Saturday, April 28, 2007

About history & legacies.

Some people feel that without any history they are reduced to nothing.

Isn't that why we are so persistent in our struggle to have a child of our own? One of the subconscious and sometimes not so unintentional reasons is to reproduce our genes. But we also need to have heirs to our legacies, not really in the financial sense of the word, but more in a sense of leaving behind something of who we are, and what we believe in.

The thoughts in this post were triggered by an episode of Grey’s Anatomy I saw today. (I just love that show!) It was all about the importance of one’s history, being it medical, familial or just emotional.

Meredith said that sometimes patients forget important details of their medical history, on purpose or by accident. And that it could be the kiss of death in some situations. Then there are those people who try to rewrite their own history because they don’t like it all that much.

I’d give just about anything to change my history into one that includes a family of my own and one that excludes Infertility and divorce. Just erase all the heartache it caused and have that special dream I so desperately wanted to come true ever since I can remember.

But I’d have to pay a very high price for that.

The person I am today is someone I like. I care about the woman that’s me, with all her imperfections, idiosyncrasies and ample room for improvement. There are still a whole bunch of things I would like to change about myself. But the most important part, the woman I am deep inside, that part that has been to hell and back, is something I wouldn’t give up or change ever.

I paid for that part of me with a million tears, with heartache so excruciating I thought I would die from it. That part of me carries a wisdom that isn’t worth giving up for anything in this world.

My history isn’t that wonderful story I dreamed it would be when I was a little girl, not even when the little girl grew up and started dreaming grown-up, realistic dreams. But my history made me someone who knows what sorrow is, someone who realized that you cannot have everything you dream of. It gave me wisdom in and about situations where I never thought I’d have it, and strength of character that I’m proud of.

It’s not a choice – changing my history for who I am today. Like Meredith said: "It’s hard not to be haunted by our past. Our history is what shapes us, what guides us." It defines us in so many ways, wanted and unwanted. But I alone have the power to change my todays, even in small ways, so that tomorrow and into the future I would have something beautiful to remember. Even if I cannot be a mommy or a wife, I can leave a legacy of love; I can make an awesome change in someone else’s life today.

So remember: sometimes the most important history is the history we're making today!

Friday, April 27, 2007

A little bit more...

The hope I blogged about yesterday is bubbling a teensy weensy little fountain inside my soul today.

Being 40 doesn’t mean my life is over.

Yes I know they say life starts at 40, and that it’s a time when everyone is taking stock of their lives. But no matter how hard I prepared myself for this landmark birthday, it still remains a struggle to let go of my thirties.

Sarah Solitaire has a post about an issue that I tried to ignore for too many years. Her therapist advised her to be open to having a relationship in her life. That she needs to be focussing on things other than infertility, so that if she never gets pregnant, she would have some sort of a life to pick up and can see some future in.


(And for those of you who don’t know this word: it’s something South Africans say when they feel confused about an issue and don’t really have an answer. You pronounce it “eye-sh”)

Solitaire said the following in answer to her therapist’s advice: “I'm not really open to a relationship. I'm safe in my little solo bubble. OK, it's boring a lot of the time, but it's safe. I'm really not interested enough in the positives of a relationship for the want of those things to outweigh the desire to remain safe. Or at least for me to want to go out and actively try to find a relationship. Opening myself up to someone has only caused hurt in the past, so it's something I tend not to want to do. So, it is something I need to work on, I guess. I am trying to repeat to myself that I am open to a relationship.”

My sentiments exactly.

I’ve been building this wall against men so high and strong that it would take nothing less than a superman to get to me. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not anti-men, a wannabe lesbian, or a fiery feminist. I’m just too damn scared of having a real life committed relationship again with someone that lives with me, sleeps in my bed, and share a bathroom and everything else with me.

Growing old alone is something that scares me silly. So how on earth do I get from where I am and feeling like I do about a new relationship to having someone rocking with me on the porch when I’m old and grey?

And here is where that little fountain of hope turns into a flickering ember of hope. If I hurry up, and open up, I might just find someone in time to beat my biological clock, and we might just beat the odds and be able to make a baby and be a happy family…

And maybe, just maybe, I would one day wake up feeling my loving husband’s hand on my swollen tummy, the smile on his lips and in his eyes matching mine, the sun painting golden bands of colour into our room… and I’d know that miracles are a reality and that Infertility is but part of a bad dream that is finally over…

Let me sleep a little bit longer, let me hope a little bit more.

