Love, Passing Woman, Pregnancy, Volatile bodies

A Miracle

I’m pregnant. I’m almost four months along now and starting to believe it. By starting to I mean that I don’t check the toilet paper for blood every time I go, just every other time. Also, I’m becoming huge. Surprisingly none of this has been a problem for Wonderboy. You should see him. He’s so happy all the time it’s impossible to remember what he used to be like. And he can’t go more than a couple of minutes without groping my huge boobs. I’ve already upgraded a cup and I fear I’ll have to upgrade my winter coat and every clothing I have in no more than a month.

I am happy. It’s been so much easier to negotiate sexual things even though I’ve barely been able to share any with Wonderboy in these passed months. There’s such a sense of fulfillment. It’s not only in my body, although it most definitely is in my body, it’s also in our relationship and in my relationship with the world at large. I’ve fulfilled this potential I had, this demand I faced within myself. Sex can finally be lifted out of the hole of having anything to do with infertility and it can start to be itself again. It has surprised me how much happiness the news brings to people close to me, even people I don’t know that well. Especially women. They don’t know about our struggles but yet they tear up, want to hug me and make sure I’m okay. This makes me believe even more that there’s something deeply engraved in us, that it wasn’t just me with the pain, that it’s in us (most of us anyway). The desire to be fulfilled and fulfill the potential like this as a miracle worker.

It’s quite disillusioning, being pregnant. Seeing that little critter spasm inside my uterus didn’t exactly bond me with it. Nor did the fact that I learned that it doesn’t have brains yet and that’s why it moves like that or that it’s entrails aren’t even inside its body. Still, everything is like it’s supposed to be. It’s healthy, it’s growing, it’s going to be our child. And seeing it was important. It made the fact real that it’s a another person, not just my ever changing body.

I’m guessing you’d like to know what happened? How did we conceive finally after almost four years?

Our money was running out. We’d had to move onto a private clinic because of the treatments I needed. This was the third IVF at the clinic, our fifth all together. I’d had to stop taking the hormones that helped me produce more and more viable eggs, because they gave me pretty severe cardiac dysrhythmia. In the end I also started to suffer from breathing problems during the treatments. My throat kept closing up and sometimes I would wake up startled and try to catch my breath sitting down. It was pretty clear that my body wasn’t handling the treatments well anymore and it was endangering my health.

After the first try after the help of the hormones, with the starting pregnancy with the twins that twindled so early on, on fourth to sixth week like all the eight other pregnancies, we decided that it wasn’t worth putting my health at risk. What was wrong even the doctor couldn’t guess. The embryos were perfect. My uterus, the hormones, everything was perfect. Except the result. We decided that we would make one last attempt and then settle in on the donor program to get eggs from someone else.

To my doctors (positive) dismay I already had three donors lined up, because my little sister and my friends love me to death and I will never forget what they promised me and how they changed my life when they did. Everyone just wanted for us to have a child. Everyone wanted us to be happy.

But we still had that last chance. And since it was the last chance I begged the doctor, like I’d asked a number of times before, if we could try the cortisone treatment. I’ve had a lot of time to read in these 3,5 years and I’ve read a lot of research. If I had an immunological decease, like the celiac decease, my body could be attacking the embryo thinking it was a virus. And the only thing that would help with that is cortisone. They didn’t find any antibodies in my blood to suggest I had celiac decease, but our first doctor had put me on gluten free diet anyway. And it had helped. It changed my body shape because I lost so much weight. It changed my bodily functions, my activity levels, pretty much everything for better. But they couldn’t find the antibodies in my blood, so they wouldn’t put me on cortisone with the IVF treatment. The doctor finally caved. Since this is the last try, she said.

I started the cortisone straight away since the treatment was right around the corner. When we started with the injections I already felt the difference. It didn’t hurt. My ovaries didn’t burn, I couldn’t really feel anything while the eggs were growing but some mild discomfort. I knew straight away that this was it. I knew that we had found the answer and that this was what I was supposed to feel all those other times. Even the doctor was intrigued when I told her about the pains not being there this time.

