Thoughtful Thursday: Improved

August 20, 2009

Thoughtful ThursdayFollowing up on this week’s Barren Bitches Book Brigade discussion of Moose, as well as an article I read a few weeks ago

How has infertility improved your life?

A year ago, I made a list of gifts that infertility has given me.

  • Interactions with amazing people, both those dealing with their own infertility and those who have sought to help me with mine.
  • No more anxiety when getting injections, even from myself. A doctor once told me that he has never in his career seen a patient so calm when he stuck a needle in their eyelid.
  • Greater understanding of my body.
  • Awareness of an underlying sub-clinical thyroid condition which is not problematic now but may become an issue in the future.
  • Much more empathy than I had before for everyone who experiences infertility, pregnancy loss, loss of a child, etc.
  • The end to my delusion that I have control over what happens in my life. The Yiddish proverb, “We plan; G-d laughs” makes so much more sense now.

To that list, I would now add:

  • Perspective. When people say how horrible bedrest must be, I know they are wrong — because I know what the alternatives are. Bedrest is downright fun compared to being in the middle of IVF #3 (or more likely, #4 by now). As for the other direction, I have taken the mantra, “Every day on bedrest is a day not spent in the NICU” (or worse) to heart. I whine more often than my husband would like (“But I neeeeeed cake”) but in the grand scheme, I am the opposite of a whiner. I know how good I have it.
  • These particular babies. I have heard many parents after  infertility say it, but I didn’t quite get it before. If I had conceived easily, sure, I would have a kid (about to enter first or second grade!),  but I wouldn’t have these kids. I haven’t even met them yet, and already I love them so much.
  • Seeing the world. During the period of my infertility I have travelled to 20 new countries, some more than once (and seen more of the three that I’d already visited prior). If I’d had a child, I would never have travelled nearly so much — or maybe at all.
  • Encouraging my children to see the world. Because of the prior point, we now have all sorts of plans to show our children the world that we never would’ve had before. And, since we (as long as these babies come into this world okay, knock on wood) won’t have to spend our money on infertility treatments anymore, we may actually be able to afford to take them somewhere.
  • The chance to know, really know, my relationship with my husband, and to keep improving it. We had been married more than four years before we started trying to conceive, and together several years before that, but even so, we have grown together so much since then. I honestly feel sorry for many people I know who have a child early in their relationship/marriage, especially when that relationship later dissolves and I can see ways in which the child stressed a situation that didn’t have a chance to develop a strong foundation. Although infertility has put plenty of stress on us and on our relationship, we and we are ultimately stronger for it. You certainly can never say that we didn’t have a chance to develop a strong foundation — we have had more chances than anyone could possibly need.

Oh, and to revise my answer to the question I asked a year ago:

Would I trade the past six and a half seven years of infertility heartache for a kindergarten-age child first-grader?

I said yes a year ago, but now, no. I don’t think I would anymore. I guess that qualifies as growth.

How has infertility improved your life? There must be something.

If your situation is loss instead of infertility, you may not be able to come up with an answer. If that’s the case, please say so. If you do have an answer, then you must be a truly Thoughtful person.


44 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Improved”

  1. Sue Says:

    Ditto to everything you have said.
    I wouldn’t change a thing and I totally agree with your thoughts on people having babies really early in their marriages. I am so very thankful for the 8 years DH and I have had just the two of us, battling this infertility together. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    S X

  2. I know what I’m going to say is going to be offensive to some people, but infertility has made me think about what I really want in life and has helped me realise that our life will be a happy one with or without children. When we were first dealing with infertility I was devastated at the possibility and could not imagine a future for us that didn’t include children. I really thought we needed to do everything we could to have kids because that would be the most important thing we ever did.

    Now, while we’re hoping to adopt, I know that it is possible that we will have an awesome life without being parents. And more than that, I know that we can both be happy, productive people and achieve great things in our careers as well as in our community that will be just as valuable, if not more so, than raising a child.

  3. Nicole Says:

    That’s easy. We wouldn’t have even considered adoption if we’d conceived right away. We are over the moon about growing our family this way, but it was a long road to get here. Thank goodness God (or the universe or fate or whatever you choose to call it)had a plan all along, or else I’d be missing out on being a mommy to a child who is going to come to us differently.

