It’s National Infertility Awareness Week and part of me finds that incredibly ironic given our decision to shut down my uterus. But I want to acknowledge NIAW and talk about the theme in light of our decision rather than in spite of it.
The theme for NIAW this year is “Don’t Ignore…” and a great many bloggers out there have written some incredibly beautiful and profound posts.
For me, as someone who has beaten infertility once and then been beaten by infertility and made the decision to close the door, it’s difficult not to feel like I am not entitled to many of my emotions. Getting pregnant the first time took a year and IVF, but I didn’t experience any losses before them and my IVF cycle was rather textbook. Am I not to feel like we struggled to bring our twins into the world? Our losses occurred as we tried to conceive baby #3, and since we already had kids, are we not to grieve not being able to have another child? People told me many times after my losses, “At least you have N and J.” Am I not allowed to experience those losses as losses in their own right instead of minimizing them because I have children?
It’s easy to convince yourself that your pain isn’t as bad as someone else’s and therefore you aren’t “supposed” to feel the way you do. I’ve had some text conversations the past few days in which I’ve been asked how I was doing in light of our decision. I’ve tried to minimize how I feel, but I’m lucky to have some friends who have no qualms about calling me out on my crap.
The reality is, I’m struggling. I’m struggling for a lot of reasons. I’m incredibly, undeniably blessed. I cannot ignore that, nor would I want to. I’m not sure I know how to put into words how the decision to stop TTC changes my life. I touched on it a bit in the “Done” post, but it’s become even more apparent in the past few days. Infertility and TTC is all-consuming. And it’s consumed me for a very. long. time.
Have you ever become aware of a clock’s ticking? It happens to me all the time. Sometimes it happens and I can’t hear anything else. It seems so loud I can’t concentrate. Other times, I’m vaguely aware that I’m hearing it, and sometimes it just is one more thing in the white noise of the house. But it’s always there. Until it isn’t. Getting rid of the clock sometimes only makes me more aware that it was there. I think I hear it, even though it isn’t around anymore.
Stopping TTC doesn’t stop the noise of TTC in my head. It makes me more aware of my infertility, not less. And I know this is part of the process, and it won’t always be like this. I can go through the motions of switching gears, of changing focus, but it doesn’t change that I’m still acutely aware of my infertility, of my losses, of my triumphs too. I can repurpose money slated for TTC to things like LASIK eye surgery and dream trips to visit friends, and trips to Disneyland for the family, but I’m still keenly aware of what that money was originally for. I can’t ignore it. I can try. And I can say I’m ok, and it’s a good thing and I know I’ll find my way through it and all of those things can be true. But I can’t ignore that the process of deciding to stop TTC has impact.
If I could say one thing to someone newly navigating the journey through infertility, I would say don’t ignore yourself in this process. Whether it’s a gut feeling on a decision that needs to be made or an emotion that rises up within you, don’t ignore it. There is no wrong path, there are no wrong emotions. The hardest thing for me to do is to allow myself to feel what I feel and to ask for what I need. It’s easy to lose sight of yourself when your eyes are so focused on a goal. Don’t ignore you.
I apologize if this post seems all over the place. I’m honestly incredibly exhausted. In the past two weeks a huge amount in my life has changed. Job. Car. Losing my cat. Closing the door on TTC. Almost everything that’s gone on has required a decision on my part. Some of them huge decisions. And now that the last one is pretty much made, I’m feeling so incredibly exhausted I can barely stay awake to finish this.
I want to thank everyone for such kind words on my last post and I am grateful to know (whether virtually or in real life) such amazing and supportive people. Thank you for being in my life.