PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Infertile Sleeping Beauty

Whenever you watch a movie, there is typically a clear resolution at the end of the film, the soundtrack kicks in and the credit roll. Well, ok. I should say most movies. Physiological thriller like INCEPTION or BLACK SWAN are exceptions to this rule. With those two movies in particular, the audience not only had no clue what the resolution was but typically, they would turn to each other and be like, “Uhhh, does anyone know what the f*ck just happened???

Getting back to my point though… if you take romantic comedies for example, the hero gets the girl or the couple gets married or they have a family. It’s a general happy and conclusive ending where they live happily ever after. End of story. Cue the sappy Celine Dion song.

When you’ve been struggling with infertility for awhile, the happy ending is you get pregnant and go on to have a healthy baby. That’s what you’ve been working towards, struggling with and wanting more than anything. What I’m realizing though is that a positive pregnancy test doesn’t automatically mean that everything you’ve endured while trying to get pregnant is now completely fixed and happy again.

My husband and I have been through so much in the last two and a half years. We’ve had medicated cycles, inseminations, in vitros, financial strain, debates on how to proceed, periods of depression and our own separate feelings of failure to contend with.

It's like our relationship is a country. Our country has been under attack for the last few years. We’ve been hit with Clomid bombs, estrogen grenades and financial ruin. However, the attack appears to be over and the President is currently assessing the damage. Our country still stands but frankly, it kind of looks a little like sh*t right now.

Now, I don’t mean to "over metaphor" you to death but I need to add one more. Lately, I’ve been feeling like the “Infertile Sleeping Beauty”. I’ve been in a hormonal, depressed coma for over two years and just now, I’m waking up. I’ve behaved badly. I’ve whined and put Sam in a position more often then I would like to have to take care of me. I complained about our lives, our infertility and often pushed aside what was good about us and our relationship. I have not been myself. Not the real me and now that I’ve “come back”, and even though I know in my heart that I handled things the best I could, I can’t help but be slightly mortified at my behavior. “Who WAS that chick? What a lunatic!

I don’t know if Sam will ever fully understand what it felt like to be on one medication after another; hormonal, upset, physically tortured (in a sense) and worst of all, feeling like a total colossal loser as a woman. We all know on paper that having fertility issues does not make you a failure… but that’s simply not how it feels. Of course, this doesn't excuse my two and a half year long tantrum. It’s only meant to try and explain it. No matter the reasons, I feel terrible about my reign of terror and I have apologized to him often.

In the thick of it though, while I was off having my prolonged mini-depression, I think it’s safe to say that Sam felt abandoned. He gave me space but that space slowly created distance and in that distance, we appear to have created different coping skills. Sam began playing online video games and took up photography. I turned to the online community (which has been enormously helpful) and started reading the most mindless chick lit books I could get my hands on. More and more, we had our own little lives and our own ways of dealing. It was like, “I need to decompress… I’m going to this side of the apartment… you go to yours… I’ll just see you at the next retrieval.

I don’t mean to give the impression that Sam and I are desperately unhappy. We absolutely love each other, he is still very much my everything and we’re beyond grateful to be ten weeks pregnant. It’s more that we’ve created some counterproductive habits, our relationship has been strained and we aren't on the same exact page as much as we used to be. Luckily though, we're in the same book... and possibly even the same chapter... so there's hope!

Any which way, this is the time, more than ever, to come back together and rebuild. We have to become reacquainted with one another and develop new habits and strategies to work together. It’s not, “What can I do to get through this?”. It’s “What should we do to help each other out and plan for the future?” I realize we should have been doing this all along, but as many of you know, when you’re in the hell of infertility, you really do what you need to do to just get through the day.

We’ve been making an extra effort to spend more time together and we’ve been going to couples counseling more frequently. There are things he feels like he can say to me that he couldn’t say to me before (when I was in my Infertile Sleeping Beauty state) and I am way more together now to actually hear him and express myself in a coherent manner. We’re figuring out how to reconnect, to better communicate, to decide what type of parents we want to be, where we want to live, how to work out the financial future and how, most importantly, to be one big happy family unit.

