Cheers, dear readers,
I wanted to take a moment here to thank Dr Pankaj Shrivastav for his diligence and perseverance in doing his best to care after his patients using any method possible. Having Eric and I share our experiences here in an effort to help Conceive’s patients and the world at large is just an incredibly commendable act. I think it’s important to acknowledge the courage and caring shown from that form of sharing and building of a resource for their community. Thank you for giving Eric and I the opportunity to do our best to help others on this sometimes quite difficult journey using the power of words to inform, inspire and heal. We should remember however that ours is just one family’s story – there are many others out there. Readers, if you are struggling with the effects of infertility, please know that you are not alone in your struggles. Hope, comfort, supportive communities and tools are out there.
Last I left you on my chronological journey with infertility, my impending mid-life crisis was the topic of the day, as well as my confusion on what that was, and how it would affect me. It can be quite scary to find yourself in a place in your life where you don’t really recognize what is truly going on, who that person in the mirror is looking back to you, and how best to cope. I knew that I was struggling, but I didn’t truly know what to do about it besides stay productive and busy. The failure of our IVF procedures weighed heavily on me.
One thing I did know was that talking about our struggles with others is sometimes a very beneficial thing to do for our own healing. At that point in our journey, only a few close friends knew what we had been through. Though they did their best to be sympathetic, they didn’t truly understand the feelings of loss that we were dealing with. Grief is a tricky thing – and sometimes grief hides in the shadows, and sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
The holidays were coming up, and I knew I was going to see my mother. My father had passed several years earlier, and honestly I had never fully recovered from that loss. Neither did my mom. I decided maybe it was time to finally confide in her about our struggles with infertility. Maybe she had a right to know. Maybe it would be a bonding experience for us. At the same time, I partly had not mentioned these struggles to her because we did not have a close and very affectionate or supportive relationship. My mom was a unique women with a fire in her belly that looking back I can now admire. But in our everyday interactions, I found her a difficult, sometimes bitter women that often was self-absorbed. She would without malice sometimes just say the wrong thing. So I had opted to NOT tell her WHILE we were going through infertility. I found that to be the right choice in the end. Sometimes in life, self-preservation is knowing the right time to bring up a sensitive topic to a loved one, and also when not to.
Over the holidays, I mustered up the courage to tell her about our failed IVF procedures. I explained about the sorrow and heartache and the “I’m sorry that I can’t give you (and dad) biological grandchildren. Apparently our family line stops with all of us standing right now in this room.” It was difficult saying it out loud to my mom, and acknowledging the loss again. I was becoming quite good at ignoring the pain. Her response – as was usual for her – was surprising, yet not surprising as I had come to know her over the years. She would just be being herself, yet would shock me (usually not in a good way) with her words…
She said that having children was her greatest joy in her entire life. She could not even begin to imagine what would have happened if that had not occurred for her. It was her one big life goal. And she had achieved it. When I brought up the possibility of adoption (we were in the midst of discussing a trip to an orphanage in Russia at the time), she said that adopting strangers to be part of a family was a bad idea. You have no idea what “stock” they come from, who they are, and it just seemed like a crazy notion to her – and she could never do it. She then went on again to say that she had two wonderful daughters and that made her so happy. Then she changed the subject.
What do you do with that?
Yeah. I didn’t know either. I was stunned. I also patted myself on the back for not having this discussion WHILE we were going through IVF. It would have sent me reeling and thrown off my focus and determination on the goal. Her words very much emotionally smacked me across the face with feelings of loss and failure as well as lack of sympathy, and also now I knew that she did not approve of adoption. It also reminded me that I would never ever know the joy of biological motherhood, and what an incredible gift that is. That stung. Hard. Especially hearing it from my own mother. I often had envied others who had close loving relationships with their mothers, as that was not how I would ever describe this relationship. But still, she was my mom. Upon reflection, I tried to remember the positive parts of what she said. I had to work at it, but the positives were:
1) She was overall happy with her life and loved her family and what she created with my dad.
2) She felt fulfilled through motherhood and had a wonderful sense of accomplishment from it.
3) She loved me (and my sister). And we brought her joy.
And I thought: good for you, mom. No seriously, I was so happy for her. If my mom was unable to have children, I think she would have suffered immensely! Honestly, I don’t think she would have survived or survived well at all. Thank God she was able to have them, even on her timeline! She was a remarkable woman and had planned almost down to the month when my sister and I were conceived and born. She wanted us to be exactly four years apart so that we would not be in college at the same time. She rocked that goal! We are almost exactly four years apart. Talk about family planning. She had told us many hilarious stories about her dating life before she met our dad, and how much she loved him, and was so happy to create a family with him. And hey, if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be here writing to you today.
So with that, I will leave you with this message, and what I learned from the above experience:
1) It’s good to reach out and find your support system when you need it during hard times. BUT sometimes certain people in your life might not be good team members. Find others.
2) Timing is everything too. Learn to be cautious when you tell family members and friends about your infertility struggles. Do your best to time it when you think it will benefit you the most. Will telling them now be helpful or hurtful do you think? Keep your eye on your goal (not only on family creation, but also on your own emotional and mental well-being).
3) Do your best to always look for the silver lining and the positive in every single situation. Sometimes loved ones may say things to you that hurt or sting, but they do so completely unintentionally just talking about their own experience or their own opinions. Remember that their thoughts and experiences are separate from yours.
4) Don’t give others the power or permission to hurt you. Try to let things roll off your back as you later frame the situation in the best possible light.
5) In your own life, remember the power of words. Words can heal. Or they can hurt. They can inspire passion and hope. Or they can create discouragement and more despair. How are you using your words today?
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