I don’t want to be “Infertile Me”

Going into infertility people/couples are clear on what they want. They want to become parent(s). I wanted for my wife and I to become parents but infertility isn’t going to allow that to happen. It is not a path that will be a part of our story for reasons out of anyones control. The fallout from it led to me becoming “Infertile Me”.
Infertile me is dark, scared, depressed, raw, ugly, mean and hopeless. Infertile me almost destroyed my marriage. Infertile me hurt people. Infertile me brought out the worst in me. Infertile me blinded me from the many good things in my life that I’m grateful for. Most importantly infertile me was not who I really was.
I don’t want to be infertile me any longer. Being infertile me doesn’t serve me. I don’t want to be dark when light is shining. I don’t want to be scared of the unknown when it brings anxiety. I don’t want to be depressed when there are so many things in my life that bring me joy. I don’t want to be ugly, raw and mean because that’s not who I am or who I want to be. I don’t want to be hopeless when nothing ever stays the same.

I’m not sure who I want to become or what I want my life to look like. That will come in time. But the one thing I do know is that I don’t want to be Infertile Me because I’m a better person than that.

Finding Balance 

Since I was diagnosed as being infertile there have been many things I’ve done to cope with the pain.  I’ve talked about a lot of it on here be it therapy, anti-depressants and running.  The one thing I have not talked about is my Yoga Practice.  About a year and a half ago while training for my first half marathon K made the suggestion of joining her Yoga studio.  I decided to take her up on her suggestion figuring it could help with my conditioning for my running.  I had no idea then that it would become so much more than that for me.

First let me say that I’m not exactly a master Yogi.  I’m uncoordinated have issues at times with my balance and my shoulders are weak.  Also having ADD makes my mind wonder during classes.  However, my practice has gotten better in time.  I’ve connected with some great people and it’s an activity K and I do together.

At the studio I go to they hold workshops on different topics.  In early January I signed up for this workshop called “From Hot Mess to Shining Star”.  The description of it was about working through our distractions organizing our energy and putting it to great use.  As I would learn after the first session it is basically a Yoga for ADD workshop that focuses on the Chakras.  The instructor has ADD which made for great conversation after class.  There is a lot of meditation involved as well as some Yoga poses connected with the different Chakras that we work on in each session.

During the first session we went around the room to introduce ourselves and talk about why we were there and what we hoped to get out of the workshop.  When my turn came I explained that I have ADD and I’m working through depression and that I’m looking to help regain focus in my life.  I didn’t mention my infertility until the fourth session because I wasn’t comfortable at first.  When I did I opened up how I internalized my infertility blaming myself and getting down on myself.  I also talked how I didnt know what was next in life.  It was at that session the instructor asked each of us what we felt our purpose was and what our goals were.  I couldn’t answer it.  Though she told us it was ok if we didn’t know it reminded me of where I was at in my life with no direction.

Last week’s session worked on the throat Chakra and coming up with a Vision for what we want our life to look like.  I told the instructor what if you are scared of that the vision won’t be satisfying or isn’t possible.  She told me that if that’s the case start out with small visions and goals building from there.   

Prior to infertility my vision was to have a life with K raising our kids together.  With that not being possible I’m accepting my limitations.   I don’t know what I would like my life to look like in the long run outside of it being with K instead of what I had envisioned.  

As my Yoga instructor suggested I’m going to start out small and see where it takes me.  What I would like my life to look like is for a life with balance.  A life that is able to be present and focused on the present.   A life that isn’t trapped in depression and held back by anxiety.  A life that is peaceful able to go with the good and bad.  A life that I am grateful to be living with compassion and love.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said life is a journey not a destination.  Part of my journey and the vision of what that journey will look like will include having balance.  I’m not sure where that balance will lead but I have to gain that balance first.  Through my Yoga Practice I will work on achieving that balance.

