Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The one where I get bitchy

This is going to be a long one. I apologize in advance for the brain-dump, but I need to get this out.

January 25, 2011. Four days after Grey and I officially began our infertility workup, we attended the first class for Ali Domar's mind/body program. I have some great things to say about Dr. Domar's work with the mind/body connection and infertility. I also have a lot of good things to say about Carol Knoph, the instructor for this class in the Seattle area. Certainly a topic I want to cover more in a future post.

What was interesting about this group for me was it was the first group of women I was finding in real life who were also struggling with infertility. Though nervous, I was also at ease with the idea of being around others who "got it," who understood what it meant to live with the grief and pain of this horrible disease and how isolating it is. I fully expected that this group would be a source of support. Little did I know how wrong I was.

Before I go any further, I need to point out that I don't have anything against group therapy. With the right leadership and appropriate rules, it can be a wonderful experience and RESOLVE runs many fantastic support groups. The thing is though, every group NEEDS someone to mediate. It needs to adhere to established ground rules and goals. Because without those, it's easy for one person to take over, absorbing all the energy in the room and making it a venue for them to air all their BS without actually dealing with it. And once that happens, it's all downhill from there.

Our group leech was a woman named Angie. Angie and her husband were trying to conceive for 2 yrs with no success, other than a suspected chemical pregnancy. Angie had PCOS. Angie also had a host of emotional issues and could easily spend the entire 2 hrs talking about every woe in her life from the time she was born. Angie was also the first person I met to undergo IVF. Like everyone else, I was supportive. I was very happy for her when we learned about her BFP and then the news of twins. But where things started to go south was after the course ended and we started meeting independent of Carol. It quickly became clear that she lacked empathy for others in the group and with a lack of leadership, those sessions turned into Angie therapy session. Instead of focus on mind/body, the attention shifted to how miserable she was as a person. She would complain obsessively about pregnancy symptoms despite the fact that another group member was grieving a failed cycle. When called out on how hurtful she was being, she immediately pulled the "but I'm infertile too" line and threaten to banish herself in hopes of more support. The final straw for me was hearing about her rubbing her very pregnant belly and whining about having to support 2 babies at a meeting while a another member, Beth, was going through a miscarriage. Needless to say, I stopped attending group meetings immediately.

Angie wasn't my only example of an infertile with amnesia. Before, during and after Beth's failed cycle, I spent a lot of time supporting her. I cheered for her with the news of the BFP, prayed like crazy when the betas weren't climbing and spent a lot of time being available for her to vent. I even knitted her a pair of fertility socks for her pending January FET. All this during the time that my IUI cycles failed and my family was cut off. In November, I received a "surprise" pregnancy announcement from her, stating that she had undergone a FET and didn't tell anyone. At the time, I swallowed my shock and pain, determined to be happy for her and reasoning that she needed to do what was best for her and her husband. Still, being blindsided hurt. When I learned my first IVF cycle was ending in miscarriage, I contacted the other members of the group hoping for support as I was reeling from the news. Though a couple emailed me back, insisting that I attend that evenings meeting so they could offer support, in general the rest were silent. Then I got an email from Beth.
I'm so sorry!  This whole thing is so hard.  I know that talking to XX was helpful for me.  (She is a counselor who specializes in fertility struggles.)  Take all the time you need to mourn and heal.

I do have to say that the FET cycle is SOOOO much easier than an IVF cycle.  There are not nearly as many drugs, so it is just a much easier process.  You can time things out to accommodate your schedule. I know that seems far away at the moment, but it may give you some hope in this difficult time.  
Needless to say, I cried after getting this email. I felt so belittled and betrayed with the response about me losing my pregnancy. It felt like it didn't matter.

I need to reiterate what I said in my previous post: I am not a fan of the pain olympics nor of people one upping one another. I also don't believe that support should be less for someone if they are able to become pregnant nor should they be attacked. We're a community, damnit. We should be supporting one another through the good times as well as the bad.

