Saturday, October 21, 2017

What Happened to My Friends Without Kids?

Okay, honestly, that is a rhetorical question, one I will answer at the end of this post. But I cannot count the number of times I asked myself this question while I was deep into the hardest years of my infertility. Sure, my friends with babies and kids had all moved on in their lives. While it hurt that they no longer made time for or seemed to remember me, it somewhat made sense.
But what happened to my friends without kids?

I am writing this post in case it helps anyone else that may be facing this issue.

In particular, I had two extremely close friends without kids: two women that I had been friends with for over ten years. One was married but didn't want kids. The other was single and not trying for kids. They both knew, from the time we had met, that having children was my lifelong dream.

During my darkest years, they were nowhere to be found.
I felt so lonely and, honestly, sorry for myself.

So, what happened? Why?

I kept asking myself these questions over and over. In retrospect, it's easy to think, well why didn't I ask THEM? But you all know, when you are deep in the throes of grief and trauma, you are not exactly in the best place to

  1.  think clearly
  2.  advocate for yourself
  3.  confront issues
  4.  have difficult conversations.
So, over time, I have become more compassionate with myself. Instead of questioning myself and thinking "I could have done this, I could have done that," I remind myself that I did the best I could at the time.

But damn it sucked to lose my closest friendships at the same time my lifelong dream of parenting was slipping away...

Now that I have a couple of years between those dark times and now, I have a better idea of what happened. I don't know if they are correct or not, but I came up with a few theories:
  1. As women who had never unsuccessfully tried to get pregnant, they could not relate to my pain at all. Maybe they thought I was whiny? Or depressed without reason? Selfish for wanting kids in the first place? Maybe they honestly could not understand why I just "couldn't get over it?"

  2. It is possible that jealousy played a factor. Maybe my single friend thought I should just appreciate what I did have- a loving marriage, and maybe my married friend thought the same- that I should just appreciate that I had a stable roof over my head.

  3. Maybe it had nothing to do with infertility at all. Maybe both friendships had run their course and our lives were moving in different directions anyway. (Still sucks though, that two of my closest, longtime friends weren't/couldn't be there for me during the worst time of my life.)
But what I really and truly think was at the root of it all was that I had changed. Dramatically. A person cannot go through that level of loss and trauma without changing. I was no longer the woman that they had known. Instead of giving all of my energy to them (which I did, which was not their fault, those were choices that I had made), I had to reserve most of it for myself. Instead of driving to where they lived (thirty minutes for one, over an hour for the other), I stopped. I hoped they would come see me, but neither one of them ever did. Overall, I had completely changed the patterns in our friendship, so of course the relationships didn't work anymore. I thought the friendships were strong enough to survive these changes, but, unfortunately, they were not. 

I wasn't the same person anymore and that, apparently, changed everything.

I have often hinted on this blog that infertility taught me the boundaries I desperately needed in my life. For that, I am grateful. But, at times, it was almost too much loss at once for me to handle.

I continue to deal with loneliness on a regular basis, but blogging and "meeting" all of you has really helped. I try to socialize once a week. That is not always possible, but going back to school has helped. (Although I enjoy my classmates in their early 20s, I also really miss my peer group.) I am eating regularly, sleeping well, and exercising several times a week.  In other words, I am doing the best I can. I have never really been good at letting old friendships go, but I am dealing with it. I miss them and I wish them well.

And that is what happened between me and my friends without kids.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tired, Take Two (a.k.a. Something Good Coming)

I was so tired yesterday that I forgot to tie in a couple of other points.

I am tired of hatred.
I am tired of racism.
I am tired of misogyny.
I am tired of gun violence.
I am tired of divisiveness.

I am tired of infertility.
I am tired of the lack of empathy.
I am tired of the loneliness it brings.
I am tired of the the Martyr Mommy trope.

I am tired of getting treated like crap in my school program.
I am tired of my husband getting treated like crap at his job.
I am tired of where we live.
I am tired of what we are doing.

We are too old for this.
We have worked too hard.
(Those last two sentences might sound entitled because there are plenty of people dealing with lots of unrelenting crap that they do not deserve. I have written a lot about what I am thankful for, but this is a post about what I am tired of.)

I am so tired.

And then, on top of everything else, Tom Petty died. He was/is my most favorite musician of all time. I have all of his albums and I listen to him on a weekly basis. I was crushed by his sudden, unexpected death on an already tragic day.

But he gave us a lot of awesome music before he left us. And his lyrics always made me feel understood. Tom Petty has given me so much comfort throughout my life. His music got me through adolescence. His music got me through infertility. My husband and I even danced to one of his songs for our first dance at our wedding. (That was also our last dance, as neither one of us are dancers hahaha.) Tom Petty has been the soundtrack to my life.

So even though I am tired, I will push on. There are lots of good people in this world and we can't let the negative news cycle infiltrate our brains any more than it already has.

