Sunday, April 15, 2018

Irritations After Infertility

I realized a couple of years ago that I have infertility-induced entitlement. We had just moved into our rental house and there was a problem with the kitchen plumbing that affected the sink and dishwasher. I was still living in a state of high anxiety due to the previous years of traumatic infertility and failed fertility treatments, and I was SO MAD about the plumbing problem. The plumbing *was* a problem and the maintenance guy *was* slow to fix it (and eventually it *was* repaired), but I still think my anger was disproportionate to the problem. My best friend gently pointed that fact out to me and that's when I realized I was subconsciously thinking: I've already lost my children. Everything else for the rest of my life should be easy.

But that's not life. That's not reality. There will always be difficulties and challenges.

So since that realization, I have tried to remain conscious of it. I try to be patient with my problems and patient with myself. With each passing year, my anxiety decreases a bit and that helps overall as well.

But I still notice it. I still notice my infertility-induced entitlement.

You already know this if you've been following along, but my current irritation is school. It is taking everything I have to finish up my coursework with my less-than-understanding, unprofessional professors. A couple of weeks ago I was accused of cheating on a test. I have never been accused of cheating on anything. Additionally, I have never cheated on a test. I'd much rather fail something honestly than cheat. Part of that is fear of being caught, but a bigger part of it is plain old integrity. I may be a lot of things, but I am NOT a cheater.

I got so angry. I was also extremely worried. Cheating is a big accusation, and it could've gotten me kicked out of the program. As I waited to talk to the professor that accused me, I texted my husband freaking out. He is usually a very patient person, but even he is down to his last straw with my program. He reassured me that we would get through whatever happened, that we were still moving forward with our plan. He encouraged me to stay calm and professional and handle the situation. But all I could think was: Seriously?? I've already lost my children and now I may be kicked out of a program that I have spent 3 years and a good chunk of change on. With nothing to show for it all? Again?? I noticed the entitlement I was feeling and took a couple of slow, deep breaths to prepare for meeting with the professor. The good news is it was all a big misunderstanding, she knows I didn't cheat, and nothing became of the situation. After an extremely stressful couple of hours, it was over and done. Gahhh this school...

As if I needed more evidence about the terribleness of this program... Remember my pregnant classmate? Well, I knew her due date was coming up and that she would be having her baby pretty soon. I didn't realize how soon. She came to class last week to take a quiz, a quiz that she would not have been able to make up had she missed it, and get this. She was in early labor!!! What. I ran into her in the bathroom and she was talking to another classmate about it. She said her contractions were about 15 to 20 minutes apart. I jokingly said, "Well, wait to have a contraction before you start the quiz (we only had ten minutes to take the timed quiz on the computer), and then hopefully you will get through it without a contraction." But I added, "In all seriousness, if you need anything, you know you have 39 classmates willing to do whatever you need." She came to school to take a stupid quiz while in early labor. Un-freaking-believable. I don't fault her at all. It's the climate this program creates. She felt she couldn't afford to miss it. Then after the quiz she went straight to the hospital. I'm still in shock over the situation.

The good news is she had the baby without complications, and she and her baby are healthy and doing well. The bad news (for me) is this is all I'm going to be hearing about for the rest of the semester. Every professor begins class asking about the baby and I often overhear classmates talking about it. I know it is good practice as I am re-entering the real world, but it doesn't mean it's easy for me.

The worst was last Wednesday. We were sitting in class about to go over a test we had taken. I assumed the professor was going to use the document camera to project the test questions onto the large presentation screen in the classroom. I looked up and, what was on the screen? Not the test. A picture of my classmate's newborn. Newborn pictures are the hardest for me. One of my best friends from high school had a baby two weeks ago and, while I am very happy for her, looking at pictures of her with her newborn is painful for me. And there I was, in class, just staring at this huge picture of another newborn. I quickly looked down and thought, okay, it's fine, this is normal. People want to see the baby. It won't be up there long. I will continue to keep my eyes on the page in front of me and soon we will go over the test. We began going over the test. I only had my answer sheet in front of me, not the questions, so I looked back up to see the test questions. But there were no test questions being projected, just the same newborn picture staring back at me. I quickly looked back down again. Surely the picture won't be up there for the duration of the class I thought to myself. A few minutes passed, nothing changed, and so I got up to leave the room. I told my friend sitting next to me that he could check my test for me if he wanted to but I wasn't staying. Then I left. I went and sat in the hallway, wondering if I was going to be there the whole class time. After about thirty minutes, a classmate came out of the room to go to the bathroom. I asked if they were done going over the test and she said yes. I asked if the baby picture was still up on the big screen. She seemed confused but said no. So I decided to go back in for the last fifteen minutes of class. I walked in and there were two of my friends going over my test for me, seeing which answers I got correct and which ones I got wrong. They knew why I left, but neither one of them said anything. They just smiled and said, "You only missed three!" Then the professor began lecturing and nothing was said to me about the whole thing. Thank God for my friends.

