Cheers, dear readers,
Last week, my husband Eric and I had quite a scare. We thought that we were going to lose our oldest cat Merrie to cancer or some other feline disease. We thought that we were going to have to make the extremely tough decision to have her put to sleep so that she didn’t have to suffer needlessly or for any length of time. It was an extremely sad, debilitating and stressful few days for us. I was having flashbacks to losing my previous beloved cat to cancer at the somewhat (for a domestic cat) young age of 9.5 years. Merrie is only 8.5 years old which is considered just past middle age for a cat. Losing a loved one – whether a beloved pet or family member or friend – “before their time” can feel so very unfair, confusing and tragic.
There is much about the infertility journey than can feel unfair, confusing and tragic for sure. After many bloods tests and ultrasounds, our cat was diagnosed as having a “fever of unknown origin.” They never were able to tell us why she got such a high fever that nearly killed her via complications and other feline trauma she was experiencing. Similarly, we have several friends who were frustratingly given the diagnosis of “unexplained fertility” as to the reason that they could not conceive on their own. That is frustrating indeed! I will say that it was only somewhat of a relief that Eric and I knew our fertility issues. Our inability to conceive naturally mostly stemmed around a blocked fallopian tube and 40-year old “fried eggs” on my part, and Eric’s “slow swimmers” – sperm with low motility, poor morphology, and general low sperm count (for unexplained reasons of course). Our two reproductive elements had trouble getting together to do the baby dance in the first place. And even when they did get together (via reproductive intervention and IVF), they could not make the miracle happen due to sub-prime biological materials – something that we apparently had virtually no control over. In either case, whether diagnosis of known causes or unknown causes, it is an unfortunate situation for any would-be biological parents.
For many, struggling with infertility is one of the hardest and most devastating battles they may have to face. An infertility diagnosis can rear its ugly head in someone’s youth shortly after a fairytale wedding… or it may manifest and ridicule the carefully laid life plans of those who delayed family building for education, career, or other reasons. It throws every aspect of your life into chaos. It affects your relationship with your partner and with fertile friends and family. It challenges your career in terms of job performance, health insurance issues, and juggling a demanding morning treatment schedule along with other responsibilities. Your emotional and physical health is compromised as well. Your financial situation can be taxed / depleted or alternately dictate whether you can even seek reproductive assistance in the first place. Finally, you live with the ever-present question of “Will I ever be a parent?” And the 24/7 frustration over not being in control of the answer to that overwhelming question.
What I learned through both my infertility journey as well as almost losing my cat Merrie to kitty heaven last week is this:
It is of utmost importance that we count our blessings and live a life focused on gratitude as much as possible. Gratitude in all of its lovely forms can get you far in life.
It can be difficult to accept that bad things such as infertility still happen to good people. Why do lovely people who want so much to have babies naturally have so much trouble? One asks: Why can’t I just have one healthy baby? Why is my body and its parts not working properly?
It can be hard to be happy…much less thankful… when you’re battling infertility. As a way to move away from sad or negative feelings, I would like to challenge everyone with a small but important task:
A Gratitude Project.
Each day, simply list one thing that you are thankful for. Just one. You can simply write it down privately, or share it here on the SS&FE blog, or post it on our Facebook page. Give it some thought and actually write it down in some fashion – that is important. This may come easily or may take a while, but it will come to you. And you will be forced to focus on something positive…if only for a moment – and you can re-read the list in the future on those really bad days. I admit that I often found this hard to do during my own journey, and I think it’s human nature for most of us to take the things we do have for granted and focus only on the things we don’t have…especially when they are as important as a baby. But there is truth to the saying that “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”. So stop and acknowledge the blessings in your life this week – and every week preferably. Remember that there are many things that are truly spectacular to be thankful for… even if it’s just a purring, healthy cat in your arms lovingly looking up at you – her mommy or daddy of a different sort.
So tell me, what are you thankful for?
Please join us next week to hear more about our personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. And I wish you the best on your journey.
This post is also available in: Arabic