It’s a process and I know now that I was na├»ve to think getting pregnant would magically fix the damages of the past few years. It takes work. I just hope that when the baby is born and the credits begin to roll, Sam and I are starring in a Romantic Comedy with a happy ending and not a physiological thriller where everyone is like, “Was that a happy ending? Did they dream it was a happy ending but it’s not? Where am I? Whose underwear is this?”

I guess we’ll see...

32 comments:

Wonder Woman said...

what an incredibly insightful post. I hope you both find your way back to the newlywed versions of yourself. this is such a great time to do it too...because when the baby comes..you will have to reinvent yourselves yet again. The evolution continues.

Sarah Woulfin said...

What a courageous post....I was just thinking about all the doubts and questions and burdens infertility places on a relationship. I'm wishing you lovely thoughts for the journey to strengthen your marriage.

Josey said...

I love this post. After the total screaming meltdown in my house this morning, it was exactly the wake-up call I needed today. *sigh* Off to work on the marriage...

Dr. Blondie said...

Absolutely! Getting pregnant doesn't erase what one has been through with infertility, OR with pregnancy loss. After having multiple pregnancy losses, when I got pregnant again, I was always a little put off by the people who wanted to completely ignore the pain I had been through (and even criticize me for feeling cautious about being pregnant) and just concentrate on the current pregnancy and how it has "solved everything". I often tell people that replacement babies don't exist, but most people can't grasp the concept unless they've been through it.

Stacie said...

I can totally relate to this. It is so good that you've discovered the distance now rather than before a child arrives like we did. It is much harder to come back to the same page when the habits have lasted for so long.

Good luck to you!

Here via ICLW.

JM said...

It's my underwear, damnit!

Thank you so much for posting this. I've been realizing that I'm moving down that path right now, much faster than I'd like, and that it's time to put on the brakes and work on being a team again. Not just the egg and sperm donors in a failed science experiment.

waitingforthenugget said...

Amazing post!!! It was so insightful and is true for so many couples dealing with infertility. I have found that because my husband and I process our grief and disappoints differently - we sometimes create distance between each other. It is a hard time and self preservation kicks in.
Thanks for sharing!!!!

Jo said...

I truly believe that marriages cycle, and its weathering the "distant" cycle that eventually brings you closer together. Too many couples decide to give up on each other at the first sign of growing apart -- I am so glad that you and Hubby are making the effort to bridge the gap instead. Happier times ARE just around the corner, I feel it!

Big hugs,
Jo

ADSchill said...

I love this post. Love. It.

You said what so many of us newly pregnant women feel and are going through. I love the way you spelled out the distance and the pulling away that happens to most of us.

I am happy to be only a couple of weeks behind you, but it's hard to leave that 'me' behind.

Thanks for speaking up for me.
MissConception

SHANA said...

Great post! All very well said! Even after the baby arrives there will be scars. They may not hurt as much anymore but your past is marked on you and you will always feel a little twinge of your painful journey. I feel that twinge much more than I wish I had to because of losing our first daughter. But I can imagine that once you have your baby in your arms and the worst is behind you, the pain of infertility should subside and you will be left with something that resembles a happy ending as close as it could with what you've been through. Congrats on 10 weeks BTW!

mommyodyssey said...

Great post, and a great reminder to those of us still in the thick of it.

My New Normal said...

In a lot of ways, getting pregnant is just the beginning. So it's good that you are both focused on getting things back on track. I can't wait to read about your happy ending.

Lora said...

Hi from ICLW. What a great post. You perfectly put into words what we all feel and go through. Sending you hugs and well wishes!

Jen said...

I feel like we don't choose to be crazy, self-obsessed, high maintenance people who lose all sense of normality... it just happens. Because we're in crisis. To me, that's very very real. And, acknowledging that - the crisis aspect - has helped alleviate me of some of the guilt. I also feel like I'm coming out of the haze - though, sans-bump - and DH and I are working on things. But, I'm not blaming myself. How I've acted, how we've coped, it wasn't a choice at all. I literally needed to survive each day. And, I feel like I've accepted that I needed more support than I could give, and DH was my care-taker for a while. It's a weird thing to be ok with, but I guess I am.

