Thursday, July 16, 2009

(In)Fertility Update - Part 3 - Our Reaction

If you haven't already, check out Part 1 & 2 first
Part 1 - The Results
Part 2 - The Options

Welcome back to Part 3 of our infertility announcement. I chuckled at that...it just seems a bit humorous, not sure why. This one by far is the hardest one to write. Not so much because it's painful but more so because there is SO much to sort out about it all and it's hard to pinpoint where we are in the whole thing. The mood changes by minute sometimes and we really haven't had time to process it all properly.

I'm not exactly sure what properly means. How do you process something like this?

Overall, we're doing ok. That may be because we're able to avoid thinking about it a lot, at least together. And I don't think we're intentionally avoiding it...it's just the reality of our life that is getting in the way. Thankfully school is out for a few weeks and we're headed on vacation, but even still we won't get to process I'm afraid. We're so time challenged as a couple. We have maybe 10 hours a week to spend together in which we have to choose how to allocate our time. Usually we manage to find a little time for fun things, but usually we learn to make what is normally a chore into something fun for us to do as a family. It was our great pleasure (no, really it was) to go to Kroger together, as a family, on the 4th of July. We perused the aisles, took pleasure in watching our son enjoy pushing the little cart. Cleaning the house, folding laundry, caring for our son...these are the things that take up our time. And those 10 hours are broken up on 5 days...so it averages out to be very little time each day...it's hard to do all the "necessities" like cooking dinner, eating, cleaning up the food mess, bathing our son and putting him to bed in the time we have together let alone additional chores like finishing all the projects around the house. It's hard to start a discussion like the ones we need to have knowing that you really only have 5-10 minutes before being interupted by the meal being done, the cartoon going over, your sleepless son calling you from his room, or sleep taking over. Needless to say we haven't been able to process either individually or as a couple as much as we need or like.

Some would say get a sitter...and, although it may come to that, the reality is that our son spends 5 days a week in someone else's care and only has the same 10 hours with mommy and daddy...it's difficult to miss that time that is critical in our opinion by putting him with someone else for a while.

And the reality is that this isn't a one time conversation...it needs to be something we talk about freely on an ongoing basis without spending all of our time talking about it. In our situation that's extremely rough to figure out how to do. It's funny...I usually want to talk about it in the morning on the way to work. It's when I feel the most about it. J is usually sleeping and not available. Or, he's taking Logan in and when he calls me to let me say good morning to Logan I want to talk but he doesn't give me the opportunity (not intentionally) and I shut down about it. When he realizes later that I wanted to talk, he calls ready and I'm no longer interested. None of this is in a bad way...it's just that our lives continue to move on despite our world being knocked out of orbit.

So, most of the time we are fine. Or, at least we appear fine. For the moment. And we are. We are really torn between a few major themes...

Wow...we are really blessed to have our son.
The joy from realizing how blessed we are with him has changed our outlook on parenting him dramatically. I no longer worry about how many times he calls me to check on him at night or that he always wants me to cuddle with him to go to sleep. I don't care if he's trying to manipulate me or if society at large thinks I need to be trying to get him to sleep on his own. He's disciplined...we have rules and we stick to them...but we're enjoying the time we have with him on a whole new level both because he's such a miracle and because he may be our only opportunity to do this.

Wow...we are really blessed to go through this.
Huh? I know...but we really are. I've always...or at least since my late teens, realized that the "why" behind things is this...because I am me and He is God. That's it. In fact, that's the first line to a book I plan to write someday with a two pronged approach...both the good "why's" and the bad. But I digress. I've learned when you go through something like this you learn so much and grow so much. In this case we're learning, though painful, about sovreignty and our place in this world. We're also more understanding of others who've faced infertility and know, at least on the other side if not sooner, we'll be able to be a support system for someone else. This will end well, this we know.

Huh?
Our source of infertility was shocking. Not only were we surprised to learn that we struggle with male-factor infertility, the fact that it is a systemic issue/physiological issue that may have been caused at/before birth or at least when he was very young is hard to comprehend. not the why part, but more so the fact this is a "real" issue. Not that others aren't. But it's not like it's a hormonal imbalance. It's not stress. It's not a lifestyle issue. It's not even a physiological issue that can be corrected through surgery (or at least, not that we know of yet). This is similar to a permanent sterility from birth. Crazy. It's like growing up and finding out later you have a congenital heart defect or a third kidney or that you had a twin that was separated at birth that you never knew of. Huh? What? Where did that come from? This isn't something that developed over time or was caused recently. It's always been there. Silent. Haunting. Ready to pounce when we least expected it.

