infertility

does infertility hurt less later?

Yes and no.

But mostly yes, for me at least.

After almost five years of an ugly struggle with infertility, I came to peace with it in late 2009. Nothing could have gotten me there sooner, it was something that had to resolve itself in its own time. I wrote this the day before I found out I was pregnant. It remains one of my most favorite things I’ve ever written as I could only write it after going through what I had experienced..

Within Vivi’s first three months, best friend became pregnant with her fourth by surprise and my only sister became pregnant after a month without any struggles.

The news of both thumped me in the heart pretty hard, but they weren’t the sucker punches they would have been a year earlier.

I am excited to have to new little boys in my life, one in January and one in April.

I can hear pregnancy news and respond to it with the genuine joy it deserves.

I don’t see swollen bellies everywhere I go.

I can still read the words of someone who is stuck in the murky thick of infertility and know the uniquely exquisite pain that envelops their heart.

I can think about getting pregnant again and focus on the end result, not the gut wrenching journey it takes to get there.

This baby has been the best thing to ever happen to me, I just had to go through everything else first to be able to appreciate her.

Cody, Addie and I were good, but with Vivi we’re great. I’m finally to a point in my life where there is so much wonderful the misery has a hard time ever making it to the surface.

I wish every life story could have a chapter in it like the one I’m living right now, or at least give hope to your current story that you will end up happy. I don’t know how, on what timeline, or how long it will last, but it will happen and when it does I wish even more that you are able to recognize and enjoy it.

To those of you who are still fighting for your babies? Keep fighting.

wrists and toes

They are so worth it.

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sublime reality.

Five years is a long time to wait for a baby.

A really long time.

When you compare five years to 40 weeks…pregnancy flies by.

When you’re trying to have a baby for any amount of time, let alone years, you already live your life in weeks.

Week one: Period.

Week two: Ovulation and copulation.

Week three: Waaaaaiiiitttiiinnngggg.

Week four: Stick peeing.

Back to week one with more Ben and Jerry’s than the month before.

***********

There is a room set up with a crib, a rocking chair and a changing table.

sleepywrap bear.

There are tiny freshly washed clothes in a new dresser.

Bought two years ago. I touched it for the first time today.

There are hundreds of diapers and wipes tucked away in a closet.

burp cloths.

There are tiny little baby treasures from all over the country just waiting.

little alouette bird rattle

There is a curly haired imp who is already blaming her little sister for things.

big sissy.

There is a man who is going to be a father to two daughters.

And a girl who still can’t believe this is really happening to her.

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the one about the infertility title lost, but not forgotten.

I can never ever forget where I came from that got me to this point.

Jealously that almost ruined my best friendship.

Anger and bitterness that drove people away.

Friendships lost because the hole in my heart was too big to manage.

Nearly alienating my only sister because of one comment.

Almost losing my marriage and my own life to a medical treatment because I was so desperate for a baby.

If I didn’t have my archives to go back and read I may be able to think about the past five years differently. I know a lot of you had hope for me, you knew this would happen for me when I didn’t. There were even a few of you who sent me “I told you so’s.

There are also those of you who have come forward to admit that you stopped reading my words because you felt guilty for having what I longed for so badly.

There have also been some who have pegged all of your hopes on me. “IF YOU CAN DO IT SO CAN I!” or “WHY YOU AND NOT ME?”

And then there are those of you who have lost much longed for babies. I can’t even pretend to know the pain associated with such a loss, I only know the fear, and the fear on its own is crippling.

When a painful five year journey ends in an instant, and suddenly your entire life is about to change in less than 36 weeks? Five years doesn’t seem like such a long time.

I know I was guilty of turning my back on my friends who became pregnant when I couldn’t. I am so deeply remorseful for this. I was so busy licking my own wounds that I lashed out at those who didn’t deserve it. I can’t thank God enough for giving me the last year to realize my mistakes, rectify some of them and come to peace with what may or may not be in store for me.

I feel like a hypocrite writing the following words when I know that I was guilty of doing the same thing. As soon as I announced my pregnancy I could feel a two handed shove, the kind that whips your head back, shoving me out of the classification of infertile and into unfamiliar territory.

I’m not sure I can ever take my rightful place among the other side. It took way too much to get here to ever take this pregnancy for granted. I mingle with the other side. Make jokes about cravings and poop. But I can’t ever truly turn away from that other group, the one I was a part of for so long, the one I spoke up for and the one that supported me when I couldn’t support myself anymore. I feel as though when I look back at them, their backs are all turned to me. “Traitor” they mumble.

But…but! You guys! I get it! I know how you feel!”

