Tuesday 15 April 2014

Finding Meaning Questions - take 2

A bit over a year ago, when we had received the male factor infertility diagnosis, but not yet the female factor one, before the intake meeting at the Fertility Clinic, before a lot of stuff, I did a little "interview" with myself. I'd found some questions about infertility on an article, and I decided to answer them, with the intention of coming back to them with some "experience" and seeing how/if my perspective changed.

I've been thinking for a while it was time to revisit them, but it's been really hard to generate abstract thought since January. Insights about our experiences pass through my mind, but they are mostly drowned out by ever-present questions about my vaginal discharge, the twinges in my abdomen and Ember's current state of health/being. Also, I find that when I am living through something I have never lived through before, achieving mental distance from it is not easy. But analyzing and synthesizing is something I do, and I've been feeling lately that as I evolve into some kind of new, hopefully not utterly dysfunctional identity, it's something I have to try to do again.

And, well, I think I've experienced enough new things to revisit these questions. I've italicized the original replies, and write the new ones underneath. I'll split these posts up a bit, I think, otherwise it will get way too long.

Installment 1: Creating Awareness

Installment 2: Practicing Acceptance.

Installment 3: Be Curious

Step 1: Creating Awareness 

1.                  What is your biggest fear regarding your fertility?

Here they are in approximate order of scariness to me (most scary on top, less scary down below)
I ranked some as less scary mostly because I am less worried about them happening, relatively speaking. In other words, I am less scared because I consider that outcome less likely.

a) that the fertility issues are more  complicated than we currently know; that a bunch of additional issues (with me or Mr. Turtle) will emerge as we do more testing.

b) Treatments will fail

c) high risk pregnancy - either higher order multiples or just complicated. Maybe leading to baby loss.

d) that IF will affect our relationship negatively

e) that we won't be able to have a genetically related child

f) that other people in our extended family will have children easily in the next  few years, and IF will affect our feelings/relationship with that family if we can't conceive a child.

g) that the struggle to have a child will leave us so depleted we will have a hard time being parents to that child when he/she does come

Hmm, before I started to list them, I didn't think I had that many fears.

Looking at the list of fears, what strikes me is that many of our fears were accurate. IF more complicated than originally assumed? Yup. Treatments fail? Yup. We won't be able to have a genetically related child? Well, we did conceive a genetically related child - but we also faced the possibility (which we saw as fact at the time) that we couldn't. High risk/complicated pregnancy: well, my pregnancy is not considered high risk at present, and maybe it never was, but we went through a period of time when it seemed to be, and so emotionally, I have faced that fear.

The fears that did not come to pass are d, f, and g. Well, I don't know about g yet, I guess. What I am happy about is that we have maintained our relationship with each other and with the people around us. That piece is still strong. I suppose my experiences with IF may have set me apart emotionally from some friends/family - honestly I haven't thought much about it - but it's also brought me closer to other people.  I'm inclined to go with Buffy Ste. Marie on this one: "When it comes to all I've lost / I don't ever count the cost / Because what I've got for free."

Oddly, knowing that the fears actually came to pass takes all the teeth out of them. I don't have to worry about any of that anymore, and it's quite freeing.

2.                  What part of your fertility experience feels most out of your control?

Not knowing the timeline or what will happen when.  Wondering if I can cope with the physical/emotional fallout of ART. Wondering how this will all fit (or not fit) into the rest of my life (professional and personal).

What feels most out of my control now is, well, my body. This is a new and unsettling condition for me because I have always felt very connected with my body and very positive about it. Even infertility didn't deeply shake that confidence. Maybe I couldn't make a baby, but I could walk and dance and run and feel strong. But not knowing from any given moment if my body is creating life, or has aborted in its attempt to do so, has been an utterly terrifying experience. Infertility was painful, but the stress was never omnipresent like in pregnancy. I might be sad when I got my period after yet another failed cycle, but I knew what a period was and what to expect. Once it started, I didn't think much about it. My first trimester of pregnancy, on the other hand, was week after week of "WTF is going on now?"

I think I need to look for ways to reconnect positively with my body, maybe some meditation or something.

3.                  Do you blame yourself or others for your fertility challenges?

No, I don't.  I know Mr. Turtle has and is doing everything he can to be in the best of health. He didn't choose his condition. I accept that both intellectually and emotionally.

While this hasn't changed, the first trimester challenges did leave me often feeling very angry and resentful toward myself. It was a passing feeling for the most part, but I did really wish that I could just feel trust and confidence, and when I couldn't it didn't seem fair. I still feel very vulnerable this way.

4.                  If you were to guess why this is happening to you, what is your best guess?

I don't think there's any cosmic reason why this is happening to me (us). The only reason I can think of is that bodies aren't perfect.  Sometimes things don't work the way they are supposed to.

I still feel this way, but the experience is a lot more "real" now. It's not so easy to say "Sometimes things don't work the way they are supposed to" when you know the cost of them not working.

Installment 1: Creating Awareness

Installment 2: Practicing Acceptance.

Installment 3: Be Curious


  1. I admire all your knowledge on the topic!

    1. Thank you. I was a bit surprised to read your comment because I feel utterly ignorant most of the time. :-) But it is true that every experience brings some knowledge - even if it is knowledge of own ignorance and fallibility - and that has value. xo

  2. You're very wise about yourself. That seems weird to say, but I hope you know what I mean—it goes beyond self-awareness and insight. I relate to much of this.

    I look forward to more :)

    1. Thanks, I'm glad you are enjoying the posts! On one hand this might all seem like navel-gazing taken to the next level, but it is helpful to me to reflect and I'm glad it is interesting to someone else.

    2. I'm big on introspection! And I think it's a wonderful idea to document your feelings throughout this journey. Not only is it helpful for people who haven't been through as much, but it will be interesting to look back again, further still down the line.

  3. I found you on Creme de la Creme. I think it's a great idea to interview yourself again. I love the idea of looking back and seeing how your thoughts have grown and changed. Wishing you nothing but the best in 2015.