But I do believe that if you walk this road for any amount of time, you have a duty to remember those who are in the trenches. I'm not suggesting that you become a champion for every person suffering from pregnancy loss and infertility, but if you were supported by others, be they here or online, you owe it to them to reciprocate that support.

Mel once asked if it is appropriate to hold an ALIer responsible for insensitive comments or actions. Honestly, I do. I get that there are days where we'll make mistakes and say/do something that is completely insensitive (hell, I do it all the time), but I also believe that to develop amnesia is to have a double-standard and selfish. To say or do something that would have been incredibly painful for you and then become defensive about your actions makes me see red.

Following my second miscarriage in April, I wanted to die. There were many days following the news where I prayed I wouldn't wake up to this hell. I felt so betrayed by my body, the universe and the world in general. Looking back now, I see how dire the situation was and am completely amazed that neither Grey or I lost our minds. What added to the hurt was being isolated. So few reached out to us, assuming instead that giving us space was the best course of action. Even as it became clear it wasn't. The ones who did reach out were those I've met through this community, with posts, emails, comments, texts and socks keeping both Grey and I afloat. For that I am eternally grateful.

The few resolving IFers I knew in real life pulled away, leaving us alone during our darkest hour.

What's sparking all of this is a letter that I received letter from one of these IFers. An apology of sorts. And I'll be honest, I don't know what to do. I understand she's trying to reach out, trying to figure out a way to be supportive now. But with that letter came the memories of April. All the pain, the fear and the hollowness. The memory of death. But most importantly came the anger for feeling abandoned. For feeling like I was used, with my only purpose serving as a cheerleader but that my pain didn't matter. And as much as I don't want to be the bitter infertile, it's hard to look at the enclosed birth announcement and not think "why did my babies have to die?"

Tonight I'm hurting. I'm hurting because I don't want to be this way. I'm hurting because of the guilt I'm feeling. I'm hurting because of the raw emotions that have emerged.

I'm hurting because I know now that I deserved better.

I don't wish any of these women to still be in the trenches instead of holding their children. Nor do I think any of them are less deserving, despite the fact that I think one of them has some serious emotional problems. But I do expect that they would know how fucking important it is to reach back, to offer support and to be aware that isolation and platitudes are the worst response to anyone who is grieving. To not become what was such a source of pain.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Episode 5!

Another weekly episode with three wonderful women.

This week we talk about FETs, mens' reaction to infertility and loss and finally a review of Keiko Zoll's  eBook "the YOU Project." Go make one of Keiko's Rosh Hashanah wishes come true!

Oh, and we have another rant. Gotta love the rants.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

One of those days

Yesterday started off normal enough. Laundry was done, friends were talked with and I had a hair/ eyebrow waxing appointment (Cristy is no longer allowed near tweezers and has been prescribed Rogaine for her eyebrows). Being it was a nice, sunny day in Seattle, I decided to walk around the neighborhood to finish some errands. And then I saw the sign that made me do a double-take: "It's a Baby Shower!!" decorated with streamers and pink balloons. Posted on the door of a local bar.

I been sensing a lot of tension as of late, both in real life and online. With the end of summer and the start of the new school year has come changes in interactions with people; forced interactions that are leading to more conflict. Both Grey and I have been seeing more of it: minivan drivers having near-misses with bike commuters, teenagers speeding through school zones, texting while driving and even old women with shopping cart rage. Part of this tension has to do with the weather changing, with the people's moods being predictable based on the temperature and amount of sunlight. But there's something else too.

The invasion of the local bars is a good barometer of this, with young parents unapologetically propping their newborns on barstools. In some ways, both Grey and I support this: children weed out the trouble-makers, business is booming for certain establishments simply by modifying their floor plan and it's a way to educate children about healthy alcohol consumption behavior. Still, there are days I want a break from the baby-boom in this city and finding a young mother nursing at 11 pm while sipping a beer certainly doesn't help.

