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Friday, April 13, 2012

lessons learned

I've written a lot about the before and after of infertility - how different life was/is before and after the diagnosis. There's no doubt that it changes the type of person you are, for better and for worse. I've written about how it has made me more sympathetic and compassionate toward some, but I also know how it has made me less patient toward others.

Yet, aside from changing us, I believe that infertility teaches us. The diagnosis becomes a defining point in our lives that we can't forget. So, we embrace it and learn from it.

I've learned from infertility that the old cliché of "everything happens for a reason" is true. So is "you can't always get what you want." Because what you want isn't always the right thing for you. If I had gotten what I wanted, we would have a child right now just over the age of three. When Joey lost his job in 2009, we would have been broke. We wouldn't have been able to move home, buy a house, or go back to school. As it turns out, we're in the best position now - financially speaking - to raise a child compared to where we've been these last four years.

I've learned that silence is not always golden. I often come across couples who suffer through this disease without telling anyone - not even their closest family or friends. While the risk for negative and insensitive comments certainly exists, in general I've learned that the more open you are, the better. Not only is it nice to not sneak around, it's also a wonderful feeling to have your friends and family truly step up and go to bat for you. As for those with the idiotic comments, many won't stay in your lives. It's hard to watch them go at first, but you also learn you're better off without them. Infertility brings with it enough negative emotions. You don't need other people generating that for you.

Finally, I've learned that becoming a mother will not and should not define any woman - including me. I used to think that being a mom was everything. It wasn't just something I wanted to do. It was something I had to do in order to fit in with society's expectations. And I had to do it a certain way (by drinking wine on vacation and getting knocked up by accident, of course). Now I know that neither this journey nor the goal at the end of it should define what kind of woman I am. Do I want to be a mother? Yes. But if my fate is not to be one, I'm ready to accept that, too - and the grief and anguish that may come with it.

Infertility sucks. It truly does. But I believe you can deal with that suck-age in one of two ways. You can spend every hour of every day crying, "Why me?" Or you can spend five minutes crying "Why me?" and then blot your eyes, come out of the bathroom, and spend the rest of the day learning from this experience.

What has infertility taught you that you didn't realize before this journey?


~Maria said...

My goodness do I EVER love this post. It's the essence of my dissertation. Spread it girl!

Jin said...

I love this. IF taught me that I'm stronger emotionally and mentally than I ever thought I was. And how not to be ashamed or silent about what I (or DH) am going through

EC said...

I love this post, and I agree with so much of it. Had I gotten pregnant 10 years ago when I was married to my ex, I probably wouldn't have gotten divorced and wouldn't be the stronger and happily married person I am today. As much as I dislike the saying "everything happens for a reason," there are times where it's true - even if it takes a long time to see it.

I've learned that while I may not end up with the life I imagined, there's a lot of good in the life I have. I've learned that dealing with infertility (and probably a whole lot more) in a bad marriage is a lot more difficult that dealing with it in a good one. I've learned to be more compassionate and less judgmental, but I've also learned to work harder to protect myself and put my needs first.

Elizabeth said...

GREAT post! I'm working on a post for NIAW about finding your identity in the midst of infertility. Because I have had a major identity crisis due to the fact that my whole life pointed toward the time I would become a mother! And well, that certainly hasn't worked out!

S said...

I wrote a post on a related topic a couple of years ago: how, in a sense, as much as it sucks, infertility is a gift (, in case you're interested).

By no means do I think it means that I've gone through this for a reason, but I do think that a smart person tries to learn something from every experience, no matter how crappy. Sounds like that's what you've done.

JustHeather said...

I love this post!
I think for my I've learned to not judge people as much, especially by outward appearances (even more so pregnant women). I'm definitely not perfect at it, but I do try harder to be less judgmental.

AnotherDreamer said...

Great post!

I've learned many of the things you have. Like you, I also see that I'm in a much better spot now- out of school, better situation financially... we would have made it work before, and I still wish it had, but I do realize that things are easier like this.

But, I'll add patience to that list. Dear god, have I learned to be patient!

I also don't take things as personal, I have such a thick skin- I ignore rather than engage a lot more. Things that would have upset me are now trivial, I stop and ask myself if it's worth it.

Mud Hut Mama said...

I don't believe that everything happens for a reason but I do agree with S in that we learn from all the experiences we have. Some are harder lessons than others. I grew up believing I could accomplish anything I put my mind to and infertility taught me that in addition to hard work you also need quite a bit of luck.

I was lucky, after a long journey, I did become a mother but I know many women who worked just as hard, and some harder, that did not. It has also made me less likely to assume that I know what someone else is going through. Lovely post. Thank you.

Kaitake said...

A very touching and insightful post. Thank you.

Lindsay said...

I've learned i dont have to feel ashamed or embarrassed that we couldnt get pregnant on accident,by trying or just relaxing as everyone thinks this is the greatest advice. I've learned so much about my body and have educated friends on how their bodies work too.

M said...

Great post! Infertility has taught me that my marriage is much stronger than I ever thought it was.

kristin simich said...

I too love this post. It's always great to hear when the hard shit life is throwing at us doesn't just break us but helps us to rebuild ourselves better than we were before. Yes, it is rough but thankfully is only making us stronger which I am proud to read here and also know first hand.

Rebecca said...

So excellent.

It's hard to imagine what my life would have been like without infertility. I think one of the most important things it has taught me is that my marriage is stronger than I would have imagined and that my husband and I are going to be there for each other no matter what. That sounds somewhat obvious, but I've always had issues trusting the men in my life and realizing how much my husband really loves me was a revelation.

Dawn said...

I think it taught me to be more patient. I have a hard time giving up control and this is the one area of my life that you just have no control over. Still drives me nuts sometimes, honestly.

nicole said...

Infertility also taught me to be patient. Seems to be the trend. Also you don't always get what you want when you want it. (I think) There is a bigger and better plan out there and we need to be patient. Still stinks though! :-)