We got fewer eggs than the last time and like last time none of them were considered ripe. The doctor had noticed that all our viable embryos had sprung from the raw eggs and from the ones they didn’t use ICSI for. So it turns out that Wonderboy’s sperm was actually doing its job best when it was left to fend for itself like it’s supposed to. So we chose to put them all on the petri dish and hope for the best since there weren’t many eggs to begin with. There were six when we left the clinic.

And when I went to see the doctor a couple of days later there was only one that had developed normally to eight cells. Only eight little cells put together! How could that ever grow into a child? Its inner workings weren’t perfect so they couldn’t do assisted hatching like we had talked, but they had added this embryo glue to help it attach. And in it went.

The excruciating pains started four days later when it was supposed to attach and I knew of course what was happening. But it was like all those eight other times. I was just more in pain than before and the pains didn’t subside. I spent the weekend under a duvet with a painkiller and a hot water bottle. After that I got used to waking up every night at 0.30 am and 3-4 am to pains that the painkillers I was allowed to take weren’t really combating very well. And I became pretty hopeful. Since the pains were continuous, they weren’t fading like before, they were getting more strength.

And then one thursday morning I did the pregnancy test. It was the fourteenth day after conceiving in the lab and I was due to take a blood test the 18th in the clinic. I had barely had time to put the stick down when it brightened with two crossing lines. No doubt, I was pregnant. But doubt there was… so much doubt and fear. Wonderboy wouldn’t believe it until we saw what the blood works would say. On monday I went to the clinic and later that day I called for the results. With the twins my hcg levels had tipped a bit to 6-8 hcg. I knew that it was supposed to be 280 by now and I was scared. But there was no need. It was over 800. I was most definitely pregnant.

I went to the first ultrasound on week 5 and we already saw the heartbeat. Then we went together at the end of 6th week and it had grown to twice its size. Everything was good. Everything was normal.

And every night I woke up twice to the excruciating pain that even my doctor was a bit concerned about. But I wasn’t. If I had felt pains the eight times we conceived before, it was only natural that this would hurt even more. Because this time it had worked.

I haven’t had a lot time to process this. I haven’t had a lot of time to be happy. I’ve been so sick, the pains have been at times unbelievable and I have suffered from near continuous migraine for the first time in my life. This is the first time I am able to write anything this long without puking or having to go into a dark room to lie down. This is the second week there has been some normal days. Yesterday was the start of the week 15 of the pregnancy, and it was the first day I didn’t suffer from anything until late at night.

It must be self-evident that I don’t care. I don’t care. We will probably only ever have this one child. And it will be so loved, it is so loved already. We have fought this battle together and we have conquered. Everything is better now. I didn’t think it would be, but it is. Everything is easier, well, except moving and maybe sex. And even that doesn’t matter so much anymore. We have had to learn to wait, to be patient, to tread lightly with sexy things. But we have had ample time to learn the skills to do that: negotiate, be frank and unassuming when it comes to sexual acts.

Last time I said I didn’t want him to hit me or strangle me at all. There was a pause, he was scared and uneasy, because he had noticed that my responses were different and didn’t know what he could do now. We cuddled and talked and then started again. And when his hand went gently on my throat when we were getting close it wasn’t enough for me. I pushed his hand to grip more tightly. Because he had listened to me and I had spoken to him, I could do that. I could ask for it.

There were some droplets of blood, and even though our nurse had said after the first ultrasound and my freaking out on some blood that it was perfectly normal, I asked that we’d not have intercourse again. The blood was too scary. It’s not worth it. I don’t know if we will or won’t, if I change my mind. But I know it will be different. It will all be different. And it will all be the same, too.

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Fertility treatments, Love, Wonderboy

Tears

A lot of crying going on here today. I had to leave work straight when I got there, because the cramps were so painful I almost didn’t manage to get out of the bathroom. This is, I think, the first time that I’m setting this up like this within myself: why can’t I carry his child? Why can’t I give him a baby? Wonderboy’s been so unhappy this past few days that it has made me unhappy too. I’ve never seen him like this. And I can’t change a thing. And I’m hurting.