The last couple of days, I've been reading posts that remind me of what I'm seeing in real life. The pain olympics have been rearing their ugly head, pitting blogger against blogger. I've found newly pregnant bloggers posting about how they are tired of having to apologize for IVF/IUI working, I've found news of recent losses where commenters talk about how losing at "X" stage or with "X" diagnosis is the worst possible thing that can ever happen and I've noticed that bloggers I use to follow who are further along in their pregnancies have all but disappeared. Like real life, it's feels like if you aren't suffering or haven't suffered enough, you aren't allowed to write about it. Equally so, if you are one who has finally received the happy news that everything is working the way it should, you're defending yourself.

I'll be honest: all of this makes me sad. As someone who is currently living childless with no clear plan on resolving, it hurts to see members of this community turn on one another. One of the things both Grey and I are working very hard on (me more than him) is being a part of our community again. Are there days where seeing bellies and strollers hurts? Absolutely. Part of me will always mourn that. But do I blame any of them for our infertility? No. And I would hope that one day, when Grey and I do find our children that we would be surrounded by love and support from our community, both in real life as well as here. I would hope that those who were still in the trenches would understand that finding resolution doesn't mean I was abandoning them.

I still have my bitter moments: to hear that my niece wants to name her new sister "coffee filter" because it would be funny is bittersweet, reminding me of the pregnancy I lost. To hear Grey talk about a coworker's new daughter and how cute she is. To see parents walking towards the zoo. And even to get a baby shower invitation for a dear friend. But, these are moments. The thought process that allows the bitter to take over has to be eliminated in order to live and I fight that urge to descend simply because I don't want to live that way anymore. I want to be a part of life.

I have a request: stop with the pain olympics. Have some incredibly shitty things happened to women here that I love? Yes. And it breaks my heart into a zillion pieces. No one should have to bury their unborn child(ren), suffer through the pain of a failed cycle, undergo a D&C, take shots of Methotrexate to terminate a pregnancy, make the decision between their health and that of their unborn child or see their dreams of family vanish before their eyes. But playing the pain olympics is a losing battle. To do so continues the cycle of a pain and despair, turning one into a zombie. To do so minimizes those who have suffered to. To do so is to lose everything.

So stop. Cry, scream, rage at the universe. Then come back to this place and allow your brothers and sisters in this journey to wrap you in love.

To those who are on the road to resolving, be sensitive but unapologetic. I'm will certainly celebrate your pregnancy with you and support you as you begin to navigate your way through the scary reality that is parenthood. I'll be there encouraging you on as you talk about preparing for the next stages in life, hoping for nothing but a smooth road. But remember what it was like to live in the trenches. Those weeks, months and years where you felt alone in your pain. Don't develop amnesia and disappear, assuming that this aspect of your life never existed.

It's time to end this brewing battle, repair the fissures that are happening. Just as Grey and I refuse to hid our infertility and childlessness, so too do we refuse to make those with children feel unworthy. We are hell bent on breaking the stereotype. Failing beautifully many days, but still trying.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Last night, Grey and I had our weekly meeting with David. Though the agenda was to focus on me and my hang-ups about seeing myself as a mother, the conversation quickly turned to Grey's thoughts and feelings. He talked extensively about the anger he's been feelings as of late: anger from the losses, anger from having to endure the hell of treatment, anger from feeling once again like an outcast. He also talked about the sadness, the pain. As he talked, I realized that though Grey has voiced all of this to me before, this was the first time he was opening up about everything in a succinct manner, connecting the dots and forming conclusions.

Then he shocked me. Grey took my hand and told David that the emotion that scared him the most was that for the first time in 3 yrs he finally felt happy again. He was finally starting to feel like himself.

And it was at that moment that I was able to verbalize what had been stirring in me too. That the emotion I was feeling wasn't simply an absence of pain and despair.

