Monday, February 1, 2010

infertility amnesia

in•fer•til•it•y am•ne•sia
Function: noun
Definition: the selective overlooking or ignoring of events or acts that led to pregnancy

To those of you who suffer from infertility amnesia: I do not understand you.

I do not understand how you can go through multiple treatments, the pain and suffering, the losses, and the surgeries and just . . . forget.

I do not understand how it is that you think you are so much better than everyone else because you are pregnant and the rest of us are still empty inside.

I do not understand how pregnancy suddenly becomes an excuse to be absent from the lives of your infertile friends.

I do not understand how, when you do take interest in our lives, you can be so blasé and carefree when it comes time to write down words of advice those of us who are still in the trenches battling with this disease.

You cannot possibly cope by forgetting: no matter how many or how little months it took you to get pregnant. You cannot possibly sleep better at night knowing that you have lied to everyone about what you have been through. You cannot possibly feel good pushing the rest of us aside because, suddenly, you have no time for us less important, infertile beings.

I have no idea what it is like to be pregnant. I do not know what it is like to see a second line on a pee stick or get a phone call from my RE's office with an amazing number. I do not know what a baby looks like on an ultrasound or what a heartbeat should sound like. And guess what? I. MAY. NEVER. KNOW. Does that make me less of a person than you? Less important? Less of a priority? And how is it that when you become pregnant, you suddenly become Nostradamus and you KNOW I am going to get pregnant: The same words you hated hearing just a month or two before.

No one can predict where our roads will end. Not us, not our partners, not our doctors. It's all up to fate or God or whatever you believe in. This is not a Lifetime movie where you know there will be two hours of heartache and drama, only for it to end with every character's sanity and relationships still intact. This is REAL shit. There are people who will not come out on the other side with a happy ending. You are pregnant. Good for you! You will probably get your sunshine at the end. The rest of us are still sitting here in the dark.

Respect that. Please. And know that will all always be infertile, pregnancy or no pregnancy. The sooner you get a grasp on that, the easier it will be to cope.

A wise infertile once said to me:

Don’t forget where you came from. A lot of people want to put this whole part of their lives in their rearview mirror when they are done, have resolution, and never want to think about it again. To me, it’s kind of disrespecting the experience. It’s like pretending that it was all so easy and that I wasn’t scarred from it or that I didn’t come out a different person--and that’s just not true. I think in a lot of ways I did actually gain from the experience: my marriage is stronger, I know who my real friends are, I have better/closer friends now than I did before, and I have a new perspective on life in general and definitely parenthood. I’m a different (better) parent than I would have been if it had all been easy and I had taken it all for granted.

Not every pregnant infertile is like this. I admire and appreciate the majority of you who are continuously there despite getting pregnant and (in some cases) giving birth. You are the kind of infertile I want to grow up to be: a parent, but more comforting and compassionate. You have not forgotten your past and you still look out for the little people down here at the bottom who are waiting for their turn.

Ok. Go ahead. Delete me. Curse me out. After all, I am the stupid infertile who has never been pregnant. What would I know?


Hayley said...

I know this was hard for you to write, and I'm proud of you! xxoo

Jin said...


I've been wanting to say this for the longest time. Seriously. It irks me to no end about this, and I've always told myself that when we do get a bfp, not to do this that and the other thing, because I cant forget the pain that we went through to get this.

I seriously have half a post written from months ago about what I'm going to do differently than those IFers who got pregnant and forgot they were IFers in the first place. I have half a mind to link to your post and continue on with what I was originally talking about.

2catdaughters said...

AMEN, sister!! I agree with every.last.word. Thank you for writing this.

Al said...

When I was pregnant for what seems like a split second, I think every bit of how I acted and how I felt had everything to do with how I got there and what I know from this experience.

It felt like it was too easy and too good to be true b/c of infertility.

I felt and feel so incredibly blessed to have had a single minute of being pregnant because of IF.

I don't think I'll ever forget IF, even if I am so lucky to somehow get to the other side with the 4 kids I imagine. I'm forever changed by my infertility, for better or for worse. And I 100% agree with you - I don't understand how any IFer could forget.

