Thursday, November 9, 2017

Advice Column Gets It Wrong

Here's an advice column question and answer, if you're into that sort of thing.

Childless Couple Vows to End Friendship over Kids


There's so much to unpack here.

First of all, NO. There is no comparison between losing parents that lived full lives (and with whom you have memories) and losing children with whom you didn't get to share life. I've already explained that here.

I can agree that "a mature adult learns to process sadness and tolerate discomfort, and not punish others for it." BUT... Processing not only sadness, but devastation and traumatic loss, is a pretty big deal. It takes time. I don't think it's wrong to give some people a couple of years to do this. I mean, that's a pretty tall order, am I right? Plus, people that are in the situation like this/mine (living life without children after surviving infertility) are not punishing others; we are simply taking care of ourselves in a world that, not only does not take care of us, but that also absolutely does not understand, nor have any iota of compassion, understanding, or space for us.

We are just living our lives like anyone else, thank you very much.


So I drafted a response letter in my mind.


Dear "Friends Until Kids,"

I'm sorry your friends are draining you. What you may not understand is that they've been through this before. Things change after you have kids. And that's okay. Understandable even. You're right that choosing not to adopt or not go through IVF is their choice. It's one that spares them any further trauma.

I'm here to say: your friendship with them may indeed be limited. They have probably been down this road before. They know how it goes and they are just giving you a heads up, even if the warning is early in its time. You'll learn soon enough--that your time will be made up of (insert your child's name here). Your friends? They already know.

It's complicated. Your friends can volunteer; they can be mentors or teachers; they can be an awesome aunt and uncle. But there are appropriate and necessary boundaries for those roles. There is no substitute for that parent-child bond.

It's okay. That's just how it is. But for people who wanted what you're getting, well, they're just probably giving you space at this time. Space to enjoy what you have. For you to enjoy your life. While they enjoy theirs. So, it's nothing negative. Not from you, not from them. They just know how it goes. With Love~

Sincerely,
One Who Knows

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pregnant Classmate

I reeeally don't like being around pregnant women. I avoid it at all costs. I don't see friends and I don't see family members when they are pregnant, and I don't feel bad about it at all. I know my lack of enthusiasm for their pregnancy in no way diminishes their happiness and excitement.

I never got to be pregnant. I never got to have children. I never got to be a mom. I have nothing to contribute to anyone's pregnancy. And I prefer not hearing a single detail about their experience.

One of my classmates is pregnant. Good for her, that's great news for her. But now I have to be around a pregnant woman throughout the duration of her pregnancy. I am not happy about it.

Apparently all of my school friends knew, but no one wanted to tell me. That kind of makes me feel stupid. And embarrassed. Oh well, I am almost out of here and then I can move on to the second half of my life.

I know it's unrealistic to expect to avoid every pregnancy. Almost every time I go out into the world I see a woman who is pregnant. It doesn't make me sad anymore. I am moving on with my life. It helps that it's a stranger and I am not expected to engage in conversation with her.

But with my classmate it is unavoidable. This sucks.

I've already heard about her morning sickness, her sleepless nights, and her food cravings. Oh and her husband felt the baby kick last night.

Plus, I am surrounded by girls in their early 20s so of course they all think it's the greatest and cutest thing ever. I've heard talk of throwing her a baby shower. It's this woman's third child. If my classmates do throw her a shower, I will not be attending.

I think my best bet to get through the next 5 months is to just avoid her as much as possible. This is almost impossible, but I can do my best. Already this morning she and I were partnered to work together. She's a nice person and I am happy for her and I know I need to be able to deal with this, but I was hoping I could have another year before being forced to be around someone's pregnancy.

I know once I re-enter the workforce, other people's pregnancies will not be avoidable. Both co-workers and clients will be pregnant. So I guess this is good practice. Still sucks though.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This Year

What a difference this year has made.

Not A year, but THIS year.

Last year I wrote about Halloween being the hardest day of the year for me.

This year I feel very differently. I just reread last year's post and it definitely brought all of those feelings back, but that's not what I was feeling today. I just stayed busy with school and did what I had to do.

This year is so different. For a little over a year now I've been plodding along in school, working my way through the coursework. I've pretty much hated it (school, not the profession and information), but I can see the end now.

I can hear everyone trick-or-treating outside right now and I'm glad.
Halloween is so awesome, especially when you're a kid.

Maybe I'll always be sad about not getting to have and raise my children, but I can also simultaneously be excited about the new future my husband and I have planned for ourselves. 🔮

Saturday, October 21, 2017

What Happened to My Friends Without Kids?

