Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Opening Up

I have been thinking about reactions to infertility. I am in a new place, and people are curious about me. The first questions they ask are, “Are you married” and, “Do you have children?” This is especially true if the person asking is female. I am all right with the married part. I am married, and Hubby and I are very happy. The question about children bothers me. I usually will distract the asker with my dogs. (People always seem to have questions about Great Danes.) Recently I started telling people we are infertile. I am sort of tired of hiding it and feeling uncomfortable about the fact that I am infertile. Why not tell people? I have lived with this for a long time. If it makes people uncomfortable, so be it.
What I have found, so far, is that the other person will usually tell me a story about someone else they knew who dealt with infertility. The conversation sort of dies after that. It is like the people who have children can only talk about children. If you are not part of that club, then you are out in the cold. There seems to be nothing else to talk about if you do not have children. I think it is a sign of how focused our society is on family. It is very frustrating if you are childless. People do not seem to know what to do with you.

I guess infertility is outside the norm, and because it is outside the norm, some people have a hard time dealing with it. I think we maybe getting better at it. No one that I have come across has rejected me or treated me differently because I do not have children. (I think.) Infertility treatment is becoming more common, too. I think we have at least one doc at our hospital who deals with infertility patients. (No RE in Roanoke, unfortunately.) During a procedure I was assisting with, the doc got a page about a patient who was in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). The nurse I was with asked what it was, and I knew, so I told her. She seemed surprised I knew what it was. She asked if I had ever worked in OB nursing. I told her I had never worked in OB nursing, but I was infertile. It seemed natural for me to know about OHSS because I am thinking about IVF, and I like to understand the procedure and the possible effects of treatment.

I suspect infertility treatment is more common now, and slowly attitudes are changing. Most of the people I have told have been understanding. But I have mostly only told other OR nurses and my Quaker friends. Time will tell how things turn out. It feels good to be honest about being infertile, for the most part. I still get uncomfortable with too much baby talk, and I am not going to attend baby showers any time soon. Hopefully by being honest about my infertility people will understand why I am not comfortable around babies and baby talk.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring has Sprung

I think spring has sprung. The weather is beautiful. It just feels like spring. The following post is randomish thoughts on spring and Easter. I tried to make it as coherent as possible.

Spring is sort of weird for me. I love the renewal, the new growth. But, my birthday is in April, so spring means that another year of my life has passed. Another year of living with infertility. Spring should be a time of hope and new life, but for us there is no hope of new life within our family. The coming of spring is now bittersweet for me because of my infertility. It makes me feel empty and sad
Waiting is harder in spring. In winter it was all right to be dormant, and waiting for things to happen. Things start to grow in the spring. It is a beginning. In meeting this morning, someone mentioned that March used to be the first month of the year. To an agrarian society, this makes sense. The farmer can start farming again as the weather warms up. In an agrarian society, fertility and growth are very important. March is a time for beginnings

Easter comes along in spring. I am always surprised at how difficult Easter is for me. I guess it should not be too surprising. There is a celebration of youth and mothers and fertility. I have started wanting to skip Easter celebrations and services because there is the large focus on children and family. I get tired of feeling left out, of having in-laws shove babies at me, of feeling jealous because they have what I want so badly.

To me, there seem to be two parts to Easter. There is the Easter the Church celebrates, and there is the Easter people celebrate outside of church. The church celebrates Christ dying for us, suffering for us, thus allowing all of our sins to be forgiven. (I grew up Presbyterian, so there is a likely a Calvinist slant to this.) We take communion to remind us of that promise and Christ’s love for us. I like this part of it. To know no matter what I do, I will be loved. Taking communion and the rituals involved in celebrating the resurrection are meaningful to me.

The other part of Easter celebrations centers around fertility, family and new growth. I think I read somewhere that the church took over a pagan celebration of fertility. (The church took over many pagan celebrations, and just put their rituals over top of the pagan ones. If you can’t beat them, join them.) The focus on fertility could be why there is such a big focus on babies, young children, and mothers on Easter. This is the part that is difficult for me. I really want to be a part of this, but I cannot. I want to be a mother, with a child, and celebrate Easter fully. Thanks to whatever higher power is up there, that is not possible right now, and I think only a miracle will make it possible in the near future. As far as I can tell, miracles are hard to come by for me. As I see it, until we can afford IVF, there is no hope for any kind of miracle at all.

Spring is here and I am tired of waiting. I know I should try to be patient, because we have a lot of things going on. Adding IVF to that would be even more stress. Hubby’s practice is not even off the ground, we have not closed on our house in Tappahannock, we have not bought a house here in Roanoke. I have only been in my job a month. This is a transitional time for us. I understand that. But I really want a family. I have been infertile for a little under a decade. It hurts knowing that we do not have hope of getting pregnant this spring. I cannot do anything other than wait. I just feel like I have been waiting a long time.