Namaste

  

Expecting & Parenting after IF and how to support others 

My intention for this post is to hope it helps the community as a whole to support each other and avoid unintentional hurt feelings. Recently I’ve noticed a few members of the community who recently became pregnant or who gave birth ignoring me not responding to me or interacting with me. Though we all start in the same place and some end in the same place how we get there is different and not everyone ends in the same place. Also there are times we’ll be in the same place and others we aren’t. You get the point, it’s complicated.
The hardest thing for us to navigate at times is when a member of the infertility community becomes pregnant or gives birth while others are either still TTC, taking a break, pursuing adopting, a parent via adoption or living childless/free. It’s awkward and no one knows exactly how to interact and support the other. For the expecting parent/parent they may want to protect themselves by avoiding the trauma of being in the trenches and fearing going back to that place. On the other side those in the trenches may avoid those who are expecting or are parents because it hurts them. None of us intend to hurt one another we just don’t know how to navigate this crap.  It takes a village to get through it.

Below I’ve put together some tips/things a to keep in mind for expecting parents and parents on how to support and maintain relationships with those still in the trenches, taking a break, pursuing adopting, parent via adoption or living childless/free. Please don’t hesitate to provide your feedback no matter where you’re at. Dialogue is so important to achieve progress.  Above all communicating and being honest with each other is the best we can do.

1) Please don’t tell us to give up or that miracles can happen. Nothing makes us feel worse when we are told to keep trying when we maybe at our wits end or feel like we may have stopped too soon. We already blame ourselves as it is and think we’re doing something wrong.

2) Your pregnancy/birth has nothing to do with our situation. What worked for you won’t work for everyone or even another person. Our bodies are all different and add in our partners or donors and it’s even more complex to achieve conception.

3) Don’t forget about us. We understand you may need to take a break and enjoy the next chapter of your lives and not live in the community all the time. We understand you have new responsibilities and your life has changed. But we are still here and value our friendship. We aren’t lepors either. Talking to us won’t bring bad luck upon you. When you forget about us it can feel like being left to go hang out with the cool kids.

4) We aren’t upset with you for getting pregnant or becoming a parent. Going back to #2 you getting pregnant or becoming a parent has nothing to do with our situation. It maybe a reminder of what we aren’t able to achieve but it’s not preventing us from achieving what you were able to. There isn’t a baby quota the infertility gods have where only so many babies are born and you having your baby prevents us from having one.

5) Be with us instead of trying to fix things for us. We know you mean well. We know you’re rooting for us. But we aren’t looking for you to tell us that it will all work out or that we’ll become parents. Unfortunately no one knows that. If you want to help and we’re hurting tell us you are there to listen.  

6) Celebrate our non TTC accomplishments. If we have something great in our lives that’s non TTC related celebrate with us but realize it doesn’t fill the void.

7) We can talk about non TTC topics. We all have and had lives outside of having kids before all this. We may have even shared common interests. If you’re uncomfortable talking about babies or treatments go that route to stay in touch.

8) If we move on to adopting, donor conception or childless/free life respect our decision to move on. Please don’t judge us. Not all of our journeys are going to end the same way. Also, it’s not going to feel the same way it felt for you becoming a parent. There is a whole level of complexity added even if we become parents. Though there are some common themes of parenting. If we don’t there’s a child void in our life that will never be filled. Also don’t assume that a person can be happy without children if you have children. Yes, those without children can be happy but please don’t assume something you don’t have personal experience with. It’s like us assuming you are happy as a parent and never hurt.

9) We are happy for you and your family. Even if we mute you on Social Media, keep our distance or disappear for a bit it’s just us protecting ourselves. It’s not you or us just the situation.

10) We care for you and are here for you too. We recognize being pregnant or a parent isn’t easy especially if it comes after previous losses. We know you are grateful. We know you wouldn’t trade places with us. Heck we wouldn’t trade if roles were reversed. So don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you have morning sickness, a baby who won’t sleep or a spouse who isn’t supporting you. If we were in your shoes we’d feel the same way and need support.

Falling Down Again

It’s been a while since I last blogged. I wish I could tell you that my good feelings have continued but unfortunately they haven’t. Well I take that back they continued up until about two weeks ago.
My October was filled with ups and downs. My half marathon was a disaster as I barely finished dealing with ankle and calf issues the whole race. I knew it was going to be a tough race for me as my training wasn’t as good as it was last year. I haven’t run since that race which was over six weeks ago.
The good part of my October was a great distraction as the Mets (baseball team) made a playoff run to the World Series for the first time in 15 years. I had the privilege of being able to attend two games one of which was Game 4 of the World Series (See my video and picture below I took from those games). Despite the Mets losing the series in five games it was a great season for the team that I love the most out of the three teams I follow closely.

