I recently watched an inspirational video about a study on the benefits of mediation. The subjects? Prisoners. Yes, prisoners! I firmly believe in the power of meditation, and I have been taking a class at my gym that focuses on the Seven Chakras. Our teacher recommended the Vipassana Prison Documentary. It is a must watch.
Anyway, as I set my laptop on top of my thighs, I started to go there – “Be careful of the radiation! Maybe you should set it somewhere else!”
In the not so distant past, this was one of many thoughts regarding my chances at conception. What should I be doing? What should I NOT be doing?
I have to admit how grateful I am that most of those thoughts are not currently a part of my life. However, there are those stubborn “after infertility thoughts and challenges” that do remain with me.
I worry about people miscarrying, knowing how common it is. An abundance of friends, family members, and acquaintances have disclosed that they had a miscarriage. The number is astonishing. Each time someone announces she’s pregnant, I hold my breath until at least the 20th week. Even then, I wait until the birth announcement to fully exhale.
My hormones have been out of whack since the time we first started trying to conceive (February 2009). I have had anywhere from 23 to 52 day cycles, depending on the month. Even a year after giving birth to my second child, my cycles were an average of 38 days. It wasn’t until I began meditating on a regular basis, and seeing a holistic doctor who prescribed Chinese herbs, supplements, and progesterone cream, that my cycles have gotten shorter. Too short in fact. The last three cycles were 21 days! The point is that I continue to experience hormonal imbalances which affect my mood and cause night sweats.
In my memoir, I described my relationship with my mom as less than stellar. It still is. A work in progress. I admire those who have healthy relationships with their moms. Not having a mom to have conversations with, spend Mother’s Day with, share my children with, and feel loved by, has left a gigantic hole in my heart that I’m attempting to heal. We all have our issues, and although I have completed my family, this relationship is still incomplete.
None of our family lives in the immediate area, so date nights are few and far between (babysitters on average charge $12-$15 per hour). We don’t have anyone that we can leave our children with overnight, so my husband and I are never completely alone. We don’t have family members that our children spend time with on a regular basis. They see their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins a few times a year. It can be lonely, and often exhausting.
Pregnancy Announcements – You would assume that these would get easier. And they have. Announcements don’t affect me nearly as drastically as they once did, but the key word is easier. There’s still that little voice in the back of my head that wonders why it couldn’t have been easy for us. Once the pity party begins in my head, I then remind myself that I might not know the full story. Even if it was easy for this person, what good does it do to be upset about it? It only creates negative energy. They deserve congratulations as much as the people who struggled for years to conceive.
Age Spacing – It is still difficult not to notice the age spacing between siblings. I spot the hugely pregnant mom walking hand in hand with her 18 month old. Or the dad carrying his 2 year old while his 4 1/2 year old runs circles around them. Then there are the articles listing so and so’s three children ages 8, 6, and 4.
Maybe my inability to be at peace with age spacing stems from the fact that I was headed on the two year path. And then it ended. Maybe I just need more time to heal and to re-frame my situation. Truth be told? The age spacing I thought was ideal for me, in reality wasn’t. Imagine that.
Money – Sometimes I look back on our experience and wonder if it was necessary to spend a small fortune to create our family. Could I have balanced my hormones on my own if I had been more patient, ate better, stressed less, did more acupuncture, meditated more, and healed old wounds? Could I have become pregnant naturally? As my wise friend so wisely asked me recently, “What good does it do to think that way?” She’s right. I will never know if all of that would have helped. And it doesn’t matter now.
Ah, but these minor challenges pale in comparison to the reliefs. And I can positively say that there are by far more reliefs after infertility than there are challenges. Obviously. This is not to put myself on a pedestal for being on the other side. No, this is about honesty. I believe that those who have been “successful” after infertility experience a bit of survivor’s guilt, and they shy away from discussing the positives for fear of hurting others.
I’m not being completely honest if I say life is still as challenging as it was during the infertility days. Life does have it’s challenges, but the disappointment, grief, stress, anger, anxiety, depression, bewilderment, and frustration I felt during that time period is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I am grateful to have moved forward from that.
Stay tuned for my next post where I describe Life After Infertility (Part 2) – Reliefs.
A passionate infertility advocate, Jen Noonan destigmatizes the shame and guilt surrounding infertility and miscarriage. Her debut memoir, In Due Time, is available on Amazon at amzn.com/0996308601