The Lonely Womb

Living and Learning through Loss

Author: Lara (page 1 of 2)

The Last Barren woman, kinda like the Last Unicorn without the magic

Or, the horn and I don’t poop rainbows.

I know I am not the LAST barren woman in the world but sometimes it can really feel that way.  The main reason I named my Blog “The Lonely Womb” was due to the fact that infertility can be so very isolating and lonely.

I am the last infertile and childless of all of my friends and close acquaintances.  At least I am the last who still is trying to have a child (that I know of).  There have been many friends who I have bonded with over this struggle.  The primary change is most of them have gone on to have their children and are not in this struggle any more.  There is a certain loneliness that I think only those who have gone through this struggle might understand. The difficult part for myself has been having those friends who have children forget what it was ever like.  I equate it to what women say about childbirth and how after the baby arrives and you begin that next phase of your journey you start to forget about the bloated feet, the contractions etc and soon are trying for number two.

Now, don’t get me wrong I would love nothing more than to have a child and try to put all of this behind me.  Honestly, though it has been such a long and difficult struggle that it has changed me and I don’t think I will ever forget.

In some ways I am grateful.

Grateful for the many things I have learned about myself.  How to advocate for what I need and express my feelings.

Grateful for so many amazing women who have opened up to share their own journey.  A journey they may not have ever told anyone else.

Grateful to know so much more about the medical community.  Often I have learned more about the downfalls but hey, knowledge is power.

So much more grateful for my husband.  He has been so amazing throughout everything.

And, grateful for such a wonderful and amazing family.  They lift me up and support any decisions we have made along the way.

I have to say too that I am so happy for those friends who have been able to make this dream come true.  I don’t wish you anything but joy and happiness in your parenting journey.  Certainly, I may distance myself at times or shy away from events with tiny children but it in no way reflects my love for your.  It is simply too painful at times and while it often feels selfish I have learned that I need to do what is best for my well being.  I may not remember to reach out for your child’s birthday but trust me I have them all written down because they matter.  I probably stalk you a little on social media.  It is a safe way for me to see the faces and activities of your littles without maybe hearing about it.  Probably one of my biggest triggers is hearing that complete and utter joy in someone’s voice when they talk about their child.  It is wonderful and completely heart wrenching.  I will often show Kevin pictures of a friends child doing something really cute or share stories I read about something funny they said.

What I wish from my friends who have moved passed this infertility struggle is to remember what it once was like.  Often I have had friends who not only shared this journey with me at some point but we would bond over the uncomfortable situations we had gone through.  Only to have those friends do the exact same thing once they are pregnant.  I wish they would remember::

Don’t complain about your pregnancy to your infertile friend.  I get it, I am sure pregnancy isn’t all happy happy joy joy but of all the people who don’t want to hear about your heartburn, morning sickness or that your feet are swollen it would be me.  How did you forget that we used to say often how much we would trade with those people in order to have a child.  Yeah, I am still in that position.

Don’t complain about your lack of sleep, lack of privacy, lack of freedom now that baby is here.  Yep, I get that one too.  I am not sure why you thought that having a baby after such a difficult journey to get them here meant that raising said baby would be easy.  Again, trade ya!

Do announce your pregnancy with some delicacy.  Luckily, I have had several lovely friends who have fallen into this category.  I know their pregnancy isn’t all about me but it is nice to have some prior knowledge that an announcement is going up on social media or via e-mail blast.

Do have candid conversations with your infertile friend.  I want to hear about your new life as a parent (maybe not ALL of the time).  I want to know how your little one or little ones are doing.

Don’t forget that my journey isn’t over.  Maybe you don’t want to be reminded about how difficult it can be or you really no longer relate.  Please remember you may have been one of a handful of people who ever “got it” and knew how I was feeling.  It may be a memory out there in the shadows but please remember to talk about my journey too.

Now, I have to admit that until just a couple of days ago I really felt like all of my previously infertile friends had just moved on.  Never to revisit their losses or struggle ever again.  But, I have an amazing friend who sent me a message (she has two littles now) asking how I was doing etc. but she also shared that she finds it difficult that people want her to forget about her prior losses.  That she isn’t able to freely discuss them or feel them anymore as there is this feeling that either she should get over it now that she has her little ones.  It was a good reminder for me to know that perhaps not everyone just moves on forward never looking back.  It was also a reminder that our society just doesn’t seem to accept feelings of any type unless they are tied up in a pretty box with a little polka dot bow.  I know that loss doesn’t just go away or get replaced by a new baby.  But, I too need to remember to revisit my friends prior struggles even after they have their babies too.

My hope still remains that someone who feels similar finds this blog and at the very least it makes them feel less alone.  Of course I hope that you find more here but if you smile or think to yourself “yes, that is exactly how I feel” than my mission is accomplished.  Or, if you find yourself thinking differently about how to approach a friend that too means my mission has been accomplished.  I know for myself I have sought out several infertility blogs in the past only to have the blogger find themselves pregnant and suddenly they are infertile no more.  Certainly, I hope this might someday be me but as the clock ticks by it becomes less and less of a possibility.  Even if this does become my path I hope I will have the words and intention to not diminish your feelings and to not trigger you with a surprise baby announcement.

Thank you for reading!  I was reminded recently that there are people out there who are reading so Thank you!

