Fragility

For all that we talk about recognising and accepting our limits, and making choices that are best for ourselves – in reality it’s a lot harder to put this into action.

It’s easy to get caught up in expectations, society niceties and family responsibilities. Earlier this year I said (mostly to myself) that I wouldn’t go to gatherings such as family events, where all our niblings’ would be together, and wouldn’t go to friends kids birthday parties etc (self preservation right?!), but would make an exception for niblings’ birthdays…..so when a certain someones 3rd birthday came around, I agreed we’d be there, and despite Mr’s misgivings, convinced him to come too – partly out of duty and partly as moral support for me.

As the day got closer I recognised I was feeling pretty fragile…a bunch of triggers and a whole pile of stress does that to you I guess. But instead of acknowledging my fragility and changing plans accordingly, I stuck to my normal ways – do everything you’ve committed to, don’t let anyone down, and plaster a vague attempt at a smile on your face while faking it til you make it.

In hindsight I should have politely changed my mind about going to the party, and organised to see the birthday child at another time, when I was feeling more up to it and when I wouldn’t have to deal with the family gathering with all the kids together. I got caught up with not wanting to let anyone down, and still wanting to be a great Aunty, that I didn’t think about what worked for me…or even realise that a 3yr old wouldn’t remember if I came to their party or not – and actually children would probably prefer having time with an Aunty where said Aunty can smile and be more playful, than a token gesture.

And of course attending something like this when not in the mood just becomes a vicious cycle…feeling apprehensive, means I’m more socially awkward than normal, so interacting with anyone/everyone feels weird (whether or not anyone else notices that I have no idea) so then I leave the situation feeling weird & like I’ve let everyone down anyway! Sod’s law really, isn’t it? And being fragile going into a situation means that things like seeing cousins playing together hurts my heart more, and a certain child turning 3 is an even bigger reminder of our “what if” that would have been 3 a few weeks ago if they’d become more than just a “what if”…

It can be really difficult navigating all these social events – you never know how you’re going to cope, and you figure you have to start attending/participating in life eventually, so you try things again before you’re quite ready….think I’ll be avoiding these kind of gatherings for a while now (she says as she realises there’s another family birthday party coming up in a month or so, that will probably end up trapping her just the same!)

I hope you’re all finding ways to navigate this situations in a way that works for you – I think it’s a constantly evolving and changing combination of our coping abilities and the events characteristics, which means we might never have a perfected way of coping…but I guess we just have to keep trying don’t we?! xo

Where does Hope hide?

Hope is a funny thing, I don’t think any of us would go through as much fertility treatment as we do, if we didn’t have some glimmer of hope to hold on to. But when you decide to stop fertility treatment where does hope go? As far as I can tell the decision to stop is more complicated than just losing all hope. Being hopeful definitely becomes very difficult.

Often in the early days I scoured the internet for people’s success stories, reading about someone else’s miracle helped me feel hopeful……but as time went by, this hope tended to be replaced with envy. Envious of others success, envious of others BFP, envious of people getting natural BFPs, envious of people who didn’t need as many rounds of IVF, envious of others having more eggs, better eggs, less procedures, less side effects…..

And now that we’ve stopped fertility treatment….envious of those who are still going through treatment, envious of those who shill have hope. 

Over the weekend we were talking with people we know, who are embarking on a trip overseas for a donor egg cycle. They told us their plans, the process, the details, the sightseeing they’re going to fit in too. And through it all shone their hope. It was exciting and hopeful, I felt hopeful. 

And then I remembered…..we’re not sharing this process with them…..it’s not our hope.

That sneaky feeling of hope hadn’t gone anywhere….it was hiding all along…

Now I need to tuck it away again, and figure out how to be hopeful for others without feeling it for ourselves.

PS. Please don’t go suggesting we try donor eggs or any other options – those options aren’t for us.

Definitions

Bit quiet here..buried under assignments. Has meant I have had time or energy to think or feel much which isn’t a bad thing….though today ended up a low after some random thoughts (not helped by barely sleeping last night!).

