Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pregnancy After Infertility

Infertility changes everything.

In the two years we suffered, my body failing cycle after cycle after cycle, I watched my whole world change around me.

The way I interacted with others.

My relationship with God.

What I spent most of my time daydreaming about.

What I spent most of my time talking about.

What I spent most of my time crying about.

The amount of time I spent in a doctor's office.

The number of medications I took.

My willingness to undergo a diagnostic surgery.

My marriage.

What I ate.

My feelings toward baby showers and pregnancy announcements and big bellies and the diaper aisle at the grocery store.

Who I befriended.

My plans for our married life.

All of this changed instantly. Along with about 500 other things.

Infertility takes normal, happy-go-lucky life and turns it on its head, with barely anytime to breath between.

Thoughts go from, "We're going to be parents in 9 months!" to "I'm not sure we'll ever be parents" in a matter of 6 unsuccessful cycles.

What a sad, lonely, tumultuous time.

While there were still many fruits during our 2 years of infertility -- growing closer to God, trusting in His will more than my own, strengthening our marriage, and so on -- it was still very raw, real, and painful. And not at all what we had expected and planned.

So it should come as no surprise that infertility has colored this pregnancy too.

While we're over-the-moon excited, feeling blessed beyond belief, and so thrilled to have our dreams finally coming true, I can't shake the feeling that our time spent with infertility has changed the way I'm experiencing this pregnancy.

But actually, I think it's for the better.

While I don't love that I'm still absolutely afraid every single day, even now at 15 weeks, that we will lose our sweet baby, even though statistics say there's only a 0.5% chance at this point (I feel as if these fears wouldn't have been so strong if we had gotten pregnant right away, as we would have been living in a "la la la, life's so perfect, life's so easy" kind of world)...

And while I don't love that being pregnant means I've "crossed over" and unintentionally left all my amazing IF friends behind, still suffering, and in addition, that I may be causing more of their pain...

Now that I can look back and reflect on all we've been through, I do love many of the lessons that my 2 years as an infertile taught me...

Our infertility has helped me realize just how much of a blessing this baby, and any baby, is.

Our infertility also makes all my crazy pregnancy symptoms feel like a dream. Puking and migraines and low energy? BRING IT ON! I love it. These symptoms are nothin' compared to what life without them was like.

Our infertility will help us welcome any of our possible future pregnancies with only joy and excitement, (probably) even "oops" babies.

Our infertility has shown me just how precious human life is and, as a result, acts such as IVF and abortion hurt me to my core more now than ever before.

Our infertility gave us a completely different perspective on suffering, and now when John and I encounter suffering of any kind in the future, we will try to approach it in a much more spiritual way, more trusting of God's will.

Our infertility helped me realize that being "open to life" can take on so many different forms, so long as we're "open to God's will." I will never again look at a family of 2 and assume that's the way they want it, or that their lack of children means a lack of fruit.

Our infertility has also helped me be more compassionate toward everyone, especially those still in waiting. I will never forget our suffering. Even though it's not part of our day-to-day anymore at this point, it's still very much a part of us, and therefore a big part of how I'll interact with others.

And finally, our infertility has helped me to try to put others first more often. I know that now my blog (and life!) has shifted gears a bit, many of you may have to look away from certain posts or on certain days or maybe even forever. Trust me, I know what a bump pic or a post about baby gear can do to a suffering heart. If you're hurting, please know that even though it seems I've moved on, a big part of me worries a bit whenever I hit publish on a pregnancy post. My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

(Side note -- If I ever write or say or do something insensitive (I'm aware, I'm not perfect :P), please please please let me know. This blog will probably look a bit different from here on out, but it is never my intention to hurt anyone.)

Whew! Infertility sure has taught me a lot!

And who knows... maybe I would have figured this all out even if pregnancy did come easily. I obviously can't say for sure because I never lived that fertile-myrtile life.

Also, it's worth pointing out that I'm most certainly not trying to say that couples who do get pregnant right away have no clue. I'm very happy to acknowledge that there are folks out there WAY smarter than me. If you already knew all this stuff, you rock!

I just know that infertility has changed me. And I'm ok with that.

Because, while it was hard to see all this while we were still struggling, hindsight sure is powerful. I've been changed for the better. And life will never be the same.

Praise God!

Stay tuned for my next installment, coming your way approximately 6 months from now, in which I discuss Parenting After Infertility. It'll sure be somethin'!


28 comments:

  1. So right on. I totally agree with all of your "our infertility taught us" points...especially not judging the size of other families, the preciousness of all life, and embracing any/all aspects of parenthood! Great reflection, it definitely hit home with me :) xoxo!