They turn for a moment, look at my swollen belly, roll their eyes and turn away.

Maybe I know their mannerisms so well because I did the same thing for so long.

It’s lonely out here in the middle. There’s very few people out here with me. Or maybe there’s more of you, we just haven’t talked about it yet.

I don’t want to be the story someone tells to an infertile friend, “Well there’s this blog I read, she tried for years…surgery…hormone treatments…she had finally given up and then WHAMMY! it happened!

I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of that conversation. I know how to mechanically smile and nod in response, not letting on to how frustrated and hurt I am inside.

I am so deliriously happy that I sometimes forget that there are women around me at the grocery store or online that are giving me the same dirty look I’ve given so many women in the past. If I were to catch one of them and hear their story and try to relate I wouldn’t be taken as a credible source, simply because the stars aligned and I was fertile for one magic moment.

I don’t know why this has been so hard for me to write about. Maybe it’s because I can still feel the shove to my back while the sting is still on my hands from shoving others.

I don’t have an answer.

But I know I’ll never forget. Especially since I’ll never quite belong here or there.

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doughboy pokes, depression and my belly.

I have felt pretty fantastic for the last few months, emotionally at least, physically? Not so much. And when I say I’ve felt emotionally fantastic I mean in regards to depression because to be honest there was a three week time between positive pregnancy test and chilling the chill out that I wasn’t so fun to be around. And when I say I wasn’t fun to be around I mean that Cody hated being around me because he was the one I would emotionally unload on.

And there was that one teensy tiny (enormous) panic episode when I landed in Canada after almost dying/barfing/crying in the plane getting there, followed by me being held by customs, followed by an unexpected bus ride…other than that! Golden!

Cody told me the other night that my belly button gets sad when I’m pregnant.

sad bellybutton.

I have such an innie that it never became an outie or even a flattie when I was pregnant with Addie. And unbeknownst to me, it apparently looked sad.

Currently it appears as though I am smuggling a Homer sized donut under my shirt from the front and from the side it appears as though I am in a perpetual state of doughboy poke.

pilsbury has nothing on me.

I can only assume it is revenge on Pilsbury’s part.

you push, he giggles.

But back to my emotions, my feeeeelings.

Yesterday as I plunked my weary body in front of my SAD lamp (as is my morning ritual during Indiana winters) I started to think about how depression and pregnancy share so many symptoms. Loss of appetite, exhaustion with the inability to sleep or the ability to sleep way too much, not to mention aches, pains, random crying sprees and lethargy. I began to panic that maybe my depression was seeping back in and pregnancy had been hiding it and suddenly BLAM I’d be hit like roadkill by a Mack truck out of nowhere by it.

But I know depression well enough. Or at least the way *I* do depression. I still want to talk to people. I still want to be around people. I can still laugh. I can see all the things going right in my world. I can get excited about this Mozzi in my belly (Which if you could move around soon so I could feel you? I’d appreciate it.) And I am really excited about spending Christmas in my house with my family for the second year. (We moved in a year ago next week…)

So nope, depression isn’t getting the better of me (at least not yet.)

But I know it’s getting a lot of you out there.

Holidays, weather changing, stress…

I keep a very special place in my heart for all you. I believe anyone who had dealt with depression does. Just because I’m feeling awesome doesn’t mean that everyone else is too. Some of you are struggling, some privately, some openly. And just as you’ve been there for me when I’m in ugly places, there’s hundreds of people out there who want to be there for you while you’re in your ugly places, me included. Even if all I can do is tell you that it will get better.

Or draw a picture of Santa on my ever expanding belly.

ho ho ho, who do you know?

Then there’s also the ladies who are left without their babies. I mean, I’ve gone through phases where it seemed as though everyone and their un-spayed cats were pregnant except for me. Well I am pregnant and it still seems as though everyone is pregnant.

But I know that’s not true.

And I’m sorry it can’t be true for everyone who wants a baby.

Messy, this real life stuff is.

Hope everyone is hanging in there and that you and the people around you are taking good care of you.

xoxo

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the second time around.

Living with the barfing is much easier the second time around.

The anxiety of ‘ZOMG I’M GOING TO BE SOMEBODY’S MOTHER‘ is easier the second time around.

Figuring out what baby crap is actually necessary and what is just crap is also easier the second time around.

However no one told me that just existing the second time around would be so. much. more. uncomfortable.

Maybe everyone thought since my babies will be almost seven years apart it wasn’t worth mentioning? But y’all. Ow. My hips. My back. My stomach. THOSE ROUND LIGAMENT THINGS…I have officially downgraded them from ligaments to useless. I have a feeling Addie’s Silly Bandz could do a better job at holding my growing uterus up.

