Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lack of Understanding is a Worldwide Problem

We all gave presentations in one of our classes this week on different cultures' perceptions of disabilities. Each group presented on a different country, which included Japan, Cambodia, India, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Nigeria, Romania, Luxembourg, Spain, The Netherlands, the U.K., and Canada. And guess what every single country had in common? According to the study, people consistently ranked infertility as the "least disabling" condition.

The lack of understanding is a worldwide problem.

But we already knew that, didn't we?

Among my small group of readers alone we cover the United States, Canada, Slovenia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Germany at least. And we all share common experiences of being constantly misunderstood.

About two-thirds of the way through the presentations, I leaned over to my school friend and said, "It's crazy to me that every country has ranked infertility as the least disabling condition when infertility completely destroyed my life as I knew it." He agreed and said, "That's exactly what I was just thinking."

The study is old, about twenty years old, but I will make the not-so-bold statement that not much has changed in terms of people's perceptions of infertility.

People in all countries & across all cultures just don't get it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Double Standards

I promise not to make every post about school, but, real quick, here's another one. ;)

I've shared that school is intense, that it's a lot of work, that I'm exhausted, and that I have very little time to myself. Thank you for listening. I feel supported by you all and I greatly appreciate it.

Why can't I get this support in real life?

I have a friend I've been playing phone tag with. She calls and I'm busy, I call and she's busy. It's aggravating because a couple of things have happened in her life and we really want to catch up. But the current pace of modern life is just too damn busy. I'm pretty sure she's not impressed with me not being available like I used to be. Everyone is.

My complaint is that I get no understanding from anyone. Not from that friend. Not from other friends. Not from family.

The other day my mom got upset with me because I didn't come over when I said I was going to because I was tired and working on assignments. I was venting to my husband and he said, "I don't mean to add fuel to the fire but this probably wouldn't be happening if we had kids. If we had kids, we'd be doing all the kid things and no one would question our use of time."

He is so right!!!

So why do parents get all the benefits of doubt but other adults don't?

I know. Because people remember what it was like when they didn't have kids. When they were, I don't know, 22 and going to work and partying on the weekends and doing whatever they wanted. I want to scream from the mountaintops, "Not having children when you're 37 is ENTIRELY different than when you're 22!" People remember when they went to college. Sure, it was hard, but it was also fun. Again, I want to scream, "This program I'm in is not like college!!"

Last winter my family expected me to drive five hours for a day trip to celebrate the holidays. Yes, that's ten hours in the car for about 3 hours of family time. I said I was too tired. My mom said I could sleep in the car. I told her I wasn't 12 anymore and that sleeping in the car wasn't going to cut it. My dad said I can't expect my cousins to travel because it's too hard traveling with little kids. I said I wasn't coming. Instead, I basically slept for three days.

Maybe if my life looked like everyone else's I would get more credit.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Benefits of Going Back to School When You're Deeply Grieving and Traumatized

Wow, it's been over two weeks since I've posted. That's way too long! I miss the community.

Can you tell my summer semester started? It's even more insane than the regular fall and spring semesters. During the summer we cram 16 weeks worth of material into 10 weeks. And did I mention I'm taking 5 classes? Yeah... I was going to spend the weekend catching up on work but ended up spending the weekend catching up on sleep.

Anyway, that's all pretty boring to talk about...

Wait. No. I apologize, I think I'll make school the topic of this post hahaha.

*****

The Benefits of Going Back to School When You're Deeply Grieving and Traumatized:


1. It's a good distraction.

I thought nothing could take my mind off of infertility. I thought about it all day, every day. And how could I not, especially at the end when my days were spent going to the doctor's office for blood draws and ultrasounds? My life felt like it was on hold while everyone around me was moving on. Then when we decided to end treatments my mind was still 100% hoping for a miracle pregnancy. I could never give myself a break. And considering how primal the desire for offspring is, I don't blame myself one bit. I'm glad I gave it all I had. And now I'm very glad to be distracted by school. Now I have assignments and projects and deadlines. Every class is so different in terms of its content and requirements, so just keeping everything straight in my head takes a lot of energy. I went from sitting in my recliner all day, drinking multiple cups of coffee, reading TTC boards, and then surfing the internet when I ran out of new posts to read. It didn't make me feel good, but I was stuck in a rut. Now I wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, drink one cup of coffee, and then I'm out the door to campus. It's so good for me. I'm so thankful.


