The Lonely Womb

Living and Learning through Loss

Tag: infertility support

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

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

 

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

Support and Resources

As I mentioned in my last post I feel it is important to share some valuable resources that I have stumbled upon over the years.  This is by no means a comprehensive list but I hope it offers you a place to start.  I welcome you to share additional resources in the comments and I will do my best to amend this list accordingly.  All links will open a new page so you can return here for more resources.  Please feel free to share.

The Internet Health Resources Company:  Exclusive to fertility organizations this is a great starting point to educate yourself about infertility, deciding if and when you need help and where to find it.  Tons of information here.

Books about Infertility:  A large database of books that can help you anywhere along your journey.

The National Infertility Association – RESOLVE:  Their goal is to improve the lives of women and men living with infertility.  A huge amount of information here from educational resources to finding support groups.

Live Strong Foundation Fertility Services:  LIVESTRONG Fertility is dedicated to providing educational information and access to resources that support cancer patients and survivors whose cancer and its treatment present risks to their fertility.

American Pregnancy Association:  Pregnancy calendars, learning about ovulation, tracking tools and many resources on fertility.  They also have a shop with tools and supplements to aid in fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

The Endometriosis Association:  Their website is a bit goofy but has useful information for treatment and dealing with infertility as a cause of endometriosis.

Infertility Network:  An interesting site that provides news coverage from around the world about infertility.  They advocate for reform as well.

PCOS Foundation:  Resources and support for those suffering with PCOS or trying to get diagnosed.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association:  Another site dedicated to those suffering with PCOS.

PCOS Challenge:  The support system to help women beat PCOS.

Path 2 Parenthood:  a site dedicated to reproductive health, infertility prevention and treatment, and family-building options including adoption and third party solutions.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Infertility:  Even the CDC cares about Infertility.

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology – SART:  This site is dedicated to Assisted Reproductive Technology with emphasis on IVF.

The Fertility Institutes:  A world leading fertility center with resources and information on locating an IVF clinic near you.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine: I have linked to the section of the site for patients.  News, research and educational videos.

Again, this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive but I hope you find the information you are seeking.  Please feel free to share this post with someone you feel may benefit from any of these resources.

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