Addie and I have taken to playing Just Dance 2 on the Wii daily. Oh man, when I am not pregnant? I am going to OWN that game. But while I am pregnant? Peeing my underpants is a very real possibility. That and me waddling like an old person a few hours later.

I was just warned on facebook that it gets even worse the third time around. Which is why there won’t be a third time. Between the pain thing, the fact that I stink at getting pregnant in a timely manner and what happened in the frozen food section eight weeks ago I’m just not sure my spirit could handle this again. Oh, and my face. Remember when I wrote about petichiae? The capillaries that burst in my face when I barf? Well, here’s an update.

petichiae update. 16 weeks.

Oh it makes me so sad.

See how lovely my neck is? Oh.

It’s really hard to look at.

But I know I’m still under there.

And I know Mozzi is only days away from letting me know he or she is in there with little bubbles and pokes. I’m very excited about that.

I’m also very, very excited to hold a tiny baby. My tiny baby. I never felt this same excitement with Addie. This will probably sound strange, but I haven’t been able to or wanted to hold other babies for a long time. And I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold any tiny babies until it is mine.

Maybe it’s a self preservation thing.

I mean, every month feels like an eternity when you’re trying to get pregnant. I made it through over fifty eternities in the past six years and those fifty eternities will be resolved in less than 24 weeks.

It’s a lot to handle the second time around.

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i am…

Addie will almost be six and a half.

Cody and I will have been married a decade.

It has been almost a year since I became at peace with it never happening again.

so...

I’ve become that story I hated so muchWell I know this girl who tried for five years, she finally gave up and it happened.

I know the physical ache that this has caused some of you to feel. Oh, how I know. And I hate that I caused it.

I’m no longer allowed to sit with the infertiles, even though I was a spokesperson and card carrying member for years. However I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to take my place on the other side either…I’m listening too closely for the shoe to drop.

Turns out that getting pregnant after so long comes with a whole new deluge of emotions. Ones I didn’t see coming. Ones even fewer people understand, let alone talk about.

Ones I’m in therapy for.

I’m done choking on all these emotions silently. Because I know if I’m choking? There’s hundreds more of you out there choking as well. I don’t want anyone to feel alone, I hate feeling alone. And if I have to be the first one to say it? Then so be it.

I am finally pregnant after almost five years of secondary infertility, and I’m scared.

I also know somewhere deep down inside there’s a reason people keep having babies and there’s a reason people get so excited at the announcement of a new pregnancy.

I’m going to have to go off that knowledge, and off your excitement until I’m there too.

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when infertility affects friendships.

There isn’t much else out there like infertility. There’s no outward signs of it, it is both isolating and humiliating, many times there’s no logical explanation for it and most of all? Everyone has their own opinions on it.

“Don’t give up hope!”

“You worry about it too much, just relax, it will happen!”

“I had this one friend who couldn’t get pregnant and then…!”

Those of us who are left with no babies have learned to smile through these comments. Or at least stuff the pain in our hearts that results from hearing these comments deep down where they won’t offend those naive enough to say such things. Other times we turn to our most trusted girlfriends or partners and we rant, rave and cry through the reminder that something about our parts doesn’t work right.

It is a right and a priviledge as a woman to bear children. Sure boys can pee standing up, but we? WE CAN MAKE PEOPLE. Well, some of us can. And when that ability to make people is taken away? We’re left feeling like this strange middle gender, with boobs and periods, but no babies and certainly unable to pee standing up.

Knowing that my body worked at least once, that it made a perfect little person adds to the frustration. Imagine banging your head against a wall over and over. Finally a million dollars falls out of the wall. Hooray! Of course you’re going to keep banging your head against the wall, of course it hurts and it’s frustrating and it consumes your every thought, but for the chance at another million dollars? BANG BANG BANG! And no matter how much anyone explains how illogical it is to keep banging, or maybe to try another “get a million dollars” tactic, you’re going to keep banging until YOU are ready to stop.

Although I’m not sure anyone is ever really capable of stopping. The urge to try that wall just one more time…maybe this time it will work…that urge will always nag, somewhere.

Silly little things can set off the deep stabbing hurt of infertility. The swollen belly of a stranger, a facebook status update, filling out Kindergarten admission papers and having to leave the “other siblings” column empty, even buying a new car.

There isn’t much I can say about infertility that hasn’t already been said by other brilliant voices on the topic throughout the Internet.

But I can say this.