Huh? part 2
How...what...why...Logan? It's amazing what God can do. And this leads to thoughts about how I'd guess most parents who see their child without infertility problems have no way of understanding what awe there is in producing a child...not as much as someone who's struggled with infertility for sure. I may be wrong. But in most cases infertility is not something you grow up and expect to be an issue...you expect and are certainly reinforced over the years will all the emphasis on pregnancy prevention...that once you start intending to have a child...it will happen. It's natural. It's meant to be. It's supposed to happen. "It only takes once". It's a fact of life. Until you really experience the reality of infertility, there is no way to fully appreciate the miracle of life and realize nothing, not even the most basic things like that, are guaranteed. And, in reality...there's nothing basic about it.

The shock and surprise of the situation really are probably our biggest reactions. This has really changed and will continue to change what we have always thought our life would be like. Some people grow up with the desire to adopt, or have had people close to them struggle with fertility. Let me tell you...this is not our case! Both of my parents have 7 siblings...most of those siblings have had at least 1 child over the years...up to 6...my first cousin count is somewhere between 55-65. First cousins. Yep. And now, many of them have their own children. I haven't even tried to do that count. I have at least met and know all but 1 of my cousins...and most of my cousins from one side know those on the other. Crazy large family. Crazy emphasis on the importance of family and kids. That's not to say there weren't fertility challenges. I know of at least a couple who struggled with fertility over the years and know full well there are some that I don't know about.

My mom & sister were definitely fertile. I'll leave their stories for them, but the point being within my own family there was no reason to believe I'd have problems growing a family. The problems I was aware of had to do with delayed ovulation/PCOS and miscarriages caused by other factors. J's family, for all I know...was the same and bringing up our challenge hasn't spurred anyone there to say "well...you know...so and so experienced..." (That's another post altogether...or maybe will come out as I continue to write)

It's funny looking back. Growing up I was always so curious about what it would be like to be pregnant and have a baby. What a crazy thing that would be. I couldn't wait. There were always multiple people pregnant and I was amazed to watch them. I would sit and think...I don't think I could ever decide to stop having babies. I can't picture myself being done with being pregnant and having kids. So funny...not only because I was young thinking about that but also because of the irony. Anyway...I wanted a large family but didn't know what that number would be. Probably at least 4. At some point I heard a sermon and changed that number to 5 or more. J wasn't there and actually at the time we were separated so although I tried to bring up how passionate about it later it had lost its impact...and he wasn't there to hear it from someone else...somehow hearing things from your wife doesn't make it quite as real as hearing it from your friends or others...but I digress. He's always assumed he'd have three...it seemed that was the number most people went with and he was no exception. We agreed to take it one at a time and figure it out as we went.

We talked about this stuff for years. We talked and sometimes argued and sometimes cried many many times before deciding to have Logan. So funny how you agonize over certain decisions when they really do become trivial or pointless in hindsight.

Needless to say we both wanted multiple children and assumed we'd do it like everyone else...decide to start trying...get pregnant...have a baby...repeat when ready. We never expected what we face. We were certainly unprepared for this. We walked in an arrogant ignorance that we could control our fertility and reproduction.

These are some more of the thoughts/emotions we face on a minute-by-minute basis:

I won't have any more kids

I won't give birth again

I won't get pregnant again

I won't nurse again

I'll never have the chance to stay home

What would it be like to adopt?

How are we going to come up with the money for all of this?

How will our son react to all of this as he's older?...gosh I wish we could give him the "brother" he keeps asking for...I wish I could explain it to him.

Are we really done?

How do you get through all of this? What steps do you take to heal?

How do we keep our marriage together through this? How do we not let this take over without ignoring it?

How do we talk about it to others? How do we share what's on our hearts with people who get it?

Why don't people care?

How do we get through the pain, the sadness, the uncertainty, the fear, the overwhelmingness of it all?

Is it something we did wrong? How could we prevent it? How can we fix it?

Do we want to raise Logan as an only?

Should I quit work to stay home with Logan while I have the chance?

