Mixed Feelings

Hubby: “You make sure you wake me up before you take the test, okay?”
Me: “Okay, I’ll tell you when I have to go.”
Hubby: “No. Wake me up and tell me you’re going to take the test.”

So that’s what I did this morning at 6:30 am. Woke Hubby up to tell him I couldn’t hold it any longer. That I had to take the test now.

2 minutes later it was all over. We hugged each other and then crawled back into bed.

Hubby: “You okay?”
Me: (pauses) “Yes.”
Hubby: “You sure?”
Me: (pauses again) “Sure.”

But really I wasn’t. Eventually,  I told Hubby the truth. And the truth was that I had mixed feelings about the pregnancy test that I took this morning.

It was negative. And I had mixed feelings about it being negative.

I was sad, that’s for sure. You see, I’m late with my period by over two weeks and there’s the part of me that was hopeful for a positive test after all these years.

I won’t lie … I was already planning ahead; thinking about setting up a doctor’s appointment if the test came back positive. I had in my mind when the “maybe baby” would be due. And was deciding if Hubby and I would want to know the sex of the “maybe baby” or let it be a surprise.

I was feeling hopeful.

Now that we know for sure that I’m not pregnant, I’m disappointed … but on the other hand, I’m also relieved.

Relieved because I know that I’m 40 and I don’t know if I have the capacity to be a good “older” parent. Let’s face it, we’d be closer to 60 by the time our child would graduate from high school. If we were lucky, in our 70’s by the time our child married. And if we were really lucky, we’d have time to enjoy grandchildren.

Oh, I know it’s no longer uncommon for women to get pregnant in their 40’s. However, 40 wasn’t the age I was planning to have children. I wanted them more than 15 years ago.

Besides, I’ve been coming to terms with living child-free after infertility. I’ve started to think of Hubby & me living our lives as a Family of Two. What would having a child now do to this new path in life?

I’m feeling other emotions (like good old Catholic guilt), but sadness and relief are the predominant ones. I’m sure that these feelings will fade with time, as everything eventually does. But for now, since it’s still fresh … I’m just going to let me feel what I feel.

Failure = Success?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the post I wrote last week and how failure has shaped my life over the past decade or so. Then my Hubby sent this article to me that talks about how failure can actually turn into success.

I’m not sure how I feel about the article. I mean, I get what the message is; that in order to succeed you have to allow failure into your life. That we can learn from our failures.

So what have I learned from my failures? Losing a job taught me that nothing in life is ever “stable.” Moving back to Detroit from Chicago after my Dad passed away taught me that guilt is a strong enough motivator. Infertility taught me that not everything that you give 100% into will result in success.

Not necessarily happy things, right? Truth is, failure has taught me to be more wary of people, of situations. The once confident woman that I was in my twenties, has morphed into a 40-year old woman with more self-esteem issues than a teenager.

What I need to do, as Hubby keeps telling me, is realize that I should let go of these failures and move on. And I need to realize that everything I do won’t necessarily fail; that even little things in life (and work) can be a success.

I need to believe in myself.

Dark Spaces and Other Things

I went to a dark space this past week. I went back to the land of longing for a child of my own.

That’s a place, while always in the back of my mind, that I haven’t been to in a long time.

It started when I found out that a newer co-worker of mine had triplets. So naturally I asked if this was a surprise to her when she found out she was having triplets. That’s when I found out that she and her husband had done IVF and had succeeded with pregnancy after their second try; a frozen cycle from the remaining embryos from her first try.

D*mn it. I was jealous.

So jealous that I thought of our one failed IVF cycle and the failed ability to even have tried a frozen cycle. Which then had me thinking that if we did succeed with our cycle, our child/children would be 9 years old.

Nine. Years. Old. What a different person I might have become if we were successful.

Maybe I wouldn’t be such a sad person inside. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so anxious all the time. Maybe I wouldn’t be so afraid of failure like I am about everything in my life.

I know. I’m realistic enough to know I could still be the same person I am today, with or without kids. However, I do know that my fear of failure stems from the belief that I grew up with: If you try hard at anything, you will succeed.

Except as hard as Hubby & I tried to conceive, we did not succeed.

Failing at trying to procreate was the first time I ever had to question that belief. The corresponding darkness that followed our failed IVF only allowed me more time to question whether anything I do would only result in failure.

So the dark place I was at this week? It all boiled down to my fear of failure in EVERYTHING I do. From feeling like I’m a failure at work, to feeling like I’m a failure in my personal life.

I’m still a little fragile from this past week … probably will be for a while, if I’m being honest with myself … but I’m trying to be better. Trying to realize that sometimes failures can be opportunities for improvement. And trying to remember that mistakes are really just mis-takes.

Thirty Days of Thanks, Day Twenty

Spent part of my day outside today. That is, after spending most of it indoors at work. But at least I got to leave in the early afternoon.

My Mom and I went to place a grave blanket on my Dad’s grave this afternoon. We bought a bare blanket and spent some time decorating it with ribbons and bows. This is the first time we decided to decorate it ourselves and we actually had a fun time doing it. We did a fine job, if I do say so myself!

Afterwards, we went out for an early dinner and had some nice conversation. Overall, it was a great afternoon.

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So I’m thinking that Mom & I should make it an annual thing … something we can do together. Because there’s not much we do together.

It’s not that we don’t get along … it’s just that we don’t share a lot of the same interests or find a lot of things in common.

I wish we could … find things more in common. Which is strange to say, since she is my mother. We should have tons of things in common. But we don’t.

It’s one of those things that I shouldn’t do … but I blame part of it on the fact that I don’t have children.

(Yes, I’m bringing out the “Infertility Card.”)

We’ve never really had much in common, even growing up. But I always thought that once I had a baby, I’d be able to turn to my Mom for some “I don’t know what the h*ll I’m doing”-bonding.

