Now that the shock, stigma and the ensuing hairball of emotions that infertility exploded on me has dissipated, I’m happy to report that with each year (nearly nine) post-treatment, life has become better than good. And, furthermore, my reproductive organs are thrilled, positively delighted, to be out of the limelight.
It’s also a relief not to be wracked with shame, guilt or feelings of failure.
It didn’t come easy, casting aside the infertility baggage, but these days I much prefer to focus on the non-reproductive aspects of my life and the freedom that comes with reinvention.
I was fully prepared to let the “youngsters” focus on National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), this year themed “Don’t Ignore Infertility.”
There was something, though, about reading Lisa’s post, Don’t Ignore…The Life Without Baby Option, though that pulled me back into the conversation. That’s because the vast majority of NIAW blog posts, testimonials, infertile twibbon-wearing women focus on infertility through the lens of trying to conceive — or we hear from mothers recalling the devastation infertility once wrought on their lives. The voices missing or hard to discern over all the cooing (or kids fighting) are those who walked a thornier post-infertility path.
Thornier because once infertility treatment ends — without the result we once hopefully sought — it is akin to having the door slammed behind you or being cast into the wilderness. The infertility industry (and it’s now reaching nearly $4B a year) is focused solely on those in treatment. There’s another monstrous market focused on mothers. If you’re not, well, you are O-N Y-O-U-R O-W-N.
That is unless you stumble across the not-easy-to-find online, but without question, eclectic, charming, passionate, extraordinary and strong group of women who, left to their own devices, are making their own way and extending a hand to those just coming onto this path, one that doesn’t involve mothering in the classic sense, but they are nurturers nonetheless.
I’ll have more to say on this rarely researched group of women when I get the go-ahead from the Dr. Marni Rosner to share a link to her research, Recovery From Traumatic Loss: A Study of Women Living Without Children After Infertility. It contains all sorts of “ah ha” moments and insights about what we’ve lived through and how we survived.
Meanwhile, I thought I’d share one other link, a story in The Globe and Mail, that still blows my mind because it includes my name (aka the “non-famous”) along with an assorted set of celebrities. Amid the obsession about celebrities getting pregnant, those of us in this “silent sorority” who can’t or didn’t get pregnant are finally getting into the collective consciousness … slowly but surely.
As always, welcome your thoughts…
14 thoughts on “Don’t Ignore…There’s More Than One Infertility Ending”
Being the nightmare ending is why I haven’t really had much to say lately. I debated whether I would even participate, and, for a variety of reasons, decided not to this year. I applaud you for putting yourself out there. Your story has helped me in so many ways.
There isn’t enough done for those of us for whom infertility treatments failed. And, unfortunately, very little done to help us understand what we may be in for due to our infertility diagnosis from a medical standpoint.
Women’s healthcare zeros in on our reproductive organs as long as they are being used to have babies – or prevent us from having babies. Not much is made of those who despite pursuing all viable options, never were able to have babies.
The reasons behind our infertility are being increasingly tied to other diseases which many physicians are ill-prepared in educating us and helping us move forward with the proper awareness. After all, for a goodly portion, infertility treatments have taught us not to trust our bodies anymore. Our bodies betrayed us. We need to relearn to know our bodies and the signals it gives us.
There are a myriad of issues that are rarely discussed or given voice to among those who are not childless by choice.
Once again, you are so right, Pamela, on all counts here. We HAVE been ignored, even within our own infertility community — and yes, I find it amusing that we are so ignored by marketers, when we’re probably the ones with far more disposable income than either mothers or people still in treatment.
I saw the Globe & Mail article & was tickled to see your name alongside Beyonce & Jessica Simpson. I thought it was really a good article (for once!!). And I’m looking forward to the results of Dr. Marni’s study!!
Thanks to writers like you and LoriBeth and Dr Marnie, women who live childfree not by choice are less on their own than ever before.
Congrats on the mention and for making the discussion about the Everywoman (non-famous) rather than just about celebrities.
