Monday, August 18, 2008

There is no light at the end of the tunnel, but then again there is no tunnel

I was talking with a friend last week about coming out the other side of infertility. She was saying that so often people think the other side of infertility is getting pregnant, but that's only one other side. This huge spiral amorphous beast called infertility has more than one way out, or at least out of the darkest part of it. And I think I'm closer to being out of it than I ever thought possible. 

For a while, I was picturing my movement away from the depths of the darkness of infertility, where I've spent the last three years, as moving toward the light at the end of the tunnel.  Then I realized that infertility isn't like a tunnel.  There's no straight shot from Point A to Point B. Early in my journey, that's how I saw it.  I thought I would move down the continuum of infertility treatments and eventually get to end of the tunnel: a BFP. Well, I never got there, and I have since learned from some of my infertile friends that, sadly, a BFP isn't necessarily the end of the tunnel anyway.  

So instead I've come to see infertility as an enormous black cloud constantly overhead.  It was its own weather system, visible on radar, affecting everything I did, every decision I made. Sometimes I was under the deepest, darkest part of the cloud and I didn't see the sun for days and weeks at a time.  During those times, I couldn't imagine that there would ever be sun again, unless I got pregnant.  I forgot what the sun felt like on my face.  I thought I would always live in darkness. Maybe I even started to think that I wasn't worthy of light-that I deserved to be in this sad, miserable place.  I didn't realize that I didn't deserve the unhappiness of infertility any more than someone deserves bad weather.  And I had no more control over being infertile than I had over whether it rains or the sun comes out tomorrow.  

Every once in a while there were breaks in the cloud and the sun came shining through. Maybe it was because I was taking a break from treatment, maybe it was because I saw a new RE and had a new plan, maybe it was because I came across a post about an adoption conference in my area.  I thought, "Ah, yes this is what it feels like to be happy, to feel hopeful, to live again." It took more than a few of these moments before I began to think that perhaps I didn't have to live under the cloud, even if I never did get pregnant.  I couldn't move the cloud, but possibly I could move myself. Maybe I could walk out from under it.  Maybe pregnancy wasn't going to be my deliverance-a thought that was unthinkable, or at least unacceptable, just months before.  I came to that revelation through necessity when our last IVF failed.  But really I was starting to get there before then, when I began to think that adopting might be better than hurting like I was, when I began to wonder which I wanted more---to be pregnant or to be a parent. 
 
I don't really know how or when it happened, but right now I feel like I'm living right at the edge of the cloud.  Most of the time I'm in the sun. Once in a while, the cloud casts a shadow over me, but it passes.  I don't panic anymore or sink into the depths of despair because I know the darkness is only temporary.  Even my hatred toward my body will heal, I believe.   I don't feel angry at fate for its capricousness or at ignorant fertiles for their ignorance. What I am starting to feel is peace.  Now that doesn't mean I don't feel hurt, when others squeal over my colleague's baby bump or my friend shares all the glorious details of her ultrasound.  But the pain isn't as deep and doesn't last long.  I know that--- the squeals, the bump, the ultrasound---won't ever be mine and I'm beginning to be OK with that. 

I came across this quote here, and it resonated with me: 
A woman in Barbara Eck Menning's classic study Infertility said, "My infertility resides in my heart like an old friend. I do not hear from it for weeks at a time, and then, a moment, a thought, a baby announcement or some such thing, and I will feel the tug---maybe even be sad or shed a few tears. And I think 'there's my old friend; It will always be a part of me. . .' "
Perhaps I'm not quite at the point of seeing infertility as "my old friend", but I can live with it always being a part of me.  I never, ever thought I would say that.  

25 comments:

Shelby said...

It is so good to hear that you are getting to the point at which the cloud is not constantly overhead. I think your metaphor is spot on. It could never be a tunnel, because whether any of us have biological children, adopted children, or choose to live without children, IF will always be with us, so there is no getting to the end and being done with it. I really love the quote. Yeah, I don't know about the old friend part, but IF is something that will reside in our hearts always.

I long to be at the edge of the cloud like you, but I'm at the point where I'm still using all my strength to keep the umbrella overhead until the storm passes.

WaterBishop said...

I think I like your cloud analogy better my pit one. I think one of the ways I finally started feeling better was to let that cloud just pour for a while. No rain jacket. Not protective measures. Just let myself get drenched.
Those peaks of sun will dry you. And sometimes there is even a rainbow. :)

Barb said...

Wow. Powerful and wonderful. Good for you honey. I should learn from you.

Beautiful Mess said...