After all, most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. Dale Carnegie believed it, and so will I!

PS: You might think I'd take the husband just to have the baby, but I want it all. I want a family, and right now I wouldn't even mind if the child wasn't my own. A daddy and a mommy and some pink feet, big or small, as long as the number is bigger than 2. More than 2 people in my little family that is :) not just more than 2 feet!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hope vs Infertility

Some days I don’t know why I do it. Reading your blogs about being in the middle of an IUI or IVF cycle, talking about follicles, triggering, or holding your breath during the 2ww – I must be crazy.

A while ago I was desperate in my despair: googled everything I could find on life after Infertility, struggling to find something to hold onto so that the familiar blackness wouldn’t pull me under and drown me this time. There was no one I could talk to about the resurfacing depression caused by my Infertility. It’s like last year’s news – old and dusty and supposed to be in the archives.

Somewhere during my frantic search I discovered someone’s words, followed a link to another blog, and another and that’s how I got here. Reading other blogs about IF helped me back to sanity. Some days more, some days less, but in the big scheme of things it helps me heal.

My time for IUI and IVF is over. I’ll never go that way again.

At first I thought it was some kind of self flagellation reading about your hopes and dreams of still beating Infertility and graduating as mothers, having the families you’ve been dreaming of, when my dreams are so absolutely something of the past.

Some nights when I close my eyes to go to sleep, I feel a sense of panic that I might be discovered and exposed as a masochist.

But you know, I keep going back because the hope I find in your blogs fills my reserves in a strange way. The hope that maybe, just maybe this time it will work for you, and that you’ll beat the IF monster that threatens to devour every single one of your dreams.

I keep going back because I want to read about your success where I have failed. Whether it’s your success in becoming pregnant, or making your marriage work despite IF. Your victories, even though you’re strangers in another world, would be a small victory for me as well.

Yes, sometimes it hurts me more reading about your hope of a pregnancy, reading about your husbands, about their support, love and comfort, but it’s not all that bad you know. It keeps my hope alive that maybe some day, when I’m ready to love again, someone would come into my life that would understand how IF changed me, and love me despite of that.

Thank you for your support, your comments, for the blogs you write, and for pinning down elusive words to describe the emotions in my soul.

But mostly, thank you for keeping my hope alive.

Jill Briscoe said: “I discovered that sorrow was not to be feared but rather endured with hope and expectancy that God would use it to bless my life.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Journey - Part I

I’m 40. Divorced. Childless. And this is my story.

It was just another student party in March of ‘87, but one dark-haired, blue-eyed man caught my attention almost from the moment I walked through the door. We started chatting, and before I knew it we were married. Wait! It didn’t really happen so fast, but looking back, those days were so happy and carefree – a lifetime ago.

J and I got married in September of ’92. I didn’t like the wedding. Ok, I said it. It’s out. My dress was beautiful – I spent hours sewing on the thousands of pearls, and I loved it. Everything else was extra special: the flowers, the food, everything you could think about were made and presented with so much love by my mom and sisters and all involved. So why didn’t I like it?

Being the centre of attention made me incredibly uncomfortable. I hate cameras. People fussing over me, other people’s expectations – it was really difficult to get through that day. (If you ever read this mom – please don’t take it personally. I appreciate everything you did for my wedding so very much!)

After the honeymoon we moved to Cape Town. J was the manager at a golf course and I was housewife most of the time. During May ’93 we moved to a very small town in the Free State, somewhere in the middle of South Africa. Those were the happiest times of our marriage, but also the saddest.

January ’94 marks the beginning of our TTC journey.

Nothing happened. But we weren’t worried too much. My period had never been regular, only every 2nd month. Be patient, relax, everything in good time. Ring any bells? Those shuttupandleavemealoneyoudon’tknowwhatyou’resaying-bells? At the time I was still too well-behaved stupid to say straight out how those comments made me feel.

Going back a bit. During my first year of teaching, 1989, my face crusted up with the worst case of acne you could imagine. My teenage years were pimple and blackhead free – I was the luckiest teenager ever! You can just think how upsetting the ugly, itchy crusts on my face were. I went to my GP who sent me for an ultrasound, and whoa! Two super large cysts. One on each ovary. OK, not THAT big, but 3cm each are quite something if you’ve never even heard the word “cyst” before!

Diagnosis: PCOS

Treatment: 3 months’ of Diane-35

Result: Clear skin, no cysts, 25 kg extra weight on my body.