And even if we didn’t always see eye to eye, I would put our differences aside if my kids wanted to spend time with their “Lola.”

But since the kids/grandkids thing isn’t going to happen, I want to find some way to bond with my Mom; to connect with her.

So maybe it won’t be bonding over what latest funny thing “Johnny” just did. Maybe it’ll have to be bonding over what we’ve lost together … her, a husband; me, a dad.

What am I grateful for today? The time spent with Mom, bonding over my Dad.

Practicing What I Preach (repost)

Here’s the last of my reposts for National Infertility Awareness Week. I’m especially proud of this one for some reason. Perhaps because this post forced me to stand up to the ignorance of infertility … Anyway, to see the original post, click here.

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Dear Curious,

Thank you for your comment on my previous post. As always, I welcome any responses to what I write. To me, any response means that I’m effectively getting my words out into the world.

My last post did not mean to belittle Cancer as a disease. And yes, I realize that I was a bit over the top and melodramatic at the end. I truly debated as to whether or not I should respond to you. But then I thought that I should really practice what I preach.

And what I’ve been preaching lately is that it’s better to educate others about Infertility than perpetuating a myth.

In this case, it’s the myth that Infertility is not a disease, but rather just a “condition” that is a result of a “badly dealt hand” in life.

Or as Margaret Wente’s editorial in The Globe and The Mail indicates, “Many things in life are deeply unfair, and infertility is just one of them … … [In the] meantime, record numbers of people are embracing childlessness out of choice. It seems that one person’s deep unfairness is another’s blessed liberation.”

So, as an RN Case Manager … who has not only taken care of many Cancer patients at the hospital and has followed up with them on an ongoing basis after they’ve returned to their homes … let me take the opportunity here to dispell this myth.

1. Let’s first get our definitions straight.

Condition: a usually defective state of health (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Disease: a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Cancer: a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues (from the National Cancer Institute website)

Diabetes: a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin (from the American Diabetes Association website)

Infertility: a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse (as defined by the World Health Organization, as stated by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine website).

2. Now, let’s discuss the difference between a condition and a disease.

Many diseases started out as a being known as a “condition.” Diabetes was a “sugar condition.” Asthma was a “breathing condition.” It’s not until science began to do more research to determine the reason for its abnormal patterns in functioning that a condition came to be called a disease.

To me, this is why giving voice to Infertility and educating the general population is extremely important: so that more research can be done to discover how to effectively and consistently treat Infertility. And when I mean “consistently,” I mean that there should be a specific pathway (or guideline to follow) for treatment of Infertility. Much like there are standards of practice for treatment of the various types of Cancer.

3. Now let me discuss why I think all diseases aren’t fatal, as you’ve indicated.

Eczema isn’t fatal. Scleroderma isn’t fatal. Diabetes isn’t even fatal. What’s fatal is what happens if appropriate treatment is not carried out. That’s when other health conditions (or comorbidities) can add to the complications involving the disease.

Going back to Diabetes: If a Diabetic’s blood sugar isn’t controlled properly, then this could lead to diabetic nephropathy — or kidney disease. This is caused by the kidneys working overtime to filter out protein from the body. Continued overworking can cause kidney failure which could, again if untreated could cause toxicity in the body, ultimately leading to death. But would a pathologist consider diabetes as the cause of death in a situation like this? Likely no; it would most likely be kidney failure as a complication from Diabetes.

Now, substitute diabetes in this situation with, let’s say … pancreatic cancer. Again, pancreatic cancer could more likely be the complication in a fatal situation such as this.

4. So now let me talk about why I think complications from Infertility can be fatal.

First there’s the idea of an abnormal reproductive system; which, like most diseases, could be caused from a variety of different sources. In this case, it’s during any part of the reproductive cycle. But just for sh*ts and giggles … let’s say that — in determining the cause for Infertility — the woman discovers that she has Ovarian Cancer. Or we find out that the man has Testicular Cancer. Then I could logically assume (as you’ve pointed out) that Infertility can be related to Cancer (or vice versa, for that matter) and any complications that result from Cancer can be fatal.

Or … how about this? Let’s say, in the quest to have a child, a woman who has put her body at risk to become pregnant is suddenly more at risk during her pregnancy because of Pre-ecclampsia. And suddenly it becomes evident that a choice needs to be made as to whether to save the woman or her baby? I know women who have tragically been through this. And I hope, sometime in your life that you might have some empathy for them …

5. And finally, speaking of sympathy … I must point out that sympathy for my Infertility is not what I’m asking from you … or from anyone.

What I really want is empathy. And that would mean that I’d want the understanding from others that Infertility is a disease and it deserves to be recognize. It’s not something to be swept under the rug or ignored.

And quite frankly, I would hope that a person with Cancer would also want empathy rather than sympathy. For me, someone who is sympathetic can only “feel” pity and sorrow for someone’s misfortune. While a person who is empathetic has the ability to recognizecomprehendperceive and directly feel the emotion of another. Seriously. I’d rather have someone recognize and comprehend how difficult it is to be in my situation than to just simply say (perhaps in their head), “Too bad, so sad.”

So here’s one last set of definitions.

Sympathy: the feeling or mental state brought about by such sensitivity (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

So hopefully you now have a better understanding of why I wrote my last post.

I’m not asking for more recognition than what Cancer, with its multitude of community support, already has. I’m just simply asking for recognition.

And finally … just so you know. I am a survivor of Infertility … not because one of my parents suffered from Infertility (because my Mom did ) … and not because I ended up having children (because I didn’t) … I consider myself a survivor because I was able to sustain years of treatment for Infertility and came out the other end of a verrry long tunnel with my dignity (relatively) intact.

Best of luck in wherever your life takes you,
Emily