Crazy Infertile Me – How I Found & Now Offer Peer Infertility Support
I have a point of view. How hard and fast is it?
Am I open to a different way of looking, hearing, feeling?
Infertility made me reconsider.
I had no choice.
Finding Infertility Support
I was in fertility treatment and trying to conceive for over six years. Six long years. That’s seventy-two months.
Seventy-two months of being disappointed when getting my period.
Seventy two months of watching others, (dear friends included), become pregnant, become mothers, even become mothers twice.
I had a lot of practice on how to handle things.
Some months I put on a stiff, upper lip. My “I’m fine” face. Only to crumble privately. Not letting anyone in on the pain that I was experiencing.
Some months I blabbed to everyone. Anyone who stood still long enough heard more than they probably ever wanted to about my fertility problems.
Some months I chose to only speak to a few, close friends.
Seventy two months to figure out how to handle things.
Thank goodness for my therapist. She was well versed in issues specific to fertility and infertility. I literally couldn’t wait to see her every week. It was the one place where it was supposed to be all about me and I relished every moment with her. She was sympathetic, but not invested. Empathetic, but not personally affected. It was the one time period during the week where I felt normal crazy, instead of just crazy crazy.
Seeing Through the Eyes of an Infertility Patient
I saw through the eyes of an infertility patient. At times, I became an infertility patient. Where it was hard to see anything else about me except my desperate desire to become a mother. My identity shrunk smaller and smaller until that was all that was visible.
A woman trying to become pregnant.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
Everything else that was important to me, some months, dropped away. Everything about becoming pregnant became exaggerated. I wanted to know the size of every follicle, the level of every blood hormone level drawn. I became an educated patient and then some.
Thankfully, there were some months, (were they seventeen and twenty-nine, or forty-two and-sixty eight?) that I was almost myself. Almost.
I ran. I hiked. I played racquetball. I read novels. Saw movies. Went out to dinner. Chatted with friends.
I was almost the normal, neurotic me that my friends, family and work colleagues were used to.
Still, I saw through my own eyes. And my eyes were keenly sharp to anything relating to pregnancy. I would know someone else was pregnant even before they did. I protected myself by becoming extra vigilant.
My eyes protected me, yes.
And they exposed me to more than I needed to know.
My eyes became my shield and my microscope.
I saw the entire world through my eyes, seeing pregnant women, newborns and toddlers everywhere. My eyes spotted them and propelled me in the opposite direction, protecting me from the pain of what I still did not have.
My eyes shielded me from the cuteness, the softness of a friend’s newborn. My eyes shielded me from the delight shining on the face of someone making the announcement that there was a baby coming. My eyes shielded me from the holidays where the focus was on the young children attending.
And my eyes were microscopes.
My diagnosis of idiopathic infertility, (unexplained infertility) made me see everything wrong with me.
I know my thighs didn’t have anything to do with not conceiving a baby. I do know that. I also know that my thighs came under scrutiny. My body weight was examined. Every single thing I put in my mouth suffered a long drawn out exploration of right or wrong. Exercise? Too much? Too little? Stress? Expressing myself or trying to stay positive, which?
I saw through my eyes and I felt crazy.
You Are Not Alone – Ladies Night In
I found out that I wasn’t alone in that feeling. Nothing like a group of women experiencing similar things, variations on a theme, to make you laugh. Cry. Think. Laugh harder. Ask questions. Consider answers. Find ways to accept what’s going wrong and notice what’s going right.
I felt crazy. But I wasn’t the only one.
I remembered how it felt to be with other women who felt crazy.
Yep, it all comes down to Ladies Night In (LNI). Thank you Carrie Van Steen and Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut for supporting LNI and all us women who find support, friendship, laughs, and more together. See here for details for tonight’s LNI meeting in Norwalk and future meetings in Trumbull and Danbury.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.