Sunday, 3 January 2016

Let It Go

A few months ago, my mother asked if I were planning to use pictures of Kate for our Christmas card. "I can't" I replied "It was really hard for me to see pictures of everyone else's kids each year."  My mother quietly repressed a sigh. "Jane," she paused. "Do you think you'll ever be able to let some of these feelings go?"

Let it go? I was tempted to launch into my 'once infertile, always infertile" speech, but I remembered we already had that conversation earlier that morning. I mentioned that one of my blogger friends had a spontaneous pregnancy after her first pregnancy was achieved after her 5th IVF transfer.

"So she's fertile." My mother interrupted
"Well, no." I countered. "The spontaneous pregnancy doesn't erase the multiple failed transfers and the years of heartbreak."
"But she conceived without intervention" My mother stood her ground "So everything works. She's fertile."

I was not going to let her have the last word. "It's like how Shroedinger's Cat is considered to be both alive and dead. She is simultaneously both infertile and fertile." I really don't understand Shroedinger's experiment, but I figured it would successfully end the argument. It seemed to work, so I decided to follow with a more vivid explanation.

"It was especially hard as both of my miscarriages were right before Christmas. Looking at pictures of other people's children reminded me of what I wanted, but didn't have and may never have. I was reminded that I was falling further behind as their kids aged each year. I felt regret that we didn't start trying for a family earlier. I felt confronted by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future all at once."

"So, are you ever going to be able to let it go?"

No, I can't let it go, but I have eased up a little bit. It started at the pool one day. I realised that I still carried a lot of resentment toward Lena, as if it were my default position. One day, we had both brought our babies to swim practice and the image of the two strollers side by side softened me. Even though our path to parenthood was quite different, we were in this together. I friended her on, so I could add her to a closed group for new parents. In turn, she gave me some sleep training tips.

During my trip back east, we got together with my mother's side of the family, which included my recovering heroin addict cousin, his former heroin addict girlfriend and their almost year old son. I received the news about their pregnancy right after my fourth failed transfer. The one considered 'A New Hope' as it was with a grade 1 known euploid embryo. I wasn't so much jealous, as I was resentful. As I was researching recurrent implantation failure and trying to figure out the strategery for the fifth transfer 'The Kitchen Sink' I figured why not start shooting heroin? I had not seen this cousin in over 16 years. He was just a 17 year old kid at our last encounter and now he was a 33 year old father. Although I still remain somewhat skeptical, it really seems that fatherhood has had a positive influence in his life and he has been clean for nearly two years. He appears to be a dedicated father and as he was explaining baby sleep patterns and sleep regressions to my other cousin, I realised I could actually ask his for advice. "Oh, we had no idea what we were getting into." he explained "We spent the first few nights Googling everything we could" "So did we" I admitted "Seriously?" he asked. Seriously. I'm sure they had additional challenges as I imagine their baby was withdrawaling from methadone.

Finally, I renounced my jealousy over Myrtle's so called textbook perfect vaginal birth. Myrtle shared that her memories of her daughter's birth will always be tarnished by the fact that both her nurses were encouraging her to push as if she had to poop. Over and over again she heard those words. "Pretend you're trying to take a big poop!" "Push like you're really constipated!" As Myrtle was terrified that she would actually poop during the delivery, she twice asked the nurses to cease using that reference, but it was to no avail. I may be forever branded by my Caesarean scar, but at least there was no reference to deification when Kate entered the world.

I had been feeling that I had to confront my bitter feelings for all the pregnancy announcements encountered while I was infertile, in a similar way that an alcoholic goes through step nine and has to apologise to all the people he wronged. However, there is some resentment that I just can't let go. My cousin and her "souvenir" from her vacation in Hawaii, when she was so "relaxed." I just can't get past the fact that someone who endured all those bull shit lines while she was infertile, would turn around and use them to explain her spontaneous conception. Yet, a few weeks ago I noticed that she shared a link to an New York Times article entitled "Don't Ask Me When I'm Going to Have Kids" which discussed the hidden epidemic of infertility. I felt so proud of her for taking the courageous step to come out with her infertility experience. I also felt satisfied that she was proving my point. Five years after IVF led her to her firstborn and after a spontaneous conception, she still couldn't let it go.