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Uncategorized

Shock

I’m in a shock. I was kind of hoping that I’d end up pregnant after the treatments like last time, but that this time it would last. I was waiting for a leisurely summer not thinking about treatments. 

Yesterday I got a call that changed everything. Our old doctor called me after office hours. She explained that she had consulted the clinic that did the IVF part of our treatment. They had come to the conclusion that we are running out of time. By we they of course mean me. They said I should definitely go straight into a private clinic and start talking about the possibility of donors. She said that my sisters situation is a warning sign for me as well. 

I booked us an appointment a couple minutes back, send my parents a message that things have changed drastically and now I’m dreading the future. But I am also optimistic. Now we will do everything that can be done. Now is not a time for false hopes. So we have to start using our savings and maybe consider a loan, a big one, to cover the huge costs of donor follicles. My little sister has promised to give us hers, but her life is in a turmoil as well, verging divorce, so I can’t trust that she’s able to do this for me now. Especially since my big sister would need the same thing at the same time.

There was some serious and the seriously silly talk yesterday night when we both got home. Wonderboy is not comfortable with donor sperm, because he doesn’t see what his role in all this would be then. I can’t say that I am happy about using anything donor, but I have grown to the idea in these years that we have struggled with infertility. Especially if the eggs are from my sister. She has the same genes after all even though we don’t much look alike. It would be the saddest I think, for me as well, if I didn’t get to carry Wonderboy’s babies. That’s what I want. If I get to carry them, the state of biology mixed in the little fellow don’t matter to me as much anymore. But it does matter some. 

In a little more than a weeks time we’ll be having this conversation with our clinic’s doctor, now as her private clients. I don’t know what she’ll recommend, but I have a plan in mind. Don’t I always? 

I’m going to bring up the possibility of fertilizing half and half of my eggs with donor and with Wonderboy’s sperm. This is to find out if there’s a difference in development. If there isn’t, we know the problems are caused mainly by me. Then we can move onto donor eggs. But since that’s much more expensive and we need a real life donor for that because of the long wait, first we test the sperm hypothesis. 

I just hope that Wonderboy would come to terms with this as well. It’s been coming for a long while, but still he was no nearer to accepting it. The bottom line is that if we won’t do the donor thing, we might not have children at all. I can’t compromise that. And he knows this.

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Fertility treatments, Love, Male Lead Relationship stuff, Passing Woman, Pregnancy, Volatile bodies, What Women Really Want, Wonderboy

Survival of the Fittest to Adapt

We have been trying to keep doing a small token thing, a ritual if you like. I think it was Lily’s wonderful book that gave us the idea. When we haven’t been able to do much else, and even when we have, Wonderboy has always commanded me to prepare the tea for us. I haven’t been able to do even that with the procedures and my body being so sick.

When I got out of the transfer, I was so proud of myself for doing it all by myself. I was so happy to finally get there that I needed to reward myself, so I bought these hand made chocolates. They were for us both, but Wonderboy’s been on a strict diet so it has mostly been me to consume the chocolates. Somehow Wonderboy still figured a new ritual could take place in this: it is my job to bring the golden chocolate box to him, if I want them. He will pick and choose one for me. Only one. And then I get to eat it. If I ask and he thinks it fits, he can grant me another. This… makes me oddly happy.

We tried to have sex yesterday. It was tentative, I admit, but I was actually turning a little horny. It has been almost three weeks since last time and I do feel a little alienated from my body. From him.

I’m glad that we tried. I’m glad about everything we did. About the nakedness, the warm skin, his scent, his lips. We caressed ear other from head to toes like I’ve never imagined Sex going. It was very loving and we were pretty scared. That’s probably why it didn’t hurt our feelings that we couldn’t do it. The progesterone capsules I have to use go straight into the vagina. They stay there to give me progesterone through the day. (3 times a day, so at work too. That’s been a treat, I’m telling you.) Turns out they also burn like hell, if you go on meddling in the orifices. No amount of lubrication helped, we were both burning. So we stopped. We kept hugging and kissing little, sweet and innocent kisses.

