Saturday, June 2, 2012

Who Does Infertility Hurt?

You know those Cym.balta commercials? The ones that make you want to shoot yourself by the end of it, even if you were having the best day of your life before it came on? "Who does depression hurt?" Everyone watching this commercial. You know it? Yeah, of course you do. You were probably online googling where to get Cym.balta so you could heal from the commercial, when you stumbled onto my blog.

Well, I began thinking about who infertility hurts. In the most obvious sense, the couple going through it is deeply and wholly hurt. Their closest family members and maybe even friends may feel a hurt for the couple, as well.

But I think just like the commercial implies... infertility hurts everyone. Even the dog. (I tell you, that gets me every time.)

It hit me while spending time with my ex-BFF and her 3 children at a college friend's wedding last month. Her oldest is 5. Same age my *oldest* should be. A little person... affecting those around her, interacting, sharing thoughts, learning... all of it. All of it that we have not. I began thinking about my 8 year old niece, and how having a cousin 3 years younger than her may have affected her life, for the better. She has a very chaotic life for such a sweet little girl... but, she will never know her cousin/s, because they just do not exist.
Which lead my thoughts to my older 15 year old niece and 1st goddaughter. Her life may, too, have been affected by having baby cousins to help take care of and foster her sense of nurturing as she becomes a young woman. She will never have that.
My sisters. Mr TCIE's sisters. How may they have been affected seeing their youngest siblings step into a role of maternal and paternal responsibility? How would their nieces and nephews change their life? We will never know. Our parents... I can't even go there.

I do believe, even if our families of origin and our friends, and even complete strangers do not feel that our infertility affects them... they are wrong. It does. Our infertility, your infertility... affects all of society.

There are PEOPLE missing. People. Not money. Not prestige. But people.

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

My children aren't around. They never existed. How many holes has that left, in how many other lives??

This probably isn't the most uplifting post. For that I apologize. But these are the thoughts I have been wrestling recently, and I thought I would share them here.

The only way I can begin to reconcile this very depressing thought (anyone have any Cym.balta??) is to think that perhaps in the absence of these lives of my non-existent children, God has granted me the fortitude to affect more lives in a positive way than my children would have...? Maybe? Of course this is my human brain, trying to make sense out of God. Have I not learned anything, yet? ;)

Whatever the reason for it... whatever the outcome... I maintain that the answer to the question "Who does infertility hurt?" is, in fact, "Everyone."


imusthaveprayedforpatience said...

so true

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. I'll never know if I was (and maybe, at my age, perhaps still even slightly) fertile or not. Ex-hub had had a vasectomy long before we married, so no kids from that marriage and no opportunity to test the equipment since then.

Nevertheless, my not having children deprived my sister's two sons of having close cousins, as, of the four kids, we're the closest (one sister died and our brother is useless). They've experienced cousin loss on both sides; one of only two cousins on their dad's side died in an accident as a young adult; on our side, they've lost three out of four of my brother's children, two to divorce, and one to an accident as a teenager. So, they have one cousin on their dad's side with whom they get along but are not close (they very rarely see him as they live far apart), and one cousin on our side.

My surviving sister would have loved to have had more nieces and nephews (and been a godmother - she is, but to one of my brother's kids lost the divorce of his first marriage, zero contact with the child in decades) but that didn't happen through me. While none of this happened through infertility, I understand your line of thinking.

JellyBelly said...

We were at my fertile bf's older son's birthday last weekend. He turned six, the same age our child would've been if we conceived when we wanted to. It was a hard day for me since I felt the absence of my child so acutely that day.

I wish I knew why we need to wait so long.

Catholic Mutt said...

I have no idea whether I am fertile or not, but last weekend, when visiting family I watched my mom's twin with her grandchildren, but my mom has no grandchildren, though we are the same ages as my cousins. I hate that! You're right. It does affect everyone.

All in His Perfect Timing said...

I, too, am depressed when (and after) watching Cym.balta.
I hate, hate, HATE that there are people missing in our lives when they should not be. How they would affect others if they were here ....

Little JoAnn said...

Yes, IF true, so well said, so SAD I can hardly process it all.

the misfit said...

I think to get my head around this I have to figure out whether I was "supposed to" have kids or not. I think I'm sure I was supposed to BE ABLE TO have kids, since the inability is an illness and all illness is disordered, but if God's plan for my life always included this cross, then my children aren't "missing," any more than the children of my parish priest are - because the best plan for his life (and my life) is one that didn't include children.

If I'm wrong about that, then I hardly like to think about the difference. With the possible exception of my father, everyone in my family has wanted us to have kids for ages. I can't even count the people whom I never see or hear from (or want to) with whom I presumably would be close friends. All my priorities would be different and everything about my social life would have changed. But...that means I would need to erase relationships that I treasure. I would have an innocence and joy, I think, that I know I don't. But also a naivete and self-satisfaction that I find loathsome in others. Maybe I've attained a personality and life and relationships that are more precious than what I would have had. There are a lot of play-date friends out there. There's not a lot of married girls who are friends with single girls and guys, and actually have time for them. Sure, our single friends are being picked off - there's been a scary number of weddings lately - but there are lots left, and I'm sure it's getting more lonely for them. I'm sure it makes them sad, too, to see so many of their friends pack up and leave a party by 6PM. We stay.

