Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Let Us Remember Our "Early Infertility" Sisters

As a veteran infertile, I often find myself most relating to other infertile women who are where I am, now.  Past the point of frantic "Does this look like 2 lines to you???" picture texts, and the tracking of every symptom, both real and imaginary, it has been helpful to find common grounding with the women who have moved into the "veteran" status with me.  There is an unspoken understanding in these friendships, and the unspoken part is the best part of all.  There is no co-obsession of all things infertility-related, no mention of cycle days, no exchange of newest treatment protocols.  But there's something else missing from these interactions, I've noticed.  There is no sharing of dreams.  Void from our communication is any statement that begins, "When I have kids..." or "When I get pregnant..."  It is the unspoken reality that we've all come to accept, and which hurts too much to challenge.

This is so different than the friendships I shared in Early Infertility (heretofore signifying first 3 or so years).  In Early Infertility, I couldn't get enough of all things infertility.  I slept, breathed, and ate gluten-free infertility like it was hopefully going out of style that very cycle.  I blogged, daily, I stalked others' blogs, I read about others' NaPro miracles, convinced I would be sharing mine one day, too, and I became a professional pregnancy test/Pre-Seed/OTC mucus enhancer bargain shopper.

It is true that I look back on those early years and shake my head at my own naivete.  It is true that through the cross of "long-term" infertility, I have gained many graces, and a wisdom I most definitely lacked in early infertility.  But it is also true that I needed my Early Infertility, in order to bring me to where I am today.  You see, I cannot look back on those years with too much disapproval, because they were perhaps more formative spiritually and emotionally than I realize.  And while I may read some of my blog posts from Early Infertility with this mentality

I do think that my naivete of Early Infertility wasn't *all* bad, and that perhaps my outlook in Long-Term Infertility is more tainted by bitter resignation than I'd prefer it to be.

And so, as I reflected on this, I began to see that I need to do two important things:

  1. I need to learn from my sisters in Early Infertility.  Part of the wisdom that comes with time and age should be in knowing that wisdom can be found everywhere, even where we may least expect it.
  2. I need to remember my own Early Infertility, how it shaped me, what it felt like, how I learned from it, and most of all, what hope felt like in those days.
What I believe I lost in my veteran status is a beautiful and amazing gift that those in Early Infertility have, and that is the ability to hope.  I've written about hope quite a bit over here at TCIE, through all stages of my journey, and I've made a point to always emphasize that our hope should be in The Lord, not in "getting what we want."  But, hoping to get what we want, if what we want is a good and holy desire, is not a bad thing.  There is a child-like quality about it, that, rather than being viewed as a lack of wisdom or an abundance of naivete should perhaps be viewed in this light:  

                            "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such
                            belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does
                            not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.
                                                                                              - Jesus, circa 32 AD

Early Infertility is tough.  And perhaps one of the toughest parts about it is the hope that continues to be dashed with each passing cycle.  We watch as some of our comrades in battle conceive, and others do not, and our confusion leaves us paralyzed when there is seemingly no magic protocol of prayers and meds, no rhyme or reason to one person's continued infertility, and another's success.  We wait, oh GOD, how we wait, ever impatiently, for it to be our turn... and we stand in AWE at those who have been doing this for years longer than us.  (I remember discussing with friends in Early Infertility how none of us could ever IMAGINE what it would be like to have to wait THREE YEARS, as our friend B had, for her first.)  Well, I am here to tell you, my sisters in Early Infertility, Long-Term Infertility is NOT the constant daily torture that you are currently experiencing.  It does get better!  

But as much as I may be able to tell you about your yet unknown future, you can teach me, and all of us, how to cling to that child-like hope that I know pleases God so much.

May we always remember what our first couple, or few years of infertility were like - how raw every single emotion felt, how jarring words could be when interpreted in the context of pain, and how we longed for a numbness that never seemed to come... all the while truly holding onto the hope that the Lord would provide an answer to the desire of our incessant prayers.  May we always support, always console, and yes, always LEARN from these beautiful sisters in Christ, as their cross is ours - in perhaps its most painful AND hopeful stage.


Joy Beyond the Cross said...

Beautiful post Amy. Yes, yes, and yes. Though I am in a different stage then while in the throes of Primary IF…this post hit home on several levels. Your wisdom and grace are a gift to all of us. Thank you!

Molly M. said...

Great post and very insightful.

Kat said...

As a "veteran" myself I have recently learned the virtue of hope and have been challenged by it in many ways. I felt so foolish for having hope but, you are right it feels very child like which is where we are most vulnerable and honest with God. I pray God showers down the grace for us long time IFers to hope! Although I would not want to go back to where we were 3 years ago when we were 2.5 yrs in and just had our 1st NaPro surgery because I feel like I have grown exponentially in other areas of my spiritual life, plus I don't have to chart anymore ;)

DM + AM said...

