And here we are in 2014. It’s a sunny day and we’ve said goodbye to a devastating 2013 with tears and fireworks. Good riddance. I’d love to say the new year will be our year, that things can only improve, that it’s going to be better than the year just gone, but I said all that 12 months ago and look where that got us. So 2014. It’s a brand new year and whatever happens will happen.
I’ve had a few comments that this blog is sometimes a hard read, that it’s depressing, or negative, so I thought it time to write a post that somewhat addresses this. My life is most definitely not a hard slog all the time, like nearly everyone else I have good times and bad. However this blog is not a documentation of my life as a whole, although who knows, one day it might serve that purpose. It is a documentation of our struggle to have a child, and that journey is hard, way harder than I ever thought it would be, so naturally (that is if I’m doing my job right) what you read upon this page is sometimes hard.
You sit down to a nice relaxing breakfast, I’m on my way to yet another early morning fertility appointment. You take a sip of that delicious coffee (the one that I can’t drink due to its potential impact on my fertility), I’m on a hot date with dildocam. Yep, dildocam, I’m sure you can imagine what that involves if you don’t already know. Having a nice night out with friends? Check out the non-alcoholic drinks on that beverage list (the list of drinks us infertiles often have to stick to)…..9 out of 10 times there won’t be one. Now think of the one thing in your life you’d really love to achieve but for reasons outside of your control can’t, and imagine everyone around you talking about how they’ve achieved that very thing, how easy it was, and how fantastic the results are. Relaxing on a beach or in a park? Take note of how many families are there with their kids and imagine how you would feel if that was all you wanted but couldn’t have. Feel good?
This journey is physically difficult. During treatment it involves a hundred and one appointments with specialists, invasive (and sometimes painful) tests and ultrasounds, surgery, constant monitoring and blood draws, and piling multiple chemicals into your body – often accompanied by hideous side effects of some description or another. And that’s just the beginning, for some of the more unlucky amongst us this voyage involves even more. I, thankfully, have not had the experience of that ‘more’, and hopefully never will.
Outside of treatment time, we’re trying to give our bodies a fighting chance of being able to conceive. That means trying to ensure your body is in the best possible condition fertility-wise. Exercise (but not too much exertion – quite a hard balance to find), eating the right foods at the right times, taking a multitude of supplements, alternative medicines such as acupuncture, the list goes on. It all may seem excessive to the fertile community reading this but when your body doesn’t perform as it’s supposed to you try everything to bring it back to ‘normal’, often on the recommendation from the medical community. Now try fitting all of this in around your job and the rest of your day-to-day life.
Yet the physical is the easy part. As well as being physically challenging, it’s also a complete mind-fuck. You know when you buy a new car and then suddenly you start seeing that make and model everywhere you drive? It’s like that with kids. Everywhere you go there are children, babies, pregnant people, and when I say everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE. It’s inescapable. We took a walk to a waterfall miles from anywhere in the middle of the bush, there’s a pregnant lady there at the waterfall. Out to the pub for New Years Eve, a pregnant woman…and what’s worse, she’s drinking, a lot, vodka and energy drink no less. To a ‘normal’ person that’s horrifying – we’ve been conditioned to know this is bad for the baby – to an infertile it is heartbreaking. Why is this woman who is abusing her baby before it’s even born allowed to conceive yet we, who would give that baby everything it could ever need, cannot.
You’ve just sat an exam, one that the rest of your life depends on, and you’re awaiting the results. Now let’s say you can’t do many of the things you enjoy because they could potentially effect the results of this exam, and this exam is going to dictate whether you get to have the life that you want or whether you’re destined for the sidelines to watch from the outside. You have two weeks to wait until you know what path your life will take, and all the while you’re surrounded by those who have already passed the exam and are living the high life while unintentionally bragging about it. Welcome to the two week wait. The torturous two weeks following treatment (or ovulation) in which you wait to find out if you’re pregnant or not. You try to distract yourself but it always comes back to the same point, will I have the life I want for myself or will I need to heartbreakingly change my dreams.
For infertiles, everyday things become a challenge. Meeting new people comes with questions of kids, time is measured by appointments or treatments rather than days of the week, even going to work comes with the constant reminder of what you don’t have – colleagues funny anecdotes about their children, or the thought of ‘if everything had gone to plan I’d be on maternity leave/planning a kids party too right now’. Your mind is your worst enemy. The smallest of things can trigger an emotional response, and sometimes it all gets too much. I was negotiating a change to my job recently and things didn’t entirely go to plan. Rather than my usual response of ‘take a step back and reassess’ I had a complete meltdown and cried for half a day. Now on the surface this looks as though I’m an overemotional nutbar, overreacting to what is a seemingly normal job transaction but what the majority of people don’t see is that this job transaction comes at the tail end of another failed IVF cycle (one with atrocious side effects), a cycle that has ended the dream of a biological child for us, a cycle that cost us nearly $12,000 and, because of my defective body, we weren’t able to complete. Imagine knowing this is all your body’s fault and not being able to change anything. It’s like building a house of cards or a Jenga tower and slowly pulling out the foundations one by one. The job hiccup was the last piece that caused the house/tower to come tumbling down.
I don’t know too many infertiles in the flesh but I sure know a plenty online, via Twitter and this blog, and they are some of the strongest and most resilient people I know. They’re survivors. So next time you feel like saying we’re a bit negative or the tales of our lives are hard to read, spare a thought for the people actually living this reality. No, it’s not our entire life summed up in these pages, but the haunting reality of what’s written here has an impact on everything we do, and on who we are as people, good times or bad. These words are merely our outlet, a way to cope