Monday, April 29, 2013

A new type of emotional rollercoaster

This space has been quiet for the past few weeks. Far quieter than I ever intended. Part of it has to do with work stress and lack on energy on my end. But the other part has been me dealing with issues that are usually not ALI-friendly. Issues that usually result in hateful comments or rants.

Before I go any further, I need to state very VERY clearly that I am in no way ungrateful for this pregnancy. After 3 yrs of TTC hell, which has included multiple rounds of IVF, isolation from family and friends who have been less than supportive, being lapped, enduring thoughtless questions and comments from the general public and pretty much giving up on the idea of biological children, not a day goes by where I don't stop and thank the Beats for deciding to stick around. This past week those moments have become all the more frequent, as I can finally feel distinct pops and flutters indicating movement from both of them. Believe me, the tears always following these reminders because I know how lucky we are to even be here.

Despite all of this, though, the past week has been one filled with panic attacks and feelings of isolation. In my own little world, I know Grey and I are managing things the best we can. But then I step outside and immediately begin feeling overwhelmed.

First off, there's the reality that I will officially be unemployed come July. Try as I might, there's really no way around this fact and as much as I know that the time at home will be beneficial for the Beats, I'm still freaking out. To date, I have not been without work for more than 3 weeks in over 18 years. I'm use to being self-sufficient and providing for my family. In addition there's the fact that I enjoy what I do and how dynamic the environment is. So dynamic that being out of it for any length of time can make it difficult to re-enter. Hence the additional level of fear about becoming irrelevant and outdated. The long and the short of it are that I'm working actively to put mechanisms in place so that I can prevent all of this. Still, it's scary to know that so much is up in the air and try as I might there's really nothing I foresee the outcome of all of it.

Then there's the logistics of being a pregnant infertile. Of straddling between being on the road of resolution while still having one foot in the trenches.

On Saturday, Grey and I met with Tina, her husband and E for breakfast. Grey and I first met E last year, during a much needed period following our second miscarriage and when we were making decisions about our journey to parenthood. It's amazing how much this little girl has grown and I spent most of our breakfast unable to take my eyes off this beautiful child. One thing that equally amazed me was that Tina had been so insistent on seeing me. I assumed wrongly that this pregnancy would be hard for her, as she was never able to have this experience, and didn't want to subject her to yet another bump. Yet she was filled with warmth and advice as we watched E color and charm all the waitstaff, talking about milestones, daycare and local resources for new parents.

Though the breakfast on Saturday was a fun one, it still resulted in Grey and I reflecting about past decisions later on that evening. Seeing E brought so much joy to our hearts and spurred us both to begin preparations for the Beats. But it also left my heart heavy. This feeling that something was still missing.

Prior to infertility/loss, adoption was something Grey and I had talked about, but in the manner most couples do. "Oh sure, we'll adopt one day" we chimed when asked about family building plans, but the reality was that we had about as much knowledge of the process as your average person on the street. We didn't know about the hurdles, the false-assumptions, the heartache and the stress. Nor did we understand the unique opportunity this process provides to build family, the joy and the love that can grow.

Seeing E brought all of this back to both Grey and I, reminding us how much we wanted to adopt. And with this realization came the fear that we may never be able to. That with all the logistics of caring for the Beats, of recovering from the financial drain caused by fertility treatments, that by moving forward with our careers, we will always be viewed as undesirable as candidates by any adoption agency. And that by not being able to move forward with this option, our family will never truly be complete.

All of this has come with the knowledge that we are far from being out of the woods with this pregnancy. The Beats are healthy and my body is behaving at the moment. But the fear of losing them still persists, knowing that my body has failed before. So on top of all of this, during a period when I know I should be over the moon and preparing for their arrival, I'm finding myself wrapped in guilt. That I'm neglecting our miracle twins and jinxing everything.

