Friday, September 3, 2010

outcast

A close friend of mine and I recently had an e-mail chat about finding a place in this community.

You see, I'm struggling right now to find where I belong. Here is what I know:

I am infertile.
But I am no longer seeking treatment.
I am not seeking adoption.
I am not a beginner.
But I have never been through IVF.
And I am not "content" living the rest of my life without a child.

Finding (or keeping) identity is one of the biggest struggles in this journey, and it's hitting me hard. I no longer understand where I fit in. Do/should people look to me for advice? Or hope? I feel like I don't have authority or audacity to offer either. I'm not hopeful, and what advice do I have to offer if I've never had a child in my uterus? Or been through IVF? Or had to endure a home study visit?

I think this is part of the reason why the quote from Eat, Pray, Love hit me so hard the other day. Where is my place in this community? In my friendships?

In my family?

When you grow up as a young girl, you expect to one day become a mother. That will be your role until you become a grandmother, until (hopefully) you live long enough to experience the days of being a great grandmother. This was especially the case in my family: where cousins came in dozens. Where family reunions required renting space because there was simply not enough room in someone's backyard. Where funerals brought relatives from all ends of the earth to celebrate the life and legacy of the dead, and comfort his or her many children and grandchildren.

But what if I am able to become none of those things: a mother? A grandmother? A great grandmother?

For the first time, I'm beginning to realize that my husband's genes and my gene's may never be combined to create a new, unique generation for our family. I may never be a matriarch. I may never get to sit in a lawn chair in the shade at my family reunion, sip iced tea, look out at all of the faces and say, "This is the family that I have created. These are my children, and my grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Look how he has my nose. And how she has my husband's eyes. I am so proud to say that I created this family." What mark will I or can I make on the world if I am unable to raise a child? Who will share my stories? What will I have accomplished?

Who am I now?

Am I living childfree? Childless? I'm floating in this universe of nothingness. I am lost with no direction. This disease, this stupid fucking disease, has flipped my life upside down. And I no longer know where I am. Where I'm supposed to go. Who I'm supposed to be. In every aspect of my life!

This is why I am struggling to write about infertility. Because, what do I have to say? What encouragement do I have to give? If I don't even know who I am in this community or where I am in this journey, how do I write about it? It's not necessarily writer's block, but a life block. I feel like the older generation at the family reunion: observing, yet it's not my own success. Instead, I'm observing constant reminders of my own failures: the lady in Starbucks carrying her newborn, the mother rubbing her pregnant belly at the grocery store, another pregnancy announcement on my blog list.

Another person who is leaving me behind.

My dream has slowly turned into a nightmare. Instead of watching my family gather in my backyard, I am watching my future, and the generations that my husband and I should be creating together, slowly shrivel and die. One by one, each person in that backyard disappears. Finally, I am all alone, sitting in the shade, sipping my iced tea, looking at the empty backyard and thinking,

Who am I?

40 comments:

Josey said...

((HUGS))

I have no words to adequately express what I'm thinking right now. I honestly feel like no matter where you are in this journey, it's hard to find where you 'belong.' Everyone's struggle is different, and hard, and makes you cry. I'm petrified that I'll be sitting alone on that lawn chair as well, but I just can't allow myself to think that way or I'll go mad.

I hope you find some peace in your heart somehow..

serenity said...

You are infertile. And for you, infertility has not yet been resolved.

Not yet. Those are the key words.

I firmly believe that there will be a point where your infertility WILL be resolved. And with that the questions. And the wondering.

And I am hoping for your sake that it's soon.

Love to you, sweetie.

xoxo

Glass Case of Emotion said...

Oh Katie, I can relate to this so much. If you had seen what I was posting 2 years ago or 3 years ago it would be just like this. It took me some time to figure out which path I'd go on, and even now I STILL feel this way. I am still not sure where I fit in, especially in my real life. I feel so isolated from the rest of the world. I worry sometimes all of the AFL blogs will dry up and I will still be waiting.

