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.  

The Emasculation of Male Infertility 

This has been a tough year.  I’m now more aware of why I feel the way I do.  The unusual part of the way I feel is that I’ve started to have feelings of being less than a man.  These aren’t feelings I had felt last year or the year before.  I’m not sure why I feel this way now when I had not felt that way before.

First let me admit that I’m not what you would consider a “manly” man.  I’m short at Five Feet Four inches (162 cm) and skinny.  I’ve never been coordinated which is why I’ve engaged in sports like swimming and running that don’t require much coordination.  When it comes to home improvements I’m completely inept. I’m what you would consider a “metrosexual” taking pride in my appearance.  I won’t go into the extent of my metrosexuality because it’s more information than you probably would be interested in, plus it’s embarrassing.  But then again the idea of not being able to conceive a child with your spouse is kinda embarrassing.

What differentiates a man from a woman genetically is the Y Chromosome.  For me I’m missing pieces of that Y Chromosome.  Specifically I am missing pieces of the Y Chromosome that is responsible for sperm production.  When you are someone who doesn’t feel manly to begin with infertility completely emasculates you.  I won’t go into the other embarrassing ways infertility has emasculated me but I will say that there are times I wish I was born a woman so the lack of sperm wasn’t an issue.

The emasculation that infertility has left me has me down on myself as a man and as a person.  The idea that “A real man wouldn’t have these issues” has entered my head.  I’m not saying that all infertile men should feel this way or that they aren’t real men.  What I am saying is how my infertility has emasculated me.  

Infertility has that impact on people.  Whatever vulnerabilities, weaknesses or wounds left from trauma earlier in a person’s life is amplified.  Not being a “manly” man to begin with left me vulnerable for me to be emasculated by infertility.  Having the parts of a male but lacking the ingredients seems kind of pointless.  It’s like the parts I have are there for decoration and serve no purpose.  

But maybe the reason I was born without the missing pieces of my Y Chromosome has something to do with me not being a “manly” man.  Who knows?  The only thing I know is that my infertility has emasculated me. 

 

Trying my best not to be Ungrateful 

I want to start off by apologizing to those who have done their best to support me recently  only for me to be difficult.  Those of you on social media, those of you who have emailed me and those of you in my real life who mean more to me than anything I am sorry.  I recognize that you have nothing but good intentions.  I do appreciate your efforts to help me more so than I can put into words.  This goes for even the people on social media who have unfollowed me.  I wish you nothing but the best and apologize if I’ve offended you.

Things have been really rough for me lately.  About one month ago I went on anti depressants.  I was on anti depressants as a teenager and did my best to avoid going back on them.  Part of it was me wanting to defeat depression on my own and not giving in.  But I had tried everything and I wasn’t getting better.  I’m still adjusting to it.  The first week I felt worse but now I’m feeling more level yet still down.  

What’s been really hard for me is beliving things will get better.  Since my diagnosis two and a half years ago I’ve felt more and more out of place and feeling like I’m in remedial adulthood and can’t get out.  The last of my close college friends wife gave birth on Friday night which officially made me the only childless person among the group.  I don’t think I’ll be able to get together with that group again as our lives are completely different and it’s impossible to relate.  It’s triggering to remind me of a life I’m unable to have due to my bodies indaquecy.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or that I’ve had it worse than anyone in the infertility community because I don’t think that one bit.  We never had to go through treatments, miscarriages or still births.  Our infertility isn’t unexplained with no answers.  I can’t imagine going through any of that.  In some way I think we’ve had it easy and feel weak for being so down when it could have been much worse.  I really feel for those who have gone through all of that.  I just feel like all of our journeys are different and saying you know how I feel isn’t completely the truth just like I don’t know how you feel.

Right now I’m not ready to feel better and that’s ok (my therapist said this is ok).  Right now I want to work through these feelings hoping they pass.  I want to get to a point where I’m not fighting feeling better and that I never feel like this again.  I’m still trying to figure out if and how I can get to that point.

Hearing it will get better is hard cause I don’t believe it right now.  I don’t want to hear what I should do or how I should be grateful for what I have or that you know someone who is childless and happy.  That’s not making me feel better if any thing it’s telling me I’m doing something wrong.  It’s making me doubt myself even more so than I already do.

What will help me more than anything is just knowing others are there.  Knowing that I’m not alone and that I have support means more than I can put into words.  At the end of the day it’s up to me to figure things out and find balance.  I know there are so many that wish they could do that for me and it comes from a place of caring but that’s not possible unfortunately.

I hope that I’m not and haven’t come across as ungrateful.  I’m truly appreciative of everyone’s support.  I again apologize if I’ve upset or offended anyone.  I hope that you can understand how I feel and what can be done to help me.

Best wishes to you all wherever you are at in your journeys.

The Value of those without Children in Society

I’m going to write this piece as politely as possible and my intention is to get everyone to think rather than offend people.  This piece also is not directed at any one person as this is a societal norm.

