The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Manifesto

You don't understand, so let me explain.

We thought we'd be able to have children and then we couldn't.

It wasn't a choice to enter into treatments/adoption/donor gametes; it wasn't an option.

Having a child may feel like a choice to you, but it isn't to us.

You and I will need to disagree on that, because you'll never change our feelings about having a family be a need over a want.

When we're cycling--whether we're trying naturally, doing minimally invasive treatments, or doing invasive procedures--I am riding on a roller coaster of emotions.

I am angry. I cry a lot. I am frustrated. I am told one thing and another happens. No one can give me straight answers. No one can make real promises. We pay A LOT of money for the chance to have a child. This money does not guarantee that we will have a child at the end of the day.

We get pregnant and we are elated. And then we lose the pregnancy.

Or we get news that the pregnancy isn't taking and we never get a chance to feel that elation--we only get the depression on the other end.

Even though I'm a pro-Choice feminist, I also love my children when they're only embryos.

And that is a difficult thing to wrap your mind around.

You think that you know what we're going through based on the small amount of information you know.

You think you know how I feel or how I'm reacting based on what I present to you.

You never see the full picture, but you make a lot of assumptions.

You are impatient that we plan our lives like this.

You think you need to make parenthood seem less enticing--this doesn't make me feel better. This just makes me feel like you are belittling the thing I am putting myself through hell to obtain.

You say that you feel like you can't support us. And you can't. Not really. Or not in the way that you want to offer support.

Infertility isn't linear. It's a wavy line and you can't know if you're entering on a crest or a dip. I don't expect you to get it right.

I don't expect you to run in like a cheerleader and accompany me to appointments or help me raise money for treatments/adoption.

What I want from you is actually quite simple.

Ask me how I am and want to hear the answer.

Ask me about treatments and where I am in the process.

Ask me to explain to you more of what I'm going through.

Let me vent.

Don't try to change my mind or see the world from your eyes.

I used to have your eyes too before this happened. And I know you mean well, but even if you say that you went through infertility or loss yourself, my own experience is unique.

I try very hard to be proactive. I do this not only by seeking treatment, but gravitating towards other infertile men or women or other people using assisted conception/adoption.
We are a supportive community.

They take care of my emotions--I rarely have to explain myself to them. They understand with few words. I enjoy being with them because it's easy.

I also enjoy being with you. Sometimes I like being with you because I don't have to speak about infertility at all. Other times, I like being with you because I can talk it out and explain and hear my own words and make sense of this myself.

Infertility is so different for every generation. When our mothers and fathers were experiencing infertility, they had few choices. They had fewer answers.

Now, we have many choices--maybe too many choices. It makes it difficult to step away.
I believe that I probably won't understand much of what my children are going through if they experience infertility. I'll try to be there for them and I'll do my best. But I also know that they will have opportunities or choices to make that I never had. And it will affect them in a way that I will never understand because I didn't go through it myself.

And that will make me sad because I really want to be there for them. That's the closest I can come sometimes to understanding how you feel when you are dealing with me. So, I'm sorry. I know it really sucks to watch me be sad and feel like there's a wall between us.

Infertility makes some women want to sweep it under the rug. It has made me want to be an activist--not only for infertility, but for all the taboo topics still out there. I talk about infertility a lot--not because I'm obsessed with the topic, but because it has shaped who I am and it is a large part of my life. It has to be--so much of infertility is a day-to-day monitoring that it becomes impossible to set it aside fully.

It makes me want to reach out to other people--and that is something I am extremely proud of that I do. I think I used to lead a life that was very focused on self and I think I lead a life that is now focused on others--the children I have, the children I want, the people I reach out to comfort or help. You may think I focus too much on self because you may not understand the intricacies of what I do. What I put myself through because I have a burning need to parent. You may think the choices I make are selfish. Or self-indulgent. You may think that I like being sad or that I should just move on. You may think that I'm making unhealthy choices. I can't really do anything to change the way you think and frankly, I don't have the emotional reserves to focus on you.

We can't take you to the edge where we stand--we can only tell you about it. And hearing it is nothing like living it.

But if you want to stand over here and watch me at the edge, you may find that everything you are scared that I am or becoming isn't true at all. And if you opened your eyes, you would see that I'm not at the edge to jump, but I'm at the edge because I trust myself and my choices so completely and I know this is where I need to be if I want to fly.

76 comments:

Searching said...

Thank you for these words and for your bravery in showing them (and yourself) to the world. Thanks. When it's my time to truly and fully let those furious beasts into my heart, I know I will have one I can turn to for help. It's not the right time yet for me, but I'm also just too afraid to jump in the pool. I'm still circling around it with wide eyes. Watching those flailing, diving, jumping through hoops, those drowning and others diving in after them to help pull them back up to try again, those poised to jump off a 100ft diving board, girding up the faith that the free fall will end where they want it so desperately to go and they won't end up smashed against the concrete. I'm still an outsider, but I appreciate your words. I can take them from both sides in a unique position right now. And really, thanks is what comes to mind.