One of the assignments I’ve been working on recently was about infertility…..we had to hand a draft in & then the tutor gives feedback, we can make changes then hand it in for grading. One of the pieces of feedback was around a choice of word j used and it got me thinking. 

I described infertility as a chronic illness (I was relating to some of the similarities about it and other chronic illnesses, she reckoned it should be described as a chronic condition. But when I looked up the World Health Organisation definition of infertility….it called it a disease!

So then I’ve been trying to figure out what the differences between an illness, a diesease and a condition are…..seems everyone agrees their different, but not how they differ.

I’m no wondering, how do you think of infertility? Is it an illness, a disease or a condition (or something else) to you?

Brains can be silly.

Just the other day I was thinking to myself, maybe this is getting slightly easier….I should have known was would follow, as every time I think that, it seems to get harder to cope again. The day I thought this I then saw online that it was International Bereaved Mother’s Day and my eyes leaked a bit…then I decided to make things worse by having a look at Facebook (I tend to avoid this these days as generally when I log on I see something that annoys/upsets me) and looked at photos some friends had posted of their babies….dumb move really!

Then the other night as I lay in bed hoping to fall asleep, I started mulling things over (again) and wishing I could have done numerous things differently, all those food/drink/supplement choices I should or shouldn’t have had…..the thoughts were all going crazy & I was getting more awake instead of sleepy, until in the end I screamed (silently in my head because my husband was sleeping peacefully next to me) I DID NOTHING WRONG. Of course this didn’t stop the thoughts completely, but it paused them a bit before the voices started quietly arguing again….eventually though I managed to fall asleep….

Except, the next morning I saw an article online about the negative impacts of artificial sweeteners and caffeine….and it read so conclusively (even though I admit I didn’t go off and check the studies/sources cited) that yet again, I was back regretting my consumption of coffee (even though I mostly consumed decade!)…left me thinking that maybe the reason the last cycle failed so spectacularly was because of the coffee I drank in the couple of months beforehand (decafe didn’t seem to have made a difference in all the other cycles, & the specialist had said if having a coffee a day helped manage stress then it was probably better to have it than not…) so I was in a bugger it mood, I’ll drink the coffee….but what if that was what fucked that cycle up? what if it was my fault? I know I’ll never know, but I now just really wish I could have another go…one more cycle, another chance to hopefully have perfect health (i.e. meet all my standards about food, drink, supplements, exercise, weight) this time & hopefully get a better result.

Because I really don’t know how to reconcile all the things I didn’t do, or could have done better with this outcome……

All Those Shoulds

I keep meaning & wanting to post a blog post, but every time I set aside time to write one, I feel like I should be using that time for working on one of the many assignments I have on the go, so then time flies and still no blog post…..so I told myself that tonight I should write one at last…and hoping that I’ll finish it quickly & squeeze some assignment writing in before dinner!

A few days ago it was one of those dates filled with “what if’s” – it was the due date of our first miscarriage, so of course I kept thinking I should have been celebrating someones 3rd birthday. And then I thought to myself, it’s 3 years now, I probably should be getting over it by now, or should stop myself dwelling on it so much. But that is something I find hard…when our miscarriages are the closest things to success we’ve had from going through infertility treatment.

And off and on over the past while, I’ve been thinking about a friend (and friendships in general), the one I mentioned in an earlier post. I haven’t visited her at all since she had her baby, and have barely had any contact with her. I feel like I should have. But then I think, she could contact me, she doesn’t ask how I’m doing (even though she knows our general story), she didn’t pay attention when I said keeping texting & emailing would help us get closer again. I supported her through episodes of depression, and challenges living away over seas etc etc, she should make an effort to support me. And then I think to myself, I should be more compassionate. I should make more of an effort (it’s what I’ve always done). She has a new baby after all, she’ll be busy with all that newborn parenting stuff, she probably doesn’t understand how things are for me, she probably doesn’t know how to be supportive, she probably feels awkward or worried she’ll cause more pain. So if I’m being more compassionate & understanding, then I really should make an effort & reach out to her….