Jen said...

I agree too and think it's awesome you wrote this. I still feel I relate way more to any of you than I do to "regular" pregnant people IRL. I always fear that people in the blog world are going to think I forgot "where I came from", and that makes me sad. I would much rather read all your blog posts than I would those posts from "normal" mommy bloggers. I just don't feel like I have something in common with them!

Crossed Fingers said...

*hugs* I already plan on letting people know about our "struggles" when (still trying to stay positive) we get pregnant. I want other women to know not every female can get pregnant just with a snap of their fingers. I want everyone to know that yes, I charted and temped and took meds and checked in with my doctor and that when I get pregnant I will treasure every single bought of morning sickness or aversion or weight gain because I fought for it.

Rebecca said...

That was really beautifully put. When I think of the ones who "stick around" I know how much I appreciate their pregnancies and can't wait to see their little ones. For the rest who seem to have forgotten the path, I just want them to go away and have their babies somewhere that I don't have to see.

Elizabeth said...

I know that I will always be infertile whether I do get pregnant or not. I am a different person, and I don't foresee that I will ever go back to that other person. IF sucks and it hurts. I'm so glad that you are here, and you always take the time to comment on whatever word vomit I'm spewing on any particular day, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I sometimes don't know what to say (comment), but that doesn't mean that I'm not thinking about you. Wish we weren't so far away because it would be great to meet you and actually be able to give you a hug someday. Thanks for being a friend, and thanks for saying what a lot of us don't.

Basic Girl said...

I can't even imagine how someone could so easily forget their IF history. I personally am so looking forward to when I get that BFP, and finally be able to share with friends and family our struggles to get pregnant, and how hard it was, and be there for anyone that may face IF in the future. In the end I'm going to look back, and good, bad, or ugly I'm going to be super proud of hubby and I for perservering (sp) through something so difficult...and would never want to hide that!

Willow said...

I've experienced exactly this with so many formerly infertile friends, and it is so hurtful when they really do seem to believe their struggles never happened, seem unable to identify with what we are still going through now. Fantastic post!

Nixy said...

I, too, have wondered the same thing. I think that people are so ready to be past all of the pain, that they focus on their bright new future once they finally get pregnant. Denial and forgetfulness are powerful tools for coping.

For me, it's the opposite. I am constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. For there to be no heartbeat, or something else terrible. I don't think I'll be ok until I actually have a baby in my arms.

The flip side for me, is that I have a hard time knowing if fellow IF'ers want me commenting on their blogs still. Am I an unpleasant reminder? I suppose it very much depends on the person.

I have been keeping up with everyone, and have been commenting regardless. Because if it were me, that's what I would want.

Jessica said...

I have been thinking about this lately too. It's like once they get pregnant they forget about what they went through to get there. I promise to never forget!!

Stefanie Blakely said...

I promise to never forget. Great post, Katie!

Tina said...

Katie, I am so sorry that you have experienced infertility amnesia from people. Being pregnant, I hope that this post wasn't geared towards me. I know that I don't talk about my struggles anymore on my blog. I definitely don't think that I am better than anyone else because I am pregnant.

There is a fine line to walk once you do get that positive. I don't want to be too happy so as not to hurt people's feelings, I don't want to complain about normal pregnancy issues because I don't want to upset anyone, and I don't want to EVER sound "blasé and carefree when it comes time to write down words of advice".

There are times I don't comment because I fear that since I am pregnant people will take what I say as insincere.

I will not speak for anyone or group. I will speak for myself in saying that I will never forget what I have gone through. I have scars emotionally and physically that will constantly remind me of our journey. I do tell people in real life what we have been through. Sometimes they handle it well other times it makes them really uncomfortable, but I want people to know what it took for us to get to this point.

Tina said...

I always will remember, and it will always effect the way I handle pregnancy/baby/child related things. I never know what struggles someone has faced in their life, and what wound you might be stinging with your words or actions.