But right after the World Series ended and Daylight Savings Time ended with the day’s getting shorter I began to feel a little down. With the holidays approaching I began to think about what we will never experience and will never be able to have. For past holidays I had some hope that we would eventually become parents. This is the first year that I know that isn’t going to happen and it hurts.  

It hurts that we are not able to experience that because I lack the ability to produce one of the two ingredients needed to conceive a child. It’s left me feeling like less of a person again. I feel empty and I know that nothing will change what the situation is leaving me helpless. Though I don’t feel alone.

Over the past few months I’ve started to recognize that this isn’t just my loss but it is also a loss for my wife and us as a couple. For so long I was wrapped up in myself that I forgot this and neglected my marriage. I was very difficult to be around especially with her experiencing a loss on her side. I won’t go into the details of it but I will admit that most women would have left me when she stood by me and continues to do so.  

As much as the situation sucks, knowing that I’m not alone gives me comfort in working through this. That’s probably the biggest difference between how I felt earlier this year and how I feel now. Call it progress but what it means for the future I have no idea.

   
    
 

Dear pro-life would be adopter…

Powerful piece for those considering pursuing adoption. It’s purpose is not to scare anyone but to educate and best prepare couples for parenting an a child who they adopted.

The adopted ones blog

By TAO

Readers know I don’t use the term ‘adopter’ lightly, and it applies only to a few out there.  I read a very disturbing post today by someone with infertility, who is pro-life and also wants to adopt.  I was ready to rebut her post, it felt good writing thoughts down, but it wouldn’t have done any good.  Instead, I decided to write this post, perhaps she’ll read it, or someone just like her.  Perhaps it will trigger reflection, perhaps not, but I’ve tried in the kindest way I know…

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Just when I thought I was out, They pull me back in!

For those who don’t know the reference to the title of this post is from the Godfather Part III. I know I know I said I was leaving the community a month ago and I was never going to come back. But here’s the thing, I missed a lot of you. Even though I’m connected with some of you on Facebook, I miss interacting with you all. 
At the time last month I had a falling out with some members of the community who went to my most vulnerable place. This lead me to walk away/take a break from the community. As it turns on it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point. I needed a break from being trapped in the community and being surrounded by people in different places than I am. It was triggering the hurt of where I was at and making me feel left behind. It wasn’t doing me any good being surrounded by it. It was bringing out the worst in me.

The break for me was a good one. I was able to reconnect to the things in my life that mattered the most to me. The things in my life that I took for granted. The things in my life that bring joy to my life. The things that stood by me at my deepest darkest time when most would have separated themselves from me. There was no way I could walk away from them at this point or ever. They aren’t things that you can ever replace.  It’s sonething that when you have it you don’t ever let go because it just feels right.

As for things going on in my life, the last month has been crazy. I’ve had four work trips in consecutive weeks. In fact this week is the first week I’m home the entire week in over a month. Though it was tiring and I hate flying I did get to go to Disney World for the first time in my life which was pretty cool. Trying to fit in my workouts and runs as I finished up training for my half marathon this up coming Sunday was challenging.

Speaking of my half marathon, I’m not sure how I feel about it. My energy level over the last month or so has been low. It’s probably due to everything going on. Plus I think my body needs a beak especially my Calves and Achilles’ tendons. I’m looking forward to being able to take time off from running as much as I love it.  

An exciting thing for me is that for the first time in 9 years the Mets are going to the playoffs after clinching the NL East division on Saturday. It was a shock, in fact I still can’t believe it two days later. I thought they would be improved this year but not nearly as good as they ended up being. And I can finally stop blaming my marriage for the Met woes. You see the night before my wedding 8 years ago the Mets were up 7.5 games on the Phillies with 17 games to play. No team had ever blown that type of lead. But starting with that night the Mets would go 5-12 and have the biggest collapse in baseball history. This season eliminates that myth which I know my wife was tired of hearing.

All in all this past month has mostly been positive with really nothing bad. I’m smiling and upbeat more so than I’ve been in a long time. I’m more of who I was before infertility. Most importantly I’m the loving husband my wife lost when I was diagnosed with non obstructive azoospermia. It’s hard to tell how much of a better place I’m in because I’m so burnt out. Perhaps in a few weeks I’ll have a better idea. I’m of the mind set that I need to expect the unexpected both good and bad. Nothing is ever certain in life.  

