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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I've been thinking about Dr. Murdock's
blog from yesterday. The one about guilt. I loved it; it was a great wake up call. I love being reminded about those things that I can control and those things that I cannot. I get a tremendous sense of freedom in letting that in. Here are some thoughts around that sense of control, what it is, what it is not and how it fits into the fertility journey.
It reminds me of the serenity prayer used in many 12 step programs, starting with AA.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
What does this have to do with infertility? That depends. On where we are, what we're able to look at, what we can let go of.
Many of us will be spending time with our families tonight, tomorrow and through the next week. That brings me back to guilt. Dr. Murdock reminded us yesterday that our infertility is not our fault, not something that we need to feel guilty about, not something that we did something to deserve. Even those of us who feel somewhat responsible for choices made in the past that are contributing to our trouble conceiving can let go of the guilt. We all make the best choices that we can, with the information that we have at the time. Second guessing ourselves can lead to more guilt, which is a way to self blame.
What about thinking that our families are also adding to our feelings of guilt? The questions asked, the comments made. How do we keep in mind that often those questions and comments come from a place that is deeper than curiosity or even concern for us? Our parents, siblings, often long for grandchildren, nieces and nephews. I realize, quite well, that not every comment is well meaning, nor at all well thought out, especially in regards to our feelings. I wonder though, how many of those questions and comments are said with an intention to hurt us.
So what can you control in the next week, in the heart of the holiday season, bringing in the New Year? What can you let go of? New Year's Eve without the child you were hoping for in your arms can feel very empty and hollow. Christmas may feel the same way. How do we make the burden feel less heavy?
Lessen the load of guilt is my answer. Go back to the serenity prayer, read it carefully. Turn to your family members who are supportive. Hold on to your partner and keep them close. Take a walk, get some fresh air.
Lessen the load of guilt. Forgive yourself for those things that need forgiving. Let go of those things that you cannot and could not control. Know the difference.