I hope you find some peace in this and are able to figure out what steps, if any, make sense for you. Even after all the crap I've been through, I would never advise someone to give up. But I do think it's important to take stock of it sometimes, like you are now and figure it out. We can't be blindly led along by our hearts or our RE's or by societal pressure. We have to figure out what makes sense for us. And even when we do, there will be things to grieve and things to make closure with... I wish you the best on your journey. And I wish you many hugs. You are so strong, and I have always respected your advice and your heart.

Jennifer said...

I am so sorry you are feeling this way it's a terrible way to feel. It's really not fair and it's so hard to deal with the constant reminders. I wish I could tell you it will all work out...anyway sending you hugs and you do belong in this community we all do and your words are valuable because they express this thought and sorrow which makes us all feel so alone but through sharing helps us all feel less alone.

S said...

It sucks!

I go through these periods, too, especially now, when we are also in a kind-of "in between" place. We aren't actively pursuing treatment, but we certainly aren't "finished" with our family-building efforts.

I wish I had some words of wisdom to offer. You are still the same wife/daughter/cousin/friend that you were before IF.

Waiting Lisa said...

I need to dry my tears and go back to work. Love you. I hope you are able to relax this weekend.

Crossed Fingers said...

I wish I had words to offer, advice to give - but I know there are no promises in life.

I'm at a loss of words for what to say, what response to give, just know that I'm hoping, praying and sending much love your way.

EC said...

I have felt much the same way. I haven't been able to have children and only went through minimal treatment. We're not currently pursuing additional treatment, though, and most likely won't. We're also not considering adoption.

I'm 36, so in some ways, I feel like not pursuing treatment is a little bit of a decision to remain childless. On the other hand, I know I have time to change my mind. I never know where that leaves me...amd I living childfree, or am I just in limbo?

I hope that somehow, things are looking up for you soon.

~http://http://tryingagian.blogspot.com/

AplusB said...

As usual a beautiful post. I know you feel like you're in no-mans-land right now, but I really believe this is temporary. I believe there is a plan for you (and I'm not religious) and you'll find some clarity, or a surprise BFP, very soon. (((hugs)))

christine said...

What an incredible post. This thing called infertility is so fricking unfair and I am so sorry. I wish I had some amazing words of wisdom, but I don't. All I can say is that this post expressed so much so well and I am grateful to have your blog out there.

suchagoodegg said...

Oh Katie, this is heartbreaking and beautiful.

Where you are: stuck in purgatory. TEMPORARILY.

You may not be taking Femara or doing injections or going through IVF, but you ARE taking steps to make a family. You're doing acu, you're freaking ovulating on your OWN! You're getting closer and closer to your baby.

I believe in my heart of hearts you will be the one we are celebrating very soon. This entire community is going to erupt in joy when your BFP comes. I don't know if it's going to take another trip to the RE, or if your body is going to click with the acu, if it'll be a surprise or with some medical help, but it WILL HAPPEN.

I know you feel lost, but know that you will always be an anchor for so many of us. (((hugs)))) xoxo

Erin said...

Huge, huge hugs, Katie. This has to be so hard for you. I think that so many of us, no matter what our current state of treatment, pregnancy, adoption, or parenthood is...I think we all struggle with this identity issue in some way. I know I do. I do hope, though, that you find some peace soon. Thinking of you!

Jess said...

I am exactly where you are in your journey. I've never been pregnant, only gone through one round of clomid, never IVF, but I've been trying to conceive for almost 4 years now. Not yet pursuing adoption or further treatments.

Perhaps your role in life right now is simply wife. Or just being YOU. Sometimes we focus too easily on putting a label to ourselves. Maybe we are just supposed to realize who we are no matter what the circumstance and who we are around. Just some thoughts.

Jess
http://bringingyoumorethanasong.blogspot.com/

The Steffens said...