At this point, I'm at a loss for what to do. The moments of panic have slowly been subsiding now that I know I can talk with Grey about all of this, but the truth is that I feel very much alone at the moment. I feel crazy for feeling this way, for not being able to fully embrace what I have. Maybe it's just a sign that I need to be smacked.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Join the movement: Find your voice

Since the beginning of history, the shame of infertility/loss have been tightly linked with the blessings and joys of fertility and child-rearing. The Bible is filled with stories about infertility, such as Rachel and Leah, Hannah, Rebekkah and Elizabeth. In ancient Greece, Hera and Artemis were regularly prayed to by women seeking resolution. Even fairy tales are filled with examples of infertility, with classic tales such as Snow White, Thumbelina and Rapunzel. In all cases, the stories are the same: the heartbreak of longing for a child mixed with feelings of shame and unworthiness.

The 20th century was an era of vast technological change. With the industrial era came the invention of motorized vehicles, space travel, modernization of medicine and advances in agriculture. It also brought with it advancements in fertility treatments. In the age of molecular biology, scientists were able to devise a method to join sperm with egg outside a woman’s body. Following the birth of Louise Brown, fertility treatments continued to be improved upon, with the introduction of new drugs, modifications to optimize protocols and invention of techniques such as intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). By July 2012, more than 5 million babies had been born through assisted reproductive technologies, allowing for people who would previously have been unable to achieve pregnancy and bring home biological children.

Despite the leaps and bounds made by technology, though, infertility, loss and adoption remain very taboo topics. In many cultures, couples facing a diagnosis of infertility or repeat pregnancy loss are often shamed into remaining quiet or are met with platitudes such as  “relax,” “go on vacation,” or “God’s will.” Too often, infertiles/RPLers find themselves isolated during a time of intense trauma and grief. Nevermind talking openly about all the grief and the pain caused by this disease as the discomfort of others far outweighs any solace an infertile/RPLer would hope to find.

The problem with this model, though, is that by not talking about infertility and loss, the myth of deserved shame and grief is perpetuated. By remaining silent we encourage the 7.3 million people in the US alone (1 in 8 individuals) who are facing this trauma to live in the shadows.

Like many ALIers, following my diagnosis with unexplained infertility I chose to remain silent. A lot of my decision had to do with preserving my pride, as I didn’t want to be viewed as a whiner. The few who I did confide in were quick to reassure me that my inability to become pregnant was simply due to me being stressed. Yet as time went on I knew we were missing something. After all, Grey and I were doing everything we were suppose to without success while others we knew continued to find themselves accidently pregnant following misuse of birth control or under the assumption that it couldn't happen that easily. It was following my sister’s tearful announcement that she too had an “oops” that I knew it was time for a change as remaining silent about our situation was not only hindering my ability to process the trauma that is infertility, but was actually exacerbating my grief.

Since coming out of the infertility closet I’ve found a community filled with men and women from all walks of life who not only understand, but who have been able to support Grey and me during moments when others were unable. Through writing about all the failed treatments, our miscarriages, the uncertainty and the myriad of emotions, Grey and I both have been able to not only heal, but also find the strength to continue on our quest to expand our family.

Most rewarding has been learning how sharing our story has impacted others. Discussions with others about our journey has always resulted in someone pulling me aside to tell me that they’ve been on this road too, resulting in extended conversations about their path and all they’ve been through. In addition, we’ve found that those who might otherwise be blissfully clueless about the ALI world have become more sensitive to those around them, modifying their behavior under the realization that seemingly benign questions about family planning are truly not.

The movement to bring awareness about infertility and loss is not a new one, with the early pioneers blazing the trail and choosing to talk not only about their journeys but the need for support and understanding. It was because of these pioneers that the advances in medical treatment exist, that RESOLVE exists and that the ALI community exists. Without these pioneers, we’d still very much be in the dark-ages.

Still, there is work to be done.  Despite treatment options, few still have the means to access this care. Equally so, many suffer silently assuming that they are alone in facing the trauma that is infertility/loss. By joining the movement, even in the simplest ways, we are changing the conversation. Instead of hiding the scars of infertility/loss, having the courage to show them and talk candidly about how they’ve made us stronger promotes this change. Joining the movement doesn’t mean one is required to tell their full story to strangers. Even today, I find myself assessing the situation before I launch into my TTC timeline.  But what it does mean raising awareness, such as posting about NIAW on Facebook (and maybe even using some of Keiko Zoll’s headers fabulous headers), it means refusing to allow the myths to continue by correcting someone gently, and it meanreaching out to someone who’s struggling. Even the acknowledgment that infertility is a disease affecting 1 in 8 individuals in the US (1 in 4 globally) reaches this goal. No act is too small for this cause. No action is without meaning.