GP’s report back after 3 months: You’re cured Miss, healthy as can be!

Famous last words. Back then, nobody had enough knowledge about PCOS. Maybe some doctors in the US or UK knew about it, but there definitely wasn't enough known about it in South Africa at the time. But I believed him. Stupid, stupid girl.

Back to ’94. I picked up even more weight by then. The scale slowly but steadily climbed without me trying very hard. No diet worked for very long. And everybody blamed my struggle to get pregnant on my weight. It was just the start. The conditioning was done so thoroughly through the following years that I even find it difficult to believe the truth today.

During September of ‘94, a friend of mine convinced me to join her in visiting an acupuncturist who helped people loose weight. By that time I was pretty desperate.

My Journey - Part II

I lost 15 kilos (about 35 pounds) with the help of the acupuncturist. Today I know I’d be able to loose the same amount of weight if I followed the diet without the needles stuck in my ear. Apple juice and mushrooms were my staple food. Oh yes, now and then a minute piece of steak, a tiny wedge of tomato and some lettuce.

After the 3rd visit, I felt comfortable enough to tell the acupuncturist why I was trying to loose weight. He threw his hands in the air and scolded me for not telling him earlier – he had the perfect solution!

Two months later, on that awesome day in January ’95, the elusive 2 pink lines appeared at last! The ultrasound only showed a bump on my uterine wall at 5 weeks, but it was there. We were pregnant at last!

(Just a few sobering thoughts on the acupuncture thing and getting pregnant. Looking back I don’t think it was the looooong needle in my ear that triggered the ovulation, but a combination of things. You don’t know how many times I’ve looked up the name of a local acupuncturist since then. Maybe, just maybe it would work again. But then logic surfaced and I put down the phone.)

Our families were ecstatic with the news. It would be the first grandchild on both sides. I bought a little turquoise elephant – our baby’s first toy. My mom gave me a pair of yellow crocheted booties. I still have both of these in a box on the top shelf of my clothes cupboard.

I’ll never forget that day I went to the loo and everything was red.

Our GP came to our house later that afternoon and gave me a shot of something. The start of a routine he followed for the next 5 days. He said not to worry, just don’t get off the bed; we’ll save your baby. What made me feel less alone at the time was the knowledge that my niece and hairdresser-friend were pregnant too: all 3 of us at 7 weeks. And they were spotting as well.

My mom came to stay with us 3 days into what I now think of as the red zone. She was the angel I needed. She soothed my fears, hugged my tears away, and told my husband to get the car ready when she realized everything was over. She accompanied us to the hospital and cried with me when the doctor confirmed our worst fears.

The next morning when I woke up after the D&C, J was sitting in a chair at the foot of my bed. It was the first and only time I saw him crying about our baby. Thereafter I never knew or understood his way of handling his emotions about our struggle with Infertility.

A few days after the miscarriage I received a snail mail letter from my best friend from college, B. It was a photo of her newborn baby girl telling the world she had arrived. I was sitting in my car when I opened her letter. Up till then I cried every now and then, but tried to be positive and upbeat because everyone expected it.

The dam wall burst and the tears came. J found me there in the car. He didn’t say much, just took me inside and made me some tea. I knew what the people in my life would say, so I didn’t talk to anyone, seeking neither understanding nor empathy.

They would’ve said something like: It’s over. No use mulling over it. Get up, be strong! You’ll get pregnant again; you now know you’re able to. Chin up, get on with your life, be positive and before you know it, there will be 2 little lines again! No harm meant, just their honest if misguided way of trying to offer consolation. (No comment needed on this paragraph, we all know how we feel about it!)

I buried all the heartache deep inside my soul. For a long time I cried secretly on 1 February every year. I’ve lost contact with my hairdresser-friend, but I know her baby-boy was born on the same day as my niece’s son. Whenever I see him, my heart cringes to think my child would’ve been the same age.

My Journey - Part III

They say memory is a very selective thing. I don’t remember much detail about the treatment we went through during the next 4 years. The short and bittersweet of it are as follows:

  • 1996 – Trying every possible and impossible thing, from standing on my head after sex for 15 minutes to praying. We did a LOT of praying, but that is a topic on its own.
  • April 1997 – Laparoscopy: everything perfectly OK.
  • June 1997 – J went for some tests. Poor motility and all that jazz, but they kept saying the problem was 90% on my side.
  • September to November 1997 - 3 IUI’s with Chlomid. All of them failed dismally. We had the choice of using donor sperm, but the look on J’s face when my gynae mentioned it made me strike it from my mind. Next step IVF.
  • March 1998 – Specialist at Medfem Clinic told me I’m Infertile because of my weight, and to come back as soon as I weighed 80kg. He didn’t even take my blood pressure during the 10 minutes I spent in his office.