So yeah, I wish I wasn't still dealing with difficult moments. I've already been through so much. I don't want to go through anything else ever again. But I know that's not how life works. Just because I've endured one traumatic period in my life, that doesn't mean I won't have to deal with other traumatic episodes or even minor irritations.

At least, although I kind of hate saying "at least" but still, at least my surviving infertility gave me coping skills and perspective. When irritations arise I remind myself, "I will get through this." When bad things happen, I tell myself, "This isn't the worst thing in the world." Life goes on.


  1. I read this post a few days ago but didn't have the time to comment. There is so much in this text that I wanted to come back to it in a quiet moment.

    The first thing that really resonated with me was anxiety. Even three years after fertility treatments, I still wake up way too early (like at 4.45 a.m.) because my abdomen is completely tense. That happens quite often, though not everyday. I wonder if it will ever go away. I actually still take pills to be able to sleep on some days. I would love to be able to get rid of them, but as long as I have a schedule where I need to get up and function during the week, I'm not able to. I managed to sleep without them during our vacation last fall though, which gives me hope.

    Yes, unfortunately there are irritations. Life doesn't "make up" for our loss, does it? There are some lovely surprises and gifts along the way, but in general, life is life and sometimes it's hard.

    Being accused of cheating is horrible. I am very sorry it happened and relieved that it seemed to be a misunderstanding.

    I don't get why the image of that baby had to be projected for so long. I really don't. But then I guess that those who haven't been through infertility and loss the way we have won't even guess that this could be hard on anyone. I am glad you walked out. Congratulations! Also, let me say (or write) once again that you can actually be proud of yourself for pushing through that very difficult semester of school. Time is passing and it will be summer soon :-).

    Wishing you a lovely Sunday!

    1. Thank you Elaine! Thank you so much for your comment. I was thinking that maybe I wrote too much or what I wrote was boring or it didn't resonate with anyone. I write to try to connect with others and so that hopefully other women in this situation don't feel so alone. I was afraid that maybe this post should have been more of a personal diary entry, rather than a blog post. But it's nice to know that some stuff there made sense to someone. <3

      Yes! The anxiety!!! I am only realizing how extremely bad it was with each passing semester as it decreases. It is only in retrospect and in comparison that I now understand how anxious I was for years and how it greatly affected everything: my relationships, my ability to get anything done, my sanity... Trying to conceive for years and years and then dealing with fertility treatments and then dealing with fertility treatments that don't work... I don't mean to sound dramatic, but I'm surprised it's all not fatal. The anxiety just makes everything so impossible. My family has never understood or empathized with what I went through, but then they always teased me about how anxious I was too. Well, they teased me when they were being kind. They got mad at me and told me how ridiculous I was when they weren't being kind. Again, it's only in retrospect that I can see all of this now.

      Life will always have its irritations. My awareness of my infertility-induced entitlement has been helpful. It's almost like I can take a deep breath. I mean, I get annoyed, then I realize my entitlement, and then I say to myself "oh yeah, there's that again; it's okay self, you've been through a lot," and then, as I said in the post, I try to be patient with my problems and patient with myself.

      Time *is* passing. Every day is one day closer to my dream! I still have so much work to do. I need to finish up my classes, pack up everything I own, find an apartment, and somehow execute an out-of-state move. It's scary, overwhelming, and exciting, and I am so grateful for this opportunity and for all of my hard work.

      And now I have replied to a comment on my long post with a long comment hahaha. But thank you Elaine. Wishing you a wonderful Sunday as well!! :)