2. I'm learning stuff!

School is exhausting and learning medical information doesn't come easily for me. The lectures are pretty bad and the reading load is insurmountable. There's not a lot of direct instruction which I miss from the good old days. I'm so old school in my teaching/learning styles. I was complaining to my mom sometime during the middle of last semester and she said to me, "But you seem to be learning a lot." Good point, mom! I am learning a lot, more than I realized. More than I thought I could. And everything I'm learning will help my future patients.

(I feel like I should add a P.S. here. P.S. Going back to school while grieving is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's really hard to learn and to take in new information when you're grieving. But people who have been through infertility have basically just earned an honorary Ph.D. in Human Reproduction, so people like us have already learned how to learn under extreme stress. So going back to school is hard, but it's something to consider anyway.)


3. It's good practice for the real world.

If you haven't already been able to tell, I was able to isolate myself pretty successfully during my years of trying to get pregnant. Going back to school put me around people again. It put me back in the real world and the real world is real fertile. Most people my age or older have kids. Some of them go to school with me. A lot of people younger than me have kids. Some of them also go to school with me. My professors have kids. My clinical instructors have kids. Patients have kids. I'm able to test out whether or not I want to disclose to different people- colleagues, teachers, bosses- and if so, how. I've tried different ways of having conversations with people with my new self. My new self is a woman who doesn't have any children (everyone knows that) but it wasn't my choice and it was incredibly hard, traumatic, and painful for me (not many people know that). Going back to school, I have experienced meeting new people, making new friends, networking, and working in professional settings. And it has been good practice. I was a little rusty. Haha.

*****

So I'm sure there's more I could elaborate on with this topic. Just wanted to jot a few ideas down.

If anyone is thinking about going back to school but you're thinking it'll take too long or it's too much work, remember you just do it all one step at a time. I remember getting the idea to go back to school a year before trying IVF, but I didn't want to take the prerequisites. I thought taking Anatomy & Physiology I and II would be too hard and maybe even too boring. So I didn't do it. And you know what, another year passed. The next year came around, none of my fertility treatments resulted in pregnancy, and I could've already had the A & P courses out of the way if I'd taken them when I first had the idea. My point being- time is gonna pass anyway. School sucks, but, if there's a job or a career that you think you will enjoy and be good at, it's worth it. School is temporary. It ends. The job/career can be forever.

*****

On that note, I have to go write a paper... ūüė¨



Monday, June 5, 2017

Work In Progress

I never thought I'd get to a point where I'd be okay. I didn't think it was possible. I would envision a future where I wasn't the mother I always thought, planned, and dreamed I'd be and I could not picture myself ever being happy without children.

I'm glad I was wrong.

I've actually had lots of moments of happiness over the last year or two. :)

*****

It's crazy how fast things can change.

A year ago I was still trying and hoping for a miracle baby. I was playing Murphy's Law; I figured going back to school would guarantee I'd get pregnant.

Well, I didn't. And I needed to stop falling apart every month when it didn't happen. It was killing me. So we began using contraception again. Weird. And relieving.

And I'm okay.

I don't go to baby showers. I can't be a part of other people's pregnancies. And I'm not going to start a friendship with someone my age with toddlers.

But I moved out of the house I bought for my children. I sold that house. I shredded, recycled, trashed, and gave away everything (except a few onesies and the pictures of my embryos) that had anything to do with trying to conceive, infertility, fertility treatments, and having and raising children. And I had a houseful. So many things. So much stuff. So much paperwork.

Something I haven't written about, but when our last IVF didn't result in pregnancy, I thought long and hard about what to do next. I was deciding between pursuing adoption and going back to school. I felt like I was running short on time with regard to everything. I obviously chose to go back to school before pursuing adoption. I did not know if it was the right decision overall, but I knew it was the right decision then and for the moment. I needed to grieve. There was a hole in my heart that no child could fill, and I needed to heal from that first. It was an incredibly difficult decision because adoption is a long process and I'm not getting any younger, but I knew I did not have the energy for it at that time.

So I moved and went back to school. Which I keep writing about over and over. But it was so major. And it's been three steps forward, two steps back.

That metaphor comparing grief to an ocean or whatever is correct though. At first, the waves are nonstop and you don't know if you're ever going to breathe again. Then slowly, so slowly you don't even perceive it in real time, but very slowly, the waves slow down. They keep coming. But there's a little bit of space in between them. And the space in between the waves continues to grow.