This year I encourage to find your voice. Join the movement.

To learn more about infertility and loss, check out these resources from RESOLVE:  (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Seeing the forest

First off, I want to take a moment to extend my thoughts and well-wishes to everyone located in or who has family/loved ones in the Boston area. Grey and I have spent the last 24 hrs connecting with people we care about there and the stories we've watched unfold have sickened both of us. To everyone living with this tragedy, you are in our hearts.

Since my last post, I've been taking some time to reflect on all the comments as well as the events in the aftermath. It's taken me a lot of time and energy to get to a place where I can reflect, as there's been a lot of anger over all the bad news. Through all of this, one message has been consistently clear: somehow we'll survive all of this. It may not be pretty nor will it be as planned, but there will be good things that will come. It's just a matter of seeing the forest for the trees. Problem is, I still can't see the forest.

It's probably no secret by now that I struggle to see the big picture in life. Too often, I find I get caught in the details, or at least the less than favorable ones.  This is actually one of the things that drives Dee crazy with me, as I'm quick to discount hard work towards goals or other good aspect in favor of focusing on failure and hardship. I can't begin to count the number of sessions where she's sat across from me, giving me a look of pure frustration when this happens. Still, old habits die hard, with me wanting to focus my time and attention on what's been lost, failing to see what can be gained.

Sunday night, after picking Grey up from the airport and spending a car-ride home in tears over being frustrated, I managed to calm myself long enough to remember a section of Patricia Irwin Johnston's book about crisis.

Currently there is some debate about this, but a popular interpretation of the Chinese symbol for "crisis" is derived of two characters: one that means "danger" and the other that means "opportunity." Ms. Johnston uses this interpretation in the beginning chapters of her book to make a case for how the crisis we face while dealing with infertility/loss can bring opportunity through resolution. The wisdom in all of this, though, is that these lessons are not limited to expanding one's family.

As I sat with these thoughts, I began to think about why recent events bothered me so much. After all, Grey and I are acutely familiar with failure and rejection, why is it that this time I wasn't getting so caught up in this news? And that's the moment I decided it was time to be brutally honest, revealing a part of me that I'm not very proud of.

What I'm about to write is surly going to anger many, as I'll seem greedy and ungrateful. I know for a fact that the me of a year ago would be slapping the me of today if she saw this. But in an effort towards mapping out my train of thought, here goes. Back in December, when David had me doing visualizations, I decided to take the exercise to a whole new level. Instead of simply focusing on the cycle working, focusing on the positive outcome, I also decided to visualize the life I wanted to have. So in addition to watching my future children playing, I also visualized them coming into work with Grey and I. I visualized them being a part of the culture we worked in, interacting with other children who had parents who were scientists. I visualized both of us being successful in our careers, easily making the transitions that were needed. So when the news came in January that this cycle had not only resulted in a BFP, but that both embryos had implanted, I began to hope that maybe all of it would come true. After all, we had suffered for so long that maybe, just maybe we would finally be able to move beyond it all.

Needless to say, getting my hopes up only to part of them come crashing down threw me. I truly thought that after all the writing, the scrambling, the hours of discussion and the plans that something would come through. After all, this arena is what I knew. Granted, I knew the risks, but I never expected the rug to be completely pulled out from underneath us. Hence, I've been focusing on the trees. The trees that once held promise that have been stripped, girdled and even uprooted. Those beautiful trees that I planted and tended to that are now gone.

My issue at the moment is that I'm failing to see the forest. Sure, I logically know that it's there and that with death there is the possibility of new life. But my heart still isn't in for letting go what was lost. Thankfully Grey has been the one taking charge of the situation, viewing the ending of this postdoc as an opportunity to move forward with new and exciting things. He's making plans, networking and viewing being kicked out of the nest as an opportunity for freedom and to soar. More than once he's admitted he's frightened for what will come, but he's also excited to finally be free of the obligations of training. It goes without saying that I envy his strength and wisdom. Especially since I feel like I'm failing my family as the one bit of stability I had been building is gone.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Quick post today. So much going on and I'm struggling to gather my thoughts. But before I really dive in, I need to introduce all of you to my office mate Ralphie. Ralphie came into my life back in September 2012 as a 3 month old puppy. Though Ralphie spends most of her time down in the lab with her mom she also occupies my office, bring a joy and peace with her that helps make difficult days much more manageable.