You’re participating here, MLO, and for that I’m honored. You are so right about the lack of fundamental knowledge and education about infertility — not to mention the interwoven nature of disease and how ill equipped many are to address the non-obvious. Knowing our bodies is essential. I wish you much good health and happiness.
Thanks, Lori. It feels good to nurture in a different but no less satisfying way…
I love that you are able to look back on your hellish journey with some degree of humor. Time heals…and what have you.
Thanks for coming out from behind your celebrity shades and continuing to speak out for us all.
Bravo – for the post, and the comments too. There really is very little inclination for anyone to try to understand us, what we might have achieved getting where we are, the struggles we’ve been through and the victories we’ve had. Which is why we need to shout it from the rooftops – if only to each other at first.
Once again, I think we go back to the reason we are ignored is that we represent the result that every woman going through infertility fears. And while you are going through treatment, who can imagine that you could live a happy life if your treatments result in anything but taking home a live baby. Those of us who have come through treatment without a baby and lived to tell about it need to continue to talk about it.
Thanks for another fabulous post, Pamela, about the “ensuing hairball of emotions” (love that!) being in the rear view mirror. It’s so important to continually convey this message – that there is a good life awaiting us if we can open up to its possibilities (like being mentioned in the same article as Jon Hamm – be still my heart!). Thanks for the congrats.
Very well said, you continue to be an inspiration to me!
Wonderful post Pamela! I am glad that Lisa’s blog entry pulled you back into the conversation. Reading her NIAW post also moved me to write something when I was not feeling very inspired to contribute this year.
I appreciate all that you shared here, helping me to better understand your life without children after infertility.
I know that NIAW is more focused on raising awareness in the fertile world, but this year I am loving getting more insight into the points of view of the many unique paths that people takes on their journeys through infertility.
Lisa rocks — as do all who have come through infertility and life’s hardships and stand willing to share generously their time and experience to help others!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this essential post. When I first started my blog (three years ago! I know, that’s nothing on your record), I was trying to focus on this idea of getting away from the status of being in treatment – hence “BEING infertile.” Because we’re more than a cohort that’s DOING treatment; we should be BEING something worth being at the same time.
This post (and its comments) are so relevant to me right now. I turned 30 in February and last week I got a prescription for depo. I’ve never used any kind of contraceptive, and now (just shy of 7 years ttc) I am recognizing that treatment has failed and is no longer worth the financial, physical and above all emotional toll. But my endometriosis is getting worse and I am increasingly in pain, and though the doctors don’t want to talk about it except in the very theoretical sense, the end stage of endo is uterine cancer. Because of this disease, I’ll never have a child, and I’ve wasted way too much of my life trying. I’m not going to die young for no good reason as well. I thought I would go from a general miasma of sadness to a return to the early-IF devastation with this step, but instead I feel an incredible lightness. I’m tired of being in pain. I’m tired of wondering when my cycle starts late. I’m tired of HAVING a cycle when I know that with each passing day it spreads a disease that is ruining all my internal organs. I’m also tired of being told, “But you’re so young” (and hearing, “Have you considered adoption?” No, that had NEVER OCCURRED TO ME, thank you for bringing it up!), and I will be glad to have an answer with some finality to give. I TRIED TO HAVE A CHILD. TREATMENT FAILED. MY GOAL IS TO RECLAIM MY HEALTH AND DO GOOD THINGS WITH MY LIFE.
I can’t wait to read Marni’s dissertation!
I’m with Kathy – happy that you (Pamela) came back into the conversation even when feeling like it’s a part of life you’re completely over…. it’s the ‘now’ of your experiences that are enlightening me.
It is, as Kathy says, “helping me to better understand” our lives as they are now, after silently dealing with so much trauma. Learning how to live right here, right now – that is what so many of us crave help with. Our unqiue histories bring with them unique challenges, and we are always going to be a minority group.
So I have found this site to be, without a doubt, the best line of support and guidance (no pressure there!) And learning about folks who’s lives are now “better than good” – that is what makes me see the possibilities to be able to say that too.