I still carry guilt that I, despite 5 early losses, seem to "get" pregnant fairly easily. It's a confusing and tumultuous (sp?) position to be in. I want to support those who are still in the midst of treatments, and try to the best way I know how - even as a new member of the blogging community. Your post was well written and poignant, as always Katie. Hugs...

Trisha said...

Thank You. that's all i have to say.

arlwest said...

You always seem to say what the rest of us are thinking, but are afraid to admit.
I know if/when I get pg I will never forget this struggle, or the wonderful women who carried me through it!

bumpsalongtheway said...

One thing I have always admired about you is your honesty. I have been in the exact same position that you are in. The sad part is that you don't know what the future will hold; if you will ever achieve your dream. It is scary and unfair and just plain shitty. I read all of your comments and know you have a strong following with tons of support. Know I always think of my fellow IFers even if I slack every once-in-awhile.

suchagoodegg said...

This took a lot of guts to say. And I know exactly where you are coming from. You kick ass for being so honest and bringing up the tough topics.

I'm still on the "dark" side of IF. No matter what happens, I can't fathom forgetting what IF feels like, and I don't want to.

Erin said...

Ohmygosh, I am so glad you wrote this! It's frustrating when non-IFers tell you that they just KNOW you'll get pregnant, but it's a million times worse when someone who used to be an IFer says that to you.

I cannot imagine that I will ever forget the struggles I've been through over the past 18 months. Yes, I'll be thrilled to be pregnant, but that won't turn me into an insensitive ass.

JC said...

This was a great post and so well written. I'm glad you got it out. I can't imagine being on the other side, but if I get there I know IF has changed me forever. I know I'll be a better person in the end. I'll have a stronger marriage b/c we've gone through this, I will be a better parent having gone through this, and I will have great friends who I've gone through this with. I wish every IFfer who's gotten pregnant would be open about it b/c there are probably more people IRL who could offer support to others like us.

Kelly said...

This makes me sad. It makes me sad that sometimes the very people that felt like they were there for you the most now turn into those that make this whole process the most painful.

(((HUGS))) I couldn't have said it better myself.

Kelli-Sue said...

You are by far one of the strongest women I "know". I know that, no scratch that, I don't know how hard this was to write but I imagine that you thought long and hard about this. This entry (like all yours do) was just oozing feeling 7 emotion. You handle every situation you encounter with grace. I admire you, Katie. I hope to one day in the near future be able to have lunch!!

Hugs from a far!


Nicole said...

This really hurt me to read. I too don't understand how you could ever FORGET or pretend it didn't happen or didn't affect so much of your life and pregnancy/parent experience. I now understand how an IF blog can turn into a pregnancy blog (ie: no more cycle updates to write about for one), but to forget and to not offer the knowledge and advice and support that you are able to BECAUSE of your experience (and that you hopefully received yourself)...??? Sad.
I really hope I'm not seen as having amnesia; I worry about it a lot now that I am on the "other side" and it's a real fear of mine :(

ifcrossroads said...

Oh my goodness. My heart literally stopped while reading this. Selfishly, my first thought was "I hope I didn't say anything that made an IF'er feel as though I didn't care".

So if this is in any way directed at me, I'm so sorry. I would never mean to hurt any feelings.

I don't think I can and will ever forget the pain of IF. It scarred me in too many imaginable ways and the guilt and sadness still haunts me 13 weeks into this journey. I will probably carry around IF'ers pain with me until the day I die. It was too big of a part of my life to let it go.

With that being said, I'm *trying* to be easier on myself and let myself be a happier person. And honestly? Amnesia is a way to describe that process. I try and push out parts of the pain because I know that the years of suffering are not appropriate to carry around on my shoulder every single second of the day. I've often described it as a bag of guilt. No one, infertile or not, should live like that.

When I was struggling in the trenches I had a list of things I would never do when I got pregnant. Clearly we all have some sort of list. You want to be this particular PG after IF person because it's what you so desperately wanted to get from others. I quickly learned that I couldn't pontificate any particular agenda once I was on the other side. People don't want to hear it, no matter how "helpful" you are trying to be.