Until infertility came along I never fully recognized the bias society has towards those with children.  In the work place in families, in the media and everyday life people with children are given a break more so than those without children.  If you have two employees one has kids who can’t stay late because of their kids softball/baseball game and the other doesn’t have kids but has a dinner date with their spouse it’s easy to know which one will have to stay late.  Same goes for families with aging parents where the sibling without kids has to take on the responsibility of taking care of their parents rather than the sibling who has kids.  The idea is the person with kids and their time and life is more valuable than those without children.

The situation when this is at its worst is when someone tragically dies young be it from cancer or some other awful tragedy.  You’ll hear how a person died at the age of 34 and had two young kids and how awful it is.  Yes, it is awful.  Anyone whose life ends so young is an awful situation that is unfair.  However, would it have been less awful if they didn’t have two kids?  Would it have been less awful if it was just a spouse and other relatives that were grieving that person rather than adding on the kids?  I know the intention isn’t to do this but basically our society is saying that those with children have more valuable lives than those without children.  It tells me that my life is less valuable because I’m unable to have children.

Things like this can drive the so called “commodification” of children that opponents of third party reproduction and anti adoption groups talk about.  Though none of them recognize or talk about the bias against those without children nor did any of them have to make the choice that those going through infertility have to.  I’ve always taken them with a grain of salt and recognize their agendas that could care less about those going through infertility.  But they do have a point in this regard, having children has become a status symbol in our society as the difference between the socially acceptable haves and have nots.

I don’t believe that all people with children are like this.  I also don’t think they believe their life has more value than those without children.  But I believe they have the power to think about the message they are sending to their kids and society that people without children are just as important as those with children.  Next time someone tragically dies or faces some unfortunate circumstances I hope they recognize what’s happened to them regardless of whether they have kids. 

I’m Giving Up

Infertility has changed me in many ways mostly not for the better. Sure I’ve learned to become more empathetic and understanding of why I feel the way I do sometimes. I’ve also gotten back into running. But beyond that it’s changed me into a shell of what I used to be.
Prior to infertility I was a very pleasant up beat person who always believed things would find a way of working out.  I was happy enjoying many of the things in life and looked forward to what each day brought me.  It wasn’t that my life had been easy to that point but rather I had overcome the odds of people telling me I wouldn’t be able to do things I eventually was able to do. Sure I never went to Harvard like I dreamed I would at the age of 6 or became an Astronaut. But I went to a pretty good college and have established a good career that allows me to live comfortably.  

I was also a person who believed I could overcome anything that came my way. I believed I could adapt and change if I worked hard doing things differently than I imagined. Most importantly I believed I should never give up even when things seem bleak.

Now that infertility has changed me I no longer believe things will work out. I no longer believe I can do things differently but achieve a similar goal and happiness. I no longer believe it’s worth trying hard and that my hard work will pay off.

Essentially infertility has taught me that it’s not worth trying and that I should give up when things seem bleak. When I try hard all it does is lead to unmet expectations that end up disappointing me. I tried hard in 2014 to live a childless life where I made changes in search of fulfillment. I got back in shape and started running again. I became a Big Brother volunteer.  I took things one day at a time and focussed on the present.  My expectation was that these things and approach would give me what I was missing.  

Instead all it did was distract me from the feeling that I’m in the remedial Adulthood class and no matter how hard I try I’m never going to be able to get out of it. I’m never going to be able to relate to people my age who have all moved forward with their lives while I’m not able to move forward. I’ll always be a step behind in life.  There is no next Chapter to work toward. This is the Chapter I’ll live until I retire.

Rather than fight these feelings and the challenge of fulfillment I am giving up and quitting on finding that fulfillment. Just as I did with infertility that led to unmet expectations when I quit, I am going to quit on trying to get out of the remedial adulthood class and just accept this is what it is. This is not to say I don’t believe others who are childless/free who find fulfillment. I do believe them but that’s them and what worked for them, that’s not me.

Whatever is going to happen is going to happen it’s out of my control. It’s no use in fighting anymore. It’s a losing battle that is just going to leave me more disappointed and empty.

I’m Not a Success Story Nor a Hero

I hope this doesn’t come across as a feel sorry for me post (though it probably will and I just need to suck it up).  

The last two and a half years have been the most difficult of my life.  Finding out I’m not capable of producing sperm and thus not being able to ever have children has changed my life.  It’s changed my outlook on life from a perspective that hard work would eventually lead to things working out to one that now see’s no point in working hard.  It’s changed relationships from being strong to never being the same.  It has also led me to connect with many amazing people in a community I never knew existed.

The infertility community has been great to me.  I’ve learned so much by reading stories and following journey’s of others that can inspire future people going through infertility that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Some have had their journey’s result in pregnancies and births.  Others have moved onto adopting.  There are also those who are forgotten who have moved onto Childless/free lives.  And there are those still in the trenches who are working towards moving forward in some way.  There are too many individuals to list in this blog piece.