Oh, Katie. This post just broke my heart. I think no matter where in the journey we are, we all belong because we're all a part of it. Only we know what it is like to want a baby and not be able to get pregnant, at least not without serious medical intevention or adoption. You may not have had the same exact experiences, but it is the same feeling no matter what is going on with an infertile. You are a comfort just by sharing what you are going through and being honest. I appreciate your candor everyday. Please know you do belong, and I think you're wonderful!

Rach said...

We have one final IVF try in December. I'll know at the end of this year if I'll be a mother. If it doesnt work, I don't know what I'll be. I'll be 31 and "floating in this universe of nothingness." Scary to think about.

Jessica said...

I feel very lost and alone in this journey too..where am I supposed to be? Will I ever get out of the "hell"? I haven't had the desire to post lately because honestly I am just tired of talking about the same shit!! ((HUGS))

Stefanie Blakely said...

Oh, Katie... your posts are always so beautiful. Your heartbreak is so beautifully articulated and you express yourself in ways that so many can't. The biggest hugs to you.

Gurlee said...

I don't know where I would be without you, and yes, this isn't about me but I want you to know that you do fit and are a very important part of this community. Despite similarities, each of us is on our very own individual path. It can be so hard to compare ourselves to others, at least for me.

(((hugs)))

Kelly said...

My dear Katie. I can tell you how I see you. Even though I've never met you, you're one of the best friends I have. You get it. The struggles. The ups and downs. The heartache. The feelings. I see you as someone who is strong, even though you don't feel that way and as someone who can be a source of support (in many ways, more than anyone that I've ever known).

About offering advice...your comments are always so heartfelt and honest, as are your posts. I can understand how you feel though about commenting (or being supportive) for people when it comes to IVF. I haven't gone through it and I have no idea what it's like to reach that point. It's tough, yet I want to offer my virtual shoulder (as you do, too).

I say don't try to put your finger on what you "are" right now. Just be Katie and Joey and live. Live your life and be as happy as you can. It's strange how, if you can take out the IF shit, how happy one can be. Maybe that's denial. I don't know. But heck, it gets me through and it feels pretty damn good.

JL said...

I feel like you read my mind. :hug:

jensays (what would jen do) said...

I wish I could figure out ANYTHING to say right now but I can't. I just didn't want to leave without at least letting you know i was here.

Kakunaa said...

I wish I had words for you. I am thinking of you, I just honestly know that sometimes I don't have words to comfort. I have a shoulder...it's yours if you want it.

PCOSChick said...

I know it's hard to find a place in this community. You are so incredibly strong & brave & I know you will find peace & what is right for you. It may not be an easy journey, as this journey seldom is, but I know you will find what is right & puts you at ease. HUGE **Hugs** Thinking of you!!

Kandid Kelli said...

I know I say this often but I wish I could take your pain away & fulfill your dreams. Youre so deserving. So loving & caring. I am so sry.

xo
-K

Nancy@thefertilityblogs said...

That book has had a deep effect on me too, but for different reasons. Where do I fit in?

I'm sorry for the place you're currently in. I can relate and I understand. Have faith that a door is going to open and when it does.....you will happily walk right in~

Hayley said...

Holy... I have no words after reading this. I hope one day soon your backyard will start to fill up again. I love you girlfriend. xo.

S.I.F. said...

You're a girl who is taking a break; from the disappointment and frustration. From living your life FOR infertility. It doesn't mean you don't belong anymore, it just means you're in need of a breather.

And honestly - I admire that. I've been thinking so much lately about how infertility has taken over my life. How I can't even enjoy a favorite meal anymore without worrying about how that food may affect my insides, and I can't go out for a night with the girls because I need that money for another round. Infertility has taken over. It has infiltrated my life.

We all need a break sometimes...

Astrid said...

First, you definitely have a role in this community, wherever you are in your jouney. This is your story and your words and they serve to help anyone who has ever been in a similar circumstance at some point along their jouney. They also serve to enlighten those who have not traveled your path. I for one consider your story to be among the most valuable on my blog list.

You are part of a family. You will never be alone. You are a participant in your genertion and have a role in forming the next, with or without children.

