Silent Sorority

Infertility Survivors Finally Heard

March 3, 2021

Loss and Life Beyond Failed Fertility

Loss lives on in ways large and small following an infertility diagnosis and failed IVF.

This truth permeates the world of IVF survivors. That’s just one of many topics explored in a new Life Beyond Failed Fertility podcast with yours truly now available on iTunes and on Spotify, Podomatic, and Amazon.

Loss Reflections

When the podcast invitation came earlier this year I wasn’t altogether sure I would accept. It’s been a few years since I openly discussed how failed IVF tore apart my world. Was I prepared to reopen that chapter? Did I have anything new to add to the conversation? Could I adequately address infertility loss, IVF survivorhood, patient trauma and the bioethics questions inherent in them. Would anyone care to hear about the very real ‘fertility’ industry shortcomings and abuses — from rushing egg freezing to market without sufficient safety and health studies, the woeful lack of adequate mental health support and the profiteering that comes from selling unproven IVF add-ons?

Well, that’s now for you to decide.  I invite you to take a listen and to share your comments.

Integration, Limbo and Loss Acknowledgment

We didn’t only get a spectacular full moon this week. The stars aligned, too, and pointed me to a number of soulful and heartfelt blog posts. Sarah at Infertility Honesty, Infertile Phoenix, Jess at Finding a Different Path and Mali at No Kidding in NZ each brought forward some new insights and food for thought.

This collective sharing about life, loss, labels, and limbo is what most appealed to me in the early days of blogging. It’s also why I’ve recommitted to our blog community. Amid these chaotic and unsettling times, it’s important and nourishing to have our say and to have our thoughts heard and experiences validated.

“The thread of what should have been was ever soft in her heart, a key fiber in her well lived life. And that her life long love wound was still penetrable.”

Mourning and Grief

That beautiful writing and the imagery is just one of many memorable sentences contained in Sarah’s post about reliving loss. The post truly resonates. As I told her, I am in awe when I witness women in our community share so deeply and so honestly.

See also  When Does the Pursuit of Pregnancy Go Too Far?

She went on to write:

“Mourning is defined as the outward expression of grief.  Everyone grieves, but not everyone mourns.  To move forward with healing, mourning is immensely facilitating, if not essential.  So when your loss is societally stigmatized, dismissed, minimized and belittled, well….good luck with that!  Looking back I don’t know how any of us do it.  What I do know is it takes a brave and diligent soul to traipse through the fire of cultural indifference, introducing ourselves to the accumulation of more wounds on our path through healing.”

Our Stories Illuminate

She describes today’s humbler, less visceral pull of her annual memorial ritual as it approached. Sarah longs for the days when her emotions felt sharp and all-encompassing.  I get it. There is a curious aliveness when every fiber of our being pulses with pain. My losses and grief once burned so brightly I felt almost superhuman.

Yet, that fiery ferocity ultimately burns out. So, as many of us transition, we feel the softening of our once raw grief. That is both comforting and expected. It’s also why, as my podcast recording approached, I feared I might not be able to adequately convey my emotions and experience with the intensity they deserved.

What I discovered, like Sarah, is that the naked and absolutely visceral sensations do still live within me, but they’re not at the surface as they once were. Sometimes they surprise with their accessibility. During the podcast, I choked up and felt tears in my eyes as I described what it felt like to box up the baby clothing once awaiting our children. (It brings me comfort to know they went on to warm and hold someone else’s baby.)

See also  Biological Clock and the Capitalizing of Fertility Fears

The Next Generation

Beyond the podcast, another invitation landed in my inbox in January. This one asked if I would take part in an online support group. Nurtured by your stories, I will take all of your experiences and wisdom with me later this month when I log into Zoom. Awaiting me are women some 20 years my junior. One of my central messages will be that regardless of where we end up with infertility, there is great significance to be had in acknowledging each other’s loss throughout our lives. And, above all, we must continue to share and care for each other.  Welcome any other messages you think will benefit the next generation of women.