During this time, I spent about 25 months waking up in the morning with a thermometer in my mouth. I still have it – the blue cap reflects my mood during most of those years.

Anger was the emotion I most often felt and showed to perfection. It was easier to be angry than to give in to the sadness that threatened to drown me when I lost concentration even for a single minute. I was angry at everything and everyone. Maybe I’ll write something about it later, when the words in my mind are more organized.

Depression was the first uncontrollable monster to show its ugly head because of Infertility. My GP referred me to the resident psychologist at his practise. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I needed therapy, but once I hit a record low, I made an appointment with her.

Thinking back, I’m sure the GP was the devil in disguise. Either that or he had a perverse sadistic streak that he practised as often as possible on unsuspecting patients. When I walked into the therapist’s office, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My record low just plummeted a few fathoms deeper.

She was about 6 months pregnant.

The therapy was doomed from the start. Why I didn’t make a U-turn the moment I saw her, I’ll never know. Another mystery is how she thought she’d be able to help me. How on God’s earth can a pregnant therapist treat a woman with a serious depression caused by Infertility? All I could see was her hands on her tummy, her swollen breasts, and the glow on her cheeks. It was an excruciatingly painful nightmare to say the least.

June 98’ – my younger sister announced her 2nd pregnancy, the third one in our family. This marked a very important turning point in my TTC journey. H was born 2 weeks earlier than his due date, my birthday.

I skipped the violent emotions that rocked my world during my two sisters’ first pregnancies for a reason. It might turn up in a future post and maybe not. Right now I don’t really want to go there, and it would be loosing track of the topic.

The obsession of having a child of my own shut down unexpectedly later that year, during the Easter weekend. I was holding H and looking down into his eyes while he was clutching my thumb in his little hand. You know that feeling of resolve that fills you when you realise you’ve lost a game of something? Multiply it a few hundred times and you’ll know what I felt.

I gave up. I surrendered. I let go. Being too tired to fight Infertility anymore, I acknowledged defeat.

And that was when I realised that I lost more than just the dream of having a child of my own.

My marriage was an empty shell. We couldn’t talk anymore. We couldn’t discuss our pain, our lost dreams, or our confusion over why it happened to us. There was nothing left except anger. We fought something terribly. It was as if we tried to eradicate our own pain by hurting the other one as much as we possibly could.

We didn’t even think about doing IVF. The subject of adoption was swept off the table. No-one in their right mind would ever put a child in this broken home of ours. We wanted out, and by March of 2000 we were divorced.

During the toughest years of our TTC journey, my mother gave me the book by Linda P. Salzer: “Surviving Infertility”. There was a sentence in the book that has stayed with me ever since I read it. She said: “If your marriage can survive Infertility, it can survive just about anything.” I was proud to tell everyone who wanted to listen that our marriage was stronger than ever: we were surviving Infertility.

The day I had to take back those words, was one of the most difficult days of my life…

Sunday, April 22, 2007

5 Blogs that made me think...

Ok, my turn to tell you more about those blogs that made (and still do!) me think. I've only been blogging for a very short time, (still got lots to learn) and it gives me a warm, appreciated feeling that Pamela Jeanne thought of me when she tagged her 5 nominations.

I've linked my favorite post from the nominees to their name, and their blog is linked through it's name. My 5 choices are:

1. Pamela Jeanne at Coming 2 Terms. I don't even feel slightly guilty of tagging her back. She played a major part in convincing me to start my own blog, even though she isn't aware of it! When I first read her blog, it felt as if a huge weight was lifted off my soul - here was someone almost in the same situation as I am, and she feels the same as I do! She has a wonderful way with words, and has a special gift of putting feelings and emotions into words. Thanks Pamela Jeanne!

2. Tertia at So Close. I'm not even remotely in the same category as Tertia when it comes to blogs, but hers was one of those that helped me out of the gutter and into the blogosphere. Because she is a fellow South African, her blog has a special place in my heart. She has published a book on her experiences through IF and now has two beautiful children. Go read her blog and the story of her journey, it will touch your heart.