Anyways, it sounds like you two are on the road to "recovery" and have many many happy days ahead of you.

medicalwife said...

I so appreciated this post today. My husb and I are at the beginning of that long journey, and yesterday was my first day on Clomid. Yesterday evening, I got mad at him no less than three times for things that ultimately weren't a big deal, but for some reason were inflated in my mind to be AWFUL. This is a good reminder to do everything in my power to stay as connected with him as I can on this long road (though I anticipate we won't be able to prevent it all from coming down on us every now and then). Thank you for sharing your hindsight with us.

JustHeather said...

I can so completely relate to your post and I can only hope that we'll be able to come to the point you are now. Congrats and best wishes for a happy and healthy pregnancy.

~Rae~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Rae~ said...

I so totally identify with this post! IF touches every part of your life. EVERY part. My husband once made the 'horrible' mistake (during our last failed ivf) of telling me "Me and You, we are family. If that's all that will ever be, we will be ok!" I know he was trying to comfort me as I was a complete basket case. However, I unleashed on him like a banshee. "We are not a family! We won't be a family until we have a baby!....."
Once A was here, finally adopted and completely ours, of course it changed a lot, but for me, IF still nags me nearly daily. Adoption surely doesn't 'cure IF', if I should ever get pregnant,it may help some--but I believe there are parts of me that will never be the same again. IF messes up your soul. Sometimes, if it goes deep enough, it seems there may be no way to repair it forever. At least, that's how I feel sometimes.

Jen said...

Thank you for writing this. My husband and I have definitely been feeling disconnected from each other lately, after our first failed IVF cycle. It's so important to know we're not alone. Tomorrow, we're building our new hammock stand so we can have an afternoon nape together in the breeze under the trees and working on being together.

paradykes said...

Beautiful honest post. Congratulations on your fantastic news.

Bobbie
ICLW #90

Esperanza said...

Thank you for writing this. It's so important for our community to be honest about the battle scars IF and loss leave on a relationship. I see them all the time in my own. We've really been struggling lately with how hard parenthood after our struggles with TTC and our loss has been. I know that I burned some bridges during that time that never can be rebuilt. It's really hard to accept that but I have to and move on, building other bridges that help maintain communication and empathy.

Empathy has been a big building block for us. In the past year as we've grown into our new roles as parents we've needed to show each other a lot of empathy, even when that is not our go-to reaction. Lately I've been so tired that empathy has been all but impossible for me and I see it directly causing rifts between us.

I recently wrote a piece about how surprised I am that our daughter is not the cure-all I expected her to be when I was TTC after my loss, when a live child seemed like the final destination in my life. It might seem naive but I really thought she would make everything else better. And while she healed pains I thought were bottomless, we still struggle. It's been hard to accept.

If you want to check it out, you can here: http://wp.me/pCMQ8-Ph

Good luck rebuilding your country. It sounds like you have the infrastructure in place to make it great again.

Damita said...

Great post!

lesterresfertiles said...

Here from ICLW but have read your blog for a while. This was such a great post and so true...at least as far as I know because I still haven't been pregnant. My husband and I have gotten into such intense fights that it's come up more than once that maybe we should separate, or maybe we'll have to get divorced if I can never get pregnant. Not because we don't love each other or want to be together, but because the pain is just too great. The words I used during our huge fight yesterday were "I can't be physically near you when your so emotionally far away." We eventually calmed down, and I went off to my job, and when I came back we reconnected stronger than before and reaffirmed how much we love each other and want to stay together. But I can't imagine that when I get pregnant and/or we somehow have a child, that our relationship won't be forever changed because of what we're now going through. And that's not all bad. Our bond is tremendously strong. Some things I see other couples struggling with would be peanuts to my husband and I. And yet, we've drifted apart to in terms of spending time together and doing fun things together. You're post has helped me to see that, so thank you :)

AlexMMR said...

New to you from ICLW, following now.

This is so true. It's an ongoing feeling of having just been through something traumatic and you can't get your barrings yet.

