Thursday, January 27, 2011

Opening Up

This is something I wrote on my other blog that mostly family reads and I wanted to share it here:

Dealing with IF has been one of the hardest things I have had to go through in my life. It ranks right up there, if not higher than, CF. I often think about what would be the most meaningful thing in my life and what I want to accomplish in this lifetime. And my answer has almost always been to have and raise children.So inevitably there is so much fear that what I want most out of life might not come true. That is not to say I don't believe that it will ever happen, but I  am often afraid when envisioning a life in which it does not happen.

The best way to describe the emotions surrounding IF is that it is a roller coaster I cannot get off of, with highs, lows, loops, twists, and turns. I am still waiting for that moment where the ride comes to a screeching halt, you catch your breath, lift the bar up, and exit.  Here are just some of the emotions I have experienced since we started TTC:

1) Excitement: Starting off we thought we could plan exactly when we would have a baby. We planned things out so that our baby would be born shortly after I finished my graduate degree. We were filled with excitement of the future path we knew our lives were about to take. We thought of names, nursery ideas, how we would announce the news, and how I would be a big huge beaming pregnant woman under my cap and gown at graduation. We were naive, but that was ok.

2) Frustration: After about 6 months I began to wonder if something was wrong. We were/are young and healthy, so why wasn't anything happening? I read books, and I knew the timing of everything. I took care of myself and was sure not to take any medications or drink alcohol during times where I might be pregnant. Why isn't this working for us? We are doing everything right.

3) Sadness: Each month of failure brings about more sadness and disappointment. All the hope washes away and some days I feel like it will never happen. Some days I feel like no one understands. But I usually put on a happy face and just keep living.

4) Fear: Every time things seem to be headed in the right direction and it still doesn't work out I think to myself, if it didn't happen this time, will it ever happen? I imagine a life without children in it and I feel empty. I imagine never having our own family and there is this pit in my stomach the size of a basketball. The fears creep in almost daily. Sometimes the thoughts last a split second, and sometimes they linger much longer. It might be out of nowhere while I am at work, when I first wake up in the morning, before I go to sleep at night, driving in my car, and other times it is provoked by reminders of pregnancy, children, and families, and almost always happens after another unsuccessful cycle. Sometimes the fear has paralyzed me and stopped me from moving forward with IF treatments, or forced me to "take a break" for a month here and there.

5) Jealousy: This one is ugly and I hate to admit it. I look around me and of course people get pregnant. I think--why not me? When will it be my turn? I have done everything the "right" way and yet I don't get the reward. Homeless, crack-addicts can get pregnant, but I can't? Life is not fair, why me, why me, etc. etc. etc. In reality my journey has nothing to do with anyone else's, and it has nothing to do with the person. It is the reminder of what I don't have. I am often happy and excited for someone else's pregnancy, but also sad and jealous for myself at the same time.

6) Isolation: Sometimes I feel very alone in what we are going through. Sometimes I feel like no matter how eloquently I can describe the emotions behind this, there is no way someone from the outside is going to understand the magnitude of it's weight.The feelings are with me everyday. And if I tell people them, they might minimize it because they don't truly understand, and that would make me feel even more alone.

7) Preoccupation: Feeling like I am not really present in life. It is like inside my brain is a running loop of all of these thoughts and feelings surrounding IF. Not to mention the constant reminders around me about how seemingly easy it is to get pregnant. I try my best to push these thoughts and feelings away, and over time, I have gotten better.

8) Grief: Each month starts with hope and ends with grief. Each month ends in a loss because it is the loss of that month's hope and of what could have been.

There are good days and there are bad days. Although I feel all of these things very deeply, I learn to cope and deal with them and continue living a fulfilling life. I try my hardest to believe that one day we will get what we desire most out of life, but some days it is really hard and I can't find the strength. I have learned to cope by connecting with other people that are going through this, but they are hard to find because it is not something people often talk about.

You might be thinking, get a grip or just don't think about it all the time. One point I want to make is that it is not possible to be actively TTC and not think about it all the time, especially if pursuing IF treatments. There are medications, appointments, and certain things I cannot do during the time I could be pregnant. The key is finding the balance between thinking about it enough to do what I need to each month, but not letting myself get swept away with the emotional parts of it. I know I have said this exact thing about CF. It is funny how our same issues pop up with our biggest life challenges. I have gotten SO much better about managing this with CF and I am inching my way through dealing with this with IF.

What I hope for people to learn from this post is that it has been and still is really hard. If you know someone else that deals with IF, you can expect that they deal with similar emotions, although they might not tell you about it. I have emphasized the negative ones here so that you can understand. There have also been some positive things that have come out of this, like building a stronger bond with my husband, learning to let people in, appreciating life, and knowing how much more I will appreciate a pregnancy and baby if/when this happens for us because of what it has taken to get there.

How you can help support someone dealing with IF is to be understanding of what they are going through. To know that it is roller coaster and sometimes they are going to feel excited and other times they are going to fight to believe and to put on that happy face. Sometimes they are going to be devastated at yet another failed cycle. To understand that they are happy for you when you get pregnant but it makes them sad that they haven't been able to have it for themselves. It means knowing that if they don't come around as often, they might be dealing with another month's disappointment. If you are around them and they seem preoccupied or "not with it" they are probably wondering if they are pregnant, what happens if they are, what happens if they are not, grieving another failure, etc. And if all else fails, and you are not sure what to say or how to act, just ask. Asking is always better than assuming or not saying anything, in my opinion. If you read this whole thing then you care enough to want to understand what I am going through and that means THE WORLD to me.


  1. I think you explained the rollercoaster of IF very well. I hope that it helps your family members who read it understand more of what you are going through. It is hard for people who have never experienced it to understand, but if they don't get it after reading that, they never will! Your courage in sharing that with your family is to be applauded! I will be praying for you!

  2. Wonderfully put.
    Did your family comment on this at all?
    I don't think it's possible for those on the outside to ever truly "get" what we go through. I suppose it's that way with every disease though. :(

    I'm bookmarking this post to share with some of my friends/family that are struggling to understand what we're going through.