3. Mrs. S at Worrier/Warrior. Her post about waiting on the platform touched me so deeply that I sat crying for a long time, reading and re-reading it. Many of us try to put our emotions into words, and then once in a while someone comes along who has that magic touch in explaining our feelings to the outside world. Thanks S, and I'm so glad you're back!

4. Solitaire at Sarah Solitaire. When I first read her blog, I asked myself "Why?" And then I thought, "Why not?" She's courageous, different, daring, and doing something I'll never have the guts to do. She said: "I don't see the point of life without having children. I really don't. Any life without children in my future is a shadow life." It's still amazingly wonderful whenever I stumble across my thoughts in someone else's words.

5. Mands at The Secret Garden - Infertility. Mands is another fellow South-African and I loved her post on being promoted to the level of Veteran Infertiles. (She helped me find Princess Smartypants!) It's comforting to know there are a whole bunch of IF's from my country in the blogosphere. I wish IF on no-one, but it hacks away at the feeling of being alone on my side of the world.

Well, these are my nominations. Thanks so much to all of the above mentioned women for touching my heart and my soul with words that have been in my mind for a long time. Your blogs are favorite visiting places when my world starts wobbling again.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's been a hectic week!

I cried often, sometimes even desperately, feeling strangely detached from the world. But it’s better now. Thanks for your encouraging comments on my previous posts, I really do appreciate it!

Before reporting back, a big THANK YOU to Pamela Jeanne from Coming 2 Terms for mentioning my blog as one who touched her heart. The feeling is mutual!

About my last post: nothing much has changed, just my perception of the situation. My whole family is doing better. I think I cracked about the last incident because all the heartache in my family just got a bit too much.

Let me explain a bit. On my 40th birthday in February this year, we heard my mom’s breast cancer from 9 years ago has started again and spread to her lung. She had her 2nd chemo this past Tuesday. My two sisters are going through some seriously rough patches in their marriages, and my brother who is working in Abu Dhabi in the UAE just broke up with the love of his life. For once in my life I’m the only one in my family without some serious crisis.

I never knew I loved them so much that their pain would hurt me more than my own.

*** Update: I've found the following quote from Anaïs Nin this morning, and it is so fitting right now!

"I know why families were created, with all their imperfections. They humanize you. They are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of life is not destroyed." Anaïs Nin ***

The past week has been a serious eye-opener to me in more than one way. I’ve learned things about myself, life and faith that have been lingering under the surface for far too long. But it has brought me a calmness of heart that I’ve been searching for a long time. I’ll tell you more about that in a future post.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Just a stunned silence.

I wish it was something else that made me turn from my own heartache and realize it's not so important after all. I'm not that naive to think it happened just to make me wake up and smell the roses. And right now it feels selfish to even think about blogging.

I cannot write about it. It's too private and not my story to tell. It broke my heart into a million pieces and I've been crying ever since I heard this afternoon. You know that feeling of shock when you want to say: "But this happens in movies, to other people, not to me or the people I love!"

This is one of those moments.

I know you don't know me, and I know it's unfair to blog about it and not telling you everything. I know you know my sister even less, but please remember her in your prayers.

My own pain is nothing in comparison to this. It pales into oblivion. And there is nothing I can do to ease the terrible heartache of someone I love so very much...

Undergraduates in the School of Life? Ha!

Not all of them do it on purpose. Some really do take care not to step on our toes. Then there are those that can’t wait to use every single opportunity they get. But most of the time they can’t help it, it just happens.

It’s that old thing about Fertiles vs. Infertiles again. It will never end. But something has to be done to educate those imbeciles that keep on treating me like a dumb ass when it comes to children.

The fact that I couldn’t get pregnant again after failing to bring a pregnancy to fruition and become a parent did NOT affect my intelligence. There was nothing wrong with my brain to start with, thank you very much!

Fertiles have this (mostly inadvertent) condescending way of treating Infertiles as if they are not adult enough or even responsible enough to handle children. And it doesn’t stop at children. Some of them think that if you’re not a parent, you don’t know what it means to have responsibilities, and that you’re not quite as grown-up as those people having children.

I do agree that having children and being a parent (two different things mind you!) brings a whole new set of responsibilities to your life, but it’s so unfair to view anyone without children as lesser beings. They don’t say straight into your face that they think you’re incapable or irresponsible (read: not responsible enough) but you get the vibes.

Don’t you DARE say it’s my imagination and that I’m super-sensitive.