Blessings, Lara

Deja Vu To Happiness – Micro Post

The Good News is things have been going well in our household and I am Happy!  The Bad News is this is why I haven’t posted anything in weeks.  Ooops.  Between new medication and an upswing in how life has been going I just haven’t felt like dwelling on my lonely womb.  Of course the guilty side of myself keeps berating me for not posting anything lately.  So… Here I am.  Hi!  Howdy!  How Are ya?

First off a definition of Déjà vu for those who may not be familiar.  Per Wikipedia: Déjà vu, from French, literally means “already seen”, is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past.

Anyhow, I have been experiencing Déjà vu a lot lately.  This makes me exceptionally happy.  “Why, you ask?  A long time ago (probably 16 years at least) I read that before our life begins we have set a predetermined path for ourselves.  This path is intended to have us learn something within this life time and Deja Vu moments are there to tell you that you are on the right path.  I have never been a “religious” person but have always felt a certain spirituality and that we have a purpose.  This concept us having set let’s say a Learning course for each lifetime (yes, possibly more than 1 lifetime) was written by the now deceased Sylvia Browne in her book “The Other Side and Back”.  I’ll put more information and some excerpts from the book at the bottom of this post.

As a person who has never really been sure of what I want to make out of this life it was comforting to think that during those times of Déjà vu that perhaps I was on the right path.  Anyhow, this whole concept stuck with me and it usually seems to parallel times when either things are going really well and my life is gaining something of value or even tough times that turned out to be a necessary stepping stone to something better.

In the last 3 or maybe 4 years Déjà vu has not happened all that much and in that time we have gone through a lot of heartache and a ton of change.  It was definitely a time where I have felt somewhat lost in the world (more than my usual).  So, when I started experiencing Déjà vu over and over again last month (June) and it keeps happening I feel like the world is somehow righted again and we are on the right path.  This has also helped me in feeling that maybe this time our happiness can last a bit longer before “the other shoe drops” so to speak.  Numerous times in the recent past we might have something really great happen only to have it quickly diminished by an equally intense low and negative experience.  Yes, life ebbs and flows but damn this girl needs the happy for longer than two minutes on occasion.

I choose to believe that perhaps we will be in a happy upswing for a while and can breathe a bit.  So, Happy Happy Joy Joy and all that.  As when I am happier I tend to neglect the Blog I am going to have to come up with a bit of an outline and just follow it.  Hopefully my writing will improve when I am happier as well.  Those darker times sure help with my creativity for sure so my writing, painting and all other creative outlets have suffered some lately.  I think I just need more practice during those happy times.

I hope you are experiencing some Happy times too.

Blessings, Lara

As promised here is more information about Sylvia’s book and a couple of excerpts.  I really do love this book.

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“Almost every religion on earth accepts the fact that our spirits survive death.  But tell people you can communicate with those spirits and they will think you are nuts.”

“The Other Side is right here among us, another dimension superimposed on our world, some three feet above our version of “ground level.”  Its vibrational frequency is much higher than ours, which is why we don’t perceive it.”

“Our purpose in coming here is to learn and to gain knowledge”

Do they have a corkscrew for feelings or maybe a can opener?

I am a smiley kind of person.  It is actually the thing I get the most compliments on (my smile).  The ironic thing is I smile a lot but don’t necessarily “feel” smiley.  I hide my true feelings behind this smile.

What I am not is the person who will call you to cry on your shoulder.  I will happily be that shoulder for friends and family or even a complete stranger and have been on numerous occasions.  But, I am not able to be that vulnerable with other people in that way at least.  I wish it were easier for me to do this.  I mean obviously I am an open book as evidenced by this blog but showing physical emotions is tough.  There are a finite amount of people who have ever seen me cry.  Even my husband has only seen me “weep” a handful of times over our 22 years together.

I cry though, oh boy do I cry.  Always in a “safe” place like the shower, the car, at night when all are asleep.  What I have learned though over the past 10 years or so is that when the tear cup overfloweth I must bottle things up.  I don’t want to risk a cryfest in front of anyone so just tuck those nasty feelings in for bed and hope they stay in a comatose state.

When I have bottled these feelings for too long they are sometimes sealed so tight that I am unable to cry when I really need to even if I am completely alone.  Unfortunately, when I am in that frame of mine I am closed off from both bad and good feelings.  I remain in the land of status quo feelings.  To let a little air out so that cork doesn’t burst from my bottle and take someone’s eye out I have had to figure out a way to make myself cry.  A way to connect with emotions and feel something.  A way that I am still shielded by the real feelings otherwise down the rabbit hole I go again.  Forget Netflix and chill we’ll call this Hulu and Cry.

As a serious empathic and sensitive person, seeing other people cry is my biggest trigger.  So, I will go through periods of time where I may engulf myself in some intense dramatic television viewing.  This past spell has brought me back to an old favorite show, Private Practice.3  Ironically a show whose main character is a neonatal surgeon with a best friend that is a fertility specialist.  The show follows the characters of a co-operative medical practice with a strong focus on baby (IVF, Birth, Death, Pregnancy, etc.).  The show began the year my husband and I started TTC and while it was often difficult to watch (hello triggers) it was cathartic for me somehow.  I recently found all the old seasons on Hulu and have been steadily binge-watching.  This has allowed me some serious crying and thus unleashing of the built of pressure of feelings.  Certainly not an ideal way to deal with my shit but it helps me not feel quite so weighed down by everything.  The only other thing really helping right now other than medication is writing this blog.  I drag my feet from time to time as it isn’t easy to write but somehow making it a public forum has me writing far more often and on the regular than keeping a journal.

