Please note on your readers that I have a new blog: http://nowaystosayit.com.

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Thank you for all of your support over the years! xo

Monday, July 19, 2010

an infertile woman's worth

The day my doctor diagnosed me with infertility was the loneliest day of my life.

I went from being the woman who wanted a child to being the woman who couldn't have a child. But even more lonely than the feeling of not being able to have a child was the feeling of no longer belonging. At the time, I was a member of a message board about trying to conceive a first child. No longer did I feel at home posting in the regular cycle threads. Yet I also wasn't moving on to treatment. Joey had just lost his job due to the failing economy and we were at a crossroads financially. My insurance at the time covered both testing and treatment, but we knew that it would be months before we could see an RE--it was simply financially irresponsible for us to try and get pregnant while down one income. Even after our move to Florida, getting settled, and getting new jobs, expensive treatments just weren't an option for us. We are very fortunate to have been able to afford four IUIs and be on the road to saving for IVF. When I get down about waiting this long to have a baby, I count my blessings because I know that some people are less fortunate.

But this post isn't about the value of money. It's about the value of people.

I think, as a whole, we truly value each other in this community. I learned this quickly after my diagnosis. So many women who were going through or had been through the exact same thing reached out to me. We formed a small group on the message board. Eventually, most of us split off from the board, started our own blogs, and became friends on Facebook. I've said it many times, but I don't know what I would do without you women. Particularly those of you who've been there for me since the beginning and who still walk with me every step of the way. Sometimes, though, I think there are a select few out there who place too much value on treatment and not enough on people.

In the last year and a half that I've blogged, I've read countless positive, happy-outcome stories: stories of women who went through multiple rounds of Clomid only to do an IUI and become pregnant, stories of women who got pregnant on their first or second round of Femara, and stories of women who conceived naturally after learning that their last IUI failed. Every single one of these stories is and should be a beacon of hope for all of us. We might feel barren, but we are not. When we least expect it, our bodies can surprise us and miracles CAN happen. And, most of all, every single one of us who has endured this diagnosis deserves that positive pee stick at the end of this tunnel.

Unfortunately, I've also read a lot of apologies from these women. Some of them feel like a fraud. Some of them didn't have to go through “what other women had to go through” to achieve success. Some of them felt guilty when their friends had to move on to bigger and more expensive treatments. Even worse, there are women on the other side of the fence--those who have been through the big treatments--who look down on the women with less experience. As if, somehow, “only” going through a round or two of Clomid and some testing make a woman less important in our community. As if infertiles who go through treatments that are more complex are worthier of motherhood and happiness.

I'm not sure when and how the line became blurred between infertiles and non-infertiles. To me, it's always been simple: if you've sat in an exam room or an office and listen to a doctor tell you that you are infertile, that you may never conceive a child the natural way (or at all), you are infertile. If you have endured a year of trying to have a baby with no luck and you have to step foot into an RE's office, you are infertile. If you experience loss, repeat loss, cancer, endometriosis, PCOS, or have a husband with male factor issues, you are infertile.

It’s bad enough that it’s us against the world; we shouldn’t let it become us against us. Having “only” taken Clomid, or even getting pregnant naturally, doesn’t make someone less qualified to be infertile. It doesn’t make their advice or their friendship less meaningful. It doesn’t make their road any easier, their nights any less sleepless, their pain any less significant. And, in the same sense, having gone through bigger treatments doesn’t make someone any more important or worthy of speaking about/advocating for infertility. It doesn’t make their emotions any more concrete. It doesn’t make their support more valuable.

The reality is that we are all in the same, shitty boat. We all have the same basket of lemons to carry. And our value doesn’t come with how many treatments we’ve had, or how much money or time we’ve invested. Our value comes from how we’ve supported one another, how we’ve offered advice, how we’ve cried tears of sorrow and joy, and how we’ve hugged and held one another from sometimes thousands of miles away. Each of us is equally deserving of the happiness we seek and we need to remember this. Because we are the only ones who understand and can pull each other through this. We are all we have.

Each of us carries a different burden on this journey. We all walk in different shoes. But we need to remember that our shoes are from the same store. Our paths will be different and we will end in different places, but we all began at the same location with the same goal:

We all began with the hope and dream of becoming a mother.

55 comments:

The Domestic Princess said...

