After almost 7 years since my initial diagnosis I’ve thought back to times before infertility and how different my perspective was then compared to now. Back then I was innocent and ignorant. I thought that everyone who wanted to become a parent could. I thought that if we tried hard enough we could become parents. And most importantly I had a completely different view on those who never had kids than I do now.
Growing up I had a number of relatives who didn’t have kids. My mom has cousins that weren’t able to have kids. My Uncle (Mom’s Brother) and Aunt (Dad’s Sister) never wanted kids for different reasons. I was never that close with either though I learned recently my Aunt was always fond of my brother and I. She passed away last August after a battle with cancer.
In the weeks and months prior to her passing I did contact her. I thanked her last June when she sent me a birthday gift. But looking back I regret I didn’t reach out to her more than I did. Let me be clear my Aunt was a loud know it all who had a sense of entitlement that rubbed me the wrong way. But when my Great Grandmother had dementia and when my Grandfather needed someone to care for him she was always there to step up. I’m not sure if it was due to her caring nature or it fell on her because my Dad had kids and other responsibilities.
My Mother who though I love her and wouldn’t be where I am without (beyond giving birth to me) shaped and influenced my feelings on my Aunt. She would always say that my Aunt didn’t have the responsibilities my father did and that she should take care of my Grandfather. It was painted that my Aunt was a selfish person which she may well have been.
Because of that my feelings on those without children were selfish people and I viewed them as being not as important than those with children. I viewed that not having children was leading a life not as valuable as those who had children. I viewed it as strange not to have kids. It wasn’t until after I found out we would be unable to have kids and when our journey to parenthood ended that we became the people I harshly and unfairly judged growing up and even in early adulthood.
Based on all of this I’ve become a hypocrite and have projected a lot of my own criticisms of those without children on myself. It’s led to me resenting myself and a lot of the insecurities I have as a result of my own thoughts and prior feelings. It’s led to me taking so many things personal when it comes to parenthood and viewing my own life as less than.
The challenge moving forward is now that I recognize what’s behind these feelings is what do I do about it to break out of this way of thinking? How do I stop comparing my life and what value it has to others? I’ve always been stubborn and my toughest critic. I’m a creature of habit and getting into a new way of thinking has always been difficult. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder feeling I have something to prove.
Is what I have to prove that I was wrong and that our life without children can have value? But how do I know if and when I’m able to prove that? I know this is a lot of rambling and hope it makes sense.
This quote is all to familiar with a lot of us. Life is never simple there are always stumbles that get in the way of our plans. This blog exists because of a stumble in my life. I’ve connected with many of you due to your stumbles.
2018 has been filled with stumbles in my life between family members being sick and passing to self inflicted financial expenses. Four weeks ago I literally stumbled on the road while out on a run. I had caught the edge of the road where it meets the grass twisting my foot which caused me to trip and fall. When I got up my hands and one knee was scraped and my left foot felt sore like I had a rock in my shoe. I was able to walk and tried to run again but something didn’t feel right with my foot. I tried to stretch but that didn’t do anything. I was two and a half miles from home knowing I probably couldn’t make it home. Luckily I always have my phone on me while out for my run so I called K to come pick me up.
When she picked me up the first thing I did after getting in the car was take off my left shoe to get a better look at it. This is how it looked…..
The bump on the edge of my foot had me a little worried but I felt it was a bad bruise as I was still able to walk with a slight limp. I went to bed hoping it would be better in the morning. When I woke up I could feel it was still sore and unlike the previous night I couldn’t put much of any weight on it. It also had swelled up.
It was then I decided that I should go to Urgent Care to have an X Ray done to confirm whether or not it was fractured. In the back of my mind I was thinking here I go again finally back to being in good enough shape to train for a marathon in the fall and this happens. It had been two years ago when I had begun training to attempt my first marathon when I sustained a tear in my Achilles Tendon. I took four months off to recover. It had taken me nearly two years to get back to where I was the last thing I wanted to do was have to take significant time off.
While waiting to have the X Ray done I was hoping it wasn’t a fracture but somehow knew it was. Sure enough when the X Ray was done it confirmed I fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my left foot.