And with that I bid you adieu.  Enjoy what is left of this lovely weekend.  I will be out celebrating my fabulous husband’s upcoming birthday tonight.

Blessings, Lara

You ARE a Father and all the other things I should tell you more often

At some point I knew I would write a letter to my sweet husband on here.  As he is having a difficult time this year on Father’s Day I figured what better time to do it.  So, here it goes.  This one’s for you honey.

Kevin, you are an amazing man an amazing husband and yes, you are a father.  I know you have not gotten to hold our six little angels but you loved them just as much as I did.

I want nothing more than to see you playing with a little one of ours much like you do with our dog.  With exuberance, excitement, laughter and joy.  I haven’t lost hope and I think seeing you with our child someday keeps me going.

You are not only amazing but you are my heart, my smile, my soul mate and my everything.  When I see pictures of us together the joy in my eyes is all because of you.  12400530_10208649476300052_6981468527821211259_n

I am proud to be your wife and your partner for life.  Even when we may drive each other crazy I know we will always love each other no matter what.

To watch you as this strong man who is capable of so many things I don’t tell you enough how great you really are.

You support our family.

You do immeasurable things around the house and our property.

Your love for me and our fur babies is pure and warm.

Your talents and knowledge extend well beyond your years.

My world revolves around you.

I love that we still act like teenagers around each other.13432275_10209986923135387_4822682362351901572_n

You make me laugh and take the time to enjoy life more.  Pausing to look at the view.  Laughing with you as you play on the floor with Shelby.  Taking the extra time to cuddle.  Hiking and Camping and watching your enjoyment for all things in nature.

As I write this I don’t feel I can adequately express how much you really mean to me and to our family.

Shelby isn’t the only one who waits with anticipation for you to come home from a long day away.  I know I am not one to show it enough but I cannot picture life without you.

Thank you for supporting my dreams and I am so happy that you get to start a new adventure soon as well.

You have been my partner for over half of my lifetime and I want to spend the rest of our lives celebrating each other.

I Love you!  Thank you for being you and making me a better me.

Forever and Ever!

Wearing my guilt like a straight jacket

Yes, the guilt is strong with this one folks.   So, lets talk about it!

I feel like guilt is such a useless thing unless you have something to truly feel guilty about (like abuse or taking a life).  I think it is a control mechanism for things we cannot control or don’t want to deal with.  But, I think many of us, especially women are made to feel that we should carry guilt with us wherever we go and that we should say sorry for EVERYTHING!

We really do!  That little word that was supposed to be used for actual apologies is inserted so often in our vocabulary it is crazy.  Used often out of politeness we apologize when someone else bumps into us or when the waiter brings you the wrong dish.  There have been a number of articles, interviews and even comedy sketches that discuss why we say sorry so often and many times at the beginning of our sentences when it would be more appropriate to be direct.

I bring this up because I think this same propensity to say “sorry” must run in the same bloodlines as our guilty gene.  Now, I do actually make an effort to not overuse the term “I am sorry” but turning off those guilty emotions have been a much tougher struggle.  Although, as I type this I realize I probably should pay more attention to the sorrys I may be using in my text messages lol.  Anyway, back to guilt…..

Ok, so much of my personal guilt is wrapped up in this beautiful cocoon of infertility (surprise surprise).  I thought it might be helpful to just put it out there (the things I feel guilty about).  Perhaps, it will let someone know they aren’t crazy in feeling the same way or at least not alone in feeling that way (you might be crazy, I am not the right person to be your barometer for that).  🙂

So, here goes….  The many guiltisms of my life right now.  The Rational, The Irrational and the totally absurd.

The many ways that guilt wraps around me like a straight jacket:

Not giving my husband a child.  He will be an amazing father (hopefully someday) and I often feel like a total disappointment for not fulfilling this often assumed “wifely duty”.  I feel guilty that I made him wait until I was ready and wonder if we started earlier on if we might be parents now.  I feel guilty that I am the one in the drivers seat and he doesn’t have any control over our success.

Our parents not being grandparents.  It pains me to know how much they all want this and would enjoy being grandparents.  I think I actually have a clearer image of them all being grandparents than I ever had of myself as a parent.  Possibly because I was so close to my grandparents and would love to see our parents take our little ones to the park or teach them things I cannot.

Leaving without a legacy.  As an only child and knowing that my husband’s only sibling will not have offspring either we are the end of the line in our family unit.

The guilt over not having met several of my friend’s children yet.  It wasn’t an intentional thing but somehow time seems suspended in my life while it goes strong and steady elsewhere.  The obvious difficulties of baby showers and pregnancy announcements are discussed frequently in the infertile community but not “the after”.  In some of these instances we simply live too far apart and getting together can be difficult.  In others there may have been avoidance on my part or my husband’s part as it can be very difficult to see someone living out that dream in front of you.  Especially, the newborn and infant stages.  There have also been times where the sudden change from a friend who didn’t have children and has become a parent no longer feels we have anything in common and the separation starts there.  Either way you mix it I feel guilty.  I love my friends and family and therefore love their children as well.  But, as time seems to soar by I am shocked when those little ones are 9, 10, etc. and we have yet to meet them in person.  Those newborn and infant times that were too hard to share quickly turn to years and everyone gets busy and before you know it you feel like the horrible aunty.