    I wouldn’t change a thing.

  4. loribeth Says:

    I agree with you that it has strengthened my marriage. I would also say that infertility & loss have given me a better sense of priorities and perspective. You learn not to sweat the small stuff (& most of it really is small stuff).

  5. birdless Says:

    I really like what you said about building a strong foundation as a couple! We have had more than four years together and been through so much that I am positive we can make it through anything. This is another one of those things that makes us stronger, both individually and as a couple.

  6. ^WiseGuy^ Says:

    How has infertility improved your life?

    a. Empathy. It has taught me to take the subfertiles under my wings with as much as ease as my fertile family and friends.

    b. Worth. If I would have had kids the way the rest of toast-poppers, I would have still loved them. But I think I would love them immensely more by the virtue of the difficulty in achieving them.

    c. Value. Not having kids does have its perks. I DO have more time at hand than those who have small kids.

    d. Cure. I may never have gone for a Mantoux test, had we (docs and us) not been thrashing out my issues, one test at a time. Everything came out rosy, except this. Now even though I am over it successfully and still do not have a baby in my hand, what I know is that I allegedly had Latent TB which put me at a very high risk of developing it later.

    e. Time. Though this is not a common thing for me to say, the early part of my marriage did not involve me living with my DH. And living apart, with me putting up with my in-laws had me a little frustrated. Not having kids means me and hubby together at a stretch, and that is a time, I wish I had in the beginning as well.

    f. Sensitivity. I can tolerate a joke on Men Vs. Women but can’t and won’t handle a crack at barren women. I somehow now understand how tough it would be for the barren women of yesteryears, esp in my culture. And I doubt if I would have been able to develop this much depth, had I not been tested at it myself.

    g. Strength. I am stronger. I am.

    h. Self-love. At some past point of time, I kept on thinking myself as fat. Now I really am. So, I now know how not-this-fat I was then. Well, atleast I know now! 🙂

  7. Michele Says:

    IF and losing children to miscarriage and infant death has given me the belief that each day truly is a blessing. The heartache is excruciating, but each step of IF brought me a step closer to my precious children and each moment with them is one that I wouldnt give back for all the ignorant happiness in the world.

    And this mantra, “Every day on bedrest is a day not spent in the NICU”, is so very true. It is what gets me through the day. Bedrest is nothing compared to grieving a child and, if I could have, I would have been on bedrest with all of them to give them a chance.

  8. Kristin Says:

    My bout with secondary infertility involved multiple losses. However, at the end of it, I had Gabe. I can’t imagine life without him. He is such a wonderful addition to our family. Infertility also brought me friends I never would have met otherwise. And, infertility strengthened my already strong marriage and faith.

  9. Jules Says:

    I’m more appreciative of hubby’s laid-back approach to most things. Even with giving me injections, going to all the appointments, he maintained a very relaxed view of IF, even though he originally brought up TTC first and I was the one with “issues.” I think I would have stressed out a lot more if he hadn’t been so calm. Not trying to say he wasn’t taking it seriously, but he saw no reason to overstress ourselves or get too caught up.

    Since you mentioned needles, I used to pass out after bloodwork. Guess all the IF blood draws worked that problem out of my system.

    It’s more after the fact since only since I started blogging have I come across loss and long-duration IF blogs, but my awareness for all that has increased. I hated couch-rest despite, as has been said, the truth that it’s nothing like all the stories of loss and struggle, and I shouldn’t have minded a few months in the whole realm of our IF and pregnancy history. In the grand scheme of things, we’ve been extremely lucky despite the slight detour in TTC.

  10. Sarah Says:

    Infertility, espcially going through the process of getting ready to use donated eggs, has really helped me to process some of my residual narcissism (in teh sense of realizing how much I wanted and believed I woudl have some ‘little me’ that I could heal from all the wounds of my own childhood, not because I’m so pretty and I wanted a pretty little me!). It has also improved my marriage 1000000000000%. It was good to start with, but we have becmoe so much closer, so much more loving and so much more intimate because we were committed to infertility not pulling us apart.