Do you want to do something else? To play? I asked.

Not really, Wonderboy said.

Me neither. It’s because of the burning, it kind of took the desire away.

Yeah, he admitted.

Then we caressed each other for a while.

It’s kind of miraculous that we can have a conversation like this – a situation like this – and both feel pretty happy and serene. We weren’t really even that disappointed. It was about something else entirely. It would’ve been nice to be able to have an orgasm together, but… it wasn’t as important as I once imagined. Huh. We exchanged our love yous there and then went on to read and play games by ourselves. It isn’t such a big deal considering the stuff we are going through.

I woke up tonight with soul shattering cramps. They almost made me throw up and wouldn’t subside in an hour before I took some pain medicine. I had to go sleep on the coach because the pain would stay away in only a certain position. At night I still thought that these could be the pains associated with the implantation. But today… when the cramps kept on rolling and kept shaping into a more familiar shape. I’ve nee here before. All the other times I thought I was pregnant I suffered for these same kinds of cramps and pains and stabs. They remind menstrual cramps a lot but aren’t exactly the same.

Now I feel I know. I know already. It didn’t work. There isn’t going to be a baby, not this time either.

The next time we have a chance will be in another hospital, with another doctor, after some waiting because of our move. It will probably be before next Christmas. Probably. But they might want to treat us differently. We might end up losing time again, doing treatment cycles that don’t result in any embryos. It’s not like it’s self-evident anyway – I got 10 follicles and only one was developed enough that they could transfer it (and only 3 fertilized at all).

Same all fears began to rise. Same all thoughts. Will we ever? Will we have to use someone else’s sperm or follicles in the end, anyway? Will our money run out? Will our will run out?

It’s not for certain yet. Wonderboy still believes I might be pregnant. I don’t anymore. I feel my body too well. Damnit. I was so happy for a while, even to be given a chance.

I don’t really know how I feel yet. But not devastated. Disappointed. Expectant. Sad, a little hopeless even. If it didn’t work, we still don’t know, if we can get pregnant. We still don’t know, if it will ever work for us. We still just have to wait. It’s quite a big thing to ask of someone, this waiting,  without a promise for the hopes to be fulfilled.

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Fertility treatments, Wonderboy

Dead like me

I’ve been crying the whole day. I had plans for today. Take a run in the sun (well, rain). Do some decorating. Make a wonderful meal for us for when Wonderboy would be back from his work weekend. And I did nothing. I stood up to go to the shower, but was stopped by fits of crying and left leaning on the wall. I tried to begin some things but was drowned in a silent river of tears. The only thing I could do was cry and it didn’t seem to end. I would have a fit and when it would fade I would feel exhausted. And when I started to do something else it would start again.

I took my last progesterone capsule yesterday. Or… put it in. Anyway. Seems to me that I’m handling the change in my hormone levels very well again. I decided that we have to go to a private clinic and spend all the money we don’t have on this. And then I cried again. Because obviously we can’t. Where would we get the money? We have to wait… Once again. Probably until next year. Maybe forever.

*

Yesterday we were planning some decorating with Wonderboy. It was the first time it was his idea. He was happy when I got into it too. We were on the bed together as I reached to get a pen and paper to draw down some plans. When I was done and put the pen down he said,

I love you so much. I am so happy I have you. You’re the right one for me.

I can’t get over it. The same way I cried on our wedding night because he said I do and I couldn’t get over it. That he would want me and promise to be with me forever. With everything that we have had to face. With everything that has gone so wrong. That’s what he feels.

It made me so happy. I said as much and I also said that he’s the right one for me as well. I do believe in us, even when I sometimes can’t believe in us having a family.