Today, I really needed Ralphie.

The past week has been a tough one. I learned on Sunday that I had been rejected from my final fellowship opportunity, resulting in my postdoc virtually disappearing before my eyes. Reading over the reviewers' comments was difficult, because I also learned that my letters of support were mixed. Something completely unexpected and surprising, both to myself as well as both my graduate advisor and my potential postdoc advisor. On top of this, Grey learned that his postdoc will be officially ending as of July, resulting in even more uncertainty for the future. All while he's away at a conference (on a good note, his talk went incredibly well with many people being very excited about his work). Add in trying to help troubled students, preparing my class for their last midterm and dealing with a teaching assistant who is more interesting in texting/playing on his computer instead of doing his job and you have the perfect setup for a meltdown.

So when I started getting zaps of pain focused in the vaginal area, cloudy urine, cramping when walking across campus and not feeling so great, it didn't take long for me to speculate the worst.

Thankfully, my new care providers didn't minimize my feelings of anxiety. Instead, they asked clarifying questions and then immediately scheduled an appointment to see me ASAP.

This morning, I made my way into the clinic for my first solo doctor's visit in about 3 years. Since starting this journey, I noticed a trend that any doctor's appointment I have alone ends badly, either with treatment being canceled, poor interactions with physicians or news of miscarriage. Hence I was nervous. So nervous that I barely slept last night. I broke down at 4 am to text Grey, allowing the tears to flow for the first time in a long time and was grateful that instead of trying to be the strong one, he empathized with me and confessed that he was scared too.

The appointment was a fast one, with all parties involved intent on working through their checklist to quickly identify any problems that may exist. After checking me in and getting vitals, they got a urine sample to rule out a UTI, then immediately followed with an ultrasound to check on the Beats. Beat B danced away while we discovered that Beat A had the hiccups. Both heartbeats were strong. Following this, they took some vaginal swabs to check for yeast and bacteria. Finally they measured my cervix, with all of us breathing a sigh of relief to find that it was low and long, at 3.7 cm.

The conclusion from today, the zaps and twinges are probably a combination of round ligament pain, uterine expansion and me being overwhelmed. We have our appointment scheduled for next week still as a follow-up, but the team was glad that I called them to come in to rule out something more urgent.

All I wanted to do after the appointment was curl up in someone's lap. To lay in a fetal position and simply be held. So you can imagine my response when I walked into my office and saw Ralphie this morning. Immediately I stripped myself of my bags and coat and wrapped my arms around her. It wasn't long before we were both curled up on the floor of my office with my head buried in her body. I'm sure this was quite a sight for all who passed, but in that moment I didn't care.

I'm calmer now, though the tears still come easily. Ralphie is currently off with her mom completing some data analysis. Just knowing she's here today helps. Knowing that there's a friend who doesn't need me to explain why I'm panicked and is more than happy to curl up with a hormonal pregnant infertile.

Friday, April 5, 2013

16 weeks: Genetic test results and managing

*Once again, here's your friendly warning about a pregnancy related post. If you are not in a good place or if reading anything pregnancy related is a trigger, skip it. There will be other posts. Take care of yourself first and foremost.

Today I am 16 weeks pregnant. And none of this has sunk in. Granted I'm no longer able to button my pants, finding a sleep position is becoming more difficult and I know logically that the Beats are healthy and growing. Still, I'm detached. Grey thinks it has to do with me still being afraid.

The truth is, I am afraid. Though I'm beyond grateful to be pregnant and for things to have been so uneventful for the most part, I still feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. With each ultrasound, I still hold my breath. With each twinge or cramp (which I now know is directly related to me being dehydrated) I pause. Yes, I know I have no reason to be paranoid. That I should be at a point where I'm embracing all of this more. But the truth is, I'm not.

