Category: Childlessness

I need therapy after group therapy. Or a drink.

Published / by sandymichelet / 4 Comments on I need therapy after group therapy. Or a drink.

There are self help groups for everything so its not a surprise to know there are self help groups for those dealing with infertility. And like other groups, these range from the ridiculous to the downright unhelpful.

It’s hard to put something so basic (like getting pregnant) into words…and it is hard for anyone to give advice if they’ve never walked in someone else’s shoes. I had already talked to people who tried to understand what I was going through.

After googling, talking to therapists, etc I found an infertility support group. I wanted to drink coffee/eat bundt cake while sitting in a circle and hearing about other people’s agony. I wanted to hear the same words come out of other people’s mouths that had been coming out of my mouth for years. I needed that validation that I was not a freak. That I was not losing my mind. And that I. Was. Not. Alone.

The first meeting I attended was at someone’s house…which I kinda appreciated. I didn’t like the idea of being in a clinical setting. (I had been in enough clinical settings….). But I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of exposing all of my soul to someone on the same couch where they watched Law & Order in pajamas. Not a lot of other options existed, so I headed out my house and drove to someone else’s. Ready to get healed.

When I walked in the door I was most surprised by the large picture of a child in the room. Not really sure what I was expecting…but it actually stopped me in my tracks. I wouldn’t assume if I was going to my first AA meeting that there would be a picture of a bottle of scotch on the registration table. But…I was a group-therapy-virgin. What did I know!? There were a few other people there and we all tried to find a place to sit, while not making eye contact. Before any of us uttered a word we all knew we were in the same boat. We all had high hopes for the group discussion that night….but all had grown accustomed to wanting something and having it ripped from us….so we were all pretty sheepish.

The organizer tried to get us to start talking to each other while we waited for others to arrive. Then I saw the coffee cake. SCORE! So…..Yes! There was coffee! Yes! There was some type of snack. Yes! There was a circle! Well…it was furniture-arranged-in-a-kind-of-a-circle-situation that told me the tears would start a’ flowing soon. Kleenex in hand. Check! Comfy chair. Check! Coffee. Check! Let the healing begin!

The organizer sat down and told us her story. I dug my heels in ready to help her cope. And then it ended like all happy stories end…with a baby. For a minute I was really pissed. I was so happy for this stranger when I found out that her agony was finally over…but good gracious. She was talking to a room full of women who were so wired up on hormones, Clomid and disappointment. We were ready and needed to scream, cry and cuss. And now we were instantly made to feel uncomfortable. How in the WORLD could she try to make me feel better!? I blocked out everything she said after that.

We started going around the circle to tell our stories. I had no idea what to say when it was my turn. The woman to my right was next. She was familiar with the group members so had obviously been there before. Well guess what the heck she said. She came to the group that night for the sole purpose of sharing the news that she had just found out she was pregnant. Am I in the twilight zone? Yay for her. Do NOT come to this meeting to tell us that! We have to pretend we are happy for every other pregnant person in the world….at work….at family events….everywhere….and now…again…at this supposedly safe place when we are overflowing with sadness we now each feel the need to muster a squeaky congratulations.

There are a few rules about being a southern woman. Always send thank you notes. Never host a party without a theme and deviled eggs. And always say please, thank you and congratulations. I did my southern-ly duty. Then picked up my purse and headed to the door. Once inside I tried to choke back the tears while trying to not choke on the 2nd piece of coffee cake. Yes. I had two pieces. At this point I had earned it.

It’s gonna take more than wine and soft music

Published / by sandymichelet / 6 Comments on It’s gonna take more than wine and soft music

If you’ve been involved in any type of fertility treatments or know someone who has, then you know that you lose all sense of dignity. The nurses and doctors do what they can to make you feel comfortable at being half dressed constantly…but there is NO way that any of this can be considered ok. It is all wrong.

It took about a year for us to figure out something wasn’t working right. We (like many naïve couples) thought that getting pregnant would be simple….because everybodyyyyyyyys doing it. I went to my normal female doc who checked the “infertile” box (or a term that made me realize there could be an issue) on the paperwork. That was the first indication there could be a problem.

At some point, my doctor suggested a hysterosalpingogram. Back then I still wasn’t accustomed to how clinical this whole process becomes. Marvin Gaye and a little wine worked for everyone else but a few days later I was in a contortionist position trying to count the moments til it was over. I heard the nurse casually tell someone “ok, can you call the doctor now”? WHAT THE!? He isn’t already in here!? I started to sweat because I knew I could be in that position for hours while my doctor finished delivering the latest blessing. In reality he was pretty close.  I will spare you the gory details (my first draft was apparently way too graphic) but Craig said he could hear me from the waiting room saying “Woa Woa WOAAAAAA’. Oh yeah. I am a warrior.