And then I thought some more, & realised maybe I should cut myself some slack. Maybe I just need to accept that for this period of my life, I might not live up to the standards I’ve set myself, maybe it’s ok to not be the perfect friend all the time….’cos really, right at the moment, what I need is friends, and to be my own friend, and honestly, I don’t really know how to be a good friend to myself just now, so maybe I should be figuring that out for starters – when I have any spare energy beyond surviving university.

But then the vicious cycle starts once again, as my brain tells me I should be able to cope and I should be the perfect friend still, because being a good friend has always been a big part of my identity, and I don’t want to lose any more of who I am.

And on and on the Shoulds continue…..what do you tell yourself you should do or be?

What does a Day mean?

In New Zealand Mother’s Day is just a few days away. I’m trying to mute the phrase on various social media platforms in an attempt to reduce the triggers – Radio & TV advertising is more than enough for me to deal with!

When reading various infertility blogs I’ve seen different schools of thought when it comes to this day – some people hate it, attempt to hide from the world and look forward to the day its passed….others like it, using it as a time to celebrate their own mother, not personally feeling the pain of it themselves. Me….I think I’m in the first category at the moment (I think it’s likely that most peoples reactions to the day will be fluid depending on what is happening in their own life at the time).

I’ve also seen suggestions of sending cards to women going through fertility treatment, or those who have experience miscarriage or baby loss to acknowledge the fact that while they might not have a baby to hold in their arms, they have a Mother’s heart, as CarlyMarie phrased it.

But I’ve heard of others who think sending a Mother’s Day card to someone who doesn’t have a child to hold in their arms is hurtful & insensitive.

Sometimes I think I’d like it if a friend or family member thought about the situation enough to send a card acknowledging my situation, but I also fear that if I did get one I’d actually find it too painful…..What are your thoughts? How do you feel about Mother’s Day and the idea of sending cards to someone that isn’t your mum?

Found on the Interwebs…

Uni is kicking my butt at the moment so not much time for blogging. On a positive note it means not enough time for thinking (ie crying), but the flip side is there’s not spare energy or resources for anything other than uni, so I’m basically avoiding any other aspect of life until I’ve got on top of my uni work load.

In the mean time I thought I’d leave these images I found on Pinterest here for your viewing pleasure.

That Crazy Lady.

I’ve always been keen on kids. From a young age, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a mum – a career didn’t really interest me. I was the kid at school who looked after the younger ones. I quickly became the neighbourhood babysitter. And I seemed to have a knack for it – I accidentally stole my friends babysitting job because the kids only wanted me after I covered for her one night!

I’d catch babies & toddlers eyes when standing behind them waiting for the green pedestrian light, or when travelling on a plane together etc. I’d make them laugh, distract them from their discomfort, especially on long haul flights when everyone was tired. I trained and worked as a nanny. As an adult I’d often end up holding people’s baby at parties – I got cuddles which I loved and the parents got a break. I was everyone’s new best friend. I could get babies to sleep when others struggled, I could get them to eat or take a bottle when they were determined not too. I seemed to have the magic touch – I’d smile at a kid & suddenly be their new favourite person, my in-laws even started calling me the “baby whisperer” (though I always asked them not to as I didn’t want them to jinx things for when I had my own kids……I didn’t think it might jinx my actually having babies!)

In the past few years I’ve felt I’ve lost this knack….part of this I put down to not actually showing as much interest as before – a women in her child bearing Years is a prime target for all the “when are you having your own” comments. But mostly I worried I’d used up my magic, and actually I wouldn’t make a good mother. I also found myself looking, possibly not so subtly (or at least it felt very obvious to me) at other people’s children…..tiny new borns in prams, me peering round the edge of the cover trying to get a peak of such tiny beauty that would hopefully soon be mine, looking at cheeky wee toddlers exploring the world, glancing (well possible staring) at babies being carried in front packs…..

I fear I stopped being discrete about my observations, I think the desire to join the club must have been written in neon lights on my forehead…and I fear it left these mothers I didn’t know worrying I was a crazy lady just waiting to pounce on their baby and run off with them. This has spread to me thinking my friends and family who have children fear this too – that given half a chance I’d take their children to be my own, that I wasn’t safe tonhave around their children….