When we were little our own parents or teachers always had these arguments starting with: “One day when you’re all grown up with your own children and…” It’s a way of thinking that we’re taught from before we even know what’s important and what life is all about.

It’s an unconscious way of thinking and I’ve had enough of it.

You know what irks me even more? When I’m short-changed as a teacher because I don’t have children of my own. And believe me it happens! It doesn’t matter that I studied hard for 6 years, have 2 technical diplomas to show for those years AND graduated with honours on my final one. Oh no, I’m still not seen as understanding or capable enough because I'm childless.

They don’t say it like that, they don’t need to. It’s in everything they don’t say and don’t do. And then, in church, at social events or wherever, those sentences starting with: “Those of us with children would know…”.

THAT’S when I want to jump up screaming and start chewing the paint off the walls.

The problem with this you’re-still-an-undergraduate-because-you’re-not-a-parent attitude is that it’s very seldom in your face in such a way that it gives you the opportunity to set things straight. It’s mostly just innuendos. You can’t quite put your finger on it, and only when you look back, you see the evidence of another you’re-not-there-yet episode.

I’ll never be able to throw my cap into the air, shouting with joy on “graduating” in this way. But believe me, I’m going to do everything I can to educate the so-called graduates.

Parenthood does NOT equal wisdom.

Samual Smiles said: We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. Boy oh boy, if that was all it took to have wisdom, we’d all be a bunch of Solomons by now, right!

A little tongue-in-da-cheek disclaimer: Don’t take the ranting above personally if you’re a Fertile. There are exceptions to every rule. Being Infertile doesn’t automatically bring wisdom, just like having children doesn’t make you a more responsible human being.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm angry. Again.

Pamela Jeanne has a post about “that” holiday. It’s not why I’m angry, but it helped me on the road to finding out why.

During the worst years of TTC, a very good friend of mine said the following after I had an unexpected emotional outburst:

"Celebrate the fact that you HAVE a mother; try not to dwell on NOT BEING a mother."

Well, sometimes it works. For about 2 minutes. And then I get angry again.

Yes, maybe I’m angry again because Mother’s day is coming up. Maybe I’m angry because some good-for-nothing-idiot killed an 23 month old baby and the sentence that caught me in my gut was this one: “she tried for 11 years to fall pregnant”. It’s absolutely, unspeakably terrible.

And maybe I’m angry because AF is here for the first time in 5½ years.

In August 2001 I had an Mirena inserted. For 5 and a bit years it was like heaven NOT having to deal with AF every month or whenever it decided to happen.

Every single time I felt the cramps, saw the blood, felt my body expel the clumps of blood, I went through the trauma of my first miscarriage again. It happened at 8 weeks. But that is a story for another day. (Read: I don’t have the guts to go there today!)

Why did I have an IUD inserted if I so desperately wanted a baby? I didn’t see the point of being reminded of my failures as a woman month after month in that painful way. The ringless finger on my left hand hurt more than enough, thank you!

So now AF is back. The hormones in the Mirena only work for 5 years. It’s time to get it out and get a new one. But I’ve got this (resurfacing) phobia about gynaecologists. Guess I’ll have to get over that soon huh?

I know anger doesn’t resolve anything, and that it’s an energy waster extraordinaire. But I’m not going to push this emotion under the surface. I’m going to feel it. I’m going to work through it. I’m going to get it over with.

But first I think it would be a good idea to get all my china locked away safely!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


One of my passions in life, one I've only recently discovered, is to make a real difference in people's lives. My heart feels warmest when I can make something easier for them, whether it's a part of their job or just something in general.

During a time when I struggled with a deep depression, I made a promise to myself to look for something positive in every situation I'm in, no matter how bad I perceive it to be. Sometimes this works quite well. Sometimes the only positive thing I can find about a hurtful happening is that it keeps me looking for something positive!

I started this blog to make sense of the hurt in my life.

The only way I can face this hurt truthfully is if I stop sugarcoating the traumatic events of the past 15+ years. (Wow! Is it that long already?) I cannot face the reality of how much it is affecting me, how much it is keeping me from living the life that I want to live, if I ignore the harsh reality, describe the events in rose-colors and try to make it sound less painful than it were, and in some cases still are.

