Posts Tagged ‘infertility and friends’

Hurdle No 2 – Fit to be egg recipients

March 4, 2011

Actually this really could be named “The hurdle that wasn’t”.  DH and I drove for 40mins to our fertility doctor’s most local offices for a 10 minute “interview”.  We were really nervous beforehand, expecting a barrage of questions about why we’d waited so long since our failed IVF attempts to start the Egg donation procedure.   I had some good answers worked out, none of which were, “Are you kidding?  It’s taken me years to wrestle with the reality of my incompetent body and broken heart!”

In fact we were hardly asked any questions at all. It seems my Sister and her husband had done such a marvelous job in convincing the doctor that she was ready, we were ready and the whole experience was an expression of uncomplicated sister-love, that all he could do was smile and hand us the bill.  He gave us a little talk about his history in the job, saying that about 10 years ago he’d almost packed it in because positive results (i.e. live births) were so few that he wondered if he’d dedicated his life to devastation rather than creation.  But that luckily the situation had improved to a point where he felt justified in continuing his work.  Which is good to know.

So now we’re on our way to hurdle no. 3 – our big IVF appointment day.  A collection of interviews with the counsellor, the nurse, the accounts department and the clinic, (where I will again subject my body to that most delightful of scans involving the dildo-cam).   I’m actually a little worried about that one, not the scan itself but the results.  These scans are to check my uterine lining.  They are meant to be done between day 3 and day 10 of my cycle.  Normally I could try and work that out but last year my cycle began shortening and this year…well I’m now on day 51.  I’m winding down like a rusty, old bicycle.

We had a couple of  friends over to dinner last weekend and I let them know that we were going to do another cycle, though we’re keeping the “donor egg” part of that close to our chests for the time being.  One friend wished us luck and then let the words of that old chestnut rattle out, “I don’t want to get your hopes up but I have heard of people who’ve gone through IVF and then, low and behold,  fallen pregnant naturally!”

I wonder what age I’ve got to be and how many years we’ve got to deal with infertility, before people stop burdening us with that particular fancy.  I fancy that I’ll try an experiment.  I’ll wait another few years…perhaps until I’m 48 years old and then tell people cheerfully that we’re having one last run at an IVF baby.   I bet at least one of them will say, “We’ll you never know,  you might conceive naturally…”

The Great Divide

July 13, 2010

I’ve got a little distance between the circumstances I’ll describe and my own distress, enough I hope, to have some perspective and not get myself worked up while writing it down.  Here goes.

I have a couple of crafty hobbies, one of which is knitting. Sometimes I wish my crafty hobbies included things like mountain climbing and metal work, because people don’t tend to want to include children in those activities, and I’m assuming that one is probably concentrating too much on the activity at hand to want to talk much about the parenting experience.  But I know that since knitting is a traditionally “female” interest,  it is going to attract many more women than men and most of those women are going to have children and because children are a part of their daily lives they are going to talk about them.

I know that if I choose to enter a group of women who knit, ( or any group of women or parents, for that matter)  it is likely that there will be a fair amount of talk about parenting, children plus the  sharing of  kids photos and toddler knitting patterns etc.   I have several strategies for dealing with this.  Such as limiting the time I spend  at meet ups – I rarely attend a whole day event.  When baby patterns or photos get shown around, I smile and pass these on quickly and return to my knitting.  I politely  move away from conversations that are mainly focused on children or babies.   If all else fails, and I find myself tearing up – I leave.   I hope that those people who know of me and my situation will be sensitive to my feelings. By this I mean that I hope they will understand why I employ such strategies.  I hope that they won’t take it personally if I absent myself from a conversation about parenting or give only a  glance to the  new baby jumper they are knitting.   I might smile and comment on the softness of the yarn, but probably will not comment on how adorable the jumper will look.  I might nod my head as they describe the difficulties of pregnancy, but I will shortly thereafter fetch a cup of tea.  I will be polite, though I know that sometimes I will not give the “normal” enthusiastic response to such items  and conversations  that women tend to expect from each other.  I offer this observation as a background to the following anecdote.

A year or two ago, a small knitting group started up in my area.  Until recently there was no set place or meet-up time, someone would volunteer their house or suggest a meeting point every month or so.  We didn’t know each other particularly well.  The usual questions arose at those first meetings: “What do you do?” “Where do you live?”, “Do you have children?”.  To the last question I answered, as I usually do, “Sadly, no”.  This was met with the usual responses: “Oh, Sorry”, “You can have one of mine” and “Have you tried [insert any number of already tried medical and herbal remedies here]”.  The usual.   After getting acquainted with our various fertile/infertile status, we all got on pretty well.  After about a year those who had volunteered their houses on a weekend were unable to do so anymore and we began to meet in coffee shops.  We chose one that boarded a children’s playground so that those with children could come.   The group shifted in membership and a couple of new people joined and I became reasonably good friends with one of the women.