But as much as I felt I’ve lost my mind during this period of TTC, I’ve never wanted their children (even though I love them to bits)….all I’ve wanted is a baby of my own……I’m really not That Crazy Lady.

Guilty as Charged.

I am a Queen of Guilt, I can manage to feel guilty about pretty much anything. Though looking at Brené Brown’s definition of guilt and shame, I think its probably more shame I feel. But rather than explaining the difference, I’ll continue using the word guilt (and you can go read her books and see for yourself if her definitions work for you).

Guilt goes hand in hand with those feelings of failure – bit of a vicious cycle really. It’s easy to feel guilty for not having achieved the desired outcome, but particularly so when there are so many variables at play. My guilt has increased even more so since we finished treatment. I’ve pretty much read all the different things one could/should try in an attempt to improve chances, so there are lots of opportunity for feeling guilty.

The thing is when going through this, there’s this common thought bandied about by people going through it, medical professionals, well meaning others – if you’re going to have to walk away from treatment and having children at some point, then you want to make sure you know you’ve done everything you could have. But for all that we did do, having reached this point – I don’t feel like I did everything I could have. I don’t feel like I did enough.

I feel guilty for having put on weight, for not having done enough exercise, or for having done the wrong exercise (which is probably partly why I put on weight as I was trying to manage the guilt at the time for doing too much or the wrong type of exercise!), for eating the wrong foods, for taking too many or not enough supplements, for not seeing a Chinese herbalist for longer, for not getting that health issue checked out more, for being too stressed, for not feeling grateful enough, for drinking too much coffee, for only drinking decafé coffee (those chemicals you know), for having too much dairy, not enough dairy, for not having enough acupucnture, for letting my hair air dry (a cold head’s bad ya know), for drinking cold drinks, for not drinking enough herbal teas, for eating too many carbs, for not eating enough vegetables, for wearing my Fitbit, for having my phone to close to my body, for eating microwaved foods, for not being grateful enough, for using the wrong skin care products, for getting my hair dyed, for  gardening without gloves, for drinking that wine, for not sleeping properly, for not doing enough therapy after our loses to remove stored emotions, for not detoxing, for not doing the fertility diet beforehand to ensure I was in the best form, for using electric blankets, for having showers too hot……the list goes on. I’ve even started feeling guilty for the things I did when I was younger (working shift work, using paints etc etc).

So for all you go through treatment saying you’d do anything if it meant you got pregnant, the reality is you never know whats going to make the difference – if anything. And me, well I look back on what I did do, and just see all my imperfections. I didn’t follow my healthy eating plan to the letter so maybe that’s why it didn’t work. I didn’t give up coffee, alcohol, carbs, sugar or processed foods 100% so maybe that was the issue. If only I’d been able to be healthy properly, maybe it’d have made a difference. Because we all want to know why right? If we had a reason for why we didn’t get our baby, then maybe it’d all make sense. Instead, I just feel guilty for all the things I didn’t do, which leaves me feeling, that all this was my fault.

 

Hello….

from the other side (of the computer).

Sorry 😂 having gone to Adele’s concert over the weekend I’ve been using Adele quotes all weekend long!

I just wanted to say hi to all of you who have read, liked & commented on my blog. It really means a lot. Infertility can be a pretty isolating experience, so I was a bit worried about how it would be if my blog was just talking into a void…..thankfully, you’ve ensured I haven’t!

Also, if there is any topic you’d like me to write about, or any questions you’d like answered, please ask 😊

And yes, Adele was every bit amazing as I was expecting, and then some! We had fab seats, the weather was perfect & we had no probs getting to it from the concert. Adele has a wonderful voice, a beautiful smile and a great sense of humour – the songs were as good or better than her CDs which doesn’t often happen, and her chats in between were so friendly….I wish she was one of my friends! Her songs made many ppl cry anyway, but I was pretty fragile on the day, and then when she introduced one of my favourite songs of hers, she said it was about her son. So hard to have the best experience overlaid with my daily pain, but I guess this is my new reality 😢


PS if any of my blog posts resonate with you & you’d like to share them with others, please go ahead. If you know me outside of this blog, all I ask is please don’t share my identity 😘