Monday, July 25, 2011

That Is a Friend Indeed

"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion or despair, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing…not curing…that is a friend indeed.”
-Henri Nouwen

A while back I ran across another blogger and thought her tips for increasing our sensitivities to infertile friends was very helpful. Check out her full blog here.

"Tips for infertility or going through treatments:
  • Ask your friend how they are doing.  They may or may not want to talk about it, but either way, they will appreciate you asking and thinking of them.  Many times people going through infertility feel forgotten.
  • When you ask your friend how they are doing, don’t pry.  Nothing is worse than feeling like someone just wants “gossip” instead of truly supporting you.
  • When your friend opens up to you, you just have to listen.  They don’t want an answer or a solution from you. Don’t give unsolicited advice.  They just want to get their feelings out or update you on what’s going on.
  • Please do not share empty platitudes with your friend.  “Everything will be ok.”  “Third times the charm.”  “Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.”  “It was God’s plan.”
  • If you don’t know what to say, just listen.  If you want to say something, then something along the lines of “I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through.” or “Life is just unfair and I’m sorry this is happening to you.”  usually work best."
All the insensitive comments I've gotten over the years, have been far out-weighed by all the encouragement from wonderful, supporting friends who have walked with me through my darkest moments. Contrary to what most people might think, I've noticed that some of the sweetest words have come from women who have no trouble getting pregnant and are my age with 4 kids! I guess it's proof that no matter what your struggle is, the ability to be a good friend is more about being able to empathize than in having the exact same experience.
    I have to give a shout out to my fertile Bestie know who you are! She has LISTENED a million times, or more accurately, every month when my period comes-unwanted. She has hugged me and comforted me and tried her best to understand me. I don't know how I would have survived this struggle without her and she's not a fellow support group member or someone who has gone through what I'm going through. She's just a REALLY good friend. We had our boys a month apart and I remember exactly where I was standing in a cabin in Torch Lake, MI when she called to tell me she was pregnant with her second. At that point, even though I had already been trying for almost a year, I was very hopeful that I would get pregnant soon after her wonderful news. Nine months later, I held her hand (or more like her leg-hahahaha) while her beautiful daughter came into the world. And over a year later, I'm still watching her children grow via Facebook and the webcam. (tears in my eyes as I type this and think about them)

    From an outsiders view, and from what I read in my infertility coping skills's an unlikely source of emotional support, BUT it's been my rock and one of the biggest reasons I've held onto hope. She comes from a Jewish heritage where children are so significant and she understands my desires because she shares them too. She and I both want to bring life and light into the world and nurture it until it shines brightly. She and I freak out together about fertility treatments and then she very calmly helps me logically and rationally talk through my options and plans again, and again, and again. (A husband can grow very weary of these conversations so it's good to have a girlfriend back up!)  She reminds me of how God has been faithful and how He has provided and opened doors for me in ways I tend to overlook or dismiss. I'm sure she's sick and tired of hearing me moan and groan but she never lets on that she is. I have a feeling she will cry tears of joy when that wonderful day arrives for me...because she's ached with me all along the way.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Getting My Feelings On My Sleeve

    Been doing a lot of thinking lately and been bad about blogging. My blog is supposed to be therapeutic for me, as journaling is widely recommended for women dealing with infertility. Problem is, I journal in my head! When I do gush out my feelings, I'm terrified at how they will be last blog for example. I almost didn't post it when warned that I would get a lot of hateful comments if I wrote about something as controversial as abortion. But I stuck with my gut. If this blog is for me, and this blog is about my feelings and journey with infertility, then I'm going to write about how I feel with someone petitions me for abortion funding. Period.

    Here are a few randoms things from my week. I'm starting to realize that I don't exactly fall into the category of secondary infertility which usually means that the first pregnancy was conceived without treatment and "easily." Since I would have been diagnosed with primary infertility after a year of trying to conceive, but I never saw a doctor, and it took me almost two years to get one sense, I've always had a fertility issue. Most women in secondary infertility support groups, went off the pill and got pregnant right away. It wasn't until they tried to conceive a second child, that they ran into issues. I was never on the pill and hopeful for pregnancy every month for a long time.