I have braved the trenches of the completely hideous emotions that result from the bitterness and anger that I allowed to overtake my heart and mind when I was deep in them. I was blinded by jealousy and anger. Some of the more mild thoughts were “Why her and not me?”  ”She can’t even take care of the other kid she has.” then they became more intense “Another one? Really? Does she even realize her other kids aren’t that great?” to the worst, I was actually happy when someone had a miscarriage.

Me.

Happy about a miscarriage.

That’ll show her! Teach her to talk about her pregnancy so much!

I’m ashamed that I ever allowed a thought like that to pass through my mind. I don’t care how much I hurt at the time, her pain was not about me. It never will be. The Casey who thought those thoughts deserved to lose friends. She was going rotten from the inside out.

Any difficult life situation will cause unavoidable thoughts to pop up in someones head. And just as we can’t keep a bird from landing on our head, we can very well keep it from making a nest while it’s there.

To those of you who have to watch a friend struggle with infertility, the truth is that there isn’t much you can do aside from be a friend. You will never be able to fix her (well, unless you’re a brilliant, brilliant doctor or a genie) but you can listen. Understand that there will be times when your friend is ticked off, but it’s not about you. And there comes a point where if she makes it about you? You need to set her straight. It’s not your fault you can get pregnant and she can’t. You shouldn’t have to change who you are or what your dreams and goals are in life to accommodate the ugly and hurt feelings of another. I can promise you that it’s hard as hell to work through a relationship where this is an issue, but in the end? It’s worth it.

To you others dealing with infertility, especially if you’re in an ugly place, don’t alienate your friends. It’s not their fault if they can and choose to get pregnant. Imagine if your positive test finally came and you called your friend up. How would you want her to react? Angry and distant because you finally got what you wanted? The truth is, your closest friends, and many others around you aren’t afraid of difficult pregnancies or what their insurance will and won’t cover. They aren’t worried about where a baby will fit into their lives and schedules, they are worried about telling you. They are scared to death of hurting you. They are frightened that they are going to lose you as a friend.

So they keep it a secret from you for as long as possible. Sometimes you find out from other sources and the hurt is magnified. But they didn’t keep it a secret from you to hurt you, they kept it a secret because they didn’t want to hurt you.

No matter when you hear it, it is going to hurt. I’m sorry, it is. But the amount of time it hurts will lessen and dull, and eventually jealousy and hurt won’t even be your first reaction. Please don’t take it out on your friend, they will hopefully understand that you may need some time to work through your emotions, work through them as best you can and support her as best you can, you would want (and dare I say expect) the same if the roles were reversed.

As for the friend facing that phone call to tell someone that you’re pregnant? You’re going to have to take a Band-Aid approach. Do it quick. Yes. Your friend is going to feel it. Sorry about that. Remember it’s not your fault. But trust me when I say writing that email or making that call when you think about it is much better than her finding out weeks later through a friend of a friend, because that’s the equivalent of pulling that bandage off millimeter by millimeter, hair by hair.

Infertility is just another thing that we’re all going to have to learn to get along on. Rarely, if ever, is anyone ever going to understand both sides. Love, patience, understanding and forgiveness are all going to have to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Cupcakes, fruity drinks with umbrellas and stupid movies with vampires don’t hurt either.

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kindergoneden.

It’s official.

I dropped her off for her first day of Kindergarten this afternoon.

I am the mom of a school aged child.

I don’t so much mourn the fact that she’s growing up (although it could slow down and I wouldn’t hate it.)

It’s that I am supposed to be hugely pregnant right now.

Addie going to Kindergarten was always the benchmark of pregnancy. Cody would have been out of law school for over a year. We would have health insurance. The surgery and hormone treatments I underwent would do their magic and I’d be walking Addie to the doors of Kindergarten with a huge belly. She’d get to tell her class about her soon to be brother or sister, I’d get to fill out those blank spaces under “other children” in the school registration packet.

everything will be okay

The timing seemed so perfect. I’m supposed to be pregnant right now.

I fantasized about how wonderful it would be to have Addie in Kindergarten for a few hours everyday while I was at home bonding with a new baby. A few blissful hours of uninterrupted new baby time everyday. Then Addie would come home and hang out with us. Then Cody would get home and we’d be a lovely little family.

But I’m not pregnant. Nor do we have health insurance. But Addie is in Kindergarten.

And Addie is enough. She nestles right down into all those empty and broken places in me and fills them perfectly. Sometimes she even leaves a little sticky residue of peanut butter and a glow in the dark silly band lying around.

I love you my little Kindergartener. You were made for this kind of stuff.

photo by Kim Orlandini

You make my life more lovely and complete that I ever could have imagined.

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