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.
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.
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.
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.
The last two years have been a roller coaster some highs and mostly lows. This year has been no different. Except this current low I’m on has brought on the worst depression I’ve faced since my infertilty diagnosis and the deepest darkest place I’ve been in since I was a teenager and went through a serious period of depression.
Lately with me appointment two weeks away I’ve gone through my mind about the fallout of a worst case scenario of being told there is nothing that can be done. I’ve had thoughts about whether there was a reason I’m not able to have children and questioning my self worth. I’ve doubted the type of person I am and that I’m just not good enough to have children. That I’m too weak and not worthy of having a legacy. That I would suck at parenting and damage the child we raised. That society is better off that I don’t become a parent.
This has led to me starting to think that there is no point to living life. I’ve accomplished all I can and there is nothing left to do. Understand I could never harm myself. I fear death already. Going down that road on my own is something I’m not strong enough to do. But I’ve gone to bed some nights thinking it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I didn’t wake up the next day.
These thoughts go back to growing up with ADD struggling in school and socially. I never thought I was good enough. I always had high expectations of myself because no one outside of my parents thought I was capable of succeeding when challenged. Infertility has dug those feelings up as an adult only worse because unlike back then my whole life isn’t ahead of me. This is my life and without being able to have kids it tells me that once again I’m just not able to accomplish much of anything.
This all maybe just irrational thoughts for nothing and on April 22nd I find out there’s a chance we could have kids. But there’s a good chance I could be at the beginning of a middle aged depression that I never get out of. I thought I would be better prepared mentally and emotionally for this appointment than I was two years ago. But right now I don’t think I am.
I think anyone who goes through infertility experiences the bi polar emotions that come with it. If you weren’t bi polar before infertility you experience it during infertility. In the last six months I’ve gone through at least two high periods of feeling great and two periods of feeling awful. Right now I’m in one of those low periods of feeling awful. But it’s more than just feeling awful, I think I’m in denial that I’m depressed.
For me depression isn’t where I can’t get out of bed and perform everyday tasks. Instead it’s me going through the motions of everyday life but lacking energy, lacking happiness in the good in my life, lacking motivation and wanting to be alone. It’s having a hopelessness approach to life and feeling like this is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it. Right now I’m experiencing all of this.
I’m able to get up everyday and do what I have to do but I’m not able to go beyond that. I lack energy and motivation. Despite me landing a new job within my company that I’ve wanted for the last year and after six weeks of physical therapy now I’m running again, I’m not able to enjoy those things because I’m just down in the dumps about things in other parts of my life. Getting back into running is both a good and bad thing. It helps with my self confidence but also gives me time alone to think about things which puts me in an even worse mood. I just want to be alone rather than surrounded by people even those closest to me. I’m not hopeful any longer that things can change. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is getting harder to see.
All of this points to me being depressed. I don’t want to admit it out loud to those in my life (though I’ll definitely bring it up with my therapist). I was in denial that I wasn’t depressed for months. But it’s something that I’m just now recognizing. Maybe I had trouble recognizing it because unlike two years ago, I do have things in my life that are going well. Unlike two years ago I’m more physically active and have activities that I didn’t have two years ago. That still doesn’t change the fact that I’m not a parent and my body is the reason why I’m not a parent. I feel like a lesser person because of it. I won’t have any legacy that I will pass on. I feel like I’m not supposed to have a legacy that is worthy of being passed on. If there was I would have been born with the ability to do so.
I know some of you are wondering whether I’ve made an appointment with the urologist for a second opinion. The answer to that is not yet. It’s been on hold due to things going on in my life that I can’t get into on this blog. But I will be making that appointment at some point. That could be the thing that turns things around but it could also be the thing that sends me to a deep dark place that I never get out of.
Right now I don’t believe I can or want to live a childless life. Sure others have lived fulfilling lives w/out children so I’m not going to deny its possible for someone who is infertile to live a fulfilling life w/out having kids. I would be disrespectful to those who have. The idea of being childless forever with no legacy has me depressed and I don’t know how to get out of this depression. I’m hoping I can but two years later when nothing has changed on the becoming a parent front it’s impossible to think that it ever will change.
IMO this is the most important aspect of infertility that couples need to work through even more important than having a child. This piece is a must read for anyone who is part of a couple going through infertility.