  11. strongblonde Says:

    i agree with all that you said…. in addition, IF has given dh and myself a better understanding of eachother and our relationship. also, i think it has helped me to interact better with my own patients. 🙂

  12. jill Says:

    At first I thought, “I have no answer, IF has not improved my life at all”, but then I realized whoa… I have a really big, really easy answer.

    I would not have my husband if I was not infertile.

    I foolishly got married at 19. At 20 we were very ready to have kids. If I had been able to have a child then, he/she would be 12 right now and I would probably be unhappily married to my first husband. IF definitely contributed to our divorce (there was nothing “wrong” with him and he now has 2 young children with his current wife) but it was not our only problem.

    If I had a child all those years ago I wouldn’t have ever met or married my current husband.

    I am so happy that things worked out the way they did.

  13. Ana Says:

    I love this question. Its a good way to consider any hardship in life—trying to look at the positive.
    For me, the main “improvement” was to my maturity level and my attitude. The saying you quote says it best “Man plans, g-d laughs”. I am a definite overplanner, list maker & checker-offer….I am thankful that something made me stop in my tracks and realize that everything is NOT going to work out like I planned, and hard work & “wanting it” will not necessarily make it happen. And along the way, I may have some unplanned, but wonderful moments (travel, career, bonding with husband & friends…)

    Something else I’ve learned—through my own and others’ recent struggles with life not working out the way they want—its not the cards you’re dealt but how you play them. I’ve seen both sides—people who, despite the grief, look for the positive & make the most of the opportunities they have to make new friends & support, learn hobbies, travel, enrich relationships, etc… and those that decide that since they can’t have what they want they are going to be miserable and refuse to consider alternate life paths (in the person I am picturing this is not related to IF, but well could be). I realized quickly which side of the fence I wanted to be on, and I hope this attitude stays with me through the other struggles that are always ahead in life.

    So, the short of it is, IF has made me more mature, self-aware, and sympathetic. It has deepened many relationships for various reasons, and allowed me to pursue goals I never imagined having. For that, I am thankful.

  14. Cara Says:

    Thanks a bunch for adding that last paragraph. You are a sweet friend!

    Amazingly – I would echo the perspective answer. Every time I find that ‘renewed perspective’ I recently wrote about I am able to really engage in my life instead of let it happen to me. I truly don’t belive that I ever would have evolved to that level of living if Emma had. Sad, but true. That said, I would trade my in-tune-ish self for a bumbling, socialy inept idiot if it meant she could come back.

    Not so much growth – eh?

  15. luna Says:

    what a wonderful list. what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I think. definitely my marriage stood the test and then some. lots of growth, compassion, empathy, strength. and now our daughter through adoption. I had to go through my loss to get to this point, and to her.

  16. Lorza Says:

    crap. I just realized I never turned in my questions, and haven’t commented on anyones questions in the BBBB. Ugh. I am loser.
    I loved the book. Being as I have been in a holding pattern since pretty much a year and a half- it is hard for me to answer you question. We have not ACTUALLY done one treatment. At this point I wouldn’t change a thing…:)

    I do think that your statement counts at growth. I think we all grow- even if our opinions don’t change- we grow enough to know we are comfortable with our thoughts.

    Happy ICLW! I am getting started early this month thanks to insomnia.

  17. Rach Says:

    My situation is Infertility and Loss.

    Infertility has shown me that I have hope, it might be misplaced hope but it’s hope all the same.

    Loss has taught me that I’m stronger than I thought I was or I think am most of the time.


  18. T Lee Says:

    Wow, such excellent questions and insight.
    I think the way in which infertility is improving my life (is improving… hasn’t yet but I’m working on it), is that it is forcing my to learn that I cannot control everything, and that I have to let go sometimes. I’m normally such a control freak, but this being completely out of my hands is definitely a learning experience.
    And I totally agree with your feeling of having time to build your relationship. If we can handle this together, we can handle anything as a team.

  19. ^WiseGuy^ Says:

    Knock Knock..who goes here? It’s Me!

    What IF did make me realize? That me and hubby are poles apart…

    And hey, Happy ICLW!

  20. Brandy Says:

    Infertility has brought me and my husband closer. I know that a lot of relationships fail because of the stress of infertility and I’m just glad that we’ve managed to overcome that and be stronger despite it.