    But I've learned from the books I'm reading, that women who haven't yet had a child, have zero tolerance for women with secondary infertility in their support groups because they would "give their right arm to have one healthy child." Now, this really hasn't been my experience. Some of the most encouraging words have come from friends of mine who are still longing for their first child and they have found a way to sympathize with me and relate to my desire. I'm just glad that I'm joining a large community of infertility bloggers and I don't have to be a voice for any one's particular situation. I can just share my struggles and some women will relate, while others may think I'm nutso and ungrateful.  I'm okay with that. I'm okay with a lot things these days. After you live enough years, not getting what you want, you have one of two okay with it or not be! I'm choosing to live my life to the fullest right now, no matter what my circumstances...or the opinions of others. And thank God I live in a society where there is still freedom of expression!

    I went to a 3 year old's birthday party yesterday and I was amused at one of the dads sharing with my husband and me how much harder it is to have more than one child, but how worthwhile it is. It was like he was trying to encourage us to go for it and not be afraid!  It's funny that in a city like Boston, most people assume we have one child by choice.  AND, most people assume we have plenty of time since I'm only 30 and they didn't decide to start their families till their late 30s, early 40s. If there is one "take home" lesson from this journey, it's never make assumptions...especially about people's family planning! I have been very guilty of this in the past, so I'm not speaking any sort of judgment here.

    And speaking of judgements, I may have sounded harsh in the past about the "stupid" things people say to infertile women...BUT I sorta had a mini revelation on this matter just this summer. We were sitting in Israel around a table of food with dearly loved friends when their young daughter looked at me so sweetly and inquisitively and said, "When are you going to have another baby?" I know her mom probably wanted to sink under the table. I, however, needed that question. I needed to see that we all start out innocent in our curiosities and it's only with life experiences and the ensuing maturity, that we learn how to be sensitive with our queries.  Some of us grow up and lack awareness in certain areas, and it's left to the rest of society to gently educate us in our ignorance. At least, wouldn't it be nice if it was a gentle, gracious education? Seeing through the eyes of a child, who meant no discomfort to me, somehow helped me gain a greater perspective on grace. I decided to change my own tone when grown-ups say things that may rub me the wrong way and find a way to gently educate them with a response similar to the one I gave this precious little girl, "We would LOVE more children. Wouldn't that be wonderful?! We are ready when God decides to give us another one!"

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    The Small Things in Life

    I've had a few sleepless nights after Planned Parenthood petitioned outside my building. I've thought before about blogging my feelings on abortion since being faced with infertility but had decided to remain politically neutral on my blog. Then this week happened and I just can't contain myself! The guy asking for funds told me that only 3% goes toward abortions. I said, "3% goes toward killing babies?" "Yes", he replied, "We do, do that." I was dumbfounded. He was unapologetic, cold and proud. I started shaking and had to walk away. 

    Appreciating and protecting the smallest, weakest, most fragile things in life is a human quality, politics and religion aside. I know of liberal feminists who are pro-life. They recognize abortion as demeaning to women and see every tiny human being as worthy of human rights, whether it be an injured animal or person, the elderly or sick, or babies born or still growing in the womb. These are the "small" things in life, yes, the dependent beings. I care about them. My heart breaks for them and I cannot sleep at night when I hear about someone's callous responses to them. When my 3 1/2 year old overhead the phrase, "killing babies," his response was, "But, Mommy, babies are FRAGILE". That's right; my CHILD understands when the adults around him seem confused.

    In our family, we protect the things that are fragile because we value life itself. Ethan and I take care of a 10 year old with special needs. She cannot talk and makes lots of funny noises but Ethan loves her and plays alongside her as best he can. Last week he asked me if she was his sister. :) We don't squish bugs or frogs or anything living just for the fun of it and we would never dream of helping a mother discard the little miracle forming inside her womb.

    Infertility takes away a lot of choices, so when I know a woman could choose to bring life into the world, I'm heartbroken when she ends it instead. I see every conception as miraculous because I've seen how impossible it can be. People have said to me, "Doesn't it just kill you when you hear about all these teenagers getting pregnant and you can't have the child you want in your stable marriage and family." You know what? It doesn't bother me. What bothers me are the women, teenager or adult, who get rid of their pregnancies instead of selflessly looking for the best way to nurture the life within them. This could mean transforming into a mother before they were ready or it could mean giving the greatest gift to another waiting mother.