One of the new members, ( “M”),   had a toddler conceived using IVF.  She was preparing for a second round of  IVF.   We had a couple of chats about the difficulties of infertility.  Within a short time of knowing her she became pregnant with twins.  We congratulated her and, unbeknown to me, my friend  in the group (who is currently a year into TTC herself)  asked her not to talk “too much” about her pregnancy because she thought that it might upset me.   To be fair, M is one of those women who do talk a lot about children and pregnancy and her own experiences in a very negative way, without letting others speak of their own experiences – but I;m not suggesting this has anything to do with the fact that she is a Mother, it’s  more to do with the type of person she is – she needs to be the centre of attention.

Sadly, a month into her pregnancy  she miscarried.  We all met up for an excursion to a yarn store and I told her that I was sorry to hear her news.  We talked for a while about the experience.  I can’t remember what I said, exactly.  I may not have been particularly helpful, but I’m very sure that I wasn’t cruel either.   During the course of the day I became a bit dissociated and teary for a personal reason totally unrelated to infertility.   In my dissociated state I had alluded to my friend’s efforts to conceive, though she had told me she was not ready to tell the group yet.  It was a small slip – a comment about vitamins and I’m not sure anyone else really noticed but I felt ashamed of myself.   I  apologised  to my friend and walked away to collect myself.  I’m sure my eyes were red on my return, but we all trouped off to have lunch together and chatted happily.

I returned home to find that M had written “Sorry, if I offended anyone today”, on a public forum on which we all communicate.  I sent her a private message and asked if she was referring to me.  I assured her that she hadn’t upset me and that I was upset for personal reasons.  I wrote that I was genuinely sorry to hear the news of her miscarriage and that I hoped she would be Ok.  Her reply indicated that she did not accept my explanation.  She stated that she knew I had a lot of problems, but that everyone had problems and she then went on to list a number of her own.  I replied again,  repeating the statement that I was sorry for her loss and adding that I knew it was important to talk about the miscarriage and that I hadn’t been upset by this.

A couple of months later my friend in the group offered her place for a Sunday meet up. A few people replied in the affirmative.   M said that she couldn’t come because her husband couldn’t babysit but suggested that we rearrange the meeting and come to her place instead so that her little one could run around.   My friend wrote that she’d prefer a child-free meet up if possible and repeated the offer to meet at her house on a regular basis. M replied “count me out, then”.

We met as we had arranged, at my friend’s house.  I came late, as I usually do when I think that I can probably only manage a couple of hours of women talk.  After the meeting my friend told me that before I’d arrived they’d been discussing what M had written online in another group forum.  At that time, I said that I knew M had a problem with me, but that I didn’t have a problem with her. She was just a pretty critical and negative person who I would probably never end up good friends with, but she didn’t affect me that much.  I said that after 8 years I was pretty thick skinned about the infertility thing, which is to say it still hurts like hell, but I’ve accepted that people cannot really understand it unless they’ve been through it, and that  it is ignorance which is at the heart of most hurtful comments.

When I got home I, quite stupidly, checked out the discussion M had started online.  I thought I’d find a few complaints about how difficult it was to deal with someone who was infertile, or about how it wasn’t fair that we didn’t change the meeting to her house.    What I found was exaggeration and lies.   She claimed she’d been told never to speak of her child for fear of upsetting me. As in, never ever mention the word child.  She also claimed that when she’d told us of her miscarriage that I’d smiled at her and said “Now you know how I feel, great, isn’t it?”    When someone questioned her about this, she said that she knew she hadn’t misheard the words or tone because I’d been told off by the group.  None of this is true.  I checked to make sure that nothing I said could have been interpreted this way.  I was reassured that whatever I’d said had been said in a sympathetic tone and that M seemed to have forgotten that we’d continued to talk with her at length about the pain of her miscarriage.   The online discussion continued for 10 pages, during which I was called an “infertile bitch”  and referred to as someone who “hates children”.  M stated that I should “just deal” with the infertility and “get help”.

I know this woman is slightly unhinged, and seems to have projected upon me views and values that I just don’t  have. She has taken my own personal pain as a comment on her somehow.   It’s not her personally that has hurt me so much.  But to be called an “infertile bitch” after 8 years of dealing with other’s pregnancies, children, invasive and rude questions and assumptions.  It’s been almost too much.