  21. Dora Says:

    “These particular babies.”

    YES! YES! YES! I am so in love with this particular little girl. Can’t wait to meet her and look into her eyes! But if she would just keep her feet off my bladder …

    Then there are the wonderful women who are cheering me on. I feel so lucky to know them all. Whether we’ve met IRL or not.

    BTW, sorry to hear your cervix is still not cooperating. STAY INSIDE BABIES!!

  22. Chelle Says:

    I agree with all of it. I couldn’t have summed it up better. (I’ve said it before, you are a far better writer than I!).

    And I completely agree with bedrest. I complain, but I am actually happy. Like you said, it’s another day that they aren’t in the NICU.

  23. Tonggu Momma Says:

    Wonderfully written and lived. I’m an adoptive momma to one daughter and we are also waiting to adopt a second time from China. Right now we’ve been waiting over three years, with no end in sight… but I feel at peace whenever I look at my daughter. Because she has grown SO MUCH during the years we’ve waited. Because my husband and I have grown so much CLOSER during this time as well. And because, had our wait been any different the first time around, our daughter would not be our daughter. I cannot imagine life without her.


  24. Jamie Says:

    When I was in the throws of infertility I couldn’t see any of the positives.

    Now that I’m on the other side, I definitely think that infertility has changed me and my life for the better.

    I agree with everything you mention.

    I also feel blessed that I am able to share my story and my infertility openly with others to help them through their own journeys. Many people in my hometown now come to me or call me when they start down the infertility path and I feel like part of the reason I had to go through all of it was so that I can help others.

  25. Melissa G Says:

    Fantastic post. I really appreciate your outlook on bedrest.

    I think the most important things I’ve gained are empathy and a stronger marriage. We started trying about four years into our marriage as well, and I felt like we were strong. But having gone through IF has brought me closer to my husband in ways I don’t think any of our friends have ever, or will ever experience. I’m able to see that we are lucky to have been dealt this hardship because it has certainly opened our eyes to a lot of things I don’t think we would have seen otherwise.

    Another thing we learned the hard way, was who our true friends are. And how we can be a better friends from now on. Never again will I slink away from a crunchy situation. I will stand closer to my friends in times of difficulty, especially when I have no idea what they are going through. Just to be an extra set of shoulders to cry on.

    And to answer your question, no. I would not trade the last two years of heartache for a 16 month old. I’ve learned too much about life.

  26. Lavender Luz Says:

    I know this is the point of Thoughtful Thursday, but what thought-provoking comments here!

    I have not much to add. Just that I’m happy where I am so I am therefore grateful to the path that brought me here.

    And also my friendships with people like you and many of your commenters. How empty would my life be without you all?

  27. Kate Says:

    I have to say I just LOVE this list. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Thank you for the perspective.

    One benefit I never foresaw was the closeness I’ve gained with my husband.


  28. nh Says:

    Would I change my infertility – yes.
    Would I change the journey I’ve been on because of it – No.

    I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve learnt what a ‘friend’ is. I’ve learnt that sometimes just being with someone while they sob their heart out is enough. I’ve learnt about patience, understanding, hope and grief. I’ve learnt that doctors aren’t always right, and that no matter how many people are rooting for you, some things just don’t turn out.

    But I would change my outcome. Right here, right now – I would. But ask me in a 2 or 3 years when I have my longed for adopted child – and I know I’ll be right with you.

  29. Echloe Says:

    Your list is inspiring. Even with all the shots I don’t think I could take a needle to the eye without wincing. You are a rockstar.

    I will think about doing a list like this. But at this point I just can’t. Infertility and Loss are my crosses to bear and I am just too annoyed at having to have had to endure both of these to think of positives.

  30. Very cool post. And very insightful.

    How has infertility improved my life? It has definitely given me a new perspective. It has helped me to realize that in the midst of all of this crap, I am so lucky to have the husband that I have, that I have a God who loves me, and life is more than the children that I haven’t yet gotten to meet. And I know that some days are up and some are very down. And, that too, is part of growth.


    For me, infertility (secondary) gave me perceptive. I always knew that a BFP didn’t always equal a healthy baby, but after the struggles trying to conceive Zilla, it made me more aware! I now look at other women who’s children are as far apart as mine and wonder. I am so much MORE grateful because of the struggle.