Please allow me to share with you my most favorite Tom Petty song. I hope you have a very happy and/or relaxing and/or content Sweet Sunday (←that's a reference to the board game Payday if you ever played that as a kid...). I truly believe there is Something Good Coming.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tired

Wow. These past two weeks have been so busy. "Tired" is such a boring title for a post, but that is how I am honestly feeling. And this is the longest I've gone between writing posts since I started this blog a year ago. Usually, I try to post at least once a week.

The first week of October I spent almost 50 (unpaid) hours in a hospital doing one of my clinical rotations. That was interesting, informative, and exhausting.

The second week of October was full of exams (with more to come this week). I don't want to discourage anyone from going back to school, but this is all certainly easier when you're younger!

I have missed being an active part of this community, but I have almost caught up on reading everyone's posts. :)

Yes, the need for my blog is still here. I am reminded almost every day. So I will keep writing.

My week at the hospital gave me a taste of the working world again. Last time I was employed was before infertility, so the next time I am employed it will be my first job after infertility. One day, I came home pretty frustrated and told my husband that I wished I could work somewhere with all men. Knowing how important girlfriends and conversation and connection are to me, he was surprised and asked, "Why?" And I said, "Because most men don't talk about their children all the damn time!!"

There was one day when a group of employees were gathered around one woman's desk watching a video and laughing. Turns out it was a video of her little one. I had already noticed this woman's desk included a copy of her Happy Mother's Day card that she sent out to her friends and family full of pictures of her pregnant and with her baby, so my guess was she was the biggest Mommy of them all. And, overhearing her talk all week just proved my point.

(Side note: I've heard of sending holiday cards and Valentine's cards en masse to loved ones. I have never in my life heard of someone sending out Happy Mother's Day cards like that.)

So, anyway, I guess this video showed her kid doing something cute/funny/adorable because everyone was laughing. And then she said (in good nature I think, it seems like most everyone got along, but what she said still annoyed the crap out of me), "All of you people without children don't know what it's like! Just you wait!!" Good thing no one was paying attention to me because I just rolled my eyes.

But I know I will have to sometimes stomach comments like these when I return to the workforce. And I am not looking forward to it. Even though every year I make great strides in my recovery, I still anticipate that I will always miss my children.

So I may always have this blog. It seems there will always be something that stings. And even if I get to a point where stuff doesn't sting anymore, I know there are others out there reading our blogs and what we are all writing is helping them. I want to live a life of service, so if this is how I can help others then I will keep writing.

Missed you all! Hope you are well!! 💜


Sunday, October 1, 2017

My 1st Blogoversary

Wow. A year already?

I can barely believe I started a blog, much less that I started a blog one year ago.

First of all, to anyone reading, THANK YOU. 
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for commenting.
Thank you for being in community with me and others living life without children after infertility.

Like Klara at The Next 15000 Days told me it would be, writing has been very therapeutic.
Plus, it gives both my husband and my best friend a little break from listening to me process infertility. I mean, they're awesome people and they've never complained, but still... 
I'd like to keep the two of them in my life and not drive them away! :)

This is not an easy life to live. I still think of my children every single day. I know what their names would have been and I know how old they would be. I don't socialize with any of my former longtime friends. Our lives have gone in completely different directions. And although we are close and I get along with them, I still have not received much empathy or understanding from my family over what I have lost. Again, it is not an easy life to live.

It can be lonely, sad, and frustrating. But I am working hard to create a life I will enjoy. This time next year I will be finishing up my school program while living and working in another state. 

I did not think it was possible to live a happy life after infertility, but it is. It is, it is, it is! Even if you don't believe me right now, it is entirely possible to enjoy life again. I promise you that miracles do happen.

My husband and I are playing the long game. We could have just up and moved several years ago, but we're trying to be strategic about it. Life is expensive and I wanted to get a new career, one that I enjoyed and one that hopefully pays just a little bit better. However, I am getting really tired of our pragmatic approach. I am anxious to move NOW. But I am proud of us for going the delayed gratification route. We are going to be in a much better place when we move next year compared to what it would have been like if we had moved several years ago.

So in the meantime, I went back to school, got slammed with homework, and decided to start a blog amidst all my millions of deadlines. I am so glad I did.

And this morning I was skimming some of my old posts and found some things I had written that I had forgotten about... Oh, the ups and downs of infertility...

So, I'm not going away. My infertility isn't going away. And there's only more people joining us in this childless/free-not-by-choice circumstance, so I think we should all just keep showing up for each other. And one day we are going to get together and have a massive party!!!

Until then, here are a few of my favorite posts from my first year of blogging. Enjoy! 💜


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sitting Through a Lecture on IVF

The physiological response to trauma is so interesting to me.

Today's class covered trying to conceive and fertility treatments and I immediately had a physical response. I didn't know those topics were going to be covered in today's lecture. But there I was, sitting in class, listening to information I already knew inside and out. I just wanted it to be over with. But it kept going on forever. My stomach got upset. I felt warm. I think I might have sweat a little. I did all I could do in the moment; I sat there and paid attention to my breathing. And I occasionally answered questions out loud. Apparently no one else knew the answers. (They're all young and/or fertile. They don't have to know these things.) I would have felt weird about answering questions in class (which in no way revealed any of my personal information), but I often ask and answer questions in class so it was nothing out of the ordinary. Thankfully, the professor called a break.