 Having such a difficult time over mother’s day.  I often feel guilty for not being able to shove my feelings aside and enjoy the day for my mother and mother-in-law’s sake.

Wondering if I had been more of a girlie girl who couldn’t wait to have kids when I was little would have made a difference.  Yes, absurd but this thought does pop up from time to time.  When friends were babysitting and talking about having kids someday I was more focused on school and travel.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have put more of the mommy vibe out into the universe.

Guilt over my weight, my body and my hormonal issues.  This is often a gut twister for me.  The hormonal issues (PCOS) I have that we think contribute to our infertility can be remedied some by weight loss.  But, those same issues make weight loss a very difficult thing to accomplish.  Compound this with depression and it is hard not to feel like a failure.

Not living in the moment and enjoying the quiet moments with my husband more often.  I know many of my friends with littles envy our freedom and flexibility in life but I find it hard to enjoy when there is an empty space in my heart.

Lastly, feeling guilty for pushing off our last attempt at having a tater.  Another procrastination and letting fear get in the way.  I am truly terrified of having another miscarriage.  Not just for the loss but to also know we are really at the end of our journey.  But, when I turned 40 this year I was overcome with guilt for waiting this long and still not being ready.  It was one of the things that pushed me to start writing this blog in the hopes to deal with my shit and get it together so we can have a last attempt before it is too late.

Well, there you have it.  Not all of my guiltisms but the primary ones especially during this infertility journey.  Heck, I even felt guilty not doing my blog post “on time”.  Silly as I don’t really have readership and I am doing this mostly for myself and if it helps others than great.  If you carry an abundance of guilt I triphope you can find a way to pack it up and leave it on the curb.  This blog will have to be my curb for now.

Blessings to you!  If you are seeking infertility support you can always contact me and you can start with the many resources listed here.

xo Lara

Just have the dog spread the ashes with a fertilizer spreader

Lately, I have found myself thinking more and more about what life might be like if we don’t ever have children.  Recently, we went to a yard sale and the woman hosting had clearly lost her husband and had recently sold their property of several acres.  I turned to my husband and told him this is one of the reasons I nag him to take better care of himself.  I don’t want to have to do this some day if I can help it.

There are so many things many of us take for granted when we are younger.  Having someone there to help take care of you is one of them.  Now that we live on acreage ourselves and after turning 40 I think of the what ifs a bit too much.  I worry about dying alone, about having to sell our beautiful property because I have lost him and can’t manage on my own.

My husband and I have some fairly peculiar conversations at times.  Being a person who has dealt with depression so much I have though too 12987201_10209524619138076_45620885004744364_nmuch of what I want when I die.  One of the things I have always requested is should my husband die first that he put my ashes somewhere (in a mason jar for all I care) and that he leave instructions for us to be mixed together and spread somewhere.  Recently, he brought up the question of where do we want to have these mixed together ashes spread?  To that my first response was well, who is going to spread them?  I mean we spread his father’s ashes and will most likely be the responsible parties when my parents or his mom dies but who is going to be there for our ashes and affairs.  This is where the peculiar comes in.  Kevin has always maintained that our dog Shelby is going to live forever (denial is a wonderful trait) so the plan is since she will surely outlive us that a fertilizer spreader be tied to her and she can spread our ashes all over the property.  Of course this immediately brings images of her panting and searching anywhere for shade should it be summer or running in circles trying to figure out what is hooked to her backside.  We had a nice laugh and I am pretty certain if she understood what we were talking about this is the look she would give us.

We have actually come a long way as Kevin normally won’t talk about death or what shall happen at least at any length.  I am the plannerly one though and have always thought of things like this.  Especially, with things that would help him should anything happen to myself.  Keeping updated lists so he knows how to access accounts and what we even have (I handle all of that).  Part of it has been reinforced by a previous career in Insurance.  It was heartbreaking to have clients who had lost a loved one and not only were dealing with their grief but didn’t know where to begin in handling their affairs.  So, if something were to happen to me I want the things I can make easier for my husband and family to be easier.

It does bring up questions for our future however.  I think many people have younger extended family they can rely on to fulfill those last requests and even someone to leave your estate to.  Without nieces or nephews I am not so sure what we may do if children aren’t in our future.  I would love to read your comments about how you see your future if children are not in it.  I will do a future post about the many things that childlessness can mean to a person.  For now I wanted to toss this out there and see what you think?

Until then…..

Blessings, Lara

Oh look, a squirrel! And other reasons to avoid your feelings.

I am back from my two week unplanned blogging hiatus.  With the impending gloom of Mother’s day I found myself coming up with any excuse to not sit down and blog about those often unpleasant feelings.  So, I did what I sometimes do all too well and avoided it.  I did get some serious binge-watching done of The Good Wife though (addicted in the last season is so my way).

