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.
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.
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.
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.