After the procedure I was a little woozy. Remember…this was early on, so I once again was convinced that this procedure would be the one. I could easily get pregnant after this.  I counted on my fingers to see how long before the miracle baby would be born. April. Yes! We’d have an Easter baby who could be wrapped in pastels and a bonnet for church. What could be better? I saw Craig as soon as the double doors opened to the waiting room. I took a few steps toward him. Something wasn’t right. The room started to spin. Sidenote: Some people can get sick like a normal human. If I feel like I’m getting sick I will lower myself to the ground. Not the bed. The ground. No idea why. I had my wits about me enough to know that I didn’t want to lie on the floor of the public waiting room though so headed back to the double doors. Still spinning. Trying to find a place to lie down. I took three steps. << AND SCENE>>.

That is all I remember. I came to hearing my name over and over again and Craig (now covered in vomit) holding me and screaming for help. Nurses came out of the woodwork and I got me back to the same room and crawled back on the table (at least I was fully clothed at this point).  Apparently I had a reaction to something but it only medical science knows the truth. 😉 Craig and I talked for a few minutes while I tried to force down the obligatory juice. It’s been ten years and Craig can detail every moment of that day how my “eyes rolled back in my head” and that he thought I had died in his arms. This would be Nicholas Sparks kinda stuff….but those always have happy endings.

They brought me a wheelchair and I tried to get comfortable. Some poor soul started pushing me out and then it hit me. NO! NO! NO! NO! STOP THE WHEELCHAIR! I wanted to walk out.  I tried to get out of the chair, I put my feet down, tried to turn sideways so I didn’t think I was in a chair, etc. Nothing worked. I wanted to walk out. Not because I am some superhero (I think we’ve proven quite the opposite above)….but I was NOT supposed to be wheeled out of Woman’s Hospital. People who are wheeled out are caressing and gazing down to a newborn, oblivious to the world around them…they have a mountain of balloons trailing behind the wheelchair….and have a nervous husband trying to remember where he parked the car. That wasn’t going to happen. And it was devastating. Again.

Both of us were emotional wrecks.  I was woozy, drugged and crying…and Craig (wearing now only remnants of vomit – they tried to clean him up) was trying to be strong but in a daze because he thought he had just watched me die. They put us in the car and I finally unleashed what I felt like were bottled up tears but had been streaming for a while now. We drove about a mile and I started to get sick again. I am not proud. I will lie on grass. Or concrete. Or Airline Highway. He couldn’t pull over because of traffic so I opened the door and tried to get out. He was frantically telling me to wait until the car stopped.  I was already sick again and still crying. We were quite the power couple that day.

Coincidently, we had stopped in front of my old office building. I was trying to lose my guts like a ninja so no one from work could see me. And see that, once again, I was a failure at Woman’s Hospital and that I couldn’t even handle a simple procedure.

That was both a lifetime ago and yesterday. All of us in this situation know the drill. We are reminded of our failures month after month after month…and then endure painful tests and procedures which result in nothing but agony. Tomorrow will be a better day.

 

 

Rant. Peace. Breathe. Repeat

Published / by sandymichelet / Leave a Comment

I finally have the strength to post this.  This is long but ooooooh so needed. ((I went back and read this….it gets angrier as I go…ha ha…)) It is my therapy….I am not losing it or having a breakdown…this post is actually the first step to me accepting it, recovering and moving on. I don’t need comments and I damn sure don’t need your pity.

I am childless (not childfree bc it wasn’t a choice). I was never able to have children. We tried for over thirteen years and it just didn’t work. But…I realized TODAY that many of my close friends and family don’t know about the struggle. They obviously know there are no kids around here but I have been so ashamed to talk about it that I’ve never brought it up or danced around it.