Mother’s day was a surprisingly lovely day.  We hosted a brunch at our home. 13164318_10209691599432479_601703592544690628_nThe typical breakfast items and a few 13095918_10209691599752487_4841128265586030777_nfun things like fruit kabobs, chocolate covered strawberries.  My mom brought an adorable veggie choo choo and my dad made homemade easter bread (sweet bread with saffron).  Our house was filled with love and laughter with my mom and dad, Kevin’s mom and brother and my aunt and uncle who live locally.  It was a nice day with family.  I am exceptionally lucky to have a wonderful mother and mother-in-law around and that we not only enjoy spending time together but that they are healthy and a strong part of my life.

I actually think the week leading up to and the week after are harder for me than Mother’s day itself.  The week prior is all about how are you going to celebrate and social media, tv and radio are inundated with all things mom.  The week after this year was full of all the cute things all my mom friends did or received so it actually bummed me out more than the rest.  Thus, avoiding all things having to deal with my feelings including the blog.

As this can be a tender time for myself I tried to focus on self care and things I both needed and wanted to get done.  The weather finally warmed up enough for me to plant the garden.  As I discussed in a previous post this is both a very exciting new adventure and has me quite unnerved as well.  The link between not being able to grow and baby and hoping I can at least be successful growing a garden are strong with me.

13221735_10209742661869008_165413170229667865_nWhile I still don’t really know what I am doing I have had to just jump in with both feet.  There will certainly be things 13178596_10209742256698879_4493920136239476049_nthat don’t grow or are eaten by bugs etc.  It has already been rewarding as one week in I already have seedling popping up all over.  Now there are 1500 ladybugs crawling all over the seedlings and plants as well.  It is so fun.  This infertility journey has shaken my confidence in many of my abilities so being successful in anything but especially growing new life even in the form of veggies is a wonderful thing.  Here is a glimpse of three of the planter boxes including the one closest that holds our taters.

I am enjoying checking on this little garden each day to see how everything is doing and mothering it as best as I can.

In addition to getting the little (not so little) garden planted I also took some time to be alone.  As an only child I crave solitude and it can be like therapy for me.  So, when my parents were going to leave for vacation I jumped at the chance to house sit for several days.  They live about 25 minutes from our property so I was able to be local but get away from chores, responsibilities and get some alone time.  My super sweet hubby totally gets that I need this kind of thing from time to time.  Five nights and six days of zencation as I called it.  It was not only good for my soul but each time my husband and I are away from each other I think it sparks our connection even further.  We started out as a long distance relationship originally and have had to live apart due to jobs at various times so it was fun to send cute texts to each other.

My husband even took the time to let me instruct him over the phone on how to assemble a necklace order that came in while I was away.  It was hilarious and so sweet at the same time.  He knew I wasn’t ready to return home and it was a simple order so he happily got it all put together, packaged and mailed.

All in all I think I did the best thing I could have for this year’s mother’s day.  Self care whatever that means to you.  Each year, each holiday or difficult time it usually comes down to showing yourself some love.  This helps for me at least.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive or even overly complicated but taking the time for you is important.  This is true for moms as well.

For those of you who struggle on Mother’s day and I think there are so many of you out there.  I wish I could hug you.  Sometimes that is all we need.  So, if you have lost your mother, are trying to become a mother, have been estranged from your mother or whatever the reason this day may be hard please know that you matter, you are wonderful and you are loved.

My each day be a little less hard.

Blessings, Lara

 

Are you Afraid to #StartAsking

Now, I know I am a really really new member to the infertility blogging community and I am so proud to be here now.  I have been part of the infertile community since late 2007.  When I first had questions about my infertility and nobody to turn to, Resolve was the first organization I found that was helpful.  It was such a great feeling to find something dedicated to infertility and to know that I wasn’t alone.

Hopefully you are aware that this week (April 24-30th) is National Infertility Awareness Week.  #niaw  Each year Resolve has a Bloggers Unite challenge and their theme this year is #StartAsking.  Now, when I first heard about the theme I was a bit stumped and my initial draft of this blog post was about all the things we should #startasking.  I think many people know what they should be asking or doing but are afraid, or they feel shame or they just don’t want to be uncomfortable.

Infertility affects nearly 10% of our population and is a major struggle for 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age.  Let me repeat that, 10% of the population and 1 in 8 couples.  Infertility affects men and women equally.  Even if you are not aware it is likely that you have a friend, relative, neighbor or coworker who are struggling with infertility or you may face infertility yourself.  This is why it is so important that awareness be raised about this topic.  #StartAsking

So, why is raising awareness so difficult if it affects so many of us?  I think it boils down to Fear in many cases.  Now, for myself I feel pretty comfortable talking about my infertility journey (thus blogging about it now).  It has been both a privilege and a shock at how many women haven opened up to me about their own fertility struggles.  Too often though it is a topic only shared after they know I have some personal understanding.  Even then I am often saddened that some feel they have to discuss it only in the shadows.  I mean, I get it, I have had to get used to people who quickly change the subject, make aloof comments, want to “fix it” for you or just brush off the whole thing.  I think like any painful thing we can let our fears get in the way of asking or offering support.  Fear of upsetting someone by “reminding” them of their loss when often they may want someone to talk about it with them.  Fear of saying or doing the “wrong” thing and feeling embarrassed.  Fear of that next fertility treatment and it not working. Et cetera Et cetera Et cetera.