If I quit work to stay home with Logan, we certainly won't be able to afford any sort of family building options.

Are there kids out there waiting for us to be their parents?

Would we want to adopt an older kid? How would that impact Logan? How would our relationship with Logan impact other children?

How long will it REALLY be before we have more children?

Will they let us foster-to-adopt?

Aren't we good parents? How come we can't have more children when others who harm their kids can so easily?

Maybe someone will leave me their child on my doorstep

Isn't there anyone who really understands?

I feel so alone

(I smile as I write these thoughts out)

You can imagine that there are a world of emotions associated with our situation. The feeling alone in this is super strong. Once again we've learned a little bit more about those who really care about us vs. those who don't. Lesson learned...it's hard to figure out what to say to someone...but if you say nothing, it "means" you don't care. I still know of no one in our situation. I've met plenty of people along the way...my IF sisters...who struggle and their companionship and stories and support means the world. But without exception they struggle with different issues...either miscarriage or ovulatory/endometriosis related IF. I don't know anyone who struggles with male-factor infertility due to physiologically-related causes. I don't know anyone who has that as the cause of secondary infertility. This is important in that those without a child face different issues than someone in our shoes. I don't mean to infer that any other situation is less painful or more easy. It's just different. It doesn't help me to read a story of someone with male-factor like ours going through primary infertility...they don't have to worry about how treatments, or adoption, or no decision will impact the (amazing) child they already have. It doesn't help me to read a story about someone who has female-related infertility either primary/secondary because their choices and options are different than ours. I need to know of others who've gone through this and made it. And, to some degree, it doesn't help to have J be the only person I have to go through this with. Men and women face things differently and as much as we need to be on the same page as we move forward in life I don't want this to be the only thing we talk about.

I don't want us to be defined by infertility, but I do need to work through it with those who get it. And, as much as I don't want this to define us, I DO need people to understand that this is serious...this is lifechanging...this is a major thing we are dealing with. It's not like...oh, they've got a cold...they need some rest and will get better. I need stories, examples, people who made it. I need some dear friends that understand our scenario...who really get all the stuff we face in terms of grieving our "loss". What loss? The loss of what we thought our life would be like. We know life will be better than we could have imagined on our own. Without a doubt we know that. But this is a season of "plowing the fields" so to speak to get ready for a radically different garden. Plowing hurts. It will take time. It will be beautiful in the end. But we are neither the plower nor the landscape architect anymore. We now get that.

In reality...I use this blog to get out some of the yucky...so it might seem that this is a huge struggle right now or that I'm depressed, or that we're angry or something. And, to some degree, those things are probably true some of the time. But in reality...I'm amazed at how well we're taking this. I'm amazed at my reaction...it is more positive than negative and that surprises me. A whole new world has opened up and I'm ready to explore. I got a lot of the initial crying and mourning over with the first test results in May. There will be more I know through all the phases we go through. But for now, I just wish I knew what was in store for us so we had some direction on where we need to be headed. And, I wish my husband and I had more time together through this time to be able to deal with it together. And, I wish we could put life on hold and process things. We have more joy than we did before and certainly know more than we ever have about our creator.

3 comments:

Mandi said...

I feel like I never know what to say, but I hope you know I'm here regardless! I want to help .... please tell me how/when I can. <3

Pandamonium said...

Marie, I know it's been said before...but I am so sorry you have this road to travel. I can't imagine all the thoughts swirling in your head, as you tried to outline in this post. You and J have big decisions ahead and things to process that are out of your control. Please know that we pray for you as you're working through this! I praise God that you and J love each other as you do, and love the Lord and Logan as you do...in our weakness, He is strong. And that fact will shine in your lives, undoubtedly.

Monkey Momma said...

(((((((Marie and J))))))))

I know my story is not yours. I wish I could comfort you in some similarity there. I understand that need. My story is much more common, thus the support network is slightly different. But one thing is for sure similar...God is in control of our families and the journey to get to it's completion. Not always easy, not always pleasant, but I hope someday (if you aren't already there at least at times), that this one thought gives you rest.

You are so loved and we will continue praying over your loss and pray that God make another miracle appear in your life. (Our "picture" of family has become a total 180 from what we thought it'd be, so we understand at least a little about that loss. We mourn in our own ways, but loss of a dream is still loss.)

XOXOXOX,
A