A.M.S. said...

I'm really glad you decided on "publish" instead of "delete."

I can't count the number of times the voice in my head screamed some of these same things at a friend/coworker/relative while I kept a vague smile on my face as they tried to convince me I didn't really want to be a parent, or argued that I was too wrapped up in my calendar, my next shot, the next cycle. I don't feel much of a need to talk to those people anymore.

Amanda said...

amen... My God, why do we even need to explain ourselves? As if infertility isn't enough, we have to explain it those who don't get it. And why explain it? Will they ever get it? Nope. Not until they've walked a mile will they truly grasp it.

Those of us who get it are family- I instantly feel bonded with women who get it- I don't have to explain things, I don't have to justify things... I'm starting to weed out my extremely fertile friends... and I feel like such an old hag for doing this, but I don't have the energy to deal with "surprise" pregnancies, or the debate of which birth control to use.

Blah.

KLTTX said...

One of the main reasons I never told anyone about our IF (not even our families) was because of the responses I would get. I just did not want to explain myself or our choices. When we decided to adopt, we had to come out of the IF closet and luckily we have not encountering any questions/comments that upset us or question our decision. Thank you for posting.

You have nothing to be ashamed of. We should not have to explain our desire to have children.

gold star said...

this is a beautiful post.

these words are so profoundly familiar. Thank you for sharing them.

Meg said...

Maybe its me but I dont see the anger in this post. Maybe I am bitter because I just had my 7th failed IVF cycle - who knows but I just dont see it. I see truth. Thanks for hitting publish I am having a hard time not sending it to all the fertiles (ugh I am starting to really hate that word) I know......

LOL my word verification starts with IUI....geez.

DD said...

Mel, you spend a majority of your time advocating for infertility and those going through it that when you post something like this, it makes me wonder who is advocating for you?

Just as you encourage us to vent and to be honest, you need to do the same and not question yourself when you do so.

This post is a perfect example. I am also glad you posted rather than deleted it. There's no shame in honesty and frankness.

Dianne/Flutter said...

How can I judge you? When I feel this anger too. I personally think this is healthy.

Lori said...

This post is what good blogging is about. What a loss if you'd chosen "Delete."

I feel elated reading your last sentence.

Oh, Mel, you continually raise the bar for the rest of us. By that, I mean not only bloggers but humans.

Journeywoman said...

Amazing Amazing post.

I really am having a hard time not putting links to everyone I know.

Thanks for your honesty and all you do.

Katarina Jelly Beana said...

****APPLAUSE******

I am giving you a standing ovation. Mel, you kick a$$.

Fertilize Me said...

Excellent, Simple and profound! I think you should copywrite this - and offer up letters that I can send out to my friends/families so they will stop pitying me and start supporting me! I am hoping that you relieved some pressure and angst by posting this! After all, that's what blogging does for me

megan said...

i instantly thought of about 8 people who i would love to send a link to this post. if i kept thinking, i'm sure i would come up with more.

i'm so glad you didn't hit delete, Mel.

BethH6703 said...

Thank you Mel, for having the strength to stand up & publicly say what I've thought, and bitten my tongue on, a million times before.

I'm permalinking this post on my blog, so that when/if I REALLY need to share it with someone, I have it handy.

Shelli said...

Holy cow, Mel. You just took my breath away. Thank you for sharing this. So many words I completely identify with.

calliope said...

sing it, sister. I found myself nodding my head over everything you wrote and now my neck is sore.

Especially accurate is the ridiculous people that try to tell you how awful parenting can be as a way to comfort you on your infertility. That is the worst. The "are you sure you want this??" as they point to their adorable toddler yanking their pant leg.

Um. Yes. With all my heart.

Thanks for writing this.

j said...

Great great post Mel.

Artblog said...

PERFECT! FANTASTIC! I'd steal it all if I were that type of person :)

Any more like that hanging around?

X

Geohde said...

Right on.

Publish was a good choice.

J

Dreamer4agift said...

Mel, thank you so much for not deleting this post. There's nothing to beat yourself up over when all it is is honest and raw emotion. Along with everyone else, I'd love keep a link to this one just for future situations with fertiles. You are able to say things that I have felt but never knew how to put in to words. I thank you for that. I thank you for being brave enough to hit "publish" and now have affected us more than you already have. You are a blessing.

MLO said...

Nicely said. This is not anger, but a familiar rallying cry for everyone suffering from any hidden disease - and isn't that, ultimately, what infertility is? A hidden disease that no one can see for sure, they might make assumptions, but, until they have to do it, they have no idea.

