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.


  1. Cristy - you rock my blog world.

  2. Emotional Vampires need to be avoided when you are tying to get your own life in order. Unfortunately I'm friends to one. Not sure how to walk away from that friendship but I will do it as soon as I figure it out. We all need friends that can support us. I like your sour grapes to sweet grapes.

  3. Bravo my friend. I love love love this post and am so happy you are making your way to a place of more peace. I know how hard it must be to accept the life you've been given. I can imagine it intensely. But you both are on your way and I know that you will find what you are looking for. Be it, a happy and healthy life with just the two of you, or a baby through adoption. Whatever path you go down, we are here to support you.

  4. This is a beautiful post. You so eloquently say so much of what's on my mind now, too. I've heard of Sweet Grapes and am going to check it out now.

    I admire you for carefully evaluating your feelings and being proactive about finding some peace. It is so easy to slip into a place of bitterness.

    I'm glad to hear you and your blog aren't going anywhere. :)

  5. Your last few posts have been so uplifting to me. I think I need a little of that contentment, that peace you've found. Because you won't always be in the circumstances you're in now, but you've found a way to be happy, even for a moment, wherever you are, whatever is happening around you. And that is an amazing quality!

  6. Powerful stuff, I'm not sure I'll be able to reach the grapes either, only time will tell. Turning a corner and working with what you got, be thankful for who's actually in your life is not an easy task but very rewarding the days you feel all right. Thank you for that book tip, and I can't wait for the next episode from the 'bitter infertiles'.

  7. And don't forget, sweet grapes make the best wine. And there's nothing better than sitting back with a great glass of wine. Which is something those fertiles don't get to enjoy.

  8. Such a well-written beautiful post. And you know that I'm hoping for only peace and joy for you in the future. No more sour grapes (or sour people!)

  9. Can I borrow the book after you're done? I feel like I really need to hear those messages right about now. I'm so glad you're continuing to move toward a good place.

  10. Love this post! It makes me so happy hon. Beautiful!

  11. It was so great to "meet" you, too! You ladies run a mighty fine podcast.

    I'm glad you were able to find the book -- I hear it's out of print -- and that it helped you in the way it helped me. I really like what Tami says about wine, too :-)

  12. "Sweet Grapes" was one of the first books I read when continued childless living began to loom large on the horizon. I had/have mixed feelings about it... the authors' view that you simply have to "choose" to be childFREE & all will be well sort of grated on me... I found & still find it difficult to view this as a true "choice," and I felt it sort of oversimplified things.

    But I did appreciate their view that there's a good life to be had after infertility, and some of their suggestions for getting there. Also, someone pointed out to me that the book was written in the mid-1980s, when there weren't quite as many choices available to couples going through IF treatment... I sometimes wonder if the same couple would write quite the same book today. At any rate, I always tell people that it's worth a read. It is certainly considered a classic in the field.

    Btw, I just finished listening to podcast #1 & am listening to #2 as a I type. Loving it! : )


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