    This week on ABC I read an interview with Jaycee Dugard, the girl kidnapped, held captive and repeatedly raped by her abductor for 18 years.
    "Perhaps the greatest reminders of real love and goodness was the birth of her daughters in 1994 and 1997. She writes that having her first daughter meant that 'I wasn't alone any more. [I] had somebody that was mine... And I knew I could never let anything happen to her.'"  I also read that when she first saw her baby she was enthralled by her beauty. She took the most horrific situation and still valued and protected the life that came out of that trauma.

    So, am I insensitive to the situations that some women find themselves in by speaking out against abortion? No. I am moved by a deep compassion and desiring only that all human beings, great and small, value the life around and within them. And for all the infertile and fertile women facing choices they never wanted, may they find all the love and support they need to be as courageous, loving and selfless as possible.

    I Would Die for That

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Summer Reading

    I ordered a couple books and the first one arrived today. It's kinda funny that I was really excited to get a book about infertility in the mail! I've decided that the better informed I am about my situation, the more confident I will feel going forward with treatment. Well, let's just say that my child was under-supervised today as I could hardly put the book down. It's called, Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar's Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility.

    I have to admit that the title turned me off a bit but it was highly recommended on Resolve's website. I basically just chose the books that are up for awards this year as there are so many written on the topic, I didn't know where to begin! I was blogging in my head all afternoon but I'm kinda blank at the moment. As I digest these books I'm sure I'll have plenty to share!

    One thing that really struck a cord with me was her research that the peak of infertility related depression often happens around 2 to 3 years of trying to conceive. This was certainly the case with me, both when I was trying to conceive Ethan (going into the second year being the most difficult) and definitely in the 3 years we've been trying for a second child. I feel like I am now over that peak and FINALLY at a place of real peace and contentment about not having anymore children. But I'm not so far removed from the days where I couldn't think about anything else, that I can't go back and capture some of that journey. One of the recommended therapies is journaling and that is how I'm going to look at this blog from here on purging of all things great and small on my road to acceptance and hope.

    I've truly savored each day with Ethan and the ache has lifted...but even in the last 6 months of relaxing and not striving to get pregnant, still nothing. Many, many people have told me that it would happen when we got settled, when I stopped trying, when we moved to Boston, when we moved back to Israel, when we traveled to Israel, when I was less stressed, etc. etc. And while I do appreciate their attempts to encourage, the reality is that none of us knows when we'll have more children. And that's okay. There is no need to make predictions. Just stay with me on my journey.

    Another point the author made was how much more successful women were at getting pregnant when they had great support systems, whether it be from family, an infertility support group, or close friends. I thought about how I wished I had reached out sooner. That now I have so many people praying for us and sending their love....I needed that desperately a year ago and two years ago...but then again, not very many people can understand why you would want another child so soon after your first! And I will note here that there were friends who have supported me all along my "journey of desire"...but that's a whole other blog!

    Tonight at the park I overheard Ethan talking with another little boy while they both "inspected" a doll lying on a bench. Ethan said, "Do you have a little baby?" and then he said, "I'm going to have a boy and a girl baby!" hahahahha Thank you Caillou (PBS children's program) for planting ideas in his head!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Summer Writer's Block

    Breaking my silence was one hurdle, but continuing to speak is a much bigger one for me! I find that as I struggle through decisions and processing all the emotions, I would much rather be silent. I have always thought of myself as someone who "thinks out-loud" but on this topic, it seems much, much more difficult. Part of it is the judgements I feel from others and part of it is my own confusion over everything.  What I feel strongly about one day, changes the next and what I'm absolutely sure about one month, I waver on the next. Thank you hormones!

    We did a lot of travel this summer and before it all started, I had a good doctor's report. I had all my testing repeated and the "numbers" looked much better this time around, indicating that I am NOT in early ovarian failure, or as the doctor put it, "surprisingly, it appears that you are not in early ovarian failure." I asked her to repeat that again and smiled to myself at the months of prayers...begging God to extend my fertile years!  Hearing that news was relieving and allowed us to move on with our busy summer, not feeling anxious to start treatment.

    But here I am, staring at the end of summer, knowing it's been 3 years of "trying", and needing to make big decisions about insurance policies, career direction, and preschools for E. As I'm weighing all my options, Ethan is asking almost weekly if we can get a baby boy AND a girl! At first we redirected all his inquiries but now we've started telling him that he can pray and ask God for a baby and that we would love one too! It's one thing to deal with your own desire for children, but another thing to cope with your child's desire too. I don't want to dismiss his hopes so now we're learning to hope together as a family, submitting all our desires to the One, and Only, who made us all!