I’ve promised myself a few things:
  • I'm not going to force myself to look for something positive in every post I make.
  • If I get to the end of a post, and I've failed to give a positive message through what I said, or tried to give someone even just a little bit of hope or encouragement, then so be it.
  • I'm not going to feel guilty about not being a sunny, positive, bubbly person all the time.
  • I'm going to stop seeing it as selfish whenever I write something only because it has to be said, and not to try and help someone else in some way.
  • I'm going to stop feeling responsible for how other people feels about my Infertility.

This is MY healing process, I need to focus on getting better while grieving and mourning the incredible losses I've suffered. If some people see that as selfish, it's their problem, not mine.

These words sounds harsh, and it was difficult writing them, even more difficult leaving them here. I'm sorry if it makes you feel uncomfortable. But this is my way of healing my hurt, and I desperately need to get past this, into the future.

Please understand.

And please be there for me, even if it's just in silence.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Infertility = Trauma

Angela’s comment made me sit up and think.

She wrote: “I do believe that you have to cut yourself some slack and realize that after all you went through: divorce and infertility do actually count as traumatic events.”

One part of me wanted to grab onto it and shout with joy of finally being able to put a name and diagnosis to everything I’ve been experiencing the past few years.

The other part of me thought it self-indulgent and a cop-out. You just want sympathy, and it’s a badbadBAD personality trait. Chin up girl. You’re strong. Don’t dwell on the past and don’t forget to count your blessings!

Then I started googling trauma: the characteristics, the effects, the counselling. And I’m still quite stunned at what I found.

“Regardless of its source, an emotional trauma contains three common elements:

  • it was unexpected
  • the person was unprepared
  • there was nothing the person could do to prevent it from happening

It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual's experience of the event. And it is not predictable how a given person will react to a particular event. For someone who is used to being in control of emotions and events, it may be surprising – even embarrassing – to discover that something like an accident or job loss can be so debilitating.” (I found this here.)

We all know how totally unexpected Infertility is (Most of the time). No-one can prepare us for the shock, stress and heartache it brings. And there is absolutely nothing we can do to prevent our own Infertility. Well, by the time we find out we’re infertile, it’s a bit too late to do something to prevent it huh?

So my dear fellow IF’s – all of us are suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorders. Some more, some less. If you are lucky enough to be a parent now, whether through successful ART or adoption, don’t think you’re immune or cured.

Take care of yourself. Get therapy. Do something to stop the hurt.

And yes. I know it’s easier said than done. Maybe writing about it will do the trick.

Monday, April 9, 2007

What's wrong with you?

And the answer is not “I’m infertile.” No, not this time.

How do I answer something I don’t understand at all? I mean, 7 years is a looooong time. I should’ve been over this already! How do I explain to them that I really thought I dealt with everything, and that I was totally convinced I was OK?

I was OK enough to go to a friend’s birthday party, even though I knew her 2 grandchildren were going to be there. One of our colleagues on maternity leave with her baby son, and a very pregnant friend of ours too. Why wouldn’t I be OK? I was perfectly fine with all of the announcements of the abovementioned pregnancies. I honestly had other arrangements at the time of their stork teas. (OK. That does start to sound fishy even to me) I was happy for them when these little ones were born.

So why would I say “Not now, thanks!” when another colleague brought me one of these beautiful babies that was crawling around in the dirt? Her excuse was that she was wearing white and my black pants won’t show off too much dirt.

I was fine at first. Then I felt something tugging at my heart. She was looking up at me with these big brown eyes, little hand outstretched to her bottle of milk on the side table. So I gave it to her, feeling the shield of numbness sliding down over my heart and soul.

I can do this. I’m OK. I can do this. I can do this without crying. I HAVE to do this. I’m OK.

When I looked down and saw she fell asleep against my breast I lost it.

I was literally trapped by a sleeping baby. It wasn’t the right thing to do to just jump up, snatch my handbag and keys and run out the door, praying that I’d be able to get to my car before anyone saw me.

So I sat there, praying for strength not to cry. And pleasepleaseplease for someone to come and fetch the baby. Because, thankfully, by that time most of the people were in the kitchen making coffee.

It would’ve been easy to get up with the baby, take her to her cot and just quietly slip out the door. No-one would notice and no-one would know.

But I was paralized.

In the end I got home without starting to cry in front of everybody. My best friend came into the room looking for me. One look at my face and she took the baby without a word.

Thinking back, that was when I realized for the first time after my divorce that I’m not OK. I haven’t dealt with being infertile. I’m heartbroken that my marriage didn’t survive my infertility.