Meanwhile, I still didn't have a decision about what to do with our Christmas cards. I finally designed our birth announcements, but I was feeling cheap and/or lazy about doing two mass mailings. "Maybe  you can just mail a generic Christmas card with the birth announcements." suggested Co-worker, although it seemed to be the same as having a baby picture Christmas card. "Why don't we just take a year off from sending Christmas cards?" I reluctantly agreed that it seemed like the best option. Yet every time I opened a card that was sent to us, I felt guilty and disappointed, but I'm trying to let it go.


  1. I'm glad you are writing about this. I can't let it go, either. And I seem to be most bitter these days toward those who can let it go. I hate the feelings and I wrestle with them, but they remain a struggle.

  2. I haven't let it go, but I'm in full blown ignoring stage. I don't get bitter when my colleague talks about how she conceived when they had sex on the couch--the only time they had sex that month. [Had I had been asked when A had been conceived I probably would have said petri dish, because I'm tired of pretending it was easy.] I talk about conceiving #2 as blithely as any fertile. I 100% embraced the baby picture Christmas card. I don't feel bitter right now. I definitely roll my eyes at my SIL's inane FB postings about her pregnancy--it doesn't bother me, but I keep thinking about all the women who might be struggling who she's hurting. However, my IF story cuts deep when people ask me who Ayan looks like. I ache for my boy when I think about how our choices might hurt him deeply one day. So I haven't let it go, not at all, but I'm determined to get as much joy out of A while it's easy. Before I have to have hard conversations. When I can think that #2's conception will be as "easy" as Ayan's. It's probably not healthy, but there's so much behind me and so much ahead of that's so difficult, that for now, I'm content to put those feelings aside and deal with them later.

  3. I have not let it go. I still get a twinge of jealousy when I see pregnancy announcements or event pregnant woman out in the street. I knew it would never go away, but I'm surprised at how much it still hurts sometimes. While I don't want to forget all I went through, I do envy those that seem to be able to move on a little easier.
    Also, I totally made my Christmas card the birth announcement that first year. I had no interest in doing two mailings within 3 months.

  4. I definitely made our 2013 Christmas card the birth announcement as well because I was lazy.

    I don't think that I will ever be able to let it go, but it certainly helps that at this moment I am pregnant (and here I am the epitome of an infertile and fertile!). I assume it will hurt less in a few years when TTC is behind me.

  5. I have learned that infertility isn't something that happened to me, it's part of who I am. I am forever changed by my diagnosis and experience. I am not even more changed by the loss of my twins. I may or may not get a rainbow, only time will tell, but getting that rainbow will also make another mark upon me.

    Honestly I don't want to forget. I've met some amazing women on this journey, made special bonds that can never be broken, tapped into another side of humanity, and I think I'm a better mom for it. I appreciate the bad days because I have them. I appreciate the crazy stuff, the things people complain about on FB are beautiful to me. It's hard to explain. How people go through this and then forget is beyond me. *hugs*

  6. I'm half and half, I think. I'm very conscious of not posting a ton of exclusively baby-related stuff on Facebook, but I also don't avoid posting stuff because that's my life now and my friends and family want to know about Q. We didn't do baby Christmas cards but that's because we are generally lazy and have yet to EVER manage to do Christmas cards since we got married. If we ever do them, I'm sure a family photo will be part of it. But I try to be sensitive about stuff. I think it's partially OK because I'm so open about our infertility experience (if not the DE aspect all the time) so I think most people know where I'm coming from and not just some normal fertile shoving the products of my uterus in peoples' faces all the time. And yeah, I still get bitter about uber-fertile people. I don't know if that will ever go away. I'll probably be 70 years old and still bitching about people getting pregnant too easily.

  7. I'm very much aware of my infertility or sub-fertility, but what it means changes as time goes by. I have a child so the longing for a child is not so intense or bitter. But my dad's death leaves me thinking about family continuity and how our family feels like a demographic disaster sometimes (my aunt's son killed at 19, my two brothers with no kids, and sub-fertile me with one child). I know it is irrational to feel that this is somehow my fault (certainly nobody has ever implied that to me or anyone else to my knowledge) but sometimes I find myself looking on the gloomy side of things.

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  9. I still get a little twitch from other peoples' pregnancy and birth announcements, even though I have my own little babe. We didn't do birth announcements, nor did we do a Christmas card. My husband asked if we were going to do a family photo Christmas card and I just said I wasn't planning on it and left it at that. In the past that may have put me on a tirade of why not, but it's not such a raw wound anymore, just a shiny scar that I still find myself running my hand over. We've never really been ones to do Christmas cards anyways, but maybe next year. I know my husband wants to partake in some normal parental things, so I'll have to let go somewhat.