After googling the injury I learned that it’s a 6-8 week recovery injury. I knew then that running a marathon this year was not happening. I was instructed by Urgent Care to see an Orthopedist to receive a full diagnosis and plan of action. In the meantime I was placed in a boot and told to get crutches to not put any weight on it.
A few days later I saw the PA at the Orthopedist who wanted me to see their foot specialist to diagnose whether the fracture would need a screw to fix. I had never broken a bone in my body nor had I ever had surgery. The thought of having surgery scared me. The thought of missing more than 6-8 weeks of running demoralized me.
A week later I saw the foot specialist and finally received good news. He wasn’t recommending I have surgery. Instead he recommended I stay in the boot for another three weeks then come back to be evaluated. If all is well then I can ditch the boot and go to wearing a sneaker. Until then the only exercise I should do is stationary bike and upper body work. While being in the boot is annoying limiting how well you can get around it still beat needing surgery.
As frustrating as this whole ordeal has been unlike 3 years ago where I would have fallen a part especially with so many other tough situations in my life I’ve not fallen a part mentally or emotionally. I’m confident I will recover from this and will be back to my normal workout and life routine in a few more weeks. If anything it’s motivated me more to train and complete a marathon before I hit 40 (less than 2 years away). I don’t care if I need to crawl across the finish line because I will finish a marathon in the fall of 2019. I refuse to let this stumble in the road be the end of this journey.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and it’s mainly because I haven’t had anything happen or come up relating to infertility. All in all things are well. Put another piece of the life we were trying to build behind me as I replaced my Toyota Camry which was big enough for a baby with a smaller more sporty VW GLI (which I love). Also started wearing my hair differently dumping the spikes which I had worn for over 17 years with a more conservative part. Small changes that are positive putting things in the past.
The only thing that has come up recently is with my brother moving in with his girlfriend it looks like he finally may have found the one. With that thoughts of them getting married and kids down the road. I’ve wrote about this a little bit in the past that people tell those who are Infertile to not worry that they could always become a “Great Aunt/Uncle”. My feelings have been that it’s not the same as being a parent.
Lately my thoughts have gone beyond it just not being the same. Not only is it not the same but for me I don’t think I want to be a “Great Uncle”. It’s just not something I ever had a desire to be. Don’t get be wrong I’d be happy for my brother and his spouse and wouldn’t ignore his kids. I’d do the usual gifts see them on holidays once or twice a year but I don’t have the desire to be that Uncle that is involved in their lives. Those kids would have their parents. They wouldn’t need an Uncle getting in the way of that.
Settling for being that “Great Uncle” is a weak attempt at pretending to be a semi parent. It’s having fun with kids without doing any work. Those kids will never really care or have the bond that they do with their parents. I know this comes across as me sounding selfish but if god intended me to have that bond with a child he would have given me the ability to become a parent.
Deep down I feel this way because it would be another reminder of what I’m not capable of. I’m not capable of making my parents grandparents. I’m not capable of raising a child. I’m not capable of doing something the majority of adults can do.
Again I know I come across as being selfish but I really do hope my brother never has kids to avoid this trigger. I just fear of the fallout. It’s fallout I don’t want to face or have the potential to fall back into the deep depression I was in two years ago. Only time will tell whether I will face this but I know that I have no desire to be that “Great Uncle”.
On a side note I’d like to finish this piece promoting a new book by Justine Brooks Froelker “The Mother of Second Chances”. I just received my copy the other day and can’t wait to read. Justine is amazing a very special person. Below is the link to purchase on Amazon.
I figured it was time to do a personal update piece because it’s been a while since I last did. When I think back a year ago and to where I am right now it’s amazing how things have changed. A year ago I was working through deep depression, my personal life was in the crapper, I was in the middle of training to run my third half marathon and on the flip side my work life was on solid ground.
Today I am for the most part passed depression, my personal life couldn’t be better, I am in the middle of a four month rest period so my Achillies Tendon injury can heal (causing me to drop out of running my 1st marathon) and my work life sucks. Until I thought about it the last few days my depression hasn’t been much on my mind outside of taking anti depressants every morning. I’m no longer down about my life. Sure there are still times the realization of not ever becoming parents fucking sucks but overall I’m in a good place. My personal life is as good as it has ever been. My relationships are better than ever. I’m more comfortable with who I am and it’s easier to look past the little things. I’m able to feel and give love again. I have that happiness and laughter rather than anger I had last year. And next weekend I will be seeing my friends one year old son for the first time as I am getting together with my college friend for a weekend of Civil War battlefield visits in VA.