So very true! I try to remember that every time I pass a pg women. "you never know what she went through"

The internet is a great thing. I think I'd be going insane through this process, if I didn't have other women to connect with.

Glass Case of Emotion said...

I agree 100% that we need to support each other, not break each other down. I know my first years of infertility, and when I was doing clomids, IUIs, I was even more stressed than I am now that I've "moved on to the bigger guns." We've all been dealt some sucky cards. Sometimes now, I am more prone to seek other blogs of people who have been at it as long/ or people who have RPL, but not because I look down on anyone. But I agree, I've seen it. I just needed to find people who understood what I was going through.

But, I think we all have value to each other. This whole thing sucks, and the support we get from each other- no matter who we are- is the most important part.

KeepOnTrying said...

What a great post. Thank you for reminding us that we all have our own journey but we are all connected.

Rita said...

This was perfectly worded, Katie. I've felt a lot of these things myself along the way--like I had to "pay my dues" in IF land for some people to accept me, or that I'm some kind of IF fraud now because I didn't end up doing IVF (when the truth is I wasn't just knocking at IVF's door--I had opened it and had a foot on the threshold when I found out about my miracle bean).

It is so very important for us to support one another, no matter what journey someone else has taken. Thank you for reminding us of this.

Kakunaa said...

I needed to hear this...I definitely had a bitter moment the other day (though there was a lot to it), but we all do need each other, and we need to remember we all have pain no matter how much or little we have gone through on our journeys. This was a fantastic post :)

Dawn said...

Thank you so much for writing this! I remember being on those message boards and being so excited for those women that got their BFP's on clomid, femera, their first IUI, etc. But when we got lucky our first IUI I felt an extreme amount of guilt and that I was now an outsider of the IF community. Thank you for the reminder that we all have stuggled and that many are still struggling.

Dawn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennie said...

Hear hear, Katie

Stephanie said...

Amen lady! As someone just starting out, I often feel like a newbie. Like I haven't paid my dues yet to really be part of the infertile club, but ya know what, I am. It sucks. And if we get our BFP on our first IUI or down the road on an IVF or by some miracle on our own or we never do and go the adoption route - we've been there, done that and have the crappy tshirt from IF Land.

serenity said...

This is a great post.

xxx

AL said...

Very well written, fantastic post, Katie.

Amber said...

Thank You for this! DH and I have been trying for 3 yrs. We are currently only on our 2nd IUI. I have been feeling like I haven't experienced enough treatment for me to get PG this time around so it makes me a little doubtful that this cycle will work. And if I did, would that make my story less impactful or meaningful in this sick world of Infertility?

Rebecca said...

Nicely put. IF identity is a weird thing. It constantly changes depending on how long you've been trying, what you're doing, etc. When I got pregnant on a med free cycle I was actually embarrassed -- it made me feel like less of an IFer and that, even though it took 20 months and surgery, I didn't "need" treatment. Then we lost it and I suddenly fit with a whole different group. It's hard to not look at others outside of your "group" and feel that they are "different."

Sure some women have been through more, but everyone's experience is unique and valuable. And, most importantly, everyone is deserving of support.

Julie Thompson said...

Excellent post! There is a great article about IF in Self magazine this month that says some similar things and about the close internet group of IFers.

The Baby Race said...

BEAUTIFUL post. Thank you so much for writing it. I think all of us infertiles need to be reminded that we're all in this together.

Jessica said...

Great post. I think its all relative...I remember after only 6 months of trying I was devestated and now here I am 2 years later still not pregnant. We are all affected by this journey no matter how long it takes.

Oak said...

Katie, awesome post. I couldn't agree more.

We recently got our first (hopefully real) BFP after our first Follistim IUI and a prior chemical pregnancy and I made a promise to myself NOT to apologize for something I feel so incredibly fortunate to experience. I see so many excited BFP posts followed quickly by an apology that it makes me so SAD! Why should that be? The fact that I won't apologize for getting pregnant in no way makes me less sympathetic or supportive to the women that have not been as fortunate as me. Nor does that make our struggle less valid than anyone elses.

You've got an amazing post here that needed to be written and IFers new and old should be grateful for your words.

Arlyne said...

An amazing post as usual!!

I agree that no matter what degree of this Hell you've been through, we are all in this together & I would never have made it this far without the love & support of everyone I came across!! ( especially you!!)
xoxoxo

Jenny H said...