  32. Cat Says:

    I’d say the biggest way is how strong our marriage is now. We were together for seven years total before starting TTC, 5 years of marriage, but none of what we dealt with before IF could have developed these kinds of bonds. The hope, disappointment, shots, peeing in bed pans in front of him, and ultimately the birth of our babies just trumps everything else. We can really communicate now in a way we just didn’t before.

    And ditto the empathy. There are so many different life stories out there and we never truly know what anyone else is going through. Now knowing the hurt that simple questions can cause, I take more care in what I ask and say both to people I’ve known forever and those I’ve just met.

    At the end of the road I can look back and say that I’m grateful to our IF journey for these two things, but I still wish we hadn’t had to go through so much to get here.

  33. Erin W. Says:

    Very thoughtful post. I’d have to say that IF has taught me to be thankful and not take things for granted.

  34. In Due Time Says:

    I agree, very thoughtful post.

    I’ve actually decided to carry this question on over to a blog post for next week. I’ll stop back by when it’s published.

  35. Erin Says:

    ahh, i love this post. i feel like i have gained so much from our infertility battle. you covered most of the basics. 🙂

    the main one is the unbelievable bond my husband and i share now. our relationship before was nothing compared to what it is now. also, not taking our pregnancy for granted. every single day i close my eyes and reminisce about our journey to this belly.

    thanks for a great post. ILCW!

  36. marisa Says:

    This is an amazing post. I’ve been nodding my head with so many of your points.


  37. Thank you for this post.

    While I am dealing with infertility and had many ‘unsuccessful cycles’, I have not experienced a loss so I will not pretend to understand the pain and all that goes with loss.

    For me, IF has taught me lessons in patience and in love (I feel very lucky that this has definitely brought my husband and I closer together).

    It has also taught me that I, being a major Type A personality, cannot control everything – and that sometimes it’s okay to let go and let someone else take over.

    Thanks again for your post – I really appreciated reading it.


  38. Tkeys Says:

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post! I think IF made me realize that I’m strong and can survive anything – and find happiness along the way. *ICLW* – Tkeys

  39. Gabby Says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog – and I’m so glad I have discovered yours! I am with you on all the things I’ve learned from ART treatments… I’m with you on traveling.. been many places and want to travel more with our kids when we have them.. They will be better people because of us waiting and traveling.

    I love your positive spin on what we have gained.

    I’ll keep reading to watch the rest of your pregnancy! hang in there.. amazing perspective on bedrest.. i love it!

  40. Andrea Says:

    I wouldn’t change my journey for anything in the world either. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that is so true. Infertility issues have pushed me in to areas and opportunities that have changed my life for the better, and I am a better person for it.

  41. mekate Says:

    in this moment since I am in the consumed phase, I think more about the things I am fighting to remember: to slow down and enjoy simple things that are happening right now, to not postpone joy until or if only, to revel in what I have not just obsess about what I am missing.
    I see that there are gifts in this too- these reminders–

    thanks for the lovely post,

  42. Lin Says:

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it and for reminding me that there is much to be grateful for…if we can see the forest for the trees! I’m very early in this journey (we were recently diagnosed with MFI), but I think that IF is teaching me patience. It’s a slow, painful process that I’ve failed miserable at more than once in the past. Just a hunch, but I think that IF may finally help me accomplish the feat!

    We deal with DH’s chronic depression in our family, too. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But, aside from the fact that I would rather him not be in pain, I wouldn’t take it away from us. We’ve learned so much and are so much closer because of it. I think IF is the same, I’m just still in the “can’t see the forest for the trees stage!” 🙂

    You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll be watching from afar!


  43. Photogrl Says:

    I’m way late, but I have to comment on such a wonderful, thoughtful post.

    IF and loss have taught me to stop sweating the small stuff.

    Appreciate what I have now.

    And to NEVER ask the question, “When are you going to have kids?” 😉

  44. I would list most of the things you mentioned, especially the greater understanding of my body, a stronger relationship with my husband, and new friends via the IF blogosphere. I also have a better understanding/more empathy for my parents’ first loss. But of course first and foremost: my beautiful son.

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