I can't claim to understand how it weighs out, the good versus the bad. I wonder whether we'll know in heaven.

Hebrews 11:1 said...

As always, you are so right. Especially the part about all the lives you yourself touch--I know I am a better person for having known you. You are in my prayers always.

Anonymous said...

Such a good post!

Sarah said...

Very thought-provoking. I know it has felt something has been missing in my own family for a long time. My oldest nephew is 7 (son of my twin sister), and wow... how different it would have been had I not spent my entire 20's unmarried and waiting. IF really does have a profound effect on everyone.

Anonymous said...

I think what is hurting the most is that we are somehow forced to let go the dream of an ideal son/daughter and of a certain future that we imagined in our hearth since we were kids ourselves. Nobody knows how would have been in the real world having a kid. Maybe we would have experienced post partum depression or the fragile balance of the family would have been shaken, maybe the kid would have been sick or with a bad temper. Hugs,

Sarah said...

Long time lurker here!

My mom's oldest sister doesn't have children; we think she had endo-related IF, but she never had a diagnosis. Of all my aunts and uncles, my sis and I are closest to that aunt and her husband. Because they didn't have children, they had more time and attention for us. They could come visit us more frequently than our other aunts and uncles. My sis now lives in the same city as this aunt, and goes over and cooks Mother's and Father's day brunches for them.

This is not to say that you are "supposed" to be infertile, or that the loss you feel isn't really loss. It is. Like The MIsfit, I consider all IF to be natural evil--in the same category as cancer and earthquakes.

But God can and does draw good out of evil. God makes grace possible in the midst of natural evil, sometimes grace that couldn't happen any other way.

SisterInChrist said...

I can see a difference in missing a person that does not exist and missing a person that existed and is not here anymore... we are definately missing all aborted children but I do not think I am missing a person God has not planned to create yet...God's plan is perfect and His timing too...

Julie said...

Very thought provoking. My heart agrees with so much of what you are saying, but my mind agrees with this from misfit:
"I think to get my head around this I have to figure out whether I was "supposed to" have kids or not. I think I'm sure I was supposed to BE ABLE TO have kids, since the inability is an illness and all illness is disordered, but if God's plan for my life always included this cross, then my children aren't "missing," any more than the children of my parish priest are - because the best plan for his life (and my life) is one that didn't include children."

and SisterInChrist: "I can see a difference in missing a person that does not exist and missing a person that existed and is not here anymore... we are definately missing all aborted children but I do not think I am missing a person God has not planned to create yet...God's plan is perfect and His timing too..."

I have been married 11 years and open to life, TTC the whole time. One of my best friends got married the day before me and has 6 children. My heart would like to be angry because I have 6 missing children...and in fact, I was angry for 9 YEAR!! But then I realized something very profound. God's Plan is NOT my plan. My children were never missing. My children were simply not born yet. My children were KNOWN by GOD for ALL ETERNITY! But, because I am human, I didn't know HIS plans for me, for our family. I didn't know when, or if my children would be born and that made me angry. God knows each and every soul He will create for all eternity. He gives us free will, so we can choose if we are open to life, kill our unborn or contracept, or if will suffer from infertility. HE KNOWS IT ALL FROM ALL TIME. I really think the missing children are those who are aborted...for God created them in His image to live on this earth yet the free will of another one of His children took that chance away from them.
I know you are missing the children that you should have had if you were fertile. I understand that. I was there once too.
God's plan for you has not been revealed yet and that is what causes the pain of this cross to be crushing.
I pray that God will heal your heart and reveal His Plan to you!

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

I do respectfully disagree for a couple of reasons. First, "God's plan for you has not been revealed yet." To this I say, in fact, it has been revealed and I am living it out. God's plan is not some far off distant thing that may, when the time comes, realize itself as the exact thing I've *wanted* on earth. Rather, it is here and now. It is our faith, our hope, and our love. No revelation needed.
Second, if aborted children are missing, so are miscarried children, and for those of us with clear open tubes, no structural issues of uterine polyps or fibroids, and normal ovulations, as well as better-than-average husband SFA... but a plethora of issues that have been proven to cause implantation failure, I think it's safe to assume there may in fact have been "real" children that I am missing. Life begins at conception, not at positive pregnancy test... and THAT not knowing... the not knowing if there are even any children who exist at all which my husband and I may have co-created with God... that is what kills me.

I do love Sarah's comments and I agree with that line of thinking. There are other ways that my husband and I can affect others' lives through the lack of our children. I just need to focus on that.