I write rather organically so I’ll try to stick to 4-5 topics as I fear I am about to get long winded.  Run-on sentences look out, here I come.  😉

 

Are you Afraid to #StartAsking for support about your infertility?

It can be so overwhelming to seek help for your infertility.  When it feels like so many people get pregnant just looking at the colors of blue or pink it is hard to admit you might need some help.  You may need help getting a diagnosis, seeking out a therapist or support group.  Perhaps you just want to talk with somebody who has gone through something similar to you.  These can all be things that evoke fear in us.  From the societal pressures as a woman to grow up and become a mom and the pressure on men that somehow they might be less manly if they can’t create an heir.  When we are young the majority of us don’t think of fertility at all let alone that it might be a problem.  I know I didn’t and it wasn’t until our 3rd miscarriage that I thought we needed help.  There are a number of resources out there to help.  From finding an in person support group, online community support groups or maybe you want to talk to someone that can help guide you through and find some resources that will work for you.  Whatever it is don’t be afraid to take the first step in getting some help.  Infertility can be so isolating but you are not alone and you may find someone to connect with and provide support for one another.  If you are afraid to openly discuss your infertility it may help to know we all have fears and things we hide but you don’t have to.  I was just watching this amazing TED talk about having the courage to talk about the hard stuff.  You can watch it here.  Please #StartAsking for help and support.

Are you Afraid to #StartAsking about a friends infertility journey?

It seems simple enough to do but it doesn’t seem to happen all that much.  I think it is usually out of either not knowing how to ask or that fear of upsetting the person.  For me personally, I wish more people asked how I was doing or how they could help.  I’m sure some people may not want to talk about it and it may feel like a hard think to talk about.  For myself I know that sometimes I may not want to talk about it but I am an adult and I will communicate that to you.  I know your inquiry is coming from a place of love and most often it will be refreshing and welcome to know you are thinking of me and want to know how things are going.  I am not referencing some of the meddlers who don’t ask out of caring but from a information standpoint of a vacuum.  I wish we could all learn that while it may make us uncomfortable to ask how someone is doing (grieving, depression, job loss, divorce, etc.)it is also the way we can show someone that we care.  We each have gone through difficult times in life, we all have feelings but you don’t have to have the exact experience of another person to empathize with them and show compassion.  There is a wonderful video about Empathy vs. Sympathy by Brené Brown that I will share here .  Give it a shot, connect with a friend and let them tell you about their journey.  Ask them how you can offer them support.  If you want some help about what to say or do you can start here.  Please #startasking about your friends’ struggles (no matter what they are).

Are you Afraid to #StartAsking your infertile friends to events?

If you are among those of us who are the infertile then you probably know I am talking about baby showers, school plays, birthday parties for the littles.  Basically, any event that may be thought to be traumatic to any of us who are still trying to conceive, are childless in general, are infertile etc.  I don’t want you to be afraid to invite your infertile friends to these types of events.  Why? Because, while they may not attend some of them depending on where they are on this journey or how they are feeling it can be far more hurtful to leave them out.  Have I decided not to attend a baby shower or a friends bbq that was going to be full of little children?  Hell yeah!  But, I was invited and my friends love me enough to understand that sometimes I am just not in a place where attending those events is healthy for me.  I have also shown up to those very same events and I may have shed a tear or two but was happy I attended.  Trust your infertile friends to know what they can handle but give them the option and understand if they don’t want to attend.  This also goes for pregnancy announcements or sharing information about your child in general.  I have been blessed by some wonderful mommy friends that know all about my journey and have shared pregnancy news with me often in private before it is broadcast over social media or some other mass format.  This has been so helpful as I could process the news and have a bit of warning.  While, I can be so excited for a friends’ pregnancy hearing it with the masses and witnessing the outpouring of congratulations can be really tough.  I also want to hear how little “johnny” is doing in school or what his favorite things are etc. etc.  If I am your friend and love you then you can guarantee I love your children too.  I haven’t struggled a lot with this but I do have to beg certain friends to see pictures of their kids or hear what they are dressing as for Halloween because they feel like sharing that information will harm me.  I enjoy hearing these things and often live vicariously through my friends in this way.  On the reverse I don’t really want to hear only about your kids either but I don’t think you have to be infertile for that to be the case.  😉  There are tons of articles and information on what to say or do (as I shared above) but, mostly I think if you show that you care and want someone to be a part of your life while giving them an out when they need it is all good.  Please #StartAsking your friends to be a part of your life and stop sheltering them from children.

Are you Afraid to #StartAsking for healthcare reform?

Infertility diagnosis and treatment is often limited or not covered by health insurance.  This leaves so many people who have infertility problems left covering the tests, treatment and procedures completely out of pocket.  This isn’t so much a knee knocking type of fear but more of a where do I start or how can I possibly change this concept.  This is where my fear lies and I plan to do more research to see how I can help change this.  I believe many people also worry about what changes to the healthcare industry will cost them or that fertility doesn’t deserve to be covered.  I can say for myself that many things that have an affect on my fertility are also things that affect my health so I have been lucky to find some ways things can be covered.  Where I don’t have options is for testing or any procedures like IUI or IVF to be covered.  Currently, there are only 15 states that require some type of coverage option for infertility treatments and I do not live in one of them.  I am not asking that public healthcare should be required to provide this coverage so you can save your comments.  I do hope however that we can reform healthcare so it becomes an option for all private insurance.  Take the time to learn a bit more about infertility healthcare and ways you can help.  Yes, I will take my own advise and be looking at this information in more detail as well.  In addition to the above information I learned that there are additional resources for military families too.  Please #StartAsking the important questions about heathcare reform and legislation.