One of the scariest things about deciding to stop treatment following failure is this belief that one is giving up. And with giving up comes this idea that you are somehow defective as a person. You're giving up because you are weak. You're giving up because you're stupid. You're giving up because you never really wanted children. I struggled with this belief when we decided to stop, thinking that I would simply plunge into the adoption process and it would make everything right. Little did I know that this forced break was actually a blessing in disguise; an opportunity to heal and reflect on everything.

What I'm learning during this time, through reading, writing, therapy and talking with other bloggers is the decision to stop treatment wasn't us failing or not wanting children enough. Far from it actually. Instead it was a conscious choice to heal and make decisions for the road ahead. To preserve our sanity and regroup for the next part of this journey.

What has come unexpectedly is a transformation in both myself and Grey. Through therapy, we have both begun to communicate more openly, sharing with one another some of our deepest fears. In having a safe place to talk and with the help of someone to facilitate conversation, we been finding our resolve towards our family deepening. By saying goodbye to our biological children, our dream of our family, we've begun to see the path that will take us to our children.

To my surprise, we haven't been stuck all this time; we've been moving forward. These years are not actually lost years. These are the foundation years; the years that are transforming our family and forming the skeleton for the future.

Last night, as Grey and I were cuddling in bed, he recounted all the pain and loss from the past 2.5 yrs. We both still feel the pain from each milestone of this journey: the fear during the first year, the diagnosis, the failed treatments and finally lossing our children. We both cried as we talked about the hell of lossing both through pregnancies; the loss of hope. What was different from before is that instead of talking about it and feeling isolated in my grief, I could feel Grey tighten his hold on me, signifying that he was there too. And as we drifted off to sleep, all I could think of was how grateful I was to have this man next to me, helping me as we continue our journey towards our children.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bitter Infertiles, Episode 4

Giving the weekly plug for another episode of Bitter Infertiles! 

This week we talk about Mo's decision to go cold-turkey on pee sticks, antidepressants/therapy while dealing with infertility/loss and MTV.

Special guest for Faces of ALI: Single Infertile Female. I have no words to describe how awesome Leah is nor how great this conversation was. So go listen!

You can listen here and here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Signs of autumn

Deadlines loom. I should be writing. Instead, today was a baking/canning day. 

First on the menu: Red current jam. Finding red currents in the US is a rarity, so I went into full whining/pleading mode with Grey when I saw these beauties at the grocery store (Grey was actually sold when he saw the berries, but he was also curious to see how much of a spectacle I was willing to showcase to obtain them. Apparently, I did not disappoint).

Red currents are renown for being incredibly simple to make jam from, requiring no additional pectin. Considering I'm still a neophyte, this recipe did not disappoint. Stems and berries can be cooked with copious amounts of sugar and then strained through cheesecloth or processed through a food mill. Since we don't own a food mill and I wanted more of a jam, I separated the berries from the stems. Tedious work, but the outcomes is amazing.

While waiting for the berries to simmer, I set upon project #2: old-fashion apple dumplings.

A coworker brought a bunch of cooking apples to work, as his trees are yielding more fruit then he knows what to do with. Grey has fond memories as a child apple picking in Eastern Washington and I remember apples being a sure sign of autumn and the start of the school year. I spent a couple of hours sorting through recipes before I began, simply because I couldn't believe that some were calling for Mountain Dew.

This is clearly a first pass, as none of these babies are uniform in size or shape. Still, Grey's first response when entering the kitchen was "it smells like autumn," so I'm hoping I did something right.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Embracing chaos

This week has been a hard one. On top of being swamped with work (teaching, writing, research, etc.), I've managed to catch whatever illness that has been spreading through the local schools and daycare centers. Sleep, which is already a treasured event, has become essential and coveted. That and chicken broth. Lots and lots of homemade chicken broth.

Hence, I've been bad about writing. I promise it will improve as I become more alert.