Finally.

But still. The damage was done. I don't want to say my entire day was ruined because I don't want to think like that. But, my stomach was definitely messed up for the rest of the day. And I still had all of my classes to get through...

It was fine.

I got through it. I'm home now.
Had a good cry when I got home. Brief but cathartic.

F you trauma. Damn those physiological responses sometimes...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Change of Scenery

It's been a rough month.

My last four posts have been full of sadness and frustration. My last friend who was trying to get pregnant conceived. And then announced it by saying those three little words that I hate, "never give up." (Gross.) I had mixed emotions about going to a kid's birthday party, decided not to go, and I'm pretty sure that decision negatively affected that friendship. (Oh well.) A cousin's wife had a baby, which I learned about on social media while eating breakfast. (I didn't even know she was pregnant.) Insensitivity towards infertility seems to run rampant among my professors, as evidenced by their caustic comments and endless rambling about their own children. (Annoying.) I found out my estranged, older cousin with major addiction issues had another baby. (That's incredibly tragic.) Another friend, who got pregnant with IVF, had her baby. (That's a loss of friendship for me and my husband, as these people were one of the few friends we had as a couple.) I didn't even write about the last two situations. It was just overload, and I felt alone and unsupported in this world. I was exhausted.

And on top of that, my school program just plain sucks. I love the profession, but I have never been more disappointed in a program. And this is my third graduate school program, so I kind of feel like I know what I'm talking about. The professors are rude. The school is disorganized. The quality of teaching is severely lacking. And, overall, the whole experience can be summed up in one word: demoralizing.

It's been a rough five years.

So I have been very low energy, not very happy, and just putting one foot in front of the other, keeping my daydreams that I'm working so hard for in the front of my mind.

But don't worry folks! This post has a happy ending.

I went out of town this weekend and it was one of the best things I've ever done. My trip was related to my future profession, but it had nothing to do with my school. In fact, I wasn't even in the same state. It was a change of scenery and it was glorious.

Sometimes you just need to get away. I missed my husband and I missed my dog, but I felt good. I felt good about my decision to go back to school. My particular school may suck, but they're just a means to an end. I felt good about my husband's and my decision to move. Of course, I missed home but only because my husband and dog were there. That's about it. I came home and my husband asked, "Well, are we still on track? Are we still moving forward with our plan?" And I gave a hearty, "Oh hell yeah!" reply.

I'm gonna remember this the next time I have several weeks in a row knocking me down. I don't usually have the time and money for an out of town trip, but I am going to try to create a relaxing "staycation" next time I need a break. There will always be fertile irritations and annoying professors/co-workers/bosses but I can always get away, whether that is by taking a trip or enjoying good food with a good book at home.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Never Give Up?

I am having a hard time letting this one go. Honestly, I am pissed. My last friend to get pregnant announced it on social media yesterday. Ok, whatever, she called me to tell me so I knew the announcement was coming...

But.

Ugh. I hated it. I hate how she announced it!!!

She posted a pic of a bunch of her needles in a heart shape (which I think is extremely personal and kind of gross but whatever I guess) surrounding a onesie that said something about things being worth the wait.

(Ok. A little weird, but people are entitled to their own choices.)

She wrote out ALL of their treatments, what all they had done and how many treatments failed.

(Ok, now we're definitely getting too far into Overshare Territory for my tastes, but, again, people can share what they choose to share.)

But, it's how she ended it that makes me want to scream and break things:
"For those struggling with infertility, I want to encourage you not to give up."

Oh really???

So, I gave up, huh?
What? I didn't want it bad enough?
I didn't try hard enough?
Did I not deserve it?
Or, let me guess, it just wasn't meant to be; things happen for a reason... UGH. GROSS.

Thankfully, I am super secure in my decision to stop treatments. As I've written before, they were killing my soul. I was a shell of a person. I was depressed and hollow and inactive and in a very very bad, very very dark spot. So, my former friend's comments don't make me question my decisions, but they do hurt my feelings.

Of course, she is not going to be thinking of me when she announces her pregnancy. Of course she is not going to be thinking about how her cry of "Never give up!" will affect the infertile women who will never get pregnant.

But why didn't she think of me?

She has been dealing with infertility for years. She came to me for advice about finding a doctor and what to expect with IVF and how to deal with failed treatments. We've been friends since high school. She knows how badly I always wanted to be a mother. Or, at least, I thought she did.

I'm having a hard time letting go of this one, but writing this post is helping. I HATE it when women who struggled to get pregnant suddenly seem to have amnesia about the whole experience once they get pregnant/have a baby.

I suppose, the worst part was that she was doing a gender reveal (I freaking hate those) live on social media at a certain time, so everyone could tune in and watch. Um, no thank you. So she's already gone. My friend who only just began her second trimester is lost to mommy madness already. I wish her well.

And for anyone else, in case you need a healthy reminder:
IT IS MORE THAN OKAY TO GIVE UP.