Last Thursday, Grey and I went in for another appointment with our wonderful new doctor and Nurse J. On the schedule was meeting with the nutritionist, discussing vitamins and future appointment and an ultrasound. In addition was a mental health inventory. Between talking with the doctor and all the staff, I filled out the inventory, being as honest as possible. It didn't take long after I handed the inventory to Nurse J for her to return to the exam room and sit down with us to talk.

Here's the deal: life is very uncertain at the moment. My postdoc is very much in limbo, with me having no idea on whether funding is going to come through. I know I'm lucky because 1) if funding does come through, I have the position and 2) my postdoc advisor is currently hunting for other options just to get me started (and yes, she knows about the Beats). Still, not knowing what our future looks like has been stressful.

On top of all of this, home repairs still have not been completed. Grey and I are 3 months in to sleeping on the couch and the contractors don't seem to be in a hurry to complete this project. It seems silly to complain about this, but I really want to sleep in my own bed again and be able to access my clothes or use my kitchen. I also want strange people to no longer be in my home when they decide it suits them. So far, this has mainly fallen on deaf ears despite acknowledgement that 3 months for this size of project is way too long.

And then there's the fact that the individual responsible for all of this is snooping around. The warnings of a lawsuit have only worked so well at keeping him away and it's clear his looking for inside information. I'm waiting for the day I find him inside my home . . . .

Anyway, Nurse J was helpful. She reminded both Grey and I that there was only so much we could do. She was glad that we are seeing David and Dee to help us navigate through the stress of all this. Still, she told me sternly that I need to start taking it easy, reminding me where my priorities need to lie. She also reminded me that things rarely work out as planned in life and that the best course of action isn't always to push.

A hard reminder for your's truly.

Beats are still measuring a day ahead, with lots of growth and movement. Beat A even spent some time showing us how well he/she could use their fingers, moving those digits skillfully prior to sucking his/her thumb. Grey couldn't take his eyes off the screen the entire time.

In other news, we heard back about the Fragile X screen. Based on the karyotypes, our age and other factors in our favor, Grey and I have decided to hold off on the MaterniT21 screen unless something comes up. The Fragile X screen was one of those determining factors. Though I received (and interpreted) the results at 6 am, it was nice to hear the a happy tone from the genetic counselor when she called later in the day. All is normal, which is wonderful news.

I'll end this post with a question: what advise do you have about Fish Oil? Grey and I have been hunting for information, as the recommended daily dosage is 300 mg DHA for a pregnant woman. The capsules have this as well as EPA. There is some suggestion that pregnant women shouldn't have any EPA, but then there's a few sentences about how women with APA syndrome need both.

The concern is that I may be over doing it on the anticoagulents. I need to talk more specifically about this with the MFM, but my SIL (who happens to be a surgeon) has cautioned that I should be mindful, as she has seen patients on too many blood-thinners lose up to 3 L of blood following injury. Still, part of me wonders if this is the reason things have gone so smoothly. Hence I'm torn as I don't want to harm the Beats in any way.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A year ago . . .

One year ago, my life changed forever. In the blink of an eye, Grey and I went from being on top of the world to utterly destroyed. Looking back on posts from that period, I struggle with the knowledge of what was to come. The crippling depression, the loss of faith and even losing the will to live.

It's not uncommon to see those who are living with loss mark certain dates: estimated due dates, anniversaries, pregnancy milestones. For me, it's the cherry blossoms. Seeing them bloom is a remember of the babies we were suppose to be holding right now.

On Saturday, Grey and I made our way to the University quad to sit amount the cherry blossoms. Despite being surrounded by people from all walks of life, we were able to find our own patch of grass. We spent an hour lying among the tress, remembering all that could have been. We also reflected on all we had been through since then, all we've fought hard to regain.

Not a day goes by where I don't think of the ones that were gone too soon. In no way will I ever compare the pain we lived through and continue to live with with that of others, but for Grey and I losing these embryos was the hardest thing we've had to live through. Some scars run too deep to ever completely heal. The only way I know how to cope, to move on, is to remember.