I’m not sure what life will look like or where I’m heading. I’m not going to try to figure that out but instead let the chips fall as they may. That’s not to say I will just sit back and do nothing but I’m done chasing things that do nothing but tear me apart inside. I’m done putting timetables on things and instead just live. I don’t want to ever go back to being that person infertility made me and I need to avoid the things and situations that brought out that person.

As for me in the community, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be as active as I once was. I’m just too fearful of going back to that place I was in. I do want to stay connected to people that have been great friends to me and support them when I can. I really hope everyone is well at whatever point you are in your journeys.

Doing what needs to be done

I’ve debated about whether or not to write this post and make a big deal out of myself because I hate being thought of as someone who does things for attention.  I actually drafted this post a little over a year ago after a similar Twitter incident to one I had today.  I decided not to publish it then.  But I think this time it needs to be said.  Please don’t take this as a pity post.  I don’t want for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I’m not a victim by any means.

When you are dealing with any type of life altering grief it changes you forever.  Your outlook on life and perspective will never be what it once was.  Even if things work out and you find some type of happiness you aren’t necessarily better off than you were before, you are just different.  I am no different when it comes to what Infertility Grief has done to me.

I hate what infertility has done to me and how it’s changed my life.  It’s not been for the better.  Grief has not made me a better person.  It’s made me a sad, frustrated and negative person.  At times I’ve let it consume my life because it is the one thing I’ve ever dealt with that I’ve been unable to overcome.  I’ve let it suck the joy out of my life and destroy my self confidence.  

I joined the infertility community to connect with others hoping it would help me and I wanted to see if I could have positive impact on others.  For almost two years both of these things did work.  But this is not the case any more.  Being here doesn’t help me any longer and I’m no longer able to have a positive impact ok others.

Let me set the record straight yes the Twitter incident earlier today did help me come to this conclusion but I’ve been leaning this way for a while.  It started back in June when I didn’t fit with the making dads theme of male infertility week.  And for those of you who don’t know about what happened, all I will say is that I had an unpopular opinon that others felt made it uncomfortable to others in the community.  I didn’t expect others to agree with me.  I would have been happy to agree to disagree and walk away.  Yet I was told I was wrong and was ganged up on by a bunch of people and made to feel like a bad person.  I know it wasn’t their intention but they didn’t care how it made me feel.  I blame myself partially for not walking away sooner but what’s done is done.

The most difficult part of it was that they went to a vulnerable place for me.  One person in particular knew it was a vulnerable place knew how it impacted me yet they still went there.  The others I give a pass too because they didn’t understand how vulnerable it is this person I can’t.  

Unlike the last time I was involved in one of these incidents where I knew I had done some things wrong this time around I was not wrong.  Having an unpopular opinon is not wrong.  I was not forcing my opinon on anyone.  I wasn’t saying my way was the only way and it was superior to others.  It’s just an opinon.  Believing those who have a privilege and a story people can learn from and being bothered that they don’t stick around is not wrong.  It maybe different than what others feel and that’s fine but it’s not wrong.  

I’ve said this in a recent post but I don’t have a success story that can give others hope.  I don’t have that privilege.  That isn’t anyone’s fault nor do I want anyone to feel bad for me, shit happens.  To be clear I don’t define becoming a parent as the only way a person can be a success story in the infertility community.  There are too many childless/free stories for me to mention all of them.  I am not one of them.  Those people can and are having a positive influence on others in the community.  I may have had a positive influence at one time but I’m not able to any more.

The time has come to walk away.  It’s for my own good (not self preservation) as well as others in the community.  Please don’t feel bad for me.  I got out of the community what I did when I needed it.  I also feel that I did my best to have a positive impact on the community when I was able to.  It worked well while it did but it doesn’t work well for me and others any longer.

I’m not disappearing off the face of the earth.  Yes, I’ve deactivated my infertility Twitter account and likely won’t blog here any longer but I won’t be off the radar.  Those of you who have my email, follow my non infertility account, connected with me on Facebook or have my email you can stay in touch with me there.

I really do wish everyone the best on their journeys.  Whether you are still trying to conceive, going through treatments, pregnant, parenting, pursuing adoption, pursuing fostering, pursuing third party reproduction, moving onto a childless/free life or living I hope you all find happiness in all aspects of your lives.