*

We had wonderful sex the other day, finally, but I couldn’t come. My vagina just hurt and I suspect the hormones did that, because the way it burned. And I cried then too. I also cried an hour ago when Wonderboy wasn’t in the mood for sex even though he promised last night that he’d fuck me today once I would finally be rid of the treatment. But he was too tired at the end of his 6th day of work this week. Now he’s fast asleep and going back to work tomorrow morning. I wasn’t even crying about the sex. I’m okay with that not happening. It was just that something happened. And then I cried.

But at work I’ve been superb. I’ve been doing some amazingly daring things and I’ve been there a 100 %. Haven’t cried there yet, but we have to wait until Monday to find out if I will. 😉

I guess I couldn’t keep that up when I was left alone. It is a tremendous loss and I do have to mourn. So now I mourn. And watch Dead like me.

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Fertility treatments, Love, Pregnancy, Wonderboy

Bigger Than Us

Things have changed. Change is so hard to see, though. When it’s here, you’re already used to it.

I want to give you an example. I found this on my computer. I had written it before starting on the IVF extreme adventure, before I knew any of this.

He’s worried…

That we will have a child

That it’s forever

That he’ll end up losing (some part of) me

That it’ll be terrible for him

That he won’t learn to love the child

That the child won’t learn to love him

That I will gain weight when pregnant and stay that way

That our sex life will suffer (oh boooy, like it hasn’t already)

That we won’t have time for anything fun anymore

That I will change into The Mom

I’m worried…

That the procedures won’t help

That my feelings and pain will go unheard

That we will NOT have a child. Ever.

That I will grow tired, exhausted, stop believing

Of needles. I’m scared of needles. There. I said it!

I can say now, for certain, what Wonderboy’s biggest fear is. It’s not any of the above. It’s losing me.

Whenever we face a setback in the battle against infertility, he gets scared. But he’s scared of a different thing I am. I’m scared that we can’t have a child. He’s scared that we can’t have a child… and then I’ll leave him.

He has voiced it many times in the past. When we got the news on Wednesday, the devastating news that none of my eggs had been fertilized even with the latest and most advanced medical techniques western medicine has been able to produce, he knew enough to suspect that the fault was all his. His sample had been poor. My eggs had been perfect.

This could be true of course. We can’t know for certain, though. It could be my body’s antibodies which attack his sperm. You can’t see those, even through the microscope. But for now, seems that the ball is in his court. When he got home, after cancelling all of his plans and lessons for the night by way of lying he’s sick, he hugged my for a long time and then he said,

I don’t even have a chromosome. Not even one!

It was a joke, but it was also his biggest fear. What if he has Klinefelter’s syndrome? There’s no cure for that.

I laughed and hugged him, and I don’t even remember what I said. Probably something along the lines of us both not having any chromosomes at all. It’s still possible, although my six perfect eggs would seem to suggest that I am in fact fertile. There would’ve probably been some kind of abnormalities in the shape, ripeness, size or cell intactness (is that a word?), if the problem was in my eggs. It was such a huge relief for me. They got out so many perfect eggs from me. It seemed that finally things were going to be alright, because the poor quality of the sperm should’ve been treated with the ICSI procedure.

And then it wasn’t.

I was so fortunate that I got to speak with our wonderful midwife/nurse from the hospital. She assured me that even some chromosome problems can be solved by way of testing the embryos and only using the healthy ones. She also said that it’s not very probable, even considering our zero result IVF ICSI, that we would have a chromosome problem.

These things do happen, and sometimes there’s just no reason for it that we can find. The second run could go without any trouble at all. We just have to try and see, she said.

The clinic doctor did comment that I should be tested for the coeliac disease (allergy for wheats, in the short and scientifically spesific terms), because that has a tendency to cause “Recurrent miscarriage and unexplained infertility”. But I was already tested for that in the Spring, because I had a hunch I am indeed allergic to wheats. And the things is, I’ve been keeping to a strict coeliac diet almost 6 months now, because that’s what the infertility doctor recommended. Sometimes the tests only show the allergy after you’ve been suffering from it for years, so I could very well have it, even if the tests don’t show any autoimmune bodies in my blood.