Okay, honestly, that is a rhetorical question, one I will answer at the end of this post. But I cannot count the number of times I asked myself this question while I was deep into the hardest years of my infertility. Sure, my friends with babies and kids had all moved on in their lives. While it hurt that they no longer made time for or seemed to remember me, it somewhat made sense.
But what happened to my friends without kids?

I am writing this post in case it helps anyone else that may be facing this issue.

In particular, I had two extremely close friends without kids: two women that I had been friends with for over ten years. One was married but didn't want kids. The other was single and not trying for kids. They both knew, from the time we had met, that having children was my lifelong dream.

During my darkest years, they were nowhere to be found.
I felt so lonely and, honestly, sorry for myself.

So, what happened? Why?

I kept asking myself these questions over and over. In retrospect, it's easy to think, well why didn't I ask THEM? But you all know, when you are deep in the throes of grief and trauma, you are not exactly in the best place to

  1.  think clearly
  2.  advocate for yourself
  3.  confront issues
  4.  have difficult conversations.
So, over time, I have become more compassionate with myself. Instead of questioning myself and thinking "I could have done this, I could have done that," I remind myself that I did the best I could at the time.

But damn it sucked to lose my closest friendships at the same time my lifelong dream of parenting was slipping away...

Now that I have a couple of years between those dark times and now, I have a better idea of what happened. I don't know if they are correct or not, but I came up with a few theories:
  1. As women who had never unsuccessfully tried to get pregnant, they could not relate to my pain at all. Maybe they thought I was whiny? Or depressed without reason? Selfish for wanting kids in the first place? Maybe they honestly could not understand why I just "couldn't get over it?"

  2. It is possible that jealousy played a factor. Maybe my single friend thought I should just appreciate what I did have- a loving marriage, and maybe my married friend thought the same- that I should just appreciate that I had a stable roof over my head.

  3. Maybe it had nothing to do with infertility at all. Maybe both friendships had run their course and our lives were moving in different directions anyway. (Still sucks though, that two of my closest, longtime friends weren't/couldn't be there for me during the worst time of my life.)
But what I really and truly think was at the root of it all was that I had changed. Dramatically. A person cannot go through that level of loss and trauma without changing. I was no longer the woman that they had known. Instead of giving all of my energy to them (which I did, which was not their fault, those were choices that I had made), I had to reserve most of it for myself. Instead of driving to where they lived (thirty minutes for one, over an hour for the other), I stopped. I hoped they would come see me, but neither one of them ever did. Overall, I had completely changed the patterns in our friendship, so of course the relationships didn't work anymore. I thought the friendships were strong enough to survive these changes, but, unfortunately, they were not. 

I wasn't the same person anymore and that, apparently, changed everything.

I have often hinted on this blog that infertility taught me the boundaries I desperately needed in my life. For that, I am grateful. But, at times, it was almost too much loss at once for me to handle.

I continue to deal with loneliness on a regular basis, but blogging and "meeting" all of you has really helped. I try to socialize once a week. That is not always possible, but going back to school has helped. (Although I enjoy my classmates in their early 20s, I also really miss my peer group.) I am eating regularly, sleeping well, and exercising several times a week.  In other words, I am doing the best I can. I have never really been good at letting old friendships go, but I am dealing with it. I miss them and I wish them well.

And that is what happened between me and my friends without kids.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tired, Take Two (a.k.a. Something Good Coming)

I was so tired yesterday that I forgot to tie in a couple of other points.

I am tired of hatred.
I am tired of racism.
I am tired of misogyny.
I am tired of gun violence.
I am tired of divisiveness.

I am tired of infertility.
I am tired of the lack of empathy.
I am tired of the loneliness it brings.
I am tired of the the Martyr Mommy trope.

I am tired of getting treated like crap in my school program.
I am tired of my husband getting treated like crap at his job.
I am tired of where we live.
I am tired of what we are doing.

We are too old for this.
We have worked too hard.
(Those last two sentences might sound entitled because there are plenty of people dealing with lots of unrelenting crap that they do not deserve. I have written a lot about what I am thankful for, but this is a post about what I am tired of.)

I am so tired.

And then, on top of everything else, Tom Petty died. He was/is my most favorite musician of all time. I have all of his albums and I listen to him on a weekly basis. I was crushed by his sudden, unexpected death on an already tragic day.

But he gave us a lot of awesome music before he left us. And his lyrics always made me feel understood. Tom Petty has given me so much comfort throughout my life. His music got me through adolescence. His music got me through infertility. My husband and I even danced to one of his songs for our first dance at our wedding. (That was also our last dance, as neither one of us are dancers hahaha.) Tom Petty has been the soundtrack to my life.

So even though I am tired, I will push on. There are lots of good people in this world and we can't let the negative news cycle infiltrate our brains any more than it already has.

