I hesitate to even write today’s blog post as I’ve been in a mood lately. I pride myself on always taking a humorous view to life’s little problems but these days, I feel like I’m terminally PMS. I’m not sure what the hell is going on with me. I would describe myself as stressed, tired, overwhelmed, jealous, resentful, frustrated with occasional swings of deep appreciation.
Dear god… I sound bipolar.
I’m going to be 40 later this year and although I sincerely don’t have any emotions or strong feelings about it on the surface, the fertility implications are getting to me. I already have bad eggs but now that 40 is looming, I see in my mind the fertility chart that doctors show you where you see your fertility plunging in a big, fat, dramatic green line.
Infertility + Age = A clusterfuck.
It’s hitting me hard that my dream of having a big family is pretty much over and that is no doubt at the heart of my very poopy mood.
As you know, I work at the Patient Care Manager of FertilityAuthority. Part of my role is to play “infertility matchmaker” between those seeking help and fertility doctors that might be able to assist. I answer tons of calls and online forms all day long… and quite often… into the evening as well. I love my job but its entails long hours and can be high pressure. It’s also an odd place to be when still trying to reconcile my own infertility while advising others on theirs. To tell people several times a day, “There is sharp decline in your fertility after the age of 42…” while I’m on the cusp of turning 40 kind of sucks.
Anyway, recently, someone contacted me about writing for our site. Every week (and this is one of my favorite parts of my job), I pick an infertility related blog to feature. I LOVE seeing other people’s blogs, reading their stories, seeing their writing style, checking out the comments and the overall message the blog gives (hope, humor, honestly, etc.). This person wanted me to feature their blog. She said, “I’ve been to hell and back…”
As she shared her journey, I found out that it consisted of trying to get pregnant for four months, getting a positive pregnancy test, then going to the doctors to find out that she wasn’t pregnant, getting very depressed about it but then she went on to get pregnant two months later. She now has a daughter from that pregnancy.
Now here’s the thing: We always talk about not playing the, “Whose Pain is Worse Game” so let me be clear when I say that this woman felt true sadness and disappointment about that pregnancy test not working out. I don’t mean to take away from that. However, if you’re like me and have connected with others who have gone through infertility, you know there are real horror stories of recurrent miscarriages, still born babies, difficult diagnosis’s, life altering decisions about terminating pregnancies and those who have gone through as many as ten in vitros only to have no success and so on.
I’m continually shocked at people’s lack of empathy. It’s empathy that kept me from saying to this woman in particular, “Trust me – you should consider yourself lucky.” I can appreciate that this woman’s pain is real and who am I to say differently. I’m just surprised she doesn’t seem aware that for many, what she went through wasn’t exactly hell. There are countless that are not only in hell right not now but who feel like it’s a one way ticket. Again, that’s empathy: To know you’ve had your struggles, but to be aware that there are others who still continue to struggle.
Even when I see some of my fellow infertiles who have gone on to have children through one way or another that post, tweet or blog all about being a mom, I can’t help but feel torn about it. OF COURSE, I’m exceedingly happy for them and it’s their space to express whatever they want but my empathetic self can’t help but feel like, “Ummmm guys? People still struggling may be reading this. Don’t forget about them.”
Ultimately, it’s really not their problem. Truly. They should be happy and live their lives and post whatever they want. It’s up to the reader to decide, “Yeah, I’m out of here.” But that just isn’t me. If you look at this blog, I think it’s clear I’m very mindful there are people who visit who are still in the trenches. Up top, I include where the pregnancy posts are should you want to avoid them and if you read my posts, although I do mention I have a son, my blog isn’t a “mommy blog” where I post endless pictures or discuss his every milestone. It’s not that I never discuss it at all or I don’t have joy in it – I just don’t share those thoughts here. If anything, this blog still is very much about infertility or at the very least, what my life is like being a mom after going through treatment.
My story, respectfully, is more extensive then the woman who contacted me about featuring her blog. NOTHING was getting me pregnant, years were flying by, my savings account was empty, my husband and I were on the verge of killing each other and I was a terrible responder to treatment. I can produce eggs (yaaay!) but what good is it when most of them are shit?
As I often mention, on my last cycle, my third IVF, they retrieved thirteen eggs and I only had ONE embryo. It’s a fucking miracle that after three years, five timed cycles, Clomid, a uterine polyp, several IUI’s and two previously failed IVF’s, that lone embryo stuck. I could not be more grateful. There seriously isn’t a second of any day where I’m not profoundly humbled and deeply appreciative.
So the fact that I’m currently depressed over never having more children is making me want to punch myself in the face. I know the odds were against me having what I do have and I know through and through that it could have been much, much worse. Not only do I have friends who continue to struggle but again, because of my job, I hear absolutely heartbreaking tales of loss and sadness.
I am also noticing that many of the people who cycled around the time that I did, who “started out with me” (if you will) are already having their second kids (either unexpectedly naturally or through treatment). What gets me even angrier at myself about that is I take this happy news for them and use it to make myself feel like a failure. I find myself thinking, “I can never get pregnant naturally, I’m going to be 40, my eggs suck and I can’t afford treatment again. I’m such a loser.”
Through my job and the generosity of others, I have been offered discounted treatment. However, I can’t afford even that. Well, truth be told, I guess I could if we saved a bit and stretched but it would be irresponsible. We rent and I would love a house one day plus I have a son at home who we want to give all that we can to. To spend money on a cycle that even my Reproductive Endocrinologist doesn’t think will work just seems wrong. I have a choice: I can spend money on a cycle that will most likely not work or I can keep the money and spend it on the child I have at home.
So, I guess I’m confused. One side of me is very angry at myself for not seeing the glass half full and being satisfied with what I do have while the other half is sad that I don’t have the choice or resources to have another child. It’s like I’m realizing one dream while putting the other one to rest all at the same time.
I often encourage people to pursue what they feel is best and what will make them happy. If I called me at work, I would tell me that if this is something I feel strongly about, I should pursue treatment. However, it’s not that easy. I do feel that my brain is making a smart choice: Spend the money on concrete things like your son and owning a home.
It’s just my heart that hasn’t really accepted it yet.