Three weeks ago I had to officially shut down my training for the Philly Marathon in November as I sustained some tears in the tendon from my Achillies tendinitis. It took convincing from my acupuncturist to accept it. Though I felt when I couldn’t even run 3 miles without pain I had a feeling the time had come to shut it down. If this had happened a year ago no doubt I would have gone into an even deeper depression. Instead frustration is what I’m feeling. The frustration of having to stop doing what I enjoyed due to once again my body betraying what my mind wants it to do. November 27th is a long ways away but I’m hoping that day I’ll be able to go for a short run pain free.
Overall life is well. I’m more confident I can work through short term challenges and have not thought much about what the future holds. The long term future does scare me. I still have fears about not having family outside of our home spending the holidays alone. There’s nothing I can do about it now. Whatever it will be like when we age it will be. There’s no use in letting it get in the way of the life to live right now that I can enjoy.
I hope everyone is well wherever you are at in your journeys.
This is going to be another one of those pieces where I hope it generates a productive conversation that leads to progress rather than take offense. It’s not that I care if I unintentionally upset people. I care more about being able to create positive change.
Each of our infertility stories is unique and different. No two infertility stories are exactly the same. With the reproduction of two or more people required to create a fetus leading up to 40+ weeks of gestation there are so many factors in each situation that could go wrong. Even when a diagnosis is the same for an infertile female in a couple you still have the male factor with many different possible reasons for lack of conception or potential for miscarriage. Also you have the being able to afford treatment factor. In taking a hard look at this, the options available for one couple might not be available for another couple when it comes to a couple either conceiving a child or third party reproduction. In some cases there are no options to become a parent through some type of scientific intervention.
When it comes to becoming a parent via non biological or other scientific ways the ability to do so can vary as well. Depending upon where a person lives, their financial status and other personal circumstances (health, marital status, etc.) the ability to to become a parent via adopting isn’t available for every couple or person. For instance depending upon where a person/couple lives and what the laws are for adopting they maybe disqualified from adopting. You could also be in a financial situation where you are unable to afford the costs to adopt and lack the ability to raise funds to adopt. Lastly you could be disqualified from adopting due to a health condition you have. In some cases a person/couple may not be able to adopt.
When you add in all of that the conclusion reached is that not everyone will be able to become a parent. I say this because personally I’ve been told by others that it’s my choice to be childless and there are options I’m choosing not to go through. They say this without knowing our full story. There are so many other factors in our story that I haven’t disclosed that are personal to us. I’ve also seen other people be told that if they want to become parents they shouldn’t give up in finding a way to become parents. That is completely unfair to assume unless you know the person/couple’s entire story.
People mean well when they ask those going through infertility if they’ve considered adoption or tried a certain treatment. If a person is curious about what the couple/person has tried instead they can ask what their options are. It’s a more broad question that gives the person going through infertility the ability to have control of the conversation. They may have options they are pursuing or may have exhausted all options. The only way to know is ask rather than go to one specific option that either worked for you or someone you know.
My point is infertility and our ability to become parents is extremely complicated. We should recognize that we all have circumstances that give each couple different options. In some cases a person/couple may choose to pass on their options but in other cases the circumstances may take away any option a person/couple has to become a parent. We can’t assume that a person/couple is choosing to be childless unless we know their whole story.
I say all of this not to be bitter for those who have been able to become parents after infertility. I am grateful that people have been able to become parents because it gives those going through infertility hope that they one day can become parents. It gives me hope that future generations don’t have to go through what so many of us have dealt with. I say this to help others better connect with those going through infertility and those who never become parents. Hopefully this piece can help us better communicate with one another.
Dealing with infertility is a process. How we feel during different stages of infertility varies. There are highs lows and overall our perspective changes. One misunderstanding that members of the infertility community have is that those who have gone onto become parents may feel they know what it’s like to be childless and infertile similar to those who are childless after infertility feel. While that may seem possible on the surface the reality is very different.