It does suck to really consider that you may not have a biological child. We have all felt that.
just know that as deep as the fear permeates, it has no effect on the outcome - plenty of us who have felt that way ended up with children. And if it doesn't happen, it doesn't turn your identity into 'a woman without children.' You are so much more than your infertility, child or not. You are a wife, a writer, a brilliant and beautiful woman, a role model - I could go on and on and I've never met you. You have an identity and it's a good one. Do not let infertility become you - that's not how it works.

Trisha said...

I've been there and still find myself there many times but it's during those times, you have to pick your head up, look outward and be proud of what you've accomplished and what's yet to come. Things don't happen how we always play them out in our minds. You're such an encouragement to me with your sweet comments. Hang in there!

Adele said...

It's hard to find one's way in the world, under the best of circumstances. Doing it when dealing with something like IF is especially challenging. I don't have any answers for you - I think we all imagined that things would be so different. And dealing with that discrepancy - no matter where you are along this road - is tough. Hugs to you, Katie. I want that back yard filled for you.

Christie said...

That's exactly how I feel right now too - part of me feels like I "gave up" since we haven't gone the IVF route and I don't have the right to complain. :( I really truly understand how you're feeling, Katie. Lots of hugs.

*Jelly Baby* said...

The only reason why I'm holding back the tears now is because I'm at work. Your post really broke my heart.

I really have no words to comfort you, because I know that nothing anyone says will really change how you're feeling.

All I can say that this morning I heard a Whitney Houston song, and I'm clinging to the lyrics like a drowning person "It's not right, but it's okay, I'm gonna make it anyway".

http://iwantababybump.blogspot.com/

Another Dreamer said...

What a poignant post.

I've been floundering with my own identity lately- in between loss, infertility, the possibility of moving on to adoption... where and what will I be if we stop treatments, since it will be years before we adopt... I don't know. I struggle. I think we all do at some point in this journey, no matter where we end up. Many (*hugs*)

I still haven't figured out what or who I am anymore... but I try to remind myself that it takes time... and while I sort it out, all I can try to do is be kind to myself and make it through.

waiting for baby said...

I feel that way all the time. I just don't fit in anywhere. My friends used to come to me for relationship advice (not to brag, but I have one of the bests marriages around town). Now I don't hear anything, because all anyone wants to talk is babies, and I have no prior knowledge on the subject. It's lonely!

Big Hugs your way! :)

T said...

You are a very interesting and compassionate person! I absolutely LOVE reading your posts. You have always been able to put my thoughts and feelings down in a way I never could.
No matter where we are all in our journey we have been down similar roads and will have a forever bond because of it.

Do not ever feel that you have nothing to offer this community. You are like our leader or spokeswoman. You say the things that do not always come so easily to us.

Rebecca said...

So many above have said it better than I ever could. You are you. You are amazing. You make me feel like I'm not alone. You are an incredible writer who says what I feel. You make women who are in your position know that they are not alone.

And, you write potential letters to my doctor that make me laugh and scream with their sheer perfection!! :)

Carli said...

I can completely understand where you are coming from - and that, perhaps, is why that passage spoke to me on such a deep level as well.

Our last attempt at anything other than natural conception was in October of 2009. Almost exactly a year later we will be attempting our EA cycle. The time between then and now was like being in limbo. You really don't know where you fit in. You don't know what to blog about. You aren't in a positive place, but you really aren't in a negative one either. Just the in between.

When the time comes to move forward with your next step, you will know. Until then, we are here to listen to you.

Love ya.

A said...

I just wrote a post very similar to this. It is definitely an impossible place to be... but you're not alone- I'm right with you!

The Domestic Princess said...

I think I could have wrote this post myself. We are not as far along in this journey as you but know you are not alone in your feelings and in that you find a place.

((big hugs))

Bean stalk ballads said...

Oh Katie. If only I didnt get this post. I am so sorry you are here darling. i get it all too well because I am here too... and you can come sit with me in the bleachers anytime.