Lastly, you mention in your post that people who are pg. after IF think they are better than everyone else. I honestly don't think that is the case. I don't think anyone who struggled and conquered IF can get up in the morning, look in the mirror and think they are "better" for having won the battle. If anything else, I think it's a huge sense of guilt for leaving other friends behind and not knowing how to cope with it. Because after dealing with IF, you are more hyper-aware of the hurtful things that you can say and so you become even more afraid to say anything. At least in my mind, I wonder if people even want to hear my 2cents because WTF do I know about suffering anymore? This is one of the very reasons I thought about shutting down my blog after my BFP. Because who the hell wants to hear someone who's pregnant talk (and sometimes complain) about pregnancy? But in the end, you have to do what is right for you. There are no given set of "rules" on how to act post-IF and there are many opinions on how much suffering pg.after IF'ers are allowed to share with the world.

I'm so sorry you are having pain inflicted on you by others that are members of the community.
I'm sending you much, much love.

Katie said...

Katie, I know how hard this post must have been for you to write.

I feel like I have a "weird" perspective on the whole matter b/c I was never truly an "IF-er"...although I identify with at least some IF feelings b/c it took a while for us to get pg. Now that I, too, am on the "other side," I understand the struggles of what and how much to say.

As other posters here have said, once you get pregnant, there is an enormous amount of guilt you feel over all of your friends who are still in the trenches of IF. You become unsure of what to say, what to share and how you sound to the IF community. It's such a fine line to try and walk are so over-the-moon happy about being pregnant and you want to let those feelings out and shout them from the rooftops....but you want to show restraint for the sake of your IF friends.

Now, is all that to say that you "forget" where you came from? I don't think anyone could ever actually forget. I think some people just really NEED to put it all behind them as much as possible, so they can focus on the joy that has finally blessed their life.

I don't have a ton of friends in the IF community and the ones I do have, (I feel) are very close to me and they are true friends, not just blog acquaintances. I had to just allow myself to believe that these friendships were solid enough that not only would these friends be able to be happy for me in my "crossover," but also that *I* would be able to remain sensitive to what they were still going through.

On my best days, I can only HOPE that I've have been successful in that effort. But I think that is the hallmark of true, great friendships -- that you are able to be friends through the good times as well as the bad and that you always find a way to be there for one another, regardless of the reasons. You know, the older I get, the more I realize just how important my female friendships are to me. And how amazing it is that now, as an adult, we choose our friends for all the RIGHT reasons and those choices allow us to end up with friends who are really blessings in our lives. I'm happy to say that I have MANY friends that fit that description and I feel so lucky for that.


erika said...

I say let's call it natural selection. The ones who are 'ready' and interested to stick around and provide the left of us with their loving care and support, they will surely do. Thanks heavens for every each of them!
The ones who are for any reason can not do this anymore, they will leave, and that's ok. We still have the very best, your remember;)

Couple of years ago, my life took a sharp left turn and I had to go tragedies after tragedies. Some of my friends just could not handle me, my tears and that never-ending sadness around me anymore. I lost some of my very best friends. Well, it turned out they were only there for me under certain conditions, not unconditionally. It hurt me deeply by the time. I felt bitter about them, I felt they let me down. However, some other friends were capable to scoop me up from the mud and kick me back to life, and my relationship with them grew stronger than I could ever imagine. It was an amazing experience. Now, looking back to it I think it was actually one good thing among all the bad to go through that process. My friends got naturally selected, and now I really know who are my real friends and who are not. The best and the worthy will be there, no matter what.

Alena said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Noelle said...

This was a beautiful post.

Secret Sloper said...

This is an interesting post. To some extent "amnesia" is necessary, I think--we can't bear our sadness into every moment of every day, especially when we're trying to be happy and grateful for our good fortune.

But I know my miscarriage will always be a part of how I feel about my future children, part of how I love them and hold them, and part of how I relate to other women. I don't see how it could be any other way.

It's tricky, though. We want to see our friends succeed, but it feels so lonely when they leave us behind.