A couple of months ago, Grey and I were having a discussion based on a Slate article on Chaos Theory. The long and the short of it is that people can be classified into two types of muppets: chaos muppets, which are referred to as usually being blue, fuzzy and generally crazy (think Ernie, Cookie Monster and on the extreme end, Animal), and order muppets who tend to keep the show on the road (think Bert, Big Bird and Kermit).

Grey is most certainly a chaos muppet, mainly a cross between Ernie and Fozzie Bear. Over time he has become more ordered in certain aspects of this life, but generally it's easy to tell that certain elements of disorder don't phase him. I, unfortunately, am the Bert of order muppets. Frustrated easily by chaos, I like my space to be ordered and tidy. Needless to say, the first few years of our relationship involved a lot of back-and-forth, with me eventually having to decide that mundane household tasks had to be my responsibility if I wanted any home repairs to happen.

There's a problem with being a order muppet on the extreme end, though: you miss out on the fun of chaos. Chaos brings adventure, exciting unknowns. Chaos can lead to new discovers, be it that new route home to a new way of thinking about a nagging problem. Chaos is also the muse for stories, as I've yet to hear an interest is a story where everything worked out as planned. Chaos is something everyone should embrace on some level.

So this was my assignment this week from David and Dee: embrace the chaos. Granted, neither of them were expecting that I become Animal (or Miss Piggy for that matter), but considering it's clear that chaos muppets should always be the one doing the driving, they figured it was time I at least understand what Kermit sings about.

Honestly, I was more panicked about the idea of loss of control. After all, what would happen if the dishes weren't done? The laundry folded and ironed? Or everything prepared for the week? Seeing as I'm one of those people who makes to-do lists, this was sure to be a hard thing. But, there's something to be said about eating cereal for dinner, sleeping in an extra 20 minutes and taking the long route home. Yes, routine is comforting, but breaking it has given me a chance to become more aware of the world.

Today is the last day of this week-long experiment, with Grey and I meeting with David to talk about the results and how embracing chaos has helped silence my inner critic. Though it is most certainly true that I will never fully understand Elmos and Cookie Monsters of the world, what I am learning is how important having moments of mania is to actually living. That without those crazy moments of chaos, some of my more precious memories would not have existed.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bitter infertiles, part 3

Happy Monday, all! Episode 3 for Bitter Infertiles is live. With a homework assignment to boot.

1) Share with us your 2 week wait survival tips.
2) Share with us your strategies for bring back the fire in your sex life while dealing with prescribed sex or just TTC craziness.
3) Share with us your baby shower/ baptism/brit milah/holiday/general family or friends togetherness survival tips.

Please post all your thoughts and suggestions on the website. And share them here, as yours truly could dearly use them!

On a final note: Cristy needs to seriously cut back on caffeine. For realz.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

This got to me

SQ round-up have a second-helpings post this week that got to me. Not so much the whole article, but parts of it that make one close the door to what ever room they're in to finish followed by several minutes rolling the words around in your head. Those few paragraphs sent electric shocks through my head and resulted in me going for a 30 minute walk afterwards.
There’s a lot of magical thinking about pregnancy going around these days. In the personal sphere it’s a waste of time; in the public sphere it is terrifying and destructive.
Contrary to the beliefs of conservative politicians, women’s choices about pregnancy are not a question of will, or luck, or magic vagina barricades. Getting pregnant is neither punishment nor reward. It is not a magical blessing or a curse — and it most definitely is not a silver bullet you can use to shoot yourself out of a rut. It is a plain biological fact that may or may not result in a healthy baby, that could immeasurably enhance or irreversibly damage your life prospects.
Women are raped and get pregnant. Women in loving monogamous relationships who want to get pregnant can’t. Women with five children are forced by circumstance or religion to have more. Lesbian women who long to be parents have their hopes squashed by red tape and bigotry. Single women who get pregnant by accident and suddenly have to re-evaluate their attitudes toward the whole question of whether they will ever raise children end up miscarrying. 
Like many who have traveled this path, infertility has sent me through periods of self-loathing and a believe that I am unworthy. During the last 3 years, I've watched seemingly everyone around me in real life achieve pregnancy and bring home their children following uneventful pregnancies. All this while Grey and I tried ever route humanly possible, only to come up short each time. Our greatest achievement to date is seeing two lines on an HPT followed by betas climbing to the thousands, all before it was washed away in blood. And with each miscarriage, I believed it was because of who I was, because I was undeserving of such happiness.

