Because Infertility: Embrace the Bitterness
The day of my first IUI, I walked out of the office crying. Not just the teary eyed cry, the big, I cannot breathe cry. By the time we started IUIs we had been trying to conceive for a little over a year. We had done all the testing with my OBGYN, 3 months of clomid, and sent to a fertility specialist in the Atlanta area. We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility, so we were often told the cliche that no news is good news which I’m here to tell you is a bold face lie, something to soften the blow instead of saying the truth - that they just don’t know. It's not no news is good news it's we don’t know what's wrong through the basic fertility testing.
My husband, CJ, and I were so excited for our first IUI we really thought this could be it. I remember driving the hour to our fertility specialist with big smiles on our faces. I had been at the office two days prior to get the all clear - it's go time! We planned to go to the Battery (Braves Park) after the doctor to walk around and maybe even pick up a Braves onesie because we were riding this high of hope. I wore a black and white striped piko dress, and my hair in a neat bun, I remember when I looked in the mirror that morning I thought to myself I look like a Mom.
CJ has to go to his appointment first where he can provide his dutiful sample. I find it hilarious that men get a small room, limited selection of dirty magazines, and a black leather chair to do their part in creating life. If the roles were reversed I would imagine a spa experience with plush white robes, sound machine for privacy, and crisp white, airy, sanitized room maybe some ship-lap or barn doors for the at home feel.
After his appointment we go to breakfast and then find ourselves back in the office about two hours later saying our hellos at reception and sitting anxiously in their modern chic waiting area. The nurse calls us back and we go to the first room on the left. She explains that I will need to sign the paper consenting to the IUI and then gives me an appointment card for our pregnancy test date, tells me to remove clothing waist down and the doctor will be in shortly. I got butterflies seeing the appointment card and knowing that in two weeks I could be back here and getting what we have been waiting for, a positive pregnancy test. I can still see our innocent smiles, our naive positivity, we knew this was our time.
Our fertility specialist knocks subtly and enters the room. She is a tall, effortlessly beautiful woman, leaving her sandy blonde hair up to the fate of the weather. She says her hellos while here I am sitting bare ass on the table and what feels like a large paper towel draped over my lower half and my husband in the visitors chair beside me. I have an awful ability to read a room before words are spoken, I can see on her face something is not right but I keep riding the hope high for a few seconds longer. She sits down on her stool and begins to explain that on my blood work I have tested positive for hepatitis c. I can’t tell you much of what she said after this but I can remember her hand on my knee and seeing her genuine eyes trying to read mine as she explains the results. She asks me if I had blood transfusions, tattoos or pretty much interaction with needles. At this point I am at a loss. All I have to give are the tears running down my face and the only the thought that crosses my mind is my father who had hepatitis c from sharing needles for drugs. That is my only knowledge of hepatitis c, so I ask her plainly what is it. She explains that it affects the liver and the steps we would have to take before we tried to get pregnant. She cancels my IUI on the spot and instructs me on the blood work that needs to be taken so that we can retest and hopefully it is a false positive. Lets not forget I was there two days prior getting the all clear… someone screwed up. There was no need for me to be prepped and ready to find out the IUI was being cancelled when this bloodwork was taken over a week ago. This is the kind of moment that changes perspective.
I was inconsolable, lost for words, and downright angry. I waited three long, painful days to find out it was a false positive. This was a small step looking back on our infertility story, but it was one that totally flipped the script. Instead of being positive I was negative. Instead of feeling comforted by doctors I was always questioning and defensive.
Our first IUI was the last time I clearly remembering being so positive and how quickly are hopes were taken away. Infertility creates a bitterness and when you are in it so deep, it starts to feel so right. Lets just list a small amount of things that make you feel bitter, I’ll start…
The fact that I strategically know when to stay off Social Media because all that will make its way to my newsfeed is PREGNANCY irritates me
“Fertile Myrtle” who brags about the fact her husband can’t even be in the same room with her without getting pregnant…. Cool story Susan.
Oh the Questions……
Why don’t you have children?
Are you going to have kids?
You know you aren’t getting any younger?
Do you not want kids?
Have you tried this position?
You know what makes babies right?
What is wrong with you? (Yes, I have been asked this and had to pick my jaw up off the floor, but I took that opportunity to educate on literally what was “wrong” with me)
Mothers who complain about their children
Things people say………….
If you just relax it will happen.
Don’t stress about it.
If it’s meant to be it will happen.
Everything happens for a reason.
It's all in God’s time.
God won’t give you anything more than you can handle.
List some of yours below and get it off your chest!
Now that you have listed some, do you feel better or worse?
I remember the first time I found someone who was going through infertility. I don’t think we shut up about it the whole night while we downed our beers and laughed at the process. It felt so nice to feel understood and to be bitter with someone else and share our heartache. Yes, we were laughing and poking fun at the situation, but we were talking and I think that is most important.
Infertility really steals a lighter part of you, it creates a grey world where you don’t know which way is up or down. You find yourself standing still when the whole world is moving around you. Others imposing their views on how you should feel or what you should do. Their intentions may be good, but it often only creates more bitterness and feelings of isolation. We want to put on this mask of positivity and strength. The strength is no mask because you ladies dealing with infertility are boss bitches. There is no other way to say that, you just are. It only feels like a mask because we don’t let others see what is behind the strength. Behind the strength is loneliness, depression, confusion, and bitterness. A healthy amount of bitterness makes us strong. Being able to acknowledge that we are bitter is key.
When you were reading my list of things that make you feel bitter how did you feel? Understood, shaking your head in agreeance, laughing at the absurdity of what people say. Did you feel a bond with me and what I was saying as you were reading it because you relate? I hope so. That is exactly how I felt when I met my first fertility friend. We bonded through our bitterness. Our bitterness was not being used to attack or bring down anyone. It was used in a positive way to relate to each other and communicate the fact that we understand each other, the first person besides my partner who could not only relate but handle ALL of my feelings. Infertility bitterness and how good it feels is one of the most uncomfortable feelings. Embrace the bitterness, but acknowledge when it isn’t healthy.
Bitterness that consumes you is very different. Consume by definition...
DEFINITION: (OF A FEELING) ABSORB ALL OF THE ATTENTION AND ENERGY OF (SOMEONE).
SYNONYMS: EAT UP, DEVOUR, OBSESS, GRIP,
Look at the synonyms - eat up, devour, obsess when bitterness consumes you that’s when there is a problem. I would never tell anyone facing infertility they shouldn’t feel bitter or to look at the bright side. How can you not feel jealous or jaded by your situation? How can you see the bright side when the world around you is grey? Some days you will be able to, some days you will be able to see the color in your world again, but infertility as a whole is made up of so many dark days and it's okay to be bitter about it, just don’t allow that bitterness to eat you up. Instead use that bitterness to fuel your fire. Share the bitterness with a friend, laugh about it, cry about it and then wash your hands of it.
Take infertility in moments... not days, not weeks, not years. Embrace moments of bitterness and celebrate moments of wins. One of my biggest wins wasn’t doing IVF itself it was the moment I decided to do IVF. In that moment I beat infertility, I stood up in a stalemate war with infertility and fired first. Think to yourself all the moments you have won in your battle with infertility. Was it the moment you owned your bitterness and stopped feeling guilty for it? Was it the time you decided to share your story which led to a friend? Was it the moment you booked a trip for you and your partner to take a well earned break from the endless cycles?
I can guarantee you have won so many times. Be proud of those wins.
Share some of the moments you have won in the comments to celebrate yourself and to help others see their wins too!