatter kitchen door on top of it.
Today, we look back at this story and we laugh about it. About how we lived without a kitchen door for years after that, how our garbage bin looked with the shattered door lying on top of it, of how we both pounded into that door till we were exhausted.
Of course, the story itself is not funny, its a perfect example of how infertility can make two seemingly sane, non violent people, turn into raving lunatics.
So my infertility sisters, I say this to you, forget about right and wrong on your journey, do what you need to do to cope, to survive, don’t beat yourself up for the way you feel, but allow yourself to feel whatever it is and always remember, you’re not alone in those ugly thoughts and feelings and right or wrong, they are perfectly normal.