So many questions have arisen for me from this episode.

“Why is it that my infertility hurts others so much?”

“Why must there be this great divide between Mother’s and those who are childless?”

“Can’t we accept that both Infertility and parenting may be  difficult and heart wrenching for an individual?”

“Why must this be a competition in pain?”

“Why is the onus usually on the infertile couple to make the parents feel OK?” – for such is my experience.  In other areas of life, if someone has lost something precious, others don’t expect them to cater for the needs of the person who has what they have lost.   I know that’s a tricky one, but that’s the way it feels.

Keep on keeping on

August 13, 2008

Last weekend we had a family event.  My Mother’s birthday.  It was a pretty normal family event.  We met my Sister’s new boyfriend, who was lovely if a little nervous.  He’s a quiet, calm guy and I’m not sure what he made of our noisy clan. 

My brother and SIL were there too.  She’s due to give birth to their third child in about 5 weeks.  She looks depressed.  She will then have 3 children under 4years.  And for the next 6 months they are still going to be living in their 2 bedroom town house in the city.  I do understand how hard it is for her, and how life is not working out exactly as she planned either.  I do understand this, and yet….it feels unfair.  They get 3 kids and we get none.  And to top it off my relationship with my brother and his wife has disintegrated because it all just hurts too much – for us and for them, I suspect.

Still, to everyone’s credit, we had a day without tears.  We all had a lovely lunch together and I played “Let’s hide from the tigers in the garden” with their eldest, who is about three and a half and very, very cute. 

I don’t even know if they know our latest news…they may still think we are on the IVF trail.  They didn’t ask me how I was, although aparently my brother gave hubby a meaningful look when he said  “and how ARE you going?” to him.  To which I think hubby replied with the standard Aussie male response…”Oh, y’know”…But of course they don’t know, and how could they.

I’m feeling very sad today.  Actually, probably depressed, or more accurately , I’m feeling grief.  I’ve tried to finish off my latest assignment for my course and I just can’t think anymore!  I think it will have to do as it is.  Guess what it’s about?  That’s right, the only thing that’s been in my head lately has been IVF/donor eggs and infertility/fertility issues.  So that’s what my little scenes are about – 2 women. One who is the mother and the other who is the friend and egg donor.   One wants to tell the child about it’s heritage and the other doesn’t.  Drama, drama, drama.  Unfortunately it could be all too real a situation for me one day.

My creative juices are just not flowing.  I am struggling with this.  My Father is in hospital at the moment.  They removed a cancer yesterday.  He lost a lot of blood and had to have a transfusion but seems to be doing well now  He’s not in too much pain but then he’s been pressing that morphine button a lot!   So I had a chat to Mum today and will probably see Dad tomorrow sometime. We ended up chatting about my childlessness.  Mum’s pretty damn good with this now… but it’s one issue where talking about it sometimes makes me feel worse, not better.   I don’t even know if time will heal this one.  But perhaps writing this blog about it will help.

Trying it on for size….

August 3, 2008

Over the weekend I’ve been at the writing  course I mentioned in an earlier post.  It was fantastic and very scary.  I am amongst people who are already working in the industry. The tutors are honest but encouraging.  The students are confident and helpful.  It’s a wonderful learning environment.  

BUT…..

Apart from my own neuroses that I’m trying to deal with, there has been quite a lot of conversation about children, sparked by the fact that one of the student’s wives just had a baby – He missed a couple of classes because of it.  So there’s been much congratulaions and many questions about names and the birth etc.  I’ve asked a few polite questions but mostly I subtly, (I hope), remove myself from more involved conversations.

ANYWAY…Because I am 39 and therefore old enough to have children, I’ve been asked quite a few times if I do have children.  The other night, one lovely guy told me that he was thinking about having children with his wife as it was about time since he was now 39.   He paused for a second and said “Do you have kids?”

For the first time ever I replied  “No, I can’t have children”.

It felt like a break through. 

In the past I’ve responded with  “I’ve been trying for 6 years” or “We’re actually just in the middle of IVF” or “I’d love to but it hasn’t worked out yet, but we’re still trying”…or variations on the above.  This has elicited lots of unwanted advice and more intrusive questions.

“No, I can’t have children”.  Those words elicited a silence, a frown, an “Oh, I’m sorry” and a sympathetic smile.  At this stage that’s what I want.  I replied wth “That’s life”.  And on that thought we both connected.  LIfe brings unwanted challenges sometimes – surely everyone can agree on that.