An Infertility Voice – One Set of Answers to Heartwrenching Infertility Questions
I asked twenty questions the other day and asked you to answer just three. One of you honored me with spending the time and energy in answering all twenty.
Maybe your answers would be eerily similar to this woman’s. Probable that a few of your answers would be wildly different.
This is one woman’s answers to these intimate infertility questions.
One very honest and courageous woman.
Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts and telling us the truth.
One Woman's Answers to Intimate Infertility Questions
- Do you feel like infertility is your enemy?
No, but I feel like it is the dark shadow following me - I can't escape it! It doesn't always hurt (physically), but it is a nagging presence. I think I feel like it is more part of me and an enemy is a separate entity. This is something I'm having to learn to work with (unfortunately!).
- Do you feel compassion for yourself about your infertility struggles?
Yes, thanks to you and your Fertile Yoga instruction and encouragement to allow myself to feel compassionate towards myself. This is not something I was very good at before this experience - so maybe I've learned something?
- Do you feel compassion about others with their infertility struggles?
Yes, but to be honest, the PCOS thing irritates me. I get that it is a horrible condition and one that truly effects all aspects of life (and I'm glad I don't have it!), but at least there is SOMETHING that you can do about it - there are physical actions that may help lessen its severity. I wish there was an "unknown infertility awareness month" - what about all of those questions?! It's like PCOS is a chapter in the book and all of the other chapters are what I need to know - which is very overwhelming. I realize this is not empathetic or compassionate of me though! It's not something I'm proud of feeling, but it is how I'm feeling. Do I feel general compassion towards anyone with fertility struggles - absolutely!!!! (Even if they do have PCOS). We are in this together...
- Do you wish that you had a different medical problem?
Sometimes yes - as long as it was one that could be CURED once and for all!!! But, I also know that I'm at the best doctor's office possible for the condition I have and I'm not sure that I would be able to find that for whatever other condition I could have. The grass is always greener, but right now, this is what I know, and I don't really want to have to learn something else!
- Are you finding that you are isolating more or less because of infertility?
Yes, definitely, and then I tell myself that it is OK to isolate more because I'm being compassionate with myself. I'm not sure it is entirely healthy, but I try to keep it in check and still do things, particularly with yoga and ladies night in and volunteering. Keep up the regular, just don't pressure myself to do new things (again, not sure this is healthy, but its been my approach).
- Do you picture infertility as self-contained? Not part of you?
No, it feels part of me.
- When you refer to infertility, is it as if it’s sitting over there in a corner, all by itself?
No, it is inside of me - in that mysterious world of my gut!
- Does it feel like infertility has taken over your whole being? Or only your brain?
Both - depends on what is going on. Sometimes it is more of an emotional experience, other times I compartmentalize (or disassociate!) and it feels purely physical.
- Do you feel diseased?
No, but I feel broken.
- On a scale of 1-1,000, how sorry do you feel for yourself on your worst day?
I really really really try hard to not feel sorry for myself. Everyone has their issues. Mine aren't any fun, but they aren't as bad as some people's. When I go in this direction, I don't feel sorry for myself, I tend to feel angry at the situation or like I'm letting down my husband.
- On a scale of 1- 1,000, how happy are you on any given day?
500? I know I'm not where I would like to be, but most of the time, I'm not sobbing or throwing things all day either! I've felt pretty miserable, but on any given day, I'm mostly in the middle. Lately, I think I've just been resigned to the fact that this is my life. The fight has left me and I'm along for the ride. I'm not sure if this is a warning sign of a problem, or actually a healthy place to be. So far it has been a fairly healthy place (I think!).
- Do you have a plan if absolutely nothing works in fertility treatment?
I guess egg donor is included in fertility treatment, but if not, then that is I think our next step and then I THINK we would consider adoption. We haven't actually talked about not having children at all (that I remember).
- Is being unsuccessful in fertility treatment your biggest fear?
No. My biggest fear is that my husband will leave me because we aren't successful in treatment! He's reassured me plenty that that won't happen, though.
- Is being unsuccessful in fertility treatment your biggest fear?
I guess, but they almost always come with disappointing news... for instance, small success that we were able to freeze one embryo, but major disappointment that we had 12, only 6 were mature, only 3 fertilized, only 2 were still growing and then on day 6 only one was still growing. Yes, it was a small success, but ugh it didn't feel like it!
- Do other women’s pregnancies bother you if you know that they also had to use a fertility specialist?
No, not really at all. I may pull away a little, but I really am genuinely happy for them.
- How will you know when to stop treatment?
I am exhausted. When I started this, I didn't know how we would know, but "you just know" is true. I remember hearing one member tell the yoga group that she didn't know that she could do it anymore (and others since then) and I couldn't comprehend them feeling that way, until that day came for me. I am disappointed in myself that I don't have the energy to keep fighting and pushing, but the reality is the insurance money is used and we've given it a good shot. Hopefully, the transfer will work, but we'll see.
- Do you have a plan if you decide to stop treatment?
Egg donor - I believe (but maybe we haven't stopped treatment if that is what we are doing?) Counseling! individual and couple's counseling...
- What’s your biggest fear in not having children?
Not being able to relate to my family and friends. What is my purpose? I've been saving money all my life for the purpose of my children's education (not much, but that was the purpose behind saving it when I was even a teenager). Now I'm spending it on making children, but all my life has been preparing myself to be a mother. I had a friend in college who smoked pot a bunch and I would tell her to stop because it was going to mess up her eggs!!! Oh the irony that now my eggs are the crappy ones!!! (or so we think)
- Can you see yourself happy in your life without children?
Yes - particularly when I can sleep in! But that then worries me that maybe they aren't for me and we are forcing something that really isn't intended to be. It is a viscous thought cycle.
- What do you wish you had known five to ten years ago?
That this would be my path. The road less traveled... it does make all the difference!!!! I'm not sure I would have or could have changed anything - we started trying to get pregnant after a year of marriage and we got married after 2 years of dating - not an overly long time.
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.