Pax,

MLO

Jamie said...

I think this is an amazing post. These are things we have all wanted to say at one time or another to someone in our life. I am halfway tempted to send the link to some of my fertile friends -- but I'm not sure they would get it.

Thank you.

moosk said...

thank you so much for sharing this. i agree it should be mandatory reading for friends and family... even those who love us the most often have a hard time knowing how to be supportive.

Larisa said...

Amen. You have summed so much of it up so well. I've thought those things so many times - and been so frustrated when, after some explanation I've given, the response doesn't make sense.

And sometimes standing on the edge is all we can do.

ultimatejourney said...

Incredibly well said. I'd love to send the link to a few people, but I'm afraid they'd find my blog.

Thank you for publishing this.

noswimmers said...

So beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

Tigger said...

I wish I could share this with my mother. Maybe then she'd understand a little more.

thank you, mel.

PCOSMama said...

I too am glad you didn't delete this. So often I have wanted to write a letter or something to those close to me who just don't get it. The sad thing is that it's so hard to find a way to put things into words that you can share with those who don't understand, without them taking offense or having it cause more harm than good.
There truly has to be some way.... even if it's simply writing a short letter saying that you realize they don't understand your choices, but to please accept them and neither try to make light of the subject nor make you feel bad for making those choices.

Waiting Amy said...

Oh Mel, I honestly didn't find an angry tone in the post at all. Disappointed, frustrated, isolated, but never really anger. Maybe because I feel I know you, and in that knowing can be certain that you would never be angry with those who are ignorant. But you have every right to be frustrated, disappointed etc. Express that. Hit publish.

But if you are going to publish all 60, please warn me. Then I can brew some tea and settle in.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

Great post. All of these words have been in my head and my heart, but have never met the outside world.

dmarie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dmarie said...

Mel--
that was f*cking brilliant!! So glad you hit publish :)

candy said...

thank you for hitting publish. this post is worded perfectly.

Kami said...

Amen Sister!

It captures the frustration I feel when I want the people in my life - and the general community - to really understand the day to day trauma of IF, but it just can't be explained. There are a very few people who can understand without living it.

This post doesn't sound that angry to me either. Thanks for sharing.

chicklet said...

No need to be embarrassed whatsoever, you nailed it.

REBECCA said...

I admit I lurk on your blog often but I don't think I've ever commented before. I echo everything everyone else has said about this post. Thank you for choosing to hit publish instead of delete. Thank you for saying so beautifully what we all feel. I can feel the raw emotion in your post as clearly as if it is my own, partly because I've felt so many of these things before. I am so grateful that I have stumbled onto such a wonderful community of women...sadly it has to be a community of women dealing with infertility, but grateful that there are women such as yourself that GET IT. Your writing is beautiful, your spirit of advocacy is beautiful, and you are a beautiful person. My heart aches daily for all the women I've been coming in contact with through these blogs...and a small portion of my heart is dedicated specifically to all of you that have suffered as I have. It is my hope and wish that each and every one of us can one day emerge from the mists of infertility.
Thank you for your words of wisdom and courage!

Meghan said...

Thank you for not deleting! I'm definitely saving this...thank you for putting all of this into words

Anonymous said...

As others said, it was not angry, it was honest. Thank you for saying the words we think, but aren't brave enough to say. You hit it right in the heart.

Jess said...

I love it, Mel. This post is wonderfully written and would be good to send out with Christmas cards to friends and family (haha, I think I'm joking, but really, I'm not sure.).

I'm glad you published this.

Baby Step said...

This is an amazing post. I posted something a while back to my mother....kind of similar (but not as eloquent). But this captures it - totally and completely. I am caught in the limbo between telling people and keeping it tight inside. Most of the time when I have told people it hasn't turned out the way I want. But then I keep it inside and that isn't right either. What to do.

littleangelkisses said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This isn't anger, it's frustration...a too familiar feeling in the world of IVF

Jitters said...

you get it. Not all infertiles do, but you do.

thanks - I needed to know that there are a few more of us out there.

r_is_moody said...

Bravo, Mel that was just a beautiful post. I read it to myself and then read it out loud to my husband. I could feel myself getting to close to crying as I read it to him because it felt like you had written what my heart has been feeling. I have so many people that I wish would read this.
Thank you so much for posting it.

Samantha said...

That's a very well-written and thoughtful manifesto. There's certainly nothing to be ashamed of in posting that. I think you have spoken for all of us.

Starfish said...

I can't imagine any one of your readers judging you harshly for that. It's honest emotion and very well written. Someone just asked me what the "right" things are to say to someone undergoing treatments - I am going to point them here for a start.

Bea said...