I'm also realizing how our infertility is affecting other people. We haven't been able to travel (ok, I haven't wanted to travel) for over a year because we're always a few weeks away from either another round of trying to get pregnant or anticipating being pregnant. So we haven't seen my in-laws in years and they are stating to take it personally.

And the hubs has definitely been playing too many video games and I'm not really doing my part in keeping us connected either. Still madly in love, still very supportive of each other, but yeah, it's just not the daily laugh fest we used to be.

Beth Brakewood said...

Great post - the hubs and I have also started to develop really separate lives too. Some of that is because of IF, some of that is from dealing with depression/anxiety issues from before the IF, some of that is just time and who we are...and it does take an obscene amount of effort to reconnect sometimes. I'm still not sure where our ending is - if it's having kid/s, if it's accepting a child-free lifestyle, if it's to keep on trying with the fertility treatments. I guess I just need to take more time to be present with him now - to forget the ending and try to create something we can enjoy TOGETHER out of the present.

Alex said...

Fabulous post! It's so important to keep working together, but so easy to forget about this as we're in the middle of the IF battle. So happy to hear you two are working on this stuff together, and will hopefully arrive on the other side in better shape.

Kitty said...

Great post, thanks for sharing. It is so true what you say, infertility can push a couple closer in some ways but make them drift in other ways. ITO making love and physical contact our relationship has suffered big time...from our lives revolving around ovulation and BD to nothing at all. Ones relationship does take strain and congrats to you to realise that and work on it and pick up the pieces. Good luck and here's to your happy ending xxx

zygotta said...

It's amazing how, until you resurface from your prolonged depression, you don't even realize how much of a sleeping beauty you are. Or not even a beauty anymore.

I like the Abba's song: "it's funny, but I had no sense of living without aim, the day before you came"

Last year, the strain of TTC clashed with high demands at my job. I thought I was having heart problems, I even spent 2 days with a heart monitor strapped to my chest. Turned out to be a panic attack. A series of.

And then I figured: if I wanna kid, I gotta quit this job. I quit and found a low key 9-to-5. Only to find myself in the middle of a 'mean girls' scene. I came home pretty much in tears for a month, until they fired me. That was a humiliating blow, although I was better off without that miserable job.

I spent 3 months at home, listless. Going to the fertility clinic, doing some job-searching motions... Not talking much, not doing much. Just sub-existence.

Somehow, I woke up in May. And looked back in horror - how empty those months have been, how far I moved from my hubby.

And then I took a mosaics class, a job found me (yes, it found me) and I got my long-awaited bfp. And my hubby and I took a tango class together...

In short - congrats on resurfacing!

fertilityfreak said...

Beautifully written and completely on point.
I think any time someone goes through something that they assume the rest of the world "just wouldn't understand" it creates an isolation bubble. You can only hope that whatever that "thing" is doesn't last very long. Maybe the length of time spent dealing with any kind of grief determines the distance between partners or friends. I have definitely withdrawn even from friends... it's exhausting having to explain yourself and how you feel all the time.
But don't beat yourself up and feel like you were somehow a bad person during that time. It IS like surviving an attack... an attack that goes on and on and on. Having to apologize for being emotional while being shot up with Clomid is like having to apologize for being bald while going through chemo ;)

Lanie said...

Wow, thank you for this post. I just saw it today. Just recenlty I was trying to put this into words the feeling of IF, not quite depressed (but that too), but a constant isolation bubble and heavyness that takes such a toll and everyday seems like a battle to get through. I'm glad after reading your lovely post and all of your readers comments, I guess I'm acting just the way everyone else does during IF. I try to be quiet and kind, because I'm so angry I don't now what might come out. But one thing is for sure, I am definitely not myself. And your some of your readers make a good point. If I do get pregnant, I still might be changed forever with IF emotional scars. Thank goodness the marriage is still strong, but IF definitely takes it's toll.

Honey B. said...

Very deep post...its such a distancing thing to go through something like this, whether its infertility or anything else. Its tempting to think that things will be better when, but when is such an abstract concept- when we have a baby, when I finish school, etc. Living in the now needs to still be a priority even though part of you is living for what we hope will happen soon.

Natalie said...

You haven't had a post in a while. I'm hoping everything is still okay. Sending good luck.

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