Saturday, May 4, 2013

Infertility doesn't come with a manual

My intentions of putting this blog out there were manyfold.  It is a way to communicate with loved ones to let them know where we are in our journey.  Being such a difficult thing to deal with, it often times is hard and painful to tell the same story a million times.  It also provides a way for us to share where we are, without people feeling like they are being intrusive.  Never in a million years did we think we'd be in this situation and when we first found out that we would probably never conceive on our own, we felt so alone. The majority of our friends and family had no difficulty and it just didn't seem fair.  Why us?  We were a bit blind sided and didn't really feel we had enough information.  If I had the support system such as an online group, I would have felt so much better.  I am hoping (and think I have) to help others in my situation understand that they are not alone...that their thoughts and feeling about what they are going through are completely normal.  Over time I have come across other blogs and online support systems and have been very grateful they exist for that exact reason.  Last I was hoping to provide education to those open minded enough to listen.  Infertility definitely has a stigma attached to it.  Before any of this happened to us, I myself was guilty of inaccurate information and thought processes about infertility.  From my experience many people do not take it seriously.  While important too other diseases get so much more attention.  Just because this isn't life threatening, doesn't make it life changing.  I suppose I am on a "quest" to help others understand why it is such a big deal so maybe one day others in my situation will not feel so isolated.  It's easy to take for granted that you can have kids....until you can't have them.  For myself, it took a lot of guts to put my life and emotions on display so I hope some good will come of this.  

In the year I have been writing, I've gotten numerous thank you's as well as great words of encouragement.  I continue to appreciate these.  Only a few times have I heard negative comments....maybe because most reading this are going through what I am, or because you can relate to loss and heartache, or because most are open minded enough to consider what I have to say.  Recently it has been brought to my attention that few things I have said are offensive.  My intentions of this blog were never to offend anyone, but to be 100% truthful and raw in my emotions so everyone gets the full effect of what happens to someone in our shoes.  Just like I could never understand what it's like to live with cancer or mourn the loss of my spouse, I don't expect anyone to completely understand.  How could you unless you've lived it?  But that being said, I wanted to give my best effort and that sometimes means what I have to say may not always agree with everyone.  That's ok because I know I would never intentionally offend or hurt anyone.  

So you may be asking what I said?  A few times in my blog I make reference that it is so painful to watch some people take their children for granted when all I want is just a chance to be in their shoes.  I'd give my left arm to have the chance to complain that my kids aren't emptying the dishwasher or are getting on my nerves!  EVERYONE takes things for granted, myself included.  For years I've taken for granted that my reproductive system actually worked!  There are days I complain about my job or even Chris but I am still grateful to have them.  I'm also guilty of taking for granted that I lived a pretty good life up until this infertility issue.....I've been to some great places, have a nice home and some pretty awesome friends and family.  But if infertility has taught me one thing, it's to be thankful for EVERYTHING you DO have.  While no one can be thankful for everything 100% of the time, I've been trying my hardest to practice being thankful as often as I for all who have supported us through this journey now is the time I am publicly saying THANK YOU!  While not being able to have the family we desire really sucks, I still have many things others don't.  Despite that our life just feels incomplete.  I think the desire to have your own children for most people is innate and difficult to suppress....I've surely tried.

So when I say that people take their kids for granted at times, I in no may mean to be disrespectful or judgmental.  I'm sure all parents at one point in time has been guilty of this but never did I imply that makes someone "bad" parents or ungrateful for what you have.  While the line is thin, to me there is a difference between being ungrateful for having kids versus taking them for granted at times.  I can guarantee if and when I can have my own children, I will be just as guilty at times.  It's simply human.  I'm sure I'll be wanting to lend my kids out when they act out in the grocery store or to send them to Nana's house when I need a break from all the screaming and yelling kids seem to do.  But I welcome those days with open arms because it means I can be a parent.  My words of people taking their kids for granted are out of pain and jealousy that I can't have the same chance.  As a result some think I "hate" people with kids.  I can say that's absolutely not true.  I can say that it's damn difficult to be around those that do simply because it hurts.  It's nothing I can help, but I am working on feeling more comfortable.  Feeling this way around those that I love the most makes me feel guilty...but I know it's human nature to feel jealous.  

As an analogy:  You're with a friend at the mall who just recovered from a double mastectomy due to breast cancer.  You walk  past a Victoria's Secret store and your friend hears another woman complaining that her boobs are too big to fit into the bra.  If you're friend said to that woman, "just be glad you still have breasts", would you think this comment is out of line?  Probably not.  Then why can't I say "just be glad you have kids" when folks complain about theirs?  Infertility can have such double standard at times.

It also means that people take for granted that they can have kids...that their "parts" aren't broken....that their body does what mother nature intended.  I would suspect that most of you reading this NEVER thought about what you would do and how you would feel if you couldn't have children.  I know I never did.  

The other thing that has been brought to my attention is that no one can say anything to me without offending me.  Sadly at times this may be true!  This is such a crappy thing to struggle through and often times there ISN'T the right thing to say.  That was the exact point I wanted to make....this doesn't come with a manual on how to feel or how to communicate.  I of all  people can appreciate that there sometimes isn't anything "right" or "good" to say.  I want to set the record straight that unless it's outwardly judgmental or disrespectful,  I do appreciate the intent.  Sometimes saying nothing can be equally as painful as hearing the dreaded "just relax" or "it will happen when it happens".  Unless you've lived a day in my shoes I don't expect anyone to "get" why these comments are painful, but just to be a little more mindful what they say..for my sake and for any other people living with infertility you may encounter.  It's hard to explain, but hearing these things only invalidates and trivializes how I feel.  No one would tell a cancer patient to "just relax" or "it'll be OK",  because you know it may very well not be.  I'm not asking for advice or for someone to "fix" us...just someone who listens and acts as a companion.  Sometimes the best thing to say is "You're right...this does suck" or "I'm with you in this journey".  I hope that helps anyone struggling with what to say or what not to say as well as to help clear up any misconceptions about what I meant.    

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