Loved the post! As a new "beacon of hope" it has been difficult to make sure that my IF friends don't feel as if I have left them behind. I have not forgotten the sleepless nights and torment of the mourning that come with IF. The value of a woman is so much more than her ability to conceive or not to conceive. It is a hard concept to grasp and even harder one to live. Our culture tells us differently every where we go by painting boldly the definition of the word {family} and a woman’s worth by the # her living children. You can’t even escape this in the church.
You placed it in perfect context through out your post. It doesn't matter what lengths it took to make you a mother however what does matter is that some day some way, we will {ALL} be mothers. That's what we were created to be. Otherwise not one of us would have this burning desire to nurture a living being that completely relies on us for survival.
So I am standing at the end of all of your tunnels shining bright my "beacon of hope" to remind you that miracles happen!
{{{{{{Hugs}}}}}} to all of you!
It {will} happen!
Jen

Miracle in the Making said...

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!

*hugs*

Jenn said...

That was beautiful! Thank you for writing that, it gave me chills!

Kim said...

Katie, I just adore you and your posts. I remember that feeling of being new to IF yet afraid to complain to women who had put in more time and treatments than me. It's nto an easy journey and I actually think it was harder in the limbo land where I didn't fit on the TTC message boards anymore and was still new to IF blogs. You are right - no matter where we are in our journey, we all need each other, because we are the only ones who truly get each other. Thanks for reminding us of this.

xoxoxoxoxox

Kelly said...

I agree with you 100%. Thank you so much for posting this.

Waiting Lisa said...

Very true. Beautifully written.

Miss Megan said...

I too just wanted to say that this was a great post, and it had a very important message. We are all in this together,and I am so glad that there are supportive networks out there for ladies suffering from IF. I don't know what I would have done over the last few years without the support of my fellow infertiles!
I also wanted to respond to your post from a bit different angle - from that of a (finally) pregnant infertile woman. I am incredibly grateful for our success (currently pregnant with twin girls), but now that I am pregnant I feel like I no longer "belong" to the IF group. . .like after you get pregnant you somehow aren't infertile, and I feel like I shouldn't give my thoughts or opinions because even though I've "been there", I'm not there now. If that makes sense. It's odd how things change as you go through IF. . .first the newbie, then you do kind of feel like you "climb the ranks" so to speak with the more treatments you do. It doesn't make your pain any more real than the next person, but it does make you feel like you are definitely qualified to give advice (that you wish was information you had never had to learn!). Anyway I'm rambling - sorry! Great post Katie, and very well written!

Josey said...

GREAT post Katie!! I've been feeling like this lately - so hopeful that "just" Clomid will work (on cycle 3 of it now) but feeling almost bad if I don't have to go into the big leagues (not that I want to). This stupid, shitty IF journey... as if it wasn't hard enough already.

someday-soon said...

Beautiful post Katie! It took me a long time to realize that each one of us has our own hurdles in pursuing our dreams because mine seemed so huge. I love that we are all here to support each other and thank you so much for the support you have given me =)

Alex said...

What a wonderful post, and a fabulous reminder of how to be a good friend to others. Thank you.

Leslie said...

Your writing is amazing!! I am very thankful for those I have met on the boards and the blog world. Each person brings something special. Your post is wonderful!!

JC said...

Amen! Great post, well written and so true. Better get back to my shitty boad and basket of lemons ;).

landert said...

Beautiful, you are a wonderful writer. I am new to the blogging world and new to the infertile world and I have found a lot of comfort learning from other women going through similar stories. Thanks for blogging!

Sara said...

The support here in this community is absolutely priceless. Thank you for this beautiful post. We all can and will help each other through infertility and beyond.

Amber said...

I LOVE this post!! As an infertile who is still trying to start a family five years later (although through adoption now), it's always awkward when a fellow infertile gets pregnant. They feel guilty for gushing about their news, and in a way I'm glad, because it's painful. But a much larger part of me is thrilled for them, and feels hopeful for myself as a result of their success.

I've never heard it put that way, but you're right - anyone who's had the diagnosis has felt the sting of infertility. The length of time, though it wears differently on each of us, is irrelevant at the end of the day. We've all seen the same type of struggle and thank goodness we have each other!!

S.I.F. said...