From my personal experience I will say that how I felt when I was first diagnosed with being infertile and when we exhausted all of our options are very different. When I was first diagnosed in 2013 I was in shock. I was down but with options still on the table I still believed we’d become parents some way. I felt that I just needed to be patient look into options and we would go down a path to parenthood. Sure I was mourning the loss of biological parenthood which was hard but I still had hope on the parenthood front.
Last year when our pursuit of parenthood ended (by circumstance not choice) I became depressed and it nearly destroyed my life. The hope I had was gone. I had to accept the fact that we would not be parents in any capacity for any child. There would be nothing for no one that we would leave behind in this world. It’s a helpless feeling that no hard work could ever change. It was very different than my feelings/experience was in 2013.
I’m saying this not to guilt those who become parents after infertility but to explain to them that their experience is different. I’m not saying this to show that being childless or my experience is more difficult but rather that it’s different. Neither experience is easy. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for those who go through RPL even if it ends in them becoming parents. Honestly I am not sure I could have handled that.
The best thing we can do is recognize that our experiences are our own. We can’t compare experiences and think we know what it’s like cause we can’t. But we can listen to each other and learn from each other. That’s the way we can narrow the divide amongst each other.
Since I learned I was diagnosed as being infertility three and a half years ago I’ve learned there were many myths society has with infertility. The first being that infertility can almost always be cured. The second is that infertility is mostly in women. The third is that once you become a parent you stop hurting. For me what I’ve learned personally through my experience is that ending up childless doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.
I’ll be honest one of the things that made me stubborn to give in and work towards recovery from depression was admitting to others that you can end up childless and be happy. I’ve seen many inside and outside the infertility community with children tell others they can be happy without having kids. That bothers me because I feel it ignores the challenges that comes with ending up childless (as I’m sure Parents after Infertility face). It ignores how hard it is to get to that point where you can be happy living life a again. Also if ending up childless is so great then why didn’t that person choose it? I felt I’d be doing those who end up childless after infertility a disservice by admitting that I could be happy.
Getting through this has been like running. Distance Running isn’t easy. You have to build up your strength and endurance to be able to run the distances you are training to run. There are challenges and road blocks along the way with injuries you have to work through. Same thing with living childless after infertility. You work hard to build up endurance to live life childless after infertility. Living that life doesn’t get easier you just get stronger through continuing to work at it.
I don’t look at ending up childless after infertility living a happy life as a choice. The reality for me was there wasn’t a choice it was either Adapt or Die. I maybe happy right now but it’s still challenging each day and I still have to work at it. I’ve had to change how I think and approach life. I’ve had to go from being structured and planning out life to being less structured being present and not looking too far ahead. Being someone with ADD who had to be structured to get through life that was and still is challenging.
I hope that in writing this piece others can recognize that being happy and childless doesn’t mean that we still don’t hurt or that it’s an easy life. It may seem like it got easier on the surface but what it is us getting stronger on the inside.
In less than two weeks it will be a year since it was official that my wife and I would not become parents. It was the most challenging year of my/our lives. It was more challenging than the year we found out about my infertility. That year has come and gone. At the end of the day I’m/We’re still standing because in reality what other choice did I have.
Yesterday I had my race though the result was disappointing that I went out too quickly again and had nothing left for the hilly part of the course rather than let it get me down its become motivation for the next race. A disappointing half marathon has led me to decide to attempt to train for my first marathon in the fall. I actually shouldn’t say attempt I should say complete because I will complete it and I will succeed.
The time has come to move forward and take chance with my life. The time has come to set goals with both myself and goals with my wife. And those goals will be met. If I get knocked down I’m going to not only get back up but set the bar higher. Barriers will be removed.
This was the person I was the first two and a half years of my life and is the person I truly am. Infertility took that person away temporarily but that person is coming back. It knocked me down but I’m standing back up and going to set the bar higher.
Yes, the time has come for me to be me. The time has come to live today and see how it leads to great things for tomorrow. Sure I’ll be knocked down again but I will get back up regroup and set the bar higher reaching that bar.
I’ve survived the last year now it’s time to thrive.
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.
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.