Don't hate me for saying this but in my "anger" stage of grieving I really do NOT like hope. Even though we are not trying to get pregnant anymore the fact that God can still do a miracle is what is making me so angry. I still cry on most CD1's. There was a huge relief in quitting but it is like there is still this door partially open to miracles... It is not allowing me to move on and get over it or quit hoping that something will happen. I do not know my official status is, but I wish that this limbo would be over. :(

polkadot said...

Is it bad that I can't stop watching that gif? I'm not sure I'd want to punch my earlier self, but maybe at least grab her by the shoulders and make her take a deep breath. :) But I agree, there is much to learn from anyone on this path, no matter how long they've been at it.

JellyBelly said...

It's a strange comfort to know that you're still here with me, perhaps the Lord had some sort of plan to have one another to lean on all these years?

When I'm not physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted (like I am right now), I know that I have learned so much from my (almost) nine journey of IF. I have been blessed with so much in all aspects of my life: my marriage, my friendships and my career.

You truly are a blessing in my life and to so many!!!

More Than Anything said...

My DH and I were just talking about this the other day. I am numb...whether by an unhealthy sense of denial or reality setting in...I am not sure. After 10+ years of marriage and never a positive pregnancy test, hope is something I gave up a long time ago. Do I maintain a small chance of hope for a miracle, OF COURSE! Do I believe my miracle will come like I did in the early IF days....NOPE!

So I keep on keepin' on and keep myself so busy the only time I can think about my continued IF is when I'm PMSing and usually hate life all around :)

Mike Brummond said...

I think I'm a little in between, but as I read your description I think I'm more in the veteran stage. In a way it's good, because IF hurts less most of the time, but also I think my ability to hope is also lessened. I think this is atrue Perception about a lack of sharing dreams... "the unspoken reality that we've all come to accept, and which hurts too much to challenge"

prayerfuljourney said...

Yes..its been many years...I'm definitely a veteran...sigh...never thought when we started to TTC I'd be here so many years later. I am stronger and as months go by it doesn't consume me anymore. I'm still not sure what God has would think by now I'd have that revelation...I guess for now...I just need to be content on where I am now.

Chella said...

Thanks for this, Amy. I am almost 20 months into this, and I struggle to wrap my brain around that I am still a "newbie" in so many ways. We all have so much to share and learn from each other as we use our writing to help us find the hope and trust that God will take care of us through whatever is ahead of us. It's also nice to know that if no children is what is in store for us, there will be a time where our minds aren't completely consumed by it. (Seriously, what did I think about before TTC?)

doctorgianna said...

I love this post. You are right to say that wisdom can be found anywhere - in any stage of infertility.

the misfit said...

An interesting reflection. Yes, of course, my default reaction is to find the newbies SEVERELY IRRITATING. I would definitely have punched my early-infertile self if I had had to listen to her. I'm not sold on the idea that it's hope - I think it's a combination of vanity (that will never happen to ME! I'm special!) and irrational optimism. Remember, that hope comes with a refusal to contemplate the alternative. Though my big-dreaming muscles are pretty atrophied now (something I'm working on), I do hope for things and look forward to things in life. In my early-IF years, that was not true. I looked forward to exactly one thing: babies. My life was sanitized of all other expectations or joys. So while your early-IF self may have been wise, I don't think my early-IF self had anything to teach me now :).

LifeHopes said...

I loved this post.

Rebecca said...

I'm not real sure where I "fit" at this point. I think I am somewhere in between the "early years" and "veteran" at just over 3 1/2 years.

Much as AM said - I still get angry at hope. Even a CD1 on a TTA cycle brought some of the most bitter tears I've ever cried after a pregnancy announcement from an IF sister in her earlier years coincided with it.

So much good has come over the past 3 1/2 years, good that in many ways it is clear to me I needed infertility to bring, so I have learned a lot. But I also think that woman who hoped without abandon, can teach this woman who fights hope with everything in me something about Trust. When this road started, I didn't need to remind myself daily that He is trustworthy, I just knew. Now, as I walk down a road that is not well lit and I do not know how it ends or where it leads, I just follow Him, I have to remind myself that He is trustworthy. But, there are moments, like right now the start of a "fertile" window we will TTC a few months after surgery when the hopes and dreams are too much to temper at times, that I get the glimpse of that girl.
I'm not sure there is a point to this crazy long comment. So I will just stop now.

Just a Tiny Pencil said...

Great post. We are in a strange place. We jumped in a single day from "early" to "veteran." At least, that's how it feels when you receive such a definitive diagnosis. I am still continually bumping into new emotions I have never met before.