Infertility amnesia vs. healing

One of the things I absolutely love about blogging and this community is the feedback from readers. I learn a lot reading not only posts from other bloggers, but also by reading the comments section.  The same holds true for each of my posts, as ideas are expanded upon or I’m given a different perspective.

This was most certainly true of my last post. Being at Friday Harbor again brought back such a sense of peace and rejuvenation, with my heart experiencing the benefits of this healing place. Unfortunately, because my mind has been in a less than optimal state, I failed to communicate what I had relearned there. What came out instead was something that was at points harsh and judgmental, and also frustrating in its lack of continuity. Thankfully, Josey from My Cheap Version of Therapy left me a comment that sparked an email conversation that not only unblocked my mind, but also changed the way I view certain behaviors. What makes this interaction even more exciting is that this conversation lead to a discussion that gets directly at the heart of what I’ve been feeling and also touches on something that needs to be addressed.

After some back and forth, I managed to gather the courage to ask Josey to write a joint post on this topic, and I am so pleased that she has agreed. So, with Josey’s help, here is “take two” of my jumbled post that has now morphed into a post that I hope begins a long overdue discussion on an incredibly important topic: the difference between infertility amnesia and healing.

So, let’s start with the obvious: why is it important to heal after living with infertility and loss?  A recent post from Mali at No Kidding in NZ makes a profound case for how refusing to heal can be so destructive.

I have seen so many women who have pushed against the idea of acceptance and healing. I have seen them stamp their feet, as I have done at times too, determined not to like their new lives, determined to keep trying or keep grieving, terrified that acceptance means forgetting. And so they haven’t healed. And they wonder why they are so angry, so bitter, so stuck. Yet I doubt they could articulate that, filled as they are with so much grief and anger and turmoil. And so they stay stuck, often for years. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be angry. Anger is a part of grieving. But we need to move on to the next stage. I wish I could hug them and tell them it really will be okay. Tell them that they don’t need to stay angry. That it is okay to heal.
Mali's message is a powerful one: regardless of the specifics about how infertility/loss have turned your life upside down, if you have any desire to live it is important to heal. It is neither an easy task nor is it something that happens overnight, but resolving this trauma is necessary in order to go on in life. It’s important to put aside the anger and the bitterness.

Unfortunately, healing isn’t something we promote in our society, as anyone who has lived with infertility/loss can attest too. As women, we’re taught from an early age to put ourselves second, to focus on others and their wants/needs. Hence, we are tempted to put off the healing process, resulting in two separate ways of coping. One is to remain bitter and angry, which is what Mali has observed. The other is to do what I believe Grey’s aunt was forced to do: develop “infertility amnesia.”

Despite what may initially be perceived, there’s a big difference between healing and developing “infertility amnesia.” Unlike healing, amnesia is defined as a deficit of memory, caused by psychological or physical trauma. Infertility amnesia is a specific form of amnesia, where memory loss is limited solely to the experience of living with infertility and/or loss. Characteristics of someone suffering from this debilitating condition range, but generally fall under the following: insensitivity to others living with infertility/loss, frequent use of platitudes and suggested quick fixes, denial of infertility diagnosis/recurrent pregnancy loss and denial of any intervention needed to conceive children. This form of amnesia is destructive on many fronts: first being that the individual who is suffering from the affliction is actively alienating those who are living with infertility/loss. But secondly and more long-term, the individual is ultimately unable to heal from this trauma, which can lead to further complications down the road.

For the record, I need to admit that I have very little tolerance for infertility amnesia. This is mainly due to my experience with this phenomenon that occurred very early in my journey through my interactions with Angie. Since that time, I have periodically run into infertility amnesia, both in real life as well as in cyberspace. It’s always hard to see, as I really do believe the people involved are doing more damage than good, both to this community as well as to themselves and their children. But I’ve also learned that confronting the offenders rarely works. That the best course of action is simply to move on, while making it known that you’re willing to talk if they are open to a discussion.

Unfortunately, infertility amnesia and genuine healing are often confused. This is mainly because at first glance to the untrained eye, it can be hard to distinguish between the two. I’ve witnessed many bloggers who were falsely accused of infertility amnesia when they are actually in the process of resolving, with people accusing them of abandoning the community and being selfish. And, like many, there have been moments when I was firmly enmeshed in my own grief and despair when it’s been hard for me to distinguish the two.