Recently I had a discussion with some of these great people.  The discussion was around how just because one chapter in a person’s life is bad doesn’t mean the next one will be bad.   The two other people in the discussion both recently became pregnant.  For them though infertility was a bad chapter their next chapter has the potential to be something great (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it is for them).   I don’t begrudge them for that in fact I’m extremely happy for them as it couldn’t have happened to two better people.  

My input into the discussion was how my story was having multiple bad chapters and that I had no reason to believe a good chapter to my story would be coming anytime soon.  This chapter has been worst case scenario across the board leading to a deep depression.  The feedback I received was that Hero’s always have it the worst and that they are the strongest to overcome the challenges they face.  Obviously the feedback was given with the best of intentions (and it was greatly appreciated) to encourage me to continue to fight and that things would get better even though life is not going to look the way I want it too.

But here’s the thing, I’m no hero I never was a hero nor do I have it in me to become one.  I never wanted nor am I capable of a hero’s life.  All I wanted was a simple life where I got married to someone that I would grow old with and I would raise kids with that person.  There wouldn’t be anything more than that.  I’m not capable of more than that.  I’m just a regular guy who had to work hard just to get to that level playing field.  My success story would have been that despite the odds against me I built a simple regular life together with someone special that included us raising kids together.

The infertility community is filled with success stories with and without children.  My story is not a success story.  My story didn’t result in me becoming a parent nor has it resulted in a fulfilling childless/free life.  My story is not going to inspire anyone that they can get through infertility.  I have failed at getting through infertility.  It has defeated me.

I was reminded that my story isn’t a success recently when there was a Making Dads week held to recognize men going through infertility.  Many men were included who went through infertility and are now dads.   The men who spoke are able to offer hope to others something I can’t do.  Things like this I’ll never be able to be included in the infertility community telling me I have no place here.

Recognition that I’m not a hero and that I don’t have a success story has told me that it’s time for me to step back in the community and consider walking away for good.  My life is too much of a downer and I don’t want to bring others down who need to be lifted up.  I’ll leave the lifting up to the real Hero’s who have survived infertility and had success stories.  Plus I relate to very few people here as most have moved onto the next chapters in their lives.  Unless things change in my life and some miracle happens to me that makes my story a success there’s no reason for me to be here.  

Why not a Non-Parents Day?

I’ve written before how I think that Mothers and Fathers Day are bullshit holidays and nothing but hallmark holidays.  It’s not that I am jealous or bitter that I’m not a parent it has more to do with the idea that we shouldn’t need one day a year to show appreciation for our parents.  We should do that everyday.  I wish we would just dump them as holidays but that will never happen because there is too much money to be made off of them.  And to a lesser extent some parents (not all) with egos need these holidays for themselves.

These holidays isolate those adults who are not parents either by circumstance or by choice.  It’s as if these people are second class citizens and lesser people because they lack children.  They are not worthy of their own day to be recognized so the rest of society knows they exist.  They are seen as people who aren’t worthy of being celebrated.  I’ve seen some alternatives such as “Aunt’s Day” where the Monday after Mother’s Day this “holiday” is celebrated.  But you don’t see much about it because it’s on a Monday when people are at work.  It’s a half hearted attempt by the Parent community to do something.  To me there is a better way.

As an alternative I propose Non-Parents Day (The third Sunday in July) to celebrate the contributions and sacrifices that those without children by choice or circumstances make to better society.  The people who pick up the slack in the work place when those who have children are on maternity leave or have to leave early to tend to their children.  They make it possible for those with children to take that time off to tend to their kids without the work place falling a part.  The people who help take care of their friends and families children when their parents are unable to.  The sibling who takes care of their aging parent when their sibling with kids is unable to.  The people who give back to their communities when parents don’t have the resources (time or money) to do so.  These people are just as important to our society and make just as important contributions to society as parents do.  Yet we don’t have a day to recognize or thank them for that.

I think having this new holiday is important not only to recognize those who are childless/free but also to teach the next generation to value those who are childless/free and the sacrifices they make to society.  For those who attend church children should see these people stand up so they are recognized in their community as being valued.  I know for me when I grew up I didn’t look at my Aunts and Uncles who didn’t have children the same way I did my Aunt and Uncle who did have children.  Looking back on it now I realize that it was wrong and I wish it took something other than infertility to help me realize their value to society.  I don’t think I’m alone in how our society teaches kids to devalue those who don’t have children.

I don’t expect this blog piece to generate anything that leads to a Non Parents Day to being created. At best I would only expect the half hearted “Aunt’s” and “Uncle’s” days to be put out there.  But I hope it hits home to people with kids to value their childless/free friends and family members more than they might on the surface.  Our world wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions that those without children have made and continue to make.  Those people deserve to be celebrated and thanked for their contributions and sacrifices.