 

 

 

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Another Perspective, Bioethics 8 Replies to “Loss and Life Beyond Failed Fertility”
Pamela Tsigdinos
Pamela Tsigdinos
Writer, blogger and, oh, yeah, infertility survivor. My memoir, Silent Sorority, tells the whole story. There's a movie in there somewhere. Given the quirkiness needed to relate it all I'm thinking Jennifer Lawrence would be a good fit.

COMMENTS

8 thoughts on “Loss and Life Beyond Failed Fertility

    Author’s gravatar

    Dear Pamela, this is just awesome that you are participating in online Zoom support group. I know how healing it was for me, when I came across interview with you in NYT many years ago . Zoom didn’t exist back them, but I would have loved having you in my support group via Zoom!

    One of the reasons why I still keep blogging is the thought of the next generation. I like to imagine that one day, perhaps many years from now on, a young woman (who is now just a child) will find herself in the darkest times of her infertility. And my blog will help her see, that it is possible to rebuild life and find your own version of happiness.

    So far three woman, who are all aprox 10 – 15 years younger then me have already written me that my blog has helped them. It means a world to me!

    In a way I see this as paying forward. I am so grateful for your help in the darkest years of my infertility, I will never forget that!

    much love from Europe,

    Klara

    Author’s gravatar

    I listened to the podcast last night and thought you knocked it out of the ballpark! — definitely no rust there! :) And I am glad you’re getting some (well-deserved) recognition among the next generation! I recently watched a recording of a Zoom conversation among some younger childless women…. one of the comments called the speakers (all of whom looked to be in their 30s or maybe 40s) “pioneers in this underserved community.” All I could think was “Pioneers? Ummm… hello? — Jody Day? Pamela Tsigdinos? (Me??! — lol).” It made me feel just a bit discouraged, wondering if each new generation of childless women is doomed to keep reinventing the wheel, so to speak. That said, there is just no doubt there is so much more out there in the way of support & resources than there was 10-20 years ago, when you & I were struggling with these issues, and so many more ways/places to find it! So I think we ARE making some progress, slow and frustrating as it can sometimes be! (And I think those younger women need to know that too!)

      Author’s gravatar

      Hey LB – While there have been many encouraging developments within our demographic as you mentioned, I’ve also noticed some of the same…..should I say generational disconnect?? – you bring up. Not sure what to make of it. While I certainly don’t expect people to be too tethered to lineage, I do think there’s much to be gained from it. Hope what we’re seeing is just a crack, time will tell I suppose.

    Author’s gravatar

    Thanks so much Pamela, I still feel a sense of awe every time my words resonate with someone. Awe followed by gratitude.

    Am so looking forward to listening to your podcast. Like Klara I’ll never forget having you as a beacon in cyberspace while coming out of treatments. So much has transpired since then, not to mention the transformation process through this which takes place at such an unusual velocity. Superhuman says it all! And, no pressure, but it’s comforting to have you around still, never downplaying the impact of our experiences and losses. XO

    Author’s gravatar

    Thank you for the mention, but thank you even more for your book Silent Sorority! I read it many years ago and your book felt like my only friend at the time. I am looking forward to seeing you around the blogosphere more! :) You do and have done so much for our community. THANK YOU!!!

      Author’s gravatar

      So glad I could be a friend, Phoenix, at a time when you needed one. You’ve made my heart soar in knowing my writing and work resonate xx

    Author’s gravatar

    Thank you for mentioning my post! Your book was one of the first I read when sussing out whether or not I was headed to resolving without parenting. I listened to your podcast…WOW! I loved it. I loved what you said about the industry (embryo glue — ugh) and your story of boxing up the clothing you’d bought for your children was heartrending. Your advocacy is awe-inspiring. I feel like with loss, it’s a funny thing because people want you to just “get over it” and don’t believe that you are truly resolved if you express feelings of grief and pain, but I love how all of these posts are connected by that idea of integration, as Sarah put it. That both coexist, and acknowledging loss is important in appreciating the life you do have.

      Author’s gravatar

      So appreciate, Jess, you taking time to listen! Equally thankful to hear that we can all help each other (and those who have not walked in our shoes) gain a better, more nuanced understanding of the complexities we face not just in diagnosis and treatment but thereafter as well.

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