*new to your blog* Acceptance is a rough one. Once we become friends with acceptance over things we are unable to change, I find, my mind and soul are more at peace. I wish you nothing but luck and peace.

Deborah said...

Thank you so much for this post. I know exactly how you feel and hope too that I can at the very least find a rainbow amoungst the clouds and rain.

skrambled said...

WOW, what an absolutely beautiful post. I am feeling more peaceful than I was at the beginning of my journey. The peace is a great welcome. From ICLW

In Due Time said...

Coming over from ICLW...


I can relate. Since the birth of my niece, I haven't felt like the clouds are pouring, but I have a feeling when I move not having something to distract me might bring the emotional storm back. Hang in there. Hugs.

Lost in Space said...

I am so glad you are finding some peace. Your post really struck a cord with me. I feel so stuck under that cloud right now and often wonder if there is a way out other than pregnancy.

You are a wise and strong woman, Karen. You give hope to me in ways I never knew existed. Thanks for sharing your heart and your journey.

g said...

If i didnt know it i would think you were in my head! thats me to a tee! except the "almost at peace" part... i havent quite gotten there yet! But i feel as well right now i have one foot in IF and one in adoption and adoption is def the BRIGHTER side!! after our failed cycle last Dec we moved right on to adoption and it was like a weight had been lifted, skies cleared... i was starting to be happy again.. then i got YANKED back into darkness with "renewed hope" to try ONE LAST TIME>.. I cant wait for the day when i can step OUT from under that dark cloud! i hate it! it follows me everywhere! But at least i know when i will be stepping out from under it! in 63days! LOL... Cause in 63 days my IF journey will be over! one way or the other!

Best of luck to you and i am so hapy that your finding that peace!

(return comment from ICLW - thanks for stopping by! :) )

seriously? said...

Here from ICLW. What a well written post. I think your explination may help others explain their feelings/lives to their loved ones who don't understand.

Best of luck!

Ophelia said...

Infertility is like a sewer pipe... very dark, lots of twists and turns that all eventually lead to the same place, but all filled with sh*t you don't deserve!

alicia said...

oh wow, what an amazing post. I love your discriptioins of IF, it is so true.

I am glad you at the edge of that cloud, and so glad you found a different way out of the cloud!

Good luck with the adoption process, its fun!

here from ICLW

Karen said...

Ophelia, that's an apt analogy too. I definitely agree with the shit we don't deserve part, but I'm not sure about it all leading to the same place. Does we really all end up in the same place? I don't know.

Jaymee said...

it will continue to get easier, but it will never fully heal. for me there are still days when salt gets poured into the wound, but there are other days when the scab is thick.

(ILCW)

Michelle said...

What a great post. Using a cloud metaphor is extremely fitting, and I love the quote. Thanks for visiting my blog on "food allergy pity party day"...your comment is appreciated!

Kristin said...

While I know the cloud of infertility occasionally makes surprise appearances, I am so glad to hear you are beginning to make your way out from under it.

dmarie said...

What a powerful and touching post. The cloud is a heavy one.

Mama Bear said...

this post really hit home with me- and to think I thought I was past all that!

Rachel said...

I agree with Shelby, that no matter if you have bio children, adopt, or are somewhere else on the spectrum, IF will always be there.

Your post is beautiful and is clearly written from a place of healing. May your heart continue to heal as you sort through your next decisions.

nh said...

Powerful words, but I'm glad that you feel like you are living at the edge of the cloud. I hope you continue to feel that way.

(returning your ICLW comment)

Peeveme said...

Such a great post. No matter how many children I do or do not have, no matter how I get them, infertility will always be a part of me and who I am.

Thanks for your comment.

Katie said...

here from ICLW and wanted to say that this post was beautiful. What a great description of how inferility stays with you at all times.

Cassandra said...

Here from ICLW...
Something you said really resonates with me, and I have never heard it put quite this way.

"And I had no more control over being infertile than I had over whether it rains or the sun comes out tomorrow."

As a control freak, my tendency is to think I must have control over IF just as I try to have control over the attempts to address IF. But of course the first is not true, and the second is mostly an illusion of true. I will try to think of what you said the next time that I find myself trying to create control through blaming myself. Thank you!

Arpee said...

I like your analogy of IF to the clouds rather the tunnel. I do think though that there IS a tunnel. Only, the other side is not necessarily a BFP or a baby...but rather the woman we have become, battle-scarred and wearing our badges. Will we stand proud yet more compassionate? Or will we be withered and bitter? The choices never end.

Me said...

Prophetic and moving post. Sorry I never responded to your email on the same topic. Please know I did read it and it made me feel comforted.