So… What are YOU Afraid to #StartAsking?  Whatever it is I hope you find the courage and support to erase the fear, raise awareness and help make an impact.

Blessings, Lara

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The Hope has gone missing from my Hope Chest

This has been a tough week in the Caldwell household (actually, the last few months have been exceptionally challenging but that is for a different post).  This week I found myself plagued by the depression I have fought for as long as I can remember.

Depression for me can be triggered by a number of things and sometimes I don’t know what the trigger is or was at all.  What I do know is once I am depressed I will think even more about my infertility than ever which brings me to the hopeless chest.

When I was young child I couldn’t wait to have a hope chest all my own and always wanted to play with the items in my mom’s hope chest.  She had stuff from when she first dated my dad and when they got married.  Odd trinkets and a bunch of baby items from when I was born.  It was like a living scrapbook of memories.  I loved going through it and hearing the stories my mom would tell me about each item.  Fast forward to my 18th birthday and I finally got my very own hope chest.  I didn’t have a ton of things to put in it at that point but was excited to fill it full of the dreams I had for myself.  At first it was filled with things I was planning on taking to college with me like my first set of dishes.  Honestly, I don’t actually remember all of the things I kept in it early on or even when my husband and I finally had a place of our own that was big enough for me to not be storing the chest at my parents.

What I do remember is what I began to store in it when we decided to start a family.  Before we ever began trying I put some items from my childhood that I wanted to pass down to my child.  I had the dishes I used as a little kid.  If you grew up in the 70’s you probably remember the Peter Rabbit set.  vintage-peter-rabbit-in-the-garden-plate-bowl-silite-plastic-kid-s-dishes-094face17b39e8cd95d2ad12e2a09be3Some sentimental stuffed animals to be passed down and some artwork that I had kept that I wanted in a future nursery.  snoopy-sno-cone-machine-1My husband had even bought me an old school Snoopy Snow Cone maker identical to the one I had as a kid and I promptly added to the hope chest for our little to have those same snow cone memories.

The Hope chest didn’t have much in it until we got pregnant the first time around.  Of course with the excitement we couldn’t resist buying some baby clothes and a few cute things for a nursery.  After that first miscarriage there haven been a small handful of items we have added to the chest for fear of adding to the sadness or bad luck.  What it does hold are cute clothes and blankets, books from friends and a few adorable toys.  Oh! and a hoard of “I love grandma” onesies that my mother-in-law added to our collection.

There are also some baby gifts that friends sent to me AFTER my miscarriage (yes they knew of my loss before sending).  Now, I know that none of this was done out of malice but boy were they hard to get.  If you are reading this as one of my friends please note that was lone ago and I’m sure you didn’t understand that was a really hard thing to receive at the time.  Could I have said something, sure but why make them feel bad about an ill-timed gift.  While this post isn’t about that I did want to take a moment to remind anyone out there to that it is much harder to get these gifts as the hopeful “I know you will use this when you get pregnant again” rather than you just storing them until that appropriate time.  Same goes for those handmade gifts that people started for us and would mention as a type of guilt like “hey, I started a quilt for you back then so hurry up and get pregnant already so I can give it to you”.  Um, I’m trying but thanks for all of that support and sorry to keep YOU waiting.

Back to the Hopeless Chest… So, this beautiful chest sits at the foot of our bed and normally is just a piece of furniture.  Other times like this past week it haunts me and tempts me to delve into it and cry over the baby goods inside.  I will be honest, the picture of the items is actually an older pic taken long ago as I decided this week was not a healthy time to open the chest at all.  But, all week I kept thinking about it as the hopeless chest.  Mostly, because that was the feeling my depression brought on this week.  Usually, it is a dark sad depression that is dripping with sarcasm and anger.  This week it was hopeless hopeless hopeless.  Full of poor me and I’ll never have a baby thoughts and hopelessness for our current situation.

Currently, I am feeling much better and I would have written this post earlier had I had the energy to do so.  I am hoping by putting these feelings and dealing with depression on top of infertility will help someone out there who feels similar.  As usual, feel free to contact me or leave a comment.  I would love to hear how you deal with your depression and infertility too.  If you are seeking additional support or resources you can find some here.

Blessings, Lara

The Infertility Tango

I want to talk about what infertility and this journey has done to my marriage.  Now, don’t let the title fool you as my husband isn’t about to actually dance the Tango but the title made me smile so there you have it.

I can honestly say that I feel truly blessed with my husband, best friend, lover and forever partner.  I know that not all marriages survive fertility and Kevin and I have been very lucky that this hike we have been on has made us stronger.  We haven’t gone unscathed and it has been work to survive everything we have been through but we are still here and we haven’t left the dance yet.

When we went through our first miscarriage it came as a complete shock to both of us.  We both cried, we held each other and as everyone told us it was completely normal to lose your first pregnancy we didn’t lose faith in having a baby.  I remember actually feeling lucky at the time to have suffered a early miscarriage.  I have a couple of very dear friends who each have suffered through a still birth and I can’t fathom surviving that and going on as they have.

