Infertility Apologies and Gratitude
An overdue apology. And a thank you as well.
I was an insensitive clod while I was in fertility treatment. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t ask more about what you were going through. I’m sorry that I wasn’t interested in your life or your experiences or your hardships. I’m sorry that our relationship was mainly about me.
Here’s what I believed and understood.
I believed that all my friends and family members and co-workers had to be sensitive and concerned about what I was going through, infertility--yet I rarely expressed interest or concern in what they were experiencing. Especially if it had anything to do with pregnancy, childbirth or parenting. I was not able to attend baby showers or if I did, it ended badly. (See blog about baby showers on PathtoFertility.) It was hard for me to attend birthday parties for my friends' children or to hear about first steps, first teeth, and first illnesses. While it doesn’t make up for my absence, I’d like you to know that it practically took my breath away to try to attend gatherings and so I made excuses and stayed away.
I apologize that I wasn’t there for you. I apologize that I really couldn’t be there for you.
I didn’t have any extra to go around. I didn’t have more brain cells than what it took to understand the medical procedures and medications that I had to organize around fertility treatment. I didn’t have the physical energy, after being at the doctor’s office at 7:00 am, four days in one week, before going and working a full day. I didn’t have the emotional energy after being on the roller coaster of managing my expectations about becoming pregnant or not, getting good results to tests and then disappointing news and then hearing yet more possibly good news.
I felt crazy. Crazier than I ever have in my life. Crazier than when I was in the midst of finals and couldn’t see straight for having stayed up four days in a row. Crazier than when my beloved grandmother died. Crazier than when my daddy died unexpectedly. Crazier and more out of control than all those things put together. An infertility roller coaster is a good visualization and metaphor for fertility treatment.
I am sorry. Regardless that I still feel to this day that I probably couldn’t have done it any differently, I am sorry that I was not your friend while I was in fertility treatment.
And thank you. Thank you for sticking by me anyway. Thank you for saying what you thought would be helpful, hearing that it wasn’t the comforting comment that you thought it would be and trying again. Thank you for realizing that you couldn’t actually say the right thing because there wasn’t any one right thing but there were a million wrong things in any given moment. Thank you for continuing to be my friend, for loving me anyway. For having faith that the relationship would right itself again, at some point.
Thank you for loving me despite my turning into someone you didn’t recognize and possibly would not have chosen as a friend. Thank you for holding onto the memory of me and keeping it steadfast in your heart. I appreciate that more than I can say.
Carrie Grossman, devotional singer, Kirtan singer, a wonderful light, shared this at a small intimate concert I attended:
please forgive me,
and thank you,
I love you
So I do want to also say I love you. All my family, friends and colleagues out there who had my back and front and sides throughout my infertility ordeal.
And who continue to be a light in my life.
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Wellness Wake-Up Call
I have a great group of women that I am working with who are inspiring, uplifting and vibrant. They are successful and funny and smart and more.
Here’s a comment that I made yesterday at our group that I feel comfortable sharing:
I want to take at least as good care of me as I do my car.
My car gets regular oil changes. I fill it with gas when the gauge indicates that it’s needed. (I have experienced the unfortunate results when I’ve waited too long about the gas issue.) I have great snow tires and make sure to check them regularly during the winter and my regular tires regularly as well; just the right amount of air. When I want to wash my windshield, I press a button and fluid magically appears, if I’ve filled the windshield wiper fluid reservoir. The list around my car goes on. My tires are rotated and balanced. The car is washed, perhaps not frequently enough. The car has regular check-ups and lights remind me to bring it in until I do.
I kind of wish I had the light go on for me when I turned 16 and didn’t get my period regularly. Or at 22, when I was having sex, not being particularly careful and never got pregnant. A light reminding me to ask questions about that or to have myself checked would have come in very handy.
Who knows what would have happened. Had I known about infertility earlier, would I have done something different? Made different choices? Set my priorities in some other way?
Having a light go on might have alerted me that I needed maintenance. The way we all do.
The Self-Care We Deserve
My body, my psyche, me. I deserve at least as much self-care -- attention, money, mindfulness -- as my car does. But while I do not skimp on the car (except for car washes!), I do skimp on myself.
I shower regularly, brush my teeth three times a day, floss (not enough). Do I go to the doctor regularly? Do I make the appointment with my OB/Gyn for a checkup? Do I see the dentist as often as I should? How long should I have intense and regular shoulder pain before I see an orthopedist? Do I treat my food as fuel for my physical body; nourishment for organs, cells, tissues? Do I skip the glass of water because I’m in too much of a rush? Sleep less than I should because I have too much to do? Leave out meditation or time by myself to do more?
Do I take better care of my car than myself?
You bet I do.
Without a doubt I do.
The car won’t run without gas and I won’t function without food and water. Yet so often I fuel myself with inappropriate nourishment and call it comfort. I wouldn’t think about putting soda into my car and expect it to run, still I feed myself things that do not help my body run in a way that is anywhere near optimum.
And the list goes on and on. My car is treated with more mindfulness than I treat myself.
So easy to make a commitment to making a change. So hard to implement real changes.
Today, I have started. I have eaten a healthy breakfast. I have made plans and taken the action steps to create and eat a healthy lunch. Tonight, for dinner, I will think ahead, now, and make sure that before I get too hungry, I can eat what is appropriate and delicious.
Today, I will treat myself as lovingly as I do my car.
It’s the least I can do.
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I was on my way to the gym last night to work out. It was my first time venturing out in almost three days and I felt brave driving on the dramatically wet roads,
surrounded on either side with snow piled so high as to make the familiar landscape unrecognizable.
My phone lit up, indicating an email had come in. I’m sure the gentleman driving behind me thought I had lost my mind or perhaps just wished I’d put my hands back on the steering wheel to drive more safely as I whooped and hollered and waved my arms around.
There was going to be one yoga class that took place last night in three days. I turned around and there I went. To meet a group of wise, beautiful women and practice together in the cold, icy night. We created warmth and community and light and joy. Not every class is like that, but last night’s was. Celebrating authenticity. Diving deep inside and finding the truth and essence. Perhaps patience. Perhaps moderation. Perhaps comfort. Community, absoloutely.
Thank you Colette, Dina, Natasha, Heather and two lovely others:
If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.
- Tao Te Ching