I don’t know how long the autoimmune disease could affect my fertility, if I’m on a right kind of a diet, but certainly not forever, right? It does seem probable considering all of my five early miscarriages that there might be some kind of a decreased maternal immune tolerance towards the fetus. That would explain a lot, and also more importantly, it can be fixed.

So, it all comes back to Wonderboy. And you know what he confessed to me, when we had been cuddling on the bed and the worst of my crying was over?

I already though how awkward it was gonna be, if me met at a bar somewhere. After we’d broken up.

It might sound really bad to you, I don’t know. But this is very like Wonderboy. It seems to always be his biggest and first fear that this will be the end of us. I guess this just was the first time that I wasn’t worried about it at all. I was actually very upbeat all things considered.

Why would we break up? I asked him. And then I asked him The Question again. I did give a bit of a back story to it by describing how I would feel, if we had to resort to my little sister’s eggs, which she has bravely and lovingly promised to us, if things don’t go as we hope. It’s not ideal, but we do share the same genes. We even laughed with my little sister, that then we could get the best genes of our grandparents and named the awful one, my dad’s mother, who’s kind of an asshole a lot of times. I asked Wonderboy does he still feel totally against donor sperm. And he answered no, no I’m not against it.

Why would we ever break up then? I ask and hug and kiss him. Then we will have a baby, one day.

**

Finally being on the IVF treatment – the real treatment that shows him that this is serious – has made him change so much. He now sees, how it isn’t in my head or in my body. It’s visible to him and understandable. We are injecting medicine to me. I was in an evasive operation. There were doctors and biologists handling our sperm and eggs. When that doesn’t work, it doesn’t leave you a lot of room to deny the fact that you are infertile.

He was sad about the results. He was sad about the results of his sperm and about the results of the procedure. He had to face, I think for the first time, that it could be his fault, and it could be forever like this.

I have tackled those feelings for almost a year and a half now. I’m way past not considering donor eggs or sperm. But it still isn’t my first choice. I want to see this through. I need to see, if we can make it. Us.

But it occured to me for the first time that it’s not only him who has to give up on being a biological father. I have to give up seeing him in our children too, if it comes to that. I’m not saying this, because I suspect the fault’s in him. I’m saying this, because if we were to use my sister’s eggs, it could be possible that they would have our father’s eyes – the same eyes I have, or our grand grandmother’s stature – the same I have. But if we use donor sperm, it will have nothing to do with Wonderboy. In either case Wondeboy could see me in the child. That is amazing. An amazing thought. Because he loves me and he has always said how he would want our children to look like me. He would still get to have that. He would recognice my big and dashing smile, or my low forehead or my hazel eyes. How could he not love that child?

It seems that there’s nothing wrong with my womb, and the progesterone deficiency I seem to have is actually easily fixed with these capsules I still have to take to make sure I get a normal cycle again. (And heal, thanks for pointing that out Jnakabb!)

**

It’s been so hard since Wednesday, but I’m beginning to feel better. Most of it is perhaps, because Wonderboy was just so wonderful with the news. He cancelled all of his plans and came home. He was sad too, but not as devastated as me. He still believes we’ll be able to do it. He got me to smile and to laugh. We got all hopeful and loving again, together. We are so good to each other, it doesn’t matter what we face.

That’s actually what my little sister said on the phone, when se heard. Why do people who have the best and loving relationship ever not get to have a child? It’s CRAZY!

I totally agree with her. 😉

The next step, according to our nurse, is that they’ll take the chromosome tests out of our blood (and they especially want to see about the (male) Y chromosome on Wonderboy) and they’ll also test for antibodies that I might be producing to attack the sperm and keep it out. That will probably be next week, already. The results will be in once again only after 2-3 weeks, but at this point I feel that I need the time in between. I’m still on sick leave and I can’t really even walk fast because of my ovaries hurting so much, so I’m not in any hurry to be back on the operating table. Although the Diapam high was quite a laugh, afterwards.