I particularly like the point about how the infertility experience changes from generation to generation, and even, of course, from region to region and socioeconomic circumstance to socioeconomic circumstance, not to mention all the other life/health/relationship complications people come along with. We should all be wary of trying to jam on someone else's shoes.

Bea

soralis said...

I think I actually heal more from reading other's words than writing my own blog. Amazing post, thanks for sharing

Trish said...

I'm so glad you posted.
I identify with the emotions quite, quite well.

Now if you don't mind.. I need to stand and cheer..

--Trish

B said...

You put me to shame. I wrote in an angry post that "I could reduce a happy family to cinders with the force of my gaze".

I see no such venom from you lovely lady, just a desperation to want someone to know TO KNOW, without having to explain. Or even after you have explained.

Kim said...

Bravo!

Good "publish" Mel!

Caro said...

*applauds*

ms. c said...

Thanks you for sharing this post, Mel. I feel that it is not so much angry as it is true.

Bean said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. It is a beautiful post.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I'm so late with this, but don't feel ashamed or embarassed by this. I've thought these exact things a million times! Thank you for publishing this post!

Tina said...

Amen, AMEN!!!

Just amazing and breathtaking...

LJ said...

Mel, it's interesting that you wanted to delete this post initially. I'm glad you didn't (as so many others have already said). This basically captures 95% of the conversations I have in my head every day. It may even be my favorite post you've ever written. It's really perfect and should be required reading for any friend or family of an infertile.

passingwindows said...

I am so glad you have reached out instead of sweeping your infertility under the rug. I feel honoured to have found your blog and all the other bloggers I have discovered through it; the advice and support I have received are immeasurable. Thank you for all you do in having chosen this path.

Your words "You think you need to make parenthood seem less enticing--this doesn't make me feel better." are so true. How funny that people think that by telling you how tough/difficult/exhausting being a parent is, you will feel better. It only widens the divide.

This is THE post I would like to send to friends and family.

Erin said...

Thank you for posting this. It puts into word so many of the jumbled thoughts in my head.

xavier2001 said...

your raw honesty is so beautiful, it brings all those emotions flooding back. thank you for sharing that.

Summer said...

This post might have been fueled by anger, but I hear only clarity and determination.

Thank you for publishing this. You have given me words to so many feelings and thoughts that I had no words for.

Tracy said...

Wow. You said it. Everything I've been thinking. Are you in there? That's the beauty of it...you are.

journey to junior said...

just - WOW! that is a beautiful post. and i, too, sense no anger in it. frustration, sadness, hopelessness - yes. but anger, no.

thank you for publishing.

katd said...

Manifesto indeed. So many of the phrases, words, lines are exact thoughts I know we've all had. Thank you for once again voicing them.

Especially hitting home is the part about wanting/needing children. People who tell me things like, "If I couldn't have conceived, I don't think it would've bothered me much," make me want to scream. You can't possibly know unless you've been there.

heather said...

i completely understand the feeling behind this post...don't apologize for it. i also try to talk about my experiences with IF...if only to let someone else who doesn't feel that they can talk about it that they're not alone. it sucks that we're not alone in that i'd love for no one else to go through what i have, but it helps to be understood. and i understand.

Rebecca said...

I love you so much for this <3

Piccinigirl said...

this post is phenomenal, thank you for all those words, those emotions. You said it all...perfectly.

*sniff, sniff*

Amanda said...

Thank you for posting this instead of deleting this. You typed what so many of us feel but do not have the words for. It was touching to read. And thank you for sharing.

Beagle said...

Thank you for sharing this.

That last paragraph really hit me. I had a "friend" tell me it was "insane" to keep trying, to push myself to the edge.

A real friend would have shown concern AND understood that I was were I needed to be to reach my goal.

Brave post!

Pamela Jeanne said...

Wow. Well said and well done. I'll be putting this in my favorite post category. I know I'll need to come back to it from time to time and perhaps borrow the words (with proper attribution, of course, in talking and communicating with those who "don't understand."

Hez said...

I also want to thank you for publishing instead of deleting. It hit me right in that spot in the middle of my chest that makes me gasp when I realize someone else has just said what I was thinking-- and said it better than I ever could have. Thank you.

Michele (Moosh) said...

You are freaking amazing.

End of story.

THANK YOU. Your words inspire, intrigue, enlighten...and so much more.

Michell said...

I am very glad you decided to post this instead of delete it. You are so good at saying exactly what others are feeling. Amazing post.

Isabel said...

This post is brilliant. Just brilliant.

KarenO said...

Thanks so much for writing this, and thanks for sharing it. I'm crying now, but it's a kind of good cry: I'm not alone, there are a lot of people out there that DO understand my pain.

Yodasmistress said...

Thank you.

Cindy & Brian said...

This is amazing.
I wish I had known about you/this when I was TTC. I was so alone!
Thank you!