Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We Are Survivors

I got a letter in the mail from my clinic with prices and schedule for 2009. I asked for it because I had heard prices were going up from a couple of people and I was concerned about how much. It isn't too much - about 10% over 2007 (although some individual procedures went up as much as 80% - ones I will need, of course). This isn't really a huge deal. We have already decided to give it a shot and 2-3 thousand dollars more doesn't really hit home when we will already be spending about $25,000.

No, what got to me was the pit in my stomach that started as soon as I saw where the letter was from. I naively thought it would be exiting to start thinking about giving LB a sibling. FamilyOfTwo talks about the thrill and fear of trying again to conceive. It reminded me of the thrill part of a cycle and the hope that it will work. Getting the letter reminded me of the fear. I realized that I was really lucky to have conceived LB on our first DE cycle and that there was no guarantee we would be successful again. Logically, I already knew this, but my gut was saying, "Of course we will have a sibling."

I put the letter aside thinking I could just ignore it and the sick feeling would go away. It didn't work. I looked at LB and then looked at Brad and said while trying not to cry, "I want to give her a sibling, but I don't want to do IVF again." He understood. In fact, that is what he has been trying to communicate when he has been telling me "one is enough."

Eventually, I opened the letter because I thought facing the fear a bit would help. It did, but it also got me thinking. Those of us who deal with infertility are survivors. Whether we are able to conceive with our own gametes or not, whether we adopt or carry the child, whether we get pregnant (relatively) easily or choose to put it behind us and live child free; we have kept going against significant challenges and we pay a high price. Of course, not just financially, but emotionally and physically as well.

I was listening to This American Life the other day about a soldier from the Iraq war diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. He got the diagnosis because he had heightened fear /anxiety when he was around Muslims or other events and symbols that reminded him of his time in Iraq. How many of us feel heightened anxiety around pregnant women or in conversations that revolve around children? What about the anxiety that comes from driving by the hospital where your child died or past the clinic where you had failed cycles? Isn't this a kind of PTSD?

I wonder also if it would be a somewhat easier process if society as a whole had some appreciation for it. I find it interesting that since giving birth to LB, I have gotten a few emails that wax poetic over the joys (and of course hard work) of motherhood. When I get one, two things comes to mind: 1) Why didn't anyone acknowledge that I was first a mother nearly 4 years ago and 2) If they really thought it was all that, why don't their hearts break when they hear about someone who is being denied the opportunity? My only answer is that they either don't care, can't comprehend and / or don't really appreciate being a parent as much as they say.

As people dealing with infertility, we are traumatized, marginalized and isolated; yet we keep going. We pick ourselves up after losses and failed cycles and try again. We make the courageous decision to put trying to parent behind us and choose to live child free. We find ways to be happy with our lives even when they aren't working out the way we had planned. With the risk of sounding arrogant, may I say that we are amazing.

Take some time this week to pat yourself on the back and recognize your strength, perseverance, creativity, as well as the love you have for your partner, the children you may have and the children you hope to have. While you're at it, take a moment to tell a fellow infertile how amazing he or she is too.

25 comments:

Lisa said...

Very, very well said!

Ryan's Mommy said...

I have always thought that as an infertility survivor, I do suffer from PTSD. I really, really believe that it's true.

Also, in regard to #2, maybe their hearts DO break. But maybe they don't know how to say it.

Smiling said...

Can I start by saying that I find you, your story and your blog amazing?

Plus how can you not rock if you listen to This American Life. That is a core component to my laze around in bed today plan. Thank goodness I can listen to it online down here.

But on a more serious note, I think you are very right about becoming a mother 4 years ago... treatment is all about planning, sacrifice, worry, love, hope, and dreaming. Sounds a lot like another phase of motherhood to me!

Mrs. Spit said...

Yes. Yes.

courage. It means more than running into a burning building.

Sherry said...

very well said! I couldn't agree more with the PTSD diagnosis. In fact, I've had my therapist relate my experience to PTSD quite a few times. You're definitely on to something there...

familyoftwo98 said...

Thanks for linking to me. I think I offended some of my pregnant readers when I wrote that!

I HOPE and PRAY that you are able to give LB a sibling. No matter what I will be waiting in line and holding your place if you decide to take another go at the roller coaster. You can't miss me, I am the neurotic one at the front who will scream "Don't let me die!!!" As we barrel down the first hill!

Leah and Maya said...

I read on another blog that today is a rememberance day for all the people who have suffered a loss of a child.
You know how I feel the first cycle was fine the other 4 I felt sick to my stomach even going near the IVF clinic, I know how you are feeling and you are strong to keep wnating to do it. I think if it was free why not just keep trying, no big deal, yea right then I remember how it feels and how involved it is emotionally and everything else. Talk to you soon.

Summer said...

This is an amazing post. But, it's not surprising since it comes from an amazing person!

Trina said...

Thank you for reminding us of all we have faced and all we continue to overcome. Your 100% right, we all needed to be reminded from time to time of how amazing we are!

I don't think I have ever told you how much your blog and emails to me pulled me through and kept me going after last year. You are an amazing person, for all you've been through, for all your help and most importantly for remembering the struggles and keeping others in mind. Thanks for all you have done & endured and for all you continue to do!

Me said...

I love this post! It's so heartfelt and beautifully written!

Geohde said...

Kami,

This is one heck of a post. Couldn't have said it better. Any of it,

xx

J

Tracy said...

Great post...I still can't spend much time thinking about last year. It was just so GD hard. It pains me that anybody is going through that at all.

kwolph said...

You are definitely a survivor! I work with Survivor Corp and we recognize that no matter what the personal crisis is--infertility, war, cancer, one must look into themselves to find the strength to look upon each day, as a new day. You are definitely giving back to others by giving your perspective on PTSD and infertility. Best Wishes!!

Irish Girl said...

We are pretty amazing, aren't we!

Thanks for such an awesome post. Sometimes we can all use a reminder of how much we have survived. How far we've come.

Lorraine said...

Thank you, Kami.

It really is true - in a situation which isolates us and drains our strengths, the words of a kind and supportive friend can make all the difference. Thank you for being that voice.

battynurse said...

So true and very well said.

Peeveme said...

I haev no idea what you will end up doing but I hope you find peace. Sibling or not. IVf or not. I wish we could all just find peace. I'm not saying we should all just get over it but eventually I hope this sadness, desperation, fear lessens.

B said...

Too true - My first visit to the shrink and he ticked Anxiety, Depression and PTSD on his list of things to say how pathological was. I resented my response to extreme events being defined as pathological, but that is how a shrink works, you have to be sick before they can help you get better.

You are right. We are survivors and I feel pretty proud of the fact that I have found a way to be OK in a place that I did not choose. It makes me begin to wonder if life is actually meant to be like this - with a hefty dose of pain. There are gains in even the most painful loss. I think??

luna said...

we are survivors of a different kind of war. though sometimes I feel way more like a casualty...

I think other people simply cannot comprehend what we've been through, what we deal with every day.

lovely post.

kayla said...

very well put!

Knock Me Up said...

Hear, hear!

Geohde said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Geohde said...

Obviously, you'll have to use each others comments sections to say hello and establish viable email addy's

:)

J

PS...and obviously since this isn't an email the links for the logo are dead, email me again and I can send it to you if you want.

Kate said...

Your post really hit home with me!! I agree on so many levels!!!

Kate said...

Surviving is a good word, and I wouldn't doubt PTSD at all in my case. Great post.