I can't even tell you why, but this line had me crying:

"It’s bad enough that it’s us against the world; we shouldn’t let it become us against us."

Such true words lady... I adore you and your ability to put into words things I don't even really understand but know I feel...

Jin said...

This has always bugged me.

Adele said...

This is very, very well-said. And you're right about the pecking order and the ridiculousness of that. It's a lousy boat to be in but one of the things that makes it bearable is to know that we're not alone.

christine said...

What a terrific post! And, I agree with Kakunaa that my first year of trying with medical intervention was the hardest! It's easy to forget just how painful it was to lose the belief that my husband and I would create a child in our bedroom. I think each and every person who overcomes infertility is deserving, and you are right, we should stick together!

T said...

So very true! I am going to call myself out here.
I remember when I had only been trying for a year or so. I felt so alone even in the IF community because I felt as if I had not been through all the heartache/procedures/tests/meds as others.
Almost 5 years later I have found myself rolling my eyes when someone that just struggled for months gets pregnant.

Thank you for reminding me that it does not matter how long you struggle or where this journey takes you. We are all wanting the same thing and are just needing support through the struggle.

Stefanie Blakely said...

Katie, this beautiful post brought me to tears...

I struggle with the guilt that it was so "easy" for me and that others are going through so much more. It doesn't make the pain that I felt any less significant, but the time I spent feeling that way was certainly shorter than others have struggled with.

The empathy that you show for ALL infertile women, no matter what their journey is, not only shows what a wonderful person you are, but also what a fantastic mother you will be.

*hugs*

Allison said...

Brilliantly and beautifully said.

Thank you.

Candidly_Andrea said...

Brilliant post Katie.

I often feel that I am looked down on as 'less of an infertile' than others because I have not taken any fertility meds or gone through any treatments, yet I've been trying to conceive longer than others. Either way it doesn't matter. We are all on our own personal journey toward the same goal and need to support each other rather than hurt one another.

Crossed Fingers said...

*tears* Thanks for putting this into words. I am one of those who fears I don't belong in the IF world, I'm not IF, but I wasn't fertile either. I was in limbo but the girls I met in the blog land not only opened their arms up to hug me but gave me support when I was down and cheered me on when things went well.

Danielle said...

This is so so true. I'm going to be honest. I have felt really angry at people who get pregnant naturally after going through IF treatment. This post reminds me that the 'shitty boat' is indeed shitty, no matter how long one rides in it. Thank you for that.

Littlest True Blue said...

Thanks for posting this Katie! You rock! And I can't wait for you to get your 2 lines!!!

Marion said...

You know I was once hurt many years ago by a "friend's" comment - she said to try for one year is nothing! She didn't know that I had 3 failed IUI's behind me and that the RE had just suggested IVF as our only hope, and maybe I should have told her so... Anyway, since then I'm trying to be sensitive to others feelings - If you have a problem it is incredibly hard to deal with it, it does not matter whether it's been 1 year or 10 years... We definetely need to stick together and I would not have been able to cope without the help of my cyberbuddies!

I'm a new ICLW visitor.

Tina said...

Hi Katie,

I'm here from ICLW and wanted to thank you for your beautiful post. You're so right--this community so needs each other and it's important to remember that before tearing each other down.

Sarah S said...

hello from ICLW

what a beautiful post!

You have brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you for this!!!

Robin said...

Great post.... It's nice to meet you! (I live in Florida, also)

Robin
http://lookingformykeys.blogspot.com

Trisha said...

Very true!

Justina said...

Here from ICLW. Wow, beautifully written post. Such good reminders for all of us. So easy to get caught up in the craziness of this journey.

Joyful Hope said...

Hi from ICLW! Thanks so much for this great post. Such a nice way of putting it.

Katy said...

I found you from ICLW and yep, enough with the comparing, already!

I always say that it's not a competition to crown the biggest infertile or to see who's the biggest victim, it's about supporting each other, no matter where we are in our journey.

Best of luck to you.

Beth said...

LOVED this post!! Thanks for sharing!!
Beth
ICLW #148

April said...

This is very true. I remind myself when I see a pregnant belly that I don't know how long it took her to get that way. For all I know she is one of us. We are all in the same boat and it sucks.

ICLW

conceptionallychallenged said...

Thanks for writing this wonderful post, Katie. I totally agree with you.