I actually remember that we talked with the infertility doctor about taking cortisone with the IVF cycle because of the possible coeliac condition, but somehow they forgot about it. We will probably go through the next cycle with cortisone to make sure that doesn’t affect anything.

I’m not sure, but I got the impression that none of the eggs even started dividing. The doctor said that the 6 eggs were all perfect (two weren’t mature so they threw them out). And they did the ICSI, so we know for certain that the sperm reached the ovum, so now we have to figure out why nothing still happened.

But the doctor and the nurse both said that it’s also possible that this just happens in some IVF cycles, and they can not find any reason for it. They said that even some people who have children from IVF can have a cycle like this. So it’s not as sure as I first thought that we’d have a chromosome problem.

I’m going to hear from the doctor today or next week about our blood tests and the next round, so I’m really focusing on the future now. There’s really not much else we can do. We can’t decide about the IVF cycle ourselves, but I believe the doctor might be willing to put me on a medically assisted cycle after this one being budged as Jnakabb has suggested to me personally. I’m not sure why she wanted to do the short one even when I had so few eggs, but it’s better now because I didn’t have to go through all the terrible side effects of putting down my own hormones before kicking them up again. Maybe she thought about that – that I’m prone to having terrible side effects from the hormones and wanted to spare me. That would’ve been the first.

Today when I woke up, I had gotten an SMS from Wonderboy. It said I love you so fucking much! Kisses! And good morning! This is what has changed. We are in this together, now. I feel so much more loved than I have felt ever, ever in my life. If this has taught us one thing, it’s taught us that sex is certainly not the only glue to keep love together. Sometimes love grows out of hardships. Sometimes it grows precisely because there can be no sex. There has to be something else.

What else could there be?

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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Passing Woman, Pregnancy, Volatile bodies

Why don’t you get a puppy instead? Dealing with people who struggle with infertility: Just listen

I’m gonna give you guys some advice. If you don’t like communication tactics for dealing with people who suffer from a serious, life-altering illness, you don’t have to read this. And then you don’t have to comment on our infertility, either. After today I will not be answering questions I deem hurtful.

I’m gonna give you an allegory, a story that I feel relates to how I feel, and leave that as a guideline to communicating with people struggling with infertility. If you feel you have trouble communicating or relating to people with infertility issues, just remind yourself of this allegory. Ask yourself – if they had cancer, would I ask them this? Would I give them this advice?

You remember Sex and the City, when Samantha gets breast cancer? She tries to tell Carrie about her fear of dying, but Carrie brushes it off saying “you will be fine, that doesn’t concern you, you are being treated”. Samantha asks Carrie to let her share her fear, her really real fear of dying. That’s what she needs from her friend. Sharing. Listening.

What she doesn’t need is advice or brushing the whole thing off.

When you ask: Why don’t you adopt?

What we hear you say is “why won’t you give up already and just get a puppy instead since you’re so damaged and it isn’t working naturally the way it’s supposed to?”

I am as entitled to have my own biological children as anyone. Would you take someone else’s child and give yours away? Have a heart and have some decency. These things are not interchangeable.

Facing infertility is like facing any serious illness. It takes time, trying different treatments, hearing professionals out and it takes a mental journey, one that many luckily never have to face. We want what everybody wants. We desire what every able bodied people can without being chastised fort their desire as selfish: our own biological children, carrying them for the nine months and giving birth to them, and seeing our parents in them, our heritage and our love. Seeing ourselves in them.

The change from wanting our children to wanting children, period, is not self-evident.

Many people never want someone else’s kids.

I love my sister’s kids, but they are not mine.

I have a hard time facing pregnancy news, but it gets easier pretty quickly, because that is not my child she is carrying. And how do I know this? Because it is not me, who is pregnant. Those would be my children. The ones that have miscarried so early, only some cells developed.

Some decide to take the road to adoption, but it is a road that might take years and a lot of money. What people fail to realize, when they talk about adoption as getting a puppy – just do it, just like they talk about deciding to have children – is that it is not easy. And it is not for everyone, for many reasons starting with emotional and ending with financial ones.