Rebecca said...

As I was sitting surrounded by kids yesterday, and my mom was nearby too, this post kept echoing in my head and while my own writing focused on my own sense of missing out, I felt like I got a "real life" example of how IF hurts everyone and how those "missing children" hurt all. There was of course my mom sitting and watching and interacting and I know our IF was hurting her in that moment. But, what about the other women who didn't know me? Did our IF hurt them? Yes, I think it did. Maybe it hurt them because I didn't have the courage to speak about it and give them an opportunity to be compassionate/learn how to be compassionate to an IF woman; and maybe it hurt them because there is a gift I have that I am meant to share with them, but I was too scared to do it.

Ultimately, we may never know the ways in which our missing children, the children we pray for, yearn for, hope for, dream about, would have touched the lives of those around us. Yet, I do believe that we do not have to know the details/methods for the hurt to happen. Hurt does not always have to be a direct pain, but can rather be the absence of a benefit. And while those of us who are IF feel this absence so acutely it is direct pain, those who are impacted may never feel the hurt, but it is still there.

And Sarah and TCIE, you are right, we must find ways to affect the lives of others through our childlessness.

Julie said...

I do not disagree with you about life beginning at conception and all children that are conceived yet not born, are missing in the lives of all those they would have affected. I agree with you there.

My point was merely to say that I (whose have never had a positive pregnancy test) does not know IF God created children through us that were never born. We won't know that until we reach Heaven.

I am sorry that I assumed that God had not revealed His plans for your future to you. I am so happy that you know His plans and that you are living them out.

God does not reveal His plans to ME in advance. I do not know His plans for my future. He reveals them to me day by day. I wish I knew His plan for my future!

Please forgive my miscommunication.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of that How I Met Your Mother episode, with Robin narrating to her children (only to find out at the end of the episode that she is infertile and the children are imaginary). There is always that sense of longing for the potential, what could have been and what will never be.

Faith makes things possible said...

I've often times thought about this...who IF hurts, besides my dh and I. You definitely nailed this post on the head, saying exactly what was always weighing on my heart but never actually having the words to say it. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Julie and a few of the other commenters. To say that children are missing is to say that you have already had God's plan revealed to you. If you had in fact had a positive pregnancy test but then later miscarried then absolutely, children are missing. However we don't know the minute we conceive and I think that is all Julie was trying to say.

We are living or trying to live out the will of God daily but we do not know explicitly His plan for us. To say we do is presumption of His will. One should not look to the future assuming childlessness or another form of suffering is forever.

Not trying to be callous or argumentative just my two cents.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

I totally get this, and even agree. The main point of my post was, as the title suggests but my actual content clearly did not fully imply, that IF hurts more than just the couple. I should have had Rebecca write the post for me because her comment here is exactly what I was trying to say.

Ashley Sue said...

You didn't need anyone to write your post for you. That was intelligent, in depth, thought provoking, and stirring. You brought a whole new dimension into my awareness of the infertility struggle my husband and I face (POI for me) and, say, my best girlfriend who so badly wants to have her own family and joyful life, but is getting older while single, without even any suitors up at bat. Maybe someone else's infertility is why she is still looking for the man God intended her to be with. And for all the commenters saying aborted children count but infertility doesn't (BULL, man), fine, whatever, maybe my friend's husband was aborted. Or perhaps God has him for her, just not face to face yet after all.

Regarding all of the intensity over "know God's plan for you", I am quite sure we all believe the same thing but are crossing words here. To say we need time to see God's plan revealed to us can sound really condescending, so please recognize that.

His current plan for my husband and me, for instance, is to suffer but to learn and know love regardless of the pain in our hearts. His plan includes us relying on Him in all things. His plan also was to put a desire in our hearts to pray about and wish for, and for that I believe we were meant to be children, so PEOPLE ARE MISSING.

Comparing us to a priest is ridiculous. Priest choose a sacrifice, if they EVER wanted children anyhow, to be a father over God's herd. We did not choose that, and God did not give us that calling, so please do not say my missing children are the same as the hypothetical children a priest could have.

Now, onto getting spiffy about saying that God has revealed His plan to us - no one is saying He has shown some of us the future. We are not saying we know the full puzzle God is piecing together with us. We do not know what His plan later reveals.

We know that His plan IS NOW, and as stated, day by day unfolds, and that I am CURRENTLY living God's plan... and if we are blessed with our first child in five years, I will STILL be living God's plan. It's not like having children will suddenly be like, "Oh, NOW He's revealed His plan to us." Nope. Who knows where that plan leads... until we are dead to this world completely and are by His side to see the world as He does. So, please, getting snippy with a very deep and real posting by This_Cross is unnecessary.

I so wish that before people spoke as if they know answers we don't, I wish they would take the time to realize they have to think about where we stand, and if something is disagreed with, to think it out before getting defensive. After all, I really really think we are ultimately all saying nearly the same thing, just from two different time frames. :/