After our second miscarriage I remember the fear starting to creep in.  Not just the fear of will we be able to have a baby and is this my fault but will my husband leave me if we can’t.  I remember telling my mom this later after probably our 3rd miscarriage.  She was angry with me and couldn’t believe I would ever think something like this.  Honestly, I didn’t have any reason to really think this other than so many movies that depict the man leaving the barren woman for someone who could give him the offspring he so desired.  My fear also came from knowing that my husband had wanted a child long before I was ready.  Insert guilt for why did I make him wait so long and maybe if we had tried when we were younger we would have a son or daughter running around the house right now.  I wanted to wait until we were ready, more stable blah blah blah.  I am a planner so it is hard not to overthink something as epic as bringing a new life into this world.  I certainly wish others put a bit more thought into if before they did but that is for a whole other blog post of the future.

I don’t recall if it were our 3rd or 4th miscarriage but I remember Kevin telling me he wasn’t sure he could go through this much longer.  At the time I wasn’t all too understanding as physically going through a miscarriage is no piece of cake and I was going through the mental aspects as well.  Anyhow, after my own grief settled some more I did understand that this was hurting him terribly too.  I later realized much of my reaction to him saying this and other things of a similar nature was a defensive reaction.  I still feel this way a bit.  I think if he were to come in today and say “I don’t want to try any more” and just want to be done with it then I would feel he was giving up on me just as much as giving up on having a child.  Now, this decision might happen eventually anyway but I hope it happens out of us discussing it and deciding together.

Anyhow, back to the whole marriage aspect.  Kevin hasn’t left me for some spry young woman to make babies with.  In fact, going through this together has made us much stronger as a couple.  I honestly believe if you can’t survive infertility than you probably wouldn’t survive raising children together either.  I think the latter has to be a much more difficult task.  Now, has our spontaneity and intimacy suffered, Absolutely!  For us this has suffered in two ways.  At first it was all of the counting days, ovulation tests, scheduling “tater time” that hurt our spontaneity.  The Intimacy I think suffered more when it became frightening to get pregnant by accident.  It is an odd thing to be terrified of getting pregnant when you aren’t a teenager and it is just the simple fact that you don’t want to go through another loss.

While we still need to recover our intimacy and spontaneity there are some things that I think we have done well that might help someone else going through this now.  I don’t claim to be an expert, these are just observations of what has worked to keep Kevin and I strong.

1.) Be there for each other.  There is no room for blame if you want your marriage to stay strong.  Chances are your partner may already blame themselves so they don’t need that from their spouse.  Listen to one another and find out what you can do to support your partner during this time.  Lift each other up and don’t stop doing things that you love together.  Be respectful of your spouse’s feelings with wherever you are in your journey.  They may need to take a step back or sometimes they might be ready to go full speed ahead and you want to cool the jets a bit.  Talk about these things.

2.) If depression, desolation or desperation start to impact you or your spouse it may be time to get some help.  This doesn’t have to be “professional” help.  Talk to a friend who is or has gone through infertility.  Seek out a blog that “speaks” to you.  Check out some of the many online resources out there.  Join a Facebook group.  Anything.  Infertility can be such a crushing blow to us it is important not to let it get the better of you.

3.) Talk about the “What ifs”.  I know, I know.  Taboo, run away don’t listen to her.  But, I think it is healthy to discuss what your life might look like without children.  Or, perhaps discussing if either of you wants to foster or adopt.  This is something we didn’t do until a bit later in our process and we still have new discussions the further we go on this journey.  I’ve known some people who have even made dramatic plans for the end of their baby making journey.  I heard one woman say that when she turned 45, if they hadn’t been successful they were going to sell all of their stuff and move to Europe and travel.

4.)  Take care of yourself.  Whatever this means.  Get a massage.  Start a new hobby.  Pick up an old hobby.  Volunteer somewhere.  Go back to school.  Plan a dream vacation (alone or with your spouse or maybe with a great friend).  Start doing meditation (this is one of the things I have been doing lately).  Exercise.  Eat well and if some idiot tells you “if you stop thinking about it, you’ll get pregnant” then eat the piece of chocolate or drink the glass of wine.  😉  We have to take care of ourselves so we can be there for our spouse and help take care of them.  I think we all seem to cycle through one of us being down so it helps to have those “up” times so you can pick them up off the floor or vice versa.

5.)  You do not have to listen to the village idiot, or your friend who just got pregnant, or your family, or a coworker who is being nosy.  If you have been going through infertility long and you have shared it with anyone you will know that advice and mostly unsolicited advice comes often and from just about everyone.  So, I repeat “you do not have to listen”.  Now, you may want to punch them in the throat, don’t do that either.  But, you can kindly smile and say thank you or tell them you aren’t in a space to talk about it or whatever you want.  But, it is your infertility, your journey, your struggle.  You don’t have to listen to me either but I assume if you are reading this that you came to my blog and it didn’t just pop up to give you advice.

Wow, I am so sorry that was such a long winded one.  Hugs to you and thank you again for reading this.  If you ever want to contact me you can do so here and I have been doing my best to reply to all comments (pretty easy now as there aren’t that many but I am trying to think positive to there being so many I can’t possibly keep up).

Blessings, Lara

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