Thursday, April 25, 2013

Story Telling

As soon as J and I started "outing" ourselves as (please whisper the following) *INFERTILE *, everyone and their sister began sharing stories. I totally get the impulse, I do it too. It's human nature to share similar experiences, be they yours or anecdotal, to demonstrate empathy. However, the stories were always along the same lines: My coworker/friend/sister/college professor tried to get pregnant for THIRTY YEARS and they had totally given up when they became pregnant at age 75 with healthy twins! Implication being that that could totally be me! I'd love to slog through this for years and years on end! Actively trying to get pregnant for more than (enter your threshold here) is generally hellish so the thought of the experience lasting for several more years is not appetizing. This is the lens of infertility. The stories that seem so encouraging to the reproductively blessed or those not proven otherwise, are nothing but nails on a chalkboard to you. It's too hard to see the larger picture, that in the end things will be okay, because the only way to get through this trial is to trudge through the daily emotions and physical challenges with your head up. Ten years later your friends concieved naturally? All I hear is ten years, lady.

Once we began doing IVF, the stories changed to couples who had done multiple rounds of IVF with no success and then, once they had completely given up, (Notice a theme here? You have to abandon all hope and live as though you have stage 4 cancer) they got pregnant naturally. Another miracle! Despite statistics posted by reproductive endocrinology clinics boasting otherwise, science apparently does not work. Only magic.

Getting pregnant really did feel like magic. And miscarrying like an unfair roll of the genetic dice (we hope, as opposed to across the board chromosomal problems from here on out). But once again, people have more uplifting stories to share with us. You miscarried? My grandmother miscarried SEVEN times before she had her children. The worst part of that story is that it came from my own husband. He told me not once but twice to encourage me. While communication surrounding fertility has been somewhat trying with my usually emotive J, this miscarriage business has proven especially difficult. He doesn't get it and doesn't know what to say. He's torn between feeling incredibly sad and very hopeful, just like me, but can't relate to the physicality of it. How could he? I couldn't before this happened. I am in a fertility support group full of amazing smart and funny women. Like in most other aspects of my life, I can't stop talking at those meetings. Until the subject of miscarriage invariable comes up. And, in meetings past, when other women cried, I sat staring at my hands knowing what they were saying was sad but with no ability to relate. It's just one of those things in life where you just can't grasp it until you've gone through it yourself. And thank God for that.

J's grandma really did lose 7 pregnancies. And did go on to have healthy babies. But all I hear in that story is, "You think this is bad? It's going to be so much worse the second, fifth, and seventh times!" I have thought about the fact that if I'm lucky enough to get pregnant again, that it could end the same way. It is what I think about the most now.
I've decided to filter out everyone else's stories. They mean well but they are keeping me from moving forward which is all I want to do. Eye on the prize. Instead, I'm thinking of all the women I know who had one miscarriage and went on to have successful pregnancies or "live births" as they call it in the biz. So far, I've thought of 5 including my aunt and my own grandma. I welcome all just plain happy stories.

Is my story just plain happy? A simple test. If it includes the words, "and just when they had given up all hope..." then no.


  1. I couldn't agree more! Why do people feel compelled to say these things to us? I know that people never know quite what to say and they are just trying to give us a little hope, but sometimes it doesn't feel that way in the moment. And it goes for everything related to growing your family, not just fertility treatments. Sometimes when I tell people I want to adopt they tell me things like "I know someone who adopted and the kid was such a terror!" I've also heard from people when I tell them we have infertility "Oh geez, that must be hard! My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant!" I mean, how are you supposed to respond to that??

    I hope your story has a happy ending :)

  2. My story will have a happy ending, as will yours. Some way or another, I'm going to become a mom. Whether that be through pregnancy or adoption.
    People cannot help themselves from sharing horror stories! My mom says that when she was pregnant with me, people came out of the woodwork to tell her about still births, horrible labor stories, birth defects, and on and on. Everybody loves a good car crash, I guess.