THINGS I’VE LEARNED/LEARNING:

  1. I’ve blamed myself for my inability to get pregnant. Did I do something wrong when I was younger? Am I being punished for something I did? What is wrong with me?
  2. There is a lot of shame associated with childlessness (this is the biggest revelation). If babies are a blessing (which they are) and I couldn’t have any….what does that mean? My mom has only one grandchild (we lost my nephew Tanner a few years ago) because I couldn’t give her any more. My brother will never be an uncle to my kids because I couldn’t have any.
  3. Holidays/events can be a freaking nightmare. For Christmas or birthdays, everyone else has a child sitting in their lap unwrapping presents. And I am getting snacks. Everyone else is fixing plates for their kids…and I am standing there, lone plate. Feeling like there is a spotlight on my obvious failure as a woman. Mother’s Day is getting better but I still refuse to go out of my house. Some waiter at a restaurant who was told to only give the flowers to mothers will dangle a flower until I answer “yes” or “no”. GIVE ME THE DAMN CARNATION and just don’t ask me.
  4. People make friends through their kids – school parents, Cub Scout parents, baseball parents. If I don’t have kids in those activities then I don’t have a relationship.
  5. Yes. I used to get upset/pissed when I would see a high school kid get pregnant. Again and again and again. I have the love, the financial means, the maturity and the desire for a child….but a kid in high school (who’s mom still has to wash her clothes) is chosen to have a baby. WTH.
  6. I don’t need your helpful suggestions or questions. “You need to try a different doctor” “My friend got pregnant using ABC medicine…try that”. “Are you doing it enough”? “You just need to relax” “You need to see this nun.” “Just when you stop trying it’ll happen” “You need to adopt” “Have you googled surrogacy?” “What is wrong with you?” “Why don’t you adopt an older child” “Why didn’t that medicine work?” “Are you going to try the procedure again?” “You just need to pray. God answers prayers” “Why can’t you get pregnant?” <== which by the way, I still don’t know…which makes the guilt and shame 100% harder because I can’t pinpoint a medical reason…so it is obviously ‘something I am being punished for’ kinda thing….
  7. Don’t tell me that I can have one of your kids or ask me if I “really want to give up your quiet life for THIS!?”. I’d like the middle child with the brown hair and green eyes. AWESOME. Tell him I’ll be by later to pick him up. And you are right. My life is quieter than yours. And I’d give up every piece of it to have a kid roaming around here.
  8. Group sessions/therapy – meh. I gathered up enough will to go to a session years ago. The person who was running it had recently “experienced the miracle” and pics of the baby were everywhere….as if that wasn’t enough, the formerly childless woman next to me wanted to come to group to tell us that her agony was over. She was pregnant. And……SCENE. I picked up my bat and ball and went home.
  9. Church is VERY hard. It should be a place for peace…but the place is full of families with children and a constant reminder of my failure. Parents are holding kids, sneaking them Cheerios while the priest isn’t looking, baptisms, families walking to communion together, etc. A few years ago I tried a new church and the mothers were asked to stand to be recognized for something. O.M.G. Can’t even get a break here…
  10. My family tree stops with me – Everyone else has branches underneath them. Nope. Not me. As generations look back I will be dropped off the trees because there are no children to trace to me. There will be no proof that I ever existed on this planet.
  11. Childlessness NEVER ends. As I move into each phase in my life it means I am learning a whole new set of experiences that didn’t expect. The younger ones are easier to identify….being pregnant, giving birth, raising a toddler, teaching a teenager to drive, etc. But back then I was so focused on missing out on those parts of life that I wasn’t thinking my future life. i.e. Being a grandma, etc.

Thank God for Erica and Brandt. They have been a huge portion of my life/my life for 20 years. I couldn’t ask for any better. NONE of this is meant to take away my strong relationship with them. They are my E-ness and my Dude. But at the end, I am not their mom. (They have an amazing one BTW). Now that I am getting older I worry about what will happen when I am 80. I know Craig talks to them about that fear…and I know that they will love me and take care of me until I die…and reassure me all the time 🙂 but it is still there. (Actually, if Craig dies first I want to move in with Donna (their mom). First, it would be logistically easier for the kids…but damn! We’d have a good time!

I’ve said “I” throughout this post. It has been a “we” journey with Craig. He has gone through this too…and been at my side the entire time. He has watched me cry, scream, threaten, breakdown in public, mourn, wail, retreat, bargain with God, yell at God, cry, cry and cry. I have loved him through this, hated him and everything in between. But when I’d open my eyes from my breakdown….he’d be right there. Every time.

*Phew*. So why this post now?? I am not sure. One evening a few weeks ago Craig watched me curl into a ball in my bathtub and wail. It was one of my lowest points. The next morning I received an email from him with a link to resources on “childlessness”. Huh? I had always searched for help on infertility but not this. I ordered a book (more on that later) that focuses on life after childlessness. And I feel like I am finally on a path toward peace.