And then I learned the adoption agency I had chosen years ago filed for bankruptcy.

Wait.

What.

Excuse me?

After lots and lots of research over the years, I had chosen an agency. And it no longer exists. First and foremost, my heart aches for the families that were in the middle of the process with this agency when they filed for bankruptcy out of the blue. Secondly, there went my plan for adoption. I felt really thrown and my counselor validated these really strong emotions that I didn't even realize I was feeling. I knew I was done with fertility treatments and now I was done with adoption before it even started. With that agency anyway. But, really, overall... I'm not going to research any more agencies. I know how hard it was to find that one I liked. And look how they turned out.

I am not going to parent. I've known for all of 2017. And I've been processing a lot.

And I'm okay. I'm sad. I'm happy. I'm thankful. I'm irritated. And I am okay. Most days.

I still talk about it a lot, at least a comment every day probably. I'm really thankful that my husband continues to listen. Healing from infertility is really hard for me. But I'm doing it. It's not a passive activity. Or maybe if it is, it takes longer. I don't know. I just needed to do what I could about a situation where I could do absolutely nothing.

Lifelong dream of being a mother denied?
Ok, what's next?

*****

It's been so hard. And I'm afraid I'm just rambling.

I think I wanted this post to be about one thing and it ended up being about another. :)

*****

I'm a work in progress.
I'm doing okay.
And I'm so glad I was wrong and that life can get good again.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Sick of the Script

I've had a bit of writer's block for the last month or so. I think it's from exhaustion. I can barely believe how tired I got from that spring semester.

But writer's block is similar to how I'm feeling conversationally with people. I don't know what to say these days. I'm at a loss for words. I don't know how to talk about my life without giving people the impression that I'm interested in their opinions.

Basically I'm sick of the script.

You know what I'm talking about, where the conversation predictably goes from kids to treatments to adoption to foster care. If people actually knew what they were talking about, that'd be one thing. But... It always seems to be the fertile people wanting to engage me in these topics.


Them: Do you have kids?
Me: No.
Them: Oh, why not?
Me: ...

or

Them: Which one is yours?
Me: Oh, I don't have any kids.
Them: Well, you better get on it. You're not getting any younger.
Me: ...

or

Them: So you don't have children?
Me: No.
Them: Wow, what do you do with all of your free time?
Me: ...

or

Them: No kids, huh? Are you gonna try IVF?
Me: ...

Them: Have you thought about adoption?
Me: ...

Them: Well, there are a TON of kids in foster care...


Or any other variation of conversation that inevitably ensues when I'm talking to a parent and they learn I don't have any kids.

My mother is always telling me I need to "educate her" because she doesn't know what it's like and she doesn't know how and when she's being insensitive. To that I told her, "It's exhausting being in the marginalized population and always having the expectation that I will be educating others." Not only that, but I don't actually want to talk about my trauma all the time. Go figure. What may be a simple conversation for others may be an extreme act of labor on my part, one that will stay with me for several days.

So I get stuck. I don't want to talk about my infertility conversationally, but, at the same time, I don't want my reality to be completely ignored. I just wish there was a place for my reality in this world.

No, I don't have kids. No, I can't have kids. No, it's none of your business.
Yes, I know about fertility treatments. No, I'm not going to discuss what I've done or not done.
Yes, I know about adoption. Yes, I know about foster care.
No, I am not going to go into the detailed, time-consuming conversations my husband and I have had where we've discussed everything and came to our conclusions.
I mean, seriously, wtf people??

Do people really think this is an appropriate/comfortable/light conversation topic?

I'm pretty good at coming up with snarky comebacks, but I want to figure out what to say to redirect the conversation politely. For those situations where it's best if I'm not rude (like, in a future work setting). I'm trying to think of things to say ahead of time so I don't get caught off guard in the moment. The approach I'm currently in favor of is to answer a question with a question. Just do anything to make them talk, instead of me.

Some of my ideas:
Why do you ask?
What was your experience (with treatments/adoption/fostering) like?
Are you familiar with the process?

Or maybe I can stick with noncommittal murmurings:
Oh...
Hmmm...
You don't say.
Isn't that interesting.

Anyway, just thinking out loud. Writer's block. Feeling stuck in conversations. Words just haven't come easily for me over the last month or so... Just trying to be prepared for the future.
Please feel free to share any ideas you may have! :)