For starters, you have to give up on the infertility treatments. That’s the first step. That is the requisite  for even starting the adoption process. (Except for very, very rich people.) You have to give up the hope of having your own children. Ever.

Then there’s the testing, the getting approved by financial and emotional and social merits. And then wait years and years, spend thousands and thousands on it.

Finally, in the end, you might get a child. But there are no guarantees. And it will not be genetically yours.

It is extremely painful to hear people just offer adoption straight away as the solution to something that hasn’t been proven to be completely broken yet. I still believe. I am not ready to give up hope on children that would look like me and Wonderboy, who would carry our genes into the future. That is something I will not be chastised about. I will not offer more explanations or try to defend my feelings and decision on this.

If I some day have to give up hope, I will tell you. It is a beautiful thing, hope. Adoption is a hope for those who have lost theirs.

When you ask: Have you tried vitamin X, grapefruit juice, acupuncture, whatever your grandmother told you would work?

You are undermining the fact that we are talking about a serious illness. Do you ask those questions of people who are diagnosed with cancer? No? Then you shouldn’t ask infertile people those questions either.

Do you think that people with cancer haven’t concidered and tried every means possible to them? Do you honestly think that those people haven’t read everything there is to know about their illness? It’s their life on the line after all. It’s exactly the same with infertilite couples.

You don’t have to offer advice. It’s enough, if you listen to what they want to tell you.

When you ask: Why don’t you just relax? My cousin’s friend got pregnant when she got a new job. My friend’s sister got pregnant, when they adopted.

See above. Cancer doesn’t magically go away, if you don’t think about it. Neither does infertility. Don’t you think in two years (or ten in some cases) there hasn’t been a time, when it was still relaxed? Is it an effective method of birth control to just not relax? Well, then. Don’t offer it to the infertiles as such.

The just relax comment seems to me as brushing the seriousness of the issue away. It seems too much like blaming us with fertility issues for having feelings. Would it be okay to tell the same thing to someone who is struggling with cancer? Just don’t think about it? What I hear, when people say this, is their own fear of infertility. I hear, how they can’t accept it as a serious illness that might not have a cure. Sort your own fears yourself. We have enough to deal with.

Also, the adpoting makes you pregnant trope is such a strong one, I want to address it spesifically. Do you think it’s magic, that someone would get pregnant, when they adopt? Consider this: they have first tried more than a year naturally, then they have gone into treatments that have been going on for 2-7 years. then they have started the adoption process. This all might amount to anywhere from 4 to 15 years. If you just stop and think about probability for a second you will realize that adding more years might affect that. Right? Right.

Now, you might have your own thoughts on how to get pregnant. Maybe you ate only youghurt and went to acupuncture. Maybe some hormones worked for you immediately. Maybe you didn’t even think about trying and it happened. When infertiles tell you their own feelings and their own experiences, keep your thoughts to yourself. You have absolutely no proof of something working on them and it will not help one bit to be told what worked for you or your friend or so you think.

Are you a health care specialist? If you aren’t, it’s best if you just listen.

Just listen.

That is the best gift you can give.

Let them tell you how scared they are, just like Samantha. Let them tell you, how betrayed they feel, how their bodies have betrayed them. Offer coffee or juice, offer your shoulder, offer your sympathies. Ask if they want to talk about it and if not take them for a walk or to movies or cook them dinner. Let them play with your children, if they want to. If you want to offer advice, ask “would you like to X”. Do not start sentences with “have you tried X?” or “you should try X”. There is no should in infertility.

Some of these reactions might sound unreasonable to you. Some of them maybe make you angry and frustrated. I just want the best for you! I just wanted to help. What you can’t change, is how people coping with infertility will react and feel about something. What you can change is the way you interact with them.

Infertility is a serious illness just like any other. It is worse than some, because it also strips us of our image of an able body. This is hard to face, when it’s something you can’t see. We suffering from infertility have to face it.

You don’t have to understand. You just have to listen.

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