What these few paragraphs made me realize is that one's ability to conceive is not a reflection of who they are as a person. Whether a cycle works or not has nothing to do with who they are.

In a way, this is comforting. Instead of my self-destructive belief that we've failed because I'm undeserving, it turns those feelings of self-worthlessness on their head and proposing another argument that we've done nothing to deserve this. It suggests that my miscarriages were not a reflection of who I am. That I am no less worthy of parenthood as someone who can easily get 'knocked-up.' In a way, it's actually a testament to the type of person one is for those who come out of this process intact and with purpose in life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Choosing to live

My life as of late has been that of reflection. Reflecting on things that have passed, untangling the meaning from past trauma and hurt. I'm discovering a lot about myself as time goes on; the floodgates into my subconscious have been opened and there's no stopping what's coming out. Out of this reflection has been one clear and simple truth.

I don't want to be dead anymore.

One of the cruelest things about infertility is that something begins to die as you go through the process. With each passing month, with each BFN, with each round of treatment, with each and every moment of worry and fear. All of it killing you slowly and leaving you in a corpse-like state. Some call this process the 'deathless death,' reflecting on all the pain and grief that comes from being a victim.

What I'm learning is that one can end this cycle. Learn how to embrace the choses that you do have and to chose to live. To do so means silencing an inner critic; confronting fear directly and reprocessing the way you look at the world. Difficult, but it can be done. 

For too long I've felt hollow, removed from the world. For too long I've felt unworthy of any joy in my life, viewing infertility as just another cross to bear. What I'm beginning to realize is that, though is that as horrible as this journey has been so far, it's not the end of the road. Infertility has left me temporarily childless, but that doesn't mean I will never be a mother. In fact, I'm so determined that I know one day very soon I will be holding my children.

I chose to live. 

Yesterday, as I was driving to work, I was listening to KEXP. In the middle of their usual playlist, featuring local bands and up-and-coming indie groups, I was surprised to recognize the voice of a familiar green frog. Hearing Kermit's voice as he sang 'Rainbow connection' brought on a flood of emotions; emotions that I didn't think I would ever be able to feel again in this context. Yes, there was a brief moment of sadness, but surprisingly there was also peace and, dare I say it, hope. Hope for a future that I know is awaiting Grey and I, filled with laughter and joy. And as the sun streamed through the windows of the car, I found myself slowly swaying to the music, feeling the warmth of the moment. Somehow, after everything, hope lives.  

Kermit the Frog

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard
and answered when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell. We know that it's probably magic.

Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


First off: Episode #2 for Bitter Infertiles is live!  Happy listening!

This past weekend, Grey and I decided to explore our inner child and visit the Museum of Glass.
Ceiling of sea creatures

Glass sculptures on bridge to Glass Museum

For those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend making the trip, especially when there's no sunshine. 

Currently there are two exhibits on display. The first is called 'Maestro' featuring recent works by Lino Tagliapietra. Seeing the waves of color floating through each of these pieces brought a sense of calm and made me smile.


The other exhibit is called 'SCAPES' by the brother/sister team Laura de Santillana and Alessandro Diaz de Santillana. Laura's pieces featuring mounds and orbs were a clear attraction for me, though Alessandro's metallic glass wall-hanging were easy to lose yourself in.

