I was recently browsing the internet and came across someone else's blog about their struggles with infertility and thought I'd share bits and pieces. It's a letter someone else has written to their friends and family. It about sums it up for me.
Dear Family and Friends,
I want to share my feelings about infertility with you, because I want you to understand my struggle. I know that understanding infertility is difficult; there are times when it seems even I don't understand. This struggle has provoked intense and unfamiliar feelings in me and I fear that my reactions to these feelings might be misunderstood. I hope my ability to cope and your ability to understand will improve as I share my feelings with you. I want you to understand.
You may describe me this way: obsessed, moody, helpless, depressed, envious, too serious, obnoxious, aggressive, antagonistic, and cynical. These aren't very admirable traits; no wonder your understanding of my infertility is difficult. I prefer to describe me this way: confused, rushed and impatient, afraid, isolated and alone, guilty and ashamed, angry, sad and hopeless, and unsettled.
My infertility makes me feel confused. I always assumed I was fertile. I've spent years avoiding pregnancy and now it seems ironic that I can't conceive. I was hoping this was going to be a brief difficulty with a simple solution such as poor timing.
My infertility makes me feel rushed and impatient. I learned of my infertility only after I'd been trying to become pregnant for some time. My life-plan suddenly is behind schedule. I waited to become a parent and now I must wait again. I wait for medical appointments, wait for tests, wait for treatments, wait for other treatments, wait for my period not to come, and wait for pregnancy. At best, I have only twelve opportunities each year. How old will I be when I finish having my family?
My infertility makes me feel afraid. Infertility is full of unknowns, and I'm frightened because I need some definite answers. How long will this last? What if I'm never a parent? What humiliation must I endure? What pain must I suffer? Why do drugs I take to help me, make me feel worse? Why can't my body do the things that my mind wants it to do? Why do I hurt so much? I'm afraid of my feelings, afraid of my undependable body and afraid of my future.
My infertility makes me feel isolated and alone. Reminders of babies are everywhere. I must be the only one enduring this invisible curse. I stay away from others, because everything makes me hurt. No one knows how horrible my pain is. Even though I'm usually a clear thinker, I find myself being lured by superstitions and promises. I think I'm losing perspective. I feel so alone and I wonder if I'll survive this.
My infertility makes me feel guilty and ashamed. Frequently I forget that infertility is a medical problem and should be treated as one. Often others forget this too. Infertility destroys my self esteem and I feel like a failure. Why am I being punished? What did I do to deserve this? Am I not worthy of a baby? Is this the end of my family lineage? Will my family be ashamed of me? It is easy to lose self-confidence and to feel ashamed.
My infertility makes me feel angry. Everything makes me angry, and I know much of my anger is misdirected. I'm angry at my body because it has betrayed me even though I've always taken care of it. I'm angry at my partner because we can't seem to feel the same about infertility at the same time. I want and need an advocate to help me. I'm angry at my medical caregivers, because it seems that they control my future. They humiliate me, inflict pain on me, pry into my privacy, patronize me, and sometimes forget who I am. How can I impress on them how important parenting is to me? I'm angry at my expenses; infertility treatment is extremely expensive. My financial resources may determine my family size. My insurance company isn't cooperative, and I must make so many sacrifices to pay the medical bills. I can't miss any more work, or I'll lose my job. Although I may joke about infertility to help myself cope, it doesn't seem as funny when others joke about it. Please don't tease me with remarks like, "You don't seem to know how to do it." Don't trivialize my struggle by saying, "I'd be glad to give you one of my kids."It's no comfort to hear empty reassurances like, "You'll be a parent by this time next year." Don't minimize my feelings with, "You shouldn't be so unhappy." For now, don't push me into uncomfortable situations like baby showers or family reunions. I already feel sad and guilty; please don't also make me feel guilty for disappointing you. Finally, I'm angry at everyone else. Everyone has opinions about my inability to become a parent. Everyone has easy solutions. Everyone seems to know too little and say too much.
I feel hopeless; infertility robs me of my energy. I've never cried so much nor so easily. I'm sad that my infertility places my marriage under so much strain. I'm sad that my infertility requires me to be so self-centered. I'm sad that I've ignored many friendships because this struggle hurts so much and demands so much energy. Friends with children prefer the company of other families with children. I'm surrounded by babies, pregnant women, playgrounds, baby showers, birth stories, kids' movies, birthday parties and much more. I feel so sad and hopeless. My infertility makes me feel unsettled. My life is on hold. Making decisions about my immediate and my long-term future seems impossible.The more I struggle with my infertility, the less control I have. This struggle has no timetable; the treatments have no guarantees. It feels unsettling to have no clear, easy answers or guarantees.
Eventually I will be beyond the struggle of infertility. I know my infertility will never completely go away because it will change my life. I won't be able to return to the person I was before infertility, but I also will no longer be controlled by this struggle. I will leave the struggle behind me, and from that I will have improved my skills for empathy, patience, resilience, forgiveness, decision-making and self-assessment. I feel grateful that you are trying to ease my journey through this infertility struggle by giving me your understanding.