Please allow me to share with you my most favorite Tom Petty song. I hope you have a very happy and/or relaxing and/or content Sweet Sunday (←that's a reference to the board game Payday if you ever played that as a kid...). I truly believe there is Something Good Coming.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tired

Wow. These past two weeks have been so busy. "Tired" is such a boring title for a post, but that is how I am honestly feeling. And this is the longest I've gone between writing posts since I started this blog a year ago. Usually, I try to post at least once a week.

The first week of October I spent almost 50 (unpaid) hours in a hospital doing one of my clinical rotations. That was interesting, informative, and exhausting.

The second week of October was full of exams (with more to come this week). I don't want to discourage anyone from going back to school, but this is all certainly easier when you're younger!

I have missed being an active part of this community, but I have almost caught up on reading everyone's posts. :)

Yes, the need for my blog is still here. I am reminded almost every day. So I will keep writing.

My week at the hospital gave me a taste of the working world again. Last time I was employed was before infertility, so the next time I am employed it will be my first job after infertility. One day, I came home pretty frustrated and told my husband that I wished I could work somewhere with all men. Knowing how important girlfriends and conversation and connection are to me, he was surprised and asked, "Why?" And I said, "Because most men don't talk about their children all the damn time!!"

There was one day when a group of employees were gathered around one woman's desk watching a video and laughing. Turns out it was a video of her little one. I had already noticed this woman's desk included a copy of her Happy Mother's Day card that she sent out to her friends and family full of pictures of her pregnant and with her baby, so my guess was she was the biggest Mommy of them all. And, overhearing her talk all week just proved my point.

(Side note: I've heard of sending holiday cards and Valentine's cards en masse to loved ones. I have never in my life heard of someone sending out Happy Mother's Day cards like that.)

So, anyway, I guess this video showed her kid doing something cute/funny/adorable because everyone was laughing. And then she said (in good nature I think, it seems like most everyone got along, but what she said still annoyed the crap out of me), "All of you people without children don't know what it's like! Just you wait!!" Good thing no one was paying attention to me because I just rolled my eyes.

But I know I will have to sometimes stomach comments like these when I return to the workforce. And I am not looking forward to it. Even though every year I make great strides in my recovery, I still anticipate that I will always miss my children.

So I may always have this blog. It seems there will always be something that stings. And even if I get to a point where stuff doesn't sting anymore, I know there are others out there reading our blogs and what we are all writing is helping them. I want to live a life of service, so if this is how I can help others then I will keep writing.

Missed you all! Hope you are well!! 💜


Sunday, October 1, 2017

My 1st Blogoversary

Wow. A year already?

I can barely believe I started a blog, much less that I started a blog one year ago.

First of all, to anyone reading, THANK YOU. 
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for commenting.
Thank you for being in community with me and others living life without children after infertility.

Like Klara at The Next 15000 Days told me it would be, writing has been very therapeutic.
Plus, it gives both my husband and my best friend a little break from listening to me process infertility. I mean, they're awesome people and they've never complained, but still... 
I'd like to keep the two of them in my life and not drive them away! :)

This is not an easy life to live. I still think of my children every single day. I know what their names would have been and I know how old they would be. I don't socialize with any of my former longtime friends. Our lives have gone in completely different directions. And although we are close and I get along with them, I still have not received much empathy or understanding from my family over what I have lost. Again, it is not an easy life to live.

It can be lonely, sad, and frustrating. But I am working hard to create a life I will enjoy. This time next year I will be finishing up my school program while living and working in another state. 

I did not think it was possible to live a happy life after infertility, but it is. It is, it is, it is! Even if you don't believe me right now, it is entirely possible to enjoy life again. I promise you that miracles do happen.

My husband and I are playing the long game. We could have just up and moved several years ago, but we're trying to be strategic about it. Life is expensive and I wanted to get a new career, one that I enjoyed and one that hopefully pays just a little bit better. However, I am getting really tired of our pragmatic approach. I am anxious to move NOW. But I am proud of us for going the delayed gratification route. We are going to be in a much better place when we move next year compared to what it would have been like if we had moved several years ago.

So in the meantime, I went back to school, got slammed with homework, and decided to start a blog amidst all my millions of deadlines. I am so glad I did.

And this morning I was skimming some of my old posts and found some things I had written that I had forgotten about... Oh, the ups and downs of infertility...

So, I'm not going away. My infertility isn't going away. And there's only more people joining us in this childless/free-not-by-choice circumstance, so I think we should all just keep showing up for each other. And one day we are going to get together and have a massive party!!!

Until then, here are a few of my favorite posts from my first year of blogging. Enjoy! 💜