Celestial eggs

And, of course, no visit is complete without viewing the work of Dale Chihuly

Chihuly sea creatures

After meditating among the artwork, it was time to head to the main attraction: the Hot Shop. The artists were well at work on an exhibit that will be featured at UW Tacoma this fall, so everyone was completely entranced by them making 'soap bubbles' with these large orbs of fire.


Demonstration on blowing glass bubbles

It takes the whole team to blow a 50 lb glass bubble 

Seriously, fire brings out the giddy kid in every adult.

While Grey and I were watching the artists blow these large glass bubbles, we got to talking about the properties of glass. Couple of fun facts: glass is chemically classified as a liquid. Hard to imagine, huh? Think of it as being super viscous, more viscous than slow-moving liquids like honey. Apparently one can measure the movement over time, as done with some of the glass windows in cathedrals in Europe. Another fun fact is that most of the glass these artists work with is clear. To add color, they will melt in color bars or add granules of color to the clear glass. This all is kept separate from the main kiln.

How did you spend your Labor Day weekend?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Turning sour into sweet

First off, thank you for your lovely comments on Friday. It's nice to know I'm loved. And no worries about me closing this space. I will continue to write, but as both Sass and Mo pointed out, the focus is shifting.

So, let's try this again.

Many years ago, I read Aesop's fable about the fox and the grapes. It's a short fable with a powerful message:
ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”
The lesson, though simple, is a powerful one. And one that anyone traveling the road of infertility and loss can easily relate to. The issue becomes what happens to those who try using treatment for resolving their infertility and fail? We're most certainly a minority within a minority. What does life look like for us, the ones who are unable to reach the grapes?

The past few months, this is a reality I've been struggling with. I'll be honest, it would be easy to fall on the end of bitterness and despair because of all Grey and I have lost. Yet, I'm tired of living my life this way, tired feeling sadness while watching friends and loved ones move on to embrace their children and live the next chapter of their lives. I'm also tired of being pitied; being seen as that sad case that everyone feels obliged to reach out to but secretly is thankful to not be. So, in addition to healing and planning for the future, I've also been trying to find a way to turn these sour grapes into sweet ones. To make these lost years ones that are actually the foundation for my family's future. Hence, I've been looking for examples, hoping to find beacons in the darkness.

Yesterday the Bitter Infertiles recorded another podcast, during which I had the opportunity to 'meet' Lori Lavendar Luz. I love Lori, not only for her honesty and story, but also for her way of looking at the world. During the conversation, she mentioned a book called "Sweet Grapes" by Jean and Michael Carter. I won't give away the rest of the interview (btw: we're now on iTunes. Go subscribe!!), but what I will say is that I immediately marched myself down to the local bookstore to find a copy after we had finished.

Currently I'm only a few pages into this book, but the message is already a clear and powerful one: having treatment fail does not relegate one to an empty, bitter life. Yes, the pain from infertility and loss will always be with you. Those memories will be hard to surpress. But, there are gains to be had from this journey. The gain of building a stronger relationship with your partner. The gain of learning you have are stronger than you ever gave yourself credit for. The gain of learning how to put yourself first in your endeavors. The gain of having the courage to pursue your dreams. The gain of choosing to live a fertile life. A gain so few in this world actually have the courage to do.

I'd be lying if I said that the past couple of years have been easy. And I'd be an even bigger lier if I told you that I'd chose to travel this road again. But, one of the things both Grey and I are finding is that there have been some amazing things that have happened because we are infertile. We've both met and bonded with some amazing people. We've learned also how to steer clear of those who will suck us dry emotionally. Our marriage is stronger than it's ever been. And I no longer worry about failure.

In short, we're learning to turn the sour of failure into something sweet.

As Mo pointed out, I do have some guilt about feeling this way. For too long, I've walked the path of bitterness and pain because of infertility, so feeling at peace makes me question whether I really deserve children. Thankfully I have this community to smack some sense into me. Still, there's something to be said about finally finding some peace. To actually be in control over my life instead of living as a victim.
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