So what does it really mean to heal from infertility and loss? Frankly, this is something I’m still exploring, as I’m only in the early stages of this pregnancy and haven’t really begun the process. Truthfully, I don’t think there’s a specific formula for healing, just as there is no specific formula for life. But, there are a couple of things that consistently hold true.

The first is that healing involves moving on from the trauma of infertility and loss, not forgetting. Though many would argue that these two acts are actually the same, the reality is they are very different. Instead of blocking an experience, healing requires you confront the trauma head on and make peace with it.

The second is a genuine effort to move beyond. It’s not that the person doesn’t reflect back on their time in the trenches and all the pain, grief and despair that they lived through. But they chose to no longer dwell there. In truth, I believe this is where some of the best advocates come from, as they had the ability (and the energy) to see the whole picture as they are not in the middle of battling this disease. 

Over the past 3 yrs, I've had the opportunity to observe those who had truly heal, helping me form a definition of what the process looks lik. But since Josey and I have started talking, I’ve had an epiphany. An epiphany which has expanded my definition and has allowed me to identify examples of healing all over the blogosphere that I was previously missing. One example of this is the “bump” date posts. 

Now comes confusion #2: I’ve never been much of a fan of “bump” dates. Seeing these posts, especially from bloggers who posted nothing else, usually resulted in me no longer reading. It's not that I no longer respected the blogger or was no longer interested in their journey, but it was more that I have very little interest in people’s pooping patterns nor what they were craving. My discussion with Josey made me take a second look at the purpose of these posts, though. Like a switch flipping, I realized that for some, the “bump” dates weren’t simply a weekly chronicle of one’s pregnancy, but actually a way to heal from the trauma of infertility/loss. That by filling out a survey, the jittering newly pregnant IFer/RPLer who would otherwise be worried about miscarriage was instead able to identify what milestones they were reaching weekly and to celebrate them. It was with this realization that I also realized that this isn’t limited to “bump” dates, but also includes belly shots, posting 2week wait symptoms, posting adoption profiles, posting about nursery plans, photos of newborns and even ultrasounds. Each post isn’t simply documentation for future generations; it’s a way to regain some of the things infertility/loss robs all of us of.

The problem is, only so much of this is tolerated in this community. I’ll start this part by saying, once again, I greatly support sensitivity when talking about one’s pregnancy. But a lot of the time, that sensitivity is one-sided. For example, the second a blogger complains about severe pregnancy symptoms that leave them incapacitated, fears about their changing body/relationship, voices frustrations with being a new mother or (heaven forbid) mourns not being able to have more children (secondary infertility especially), they open themselves up for attack. The most recent example of this I witnessed first hand was with Mo, with members of this community attacking her simply because she was pregnant and they were notThe whole time, the ones who are attacking feel justified. After all, they know about infertility amnesia. And that’s what they assume they’re witnessing. Little do they understand that they are inflicting the same abuse that they are seeking refuge from.

The truth is, those who are unresolved (in the trenches, so to speak) are going to have a very hard time distinguishing between healing and infertility amnesia. I know I most certainly did. After all, you’re in survival mode and one rarely is at their most reasonable and rational when they are fighting for their family. But as a community, it’s time we stop assuming that no one is allowed to go through the healing process openly out of fear that those in the trenches will be hurt. It’s time we help those in the trenches see that they are not being abandoned. I spent 3 yrs battling infertility and living through loss and those dark days are still very much on my mind. But I also know that if there is no hope for healing and moving on, we might as well all give up on life now.

I’ll end by advocating something that I advocate with my students. Do I believe that those who have resolved have a responsibility to reach back and support those in the trenches? Absolutely. But, I also believe that those who are in the thick of their battle with infertility/loss need to be open to help. Or as I tell my students “help me help you.” It’s unrealistic to expect someone to continue offering support when their hands are being slapped away. And it is also unrealistic to assume that those offering support don’t have problems they are facing too. If we are going to change the way the world views infertility and loss, we need to embrace the healing process. We need to celebrate all forms of it, even if a particular road is one we would never go down ourselves. 

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