So what do I say to the people asking me what’s wrong with me? Why am I still dwelling on being infertile? On not just loosing my dreams of children but my husband too? Why can’t I just pull myself together and get over it?

I really don’t know. But I do know I’m not going to make myself feel guilty about not having come to terms (yet!) with all the hurt.

Thankfully no-one has come straight out and asked this question to me. But I see it in their eyes. I can feel them hesitating and thinking twice and changing the subject. But one of these days someone is going to loose their patience with me, and blurt out what they want to know.

And I don’t know how I’m going to answer them…

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Sally's Letter

While I was surfing online today, desperately seeking words to soothe my hurting soul, I found something that knocked my breath out. There I was, not really thinking I’d come across someone who fit my description even remotely. I mean, how many divorced, infertile, childless, 40-something women do you think are out there? Exactly. Even less of them are part of the blogosphere.

Well, I found Sally.

It’s a letter she wrote to her unborn child. Reading her story, I had one of those moments. You know, the ones where you are stunned silent when something you always said you hoped and believed in with all your heart suddenly turns out to be true?

The main part of Sally’s story could’ve been mine. And THAT is what was so stunning – there really is someone out there that feels the way I do!

This is part of her letter…

“Do you remember that skipping rhyme from childhood -- the one about "then comes love and then comes marriage, then comes Susie with a baby carriage"? I grew up believing, as all little girls do that that rhyme sang of my future. I dreamt of the handsome prince and the magnificent wedding day and, of course, the baseball team of children that we would raise together in a cute little house with a white picket fence! I had no idea when I got married at 24 (I was 25!) that I would never be big with child and feel my husbands hands caressing my swollen belly. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would be a mom and a great one at that! After all, I'm a woman."

"It wasn't until I had lived through years of hell -- years of trying everything to become pregnant -- years of tests, temperature charts, planned intimacy, surgeries and the feeling of total inadequacy that my dreams shattered."

"We divorced and I headed back home to the Okanagan (I moved to Pretoria)
to try to make a new life for myself. I buried my dreams deep. I now know that the emotional rawness of the past made way for the years of numbness that followed. I avoided pregnant women and babies and quite boldly told everyone that I was infertile, barren and didn't really like kids anyway. However something happened when I turned 40 and I realized that inside I was screaming to expose my emptiness not only to the world but, most importantly, to myself. “

Now it is for me:
“...too late for adoption, too late for in vitro fertilization and too late for dreams because my marriage did not survive my infertility. It died a silent death amidst the all-consuming struggle to become a family.”

Sally is still a lot further along the acceptance road than I am. She said the following at the end of her letter:

“…there is life after infertility, not the kind of life that we dream of as little girls but certainly a life worth living. I am no longer ashamed of my inability to give birth. The word "resolve" is in my vocabulary. There is a peaceful acceptance in my soul.”

I’m still ashamed of my inability to give birth.

“Resolve” is still just a word in my vocabulary.

“Peaceful acceptance” is something I thought I had, but it turned out to be only blissful unawareness.

But I do know there is life after infertility, even though it’s not the one we dreamed of.

I think I had a nightmare.

... but I'm even more scared that it wasn't one.

OK. Here I go. I don't know how many months or posts or comments (or whatever successful blogs are measured in) mine is going to last. All I know is that I have this jumbling chaos in my soul that needs to be organized by writing about it. When I've given every thought, emotion, and question it's place in the library of my mind, maybe I'd be able to make sense of everything.

And maybe someone else might benefit from it as well.

About the nightmare. It wasn't one. The abundance of evidence - silent witness to what happened during the time I was asleep. Maybe the absence of evidence is a better description. Everything is so painfully neat and silent. No toys scattered on the carpet, no bicycle abandoned on the lawn, no high-pitched children's voices coming from a room deeper into the house.

But even more chilling was the empty pillow next to mine when the realization broke through my numbed existence. It's been lying there unused for the past 7+ years. Why then do I say it as if I only realized this morning that my husband is gone? Maybe because it took me all that time to be able to say it. And it does not mean I'm coming to terms with it. But then again, maybe it does! They say the first step to solving your problem is admitting you had one.

So dear blog, here is my problem. I'm childless. I'm divorced. I'm waking up from a long, deep, numbing sleep. And the pain is more excruciating than I could ever imagine.

I refuse to go back to sleep. I've missed too much of living. The only way out and onward is to get through this. To face every dead dream, mourn it, bury it, and decide what to do with the memories...