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    1. Glad this spoke to you! And I'm glad to be on this new journey with you. <3

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  2. What I always appreciate is when posts are clearly titled, like this one, if it's going to be about pregnancy and baby related stuff. Thankfully, I am in a place right now where I can really enjoy hearing about how people are doing and feeling about all of this, but on those rare occasions that I can't, it's so nice to know that from the title, rather than getting halfway into it. I love that your topics get to change, and I can't wait to keep hearing about the adventures of your growing family!

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    1. You are so sweet! Thanks for continuing to follow along. :) And thanks for the tip! I'll definitely be more careful about my post titles. And if I don't think it's obvious from the title, I'll be sure to put a disclaimer at the top. Good idea!

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  3. What a lovely thoughtful post :) I'm glad that IF gave you a unique, .....extra-fruiful :)....perspective on pregnancy. (Hopefully it's not unbelievably self-interested to say that I hope I am the same if ever so blessed!) Thank you for sharing, and prayers for peace of heart!

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    1. Thanks for your prayers, Ecce! I don't think it's unbelievably self-interested for you to hope for the same. And I do hope for the same for you! <3

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  4. What a beautiful reflection! I identify so much with your before, and I hope to one day identify with your after! Its amazing everything you've been able to take away from it! Prayers for a peaceful pregnancy and healthy happy baby for you!

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    1. I hope you can one day identify with the after too! Thank you for your prayers! They are cherished!

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  5. Well written! It's actually helpful to read these kinds of posts (for me) because I am starting to recognize we need a long term strategy for managing infertility (spiritually and physically). We all need to hear that there is no miracle spiritual cure for the pain that infertility imparts on a married couple - not even a baby. If God ever intends on DH and I being anything but spiritual parents - we're going to need this constant reminder. I can already see us now saying (in confusion) "but it still hurts".

    A lot of the early days of infertility are spent thinking "if I can just get 2 weeks from here to our next opportunity". You could waste a whole life with that mentality, couldn't you? It's a great, great reminder that we need to look a little higher for hope than 2 weeks on a chart. My mental meanderings about IF and all that surrounds it are about as graceful as a 200 ton whale breaching the surface of the ocean, as you can well see... :P

    That said, it's *also* really helpful to hear how IF colors the journey to tangible parenthood. I'm glad that the graces and compassions learned with IF build appreciation and a "bring it on!!" attitude. My love/hate relationship is only with how IF divides people. Isolation from those who have the blessing of Earthly children isn't the easy answer. I don't ever want to get so focused on my own IF that I'm ok with that.

    Keep sharing! Positivity and humor and lightness and joy are some of the things that really speak to me these days and those seem to be your dominant voice - so preach, sister! :)

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    1. Thank you for this reflection! And thank you for the encouragement. I promise I'm not all positivity and humor and lightness and joy in real life, it just happens to be what comes out when I sit down to blog. Actually, this post started out with a more negative tone, but as I kept writing, I kept realizing that I've actually learned so many positive things through our experience of infertility... so the post totally changed. I'm not saying that our infertility wasn't miserrrrablllllle most days, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that God has redeemed all that suffering and pain for good. Or at least most of it. :) There are still some ugly moments (ahem, needles and biopsies and a SF analysis) I'd rather forget. :P

      And I too have a love/hate relationship with how IF divides people. I wish I knew how to make it all better and really bridge the gap, but I certainly don't have any of the answers. And I don't quite know what I'm doing because I've never been "crossed over" before. It's a weird place to be and I just want to do it right by everyone, especially my IF sisters.

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    1. I looked up our friend sanjay on the googles and learned that he is indeed a diaper-selling spam bot. An interesting niche for a robot, wouldn't you agree? :P

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  7. God bless you in this beautiful journey! You'll definitely appreciate the miracle that each baby is!

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  8. After knowing some close friends and a coworker (and many other blogger friends!) who struggle with infertility, I will never not appreciate the huge blessing a baby is!

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    1. Such a HUGE blessing! Thanks for being there for other infertile sisters too! It means so much to have the support and love of our mommy friends.

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  9. I agree that infertility is really imprinted on our hearts forever. It changes us in so many ways, often in a thoughtful and more positive way. I can totally relate to always waiting for something bad to happen. Whether our next blessing is a pregnancy or adoption I know I'll be on edge until baby

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    1. "On edge" is the perfect description for how I'm feeling most days. I always think the worst is about to happen. Eek! Glad I'm not the only one, but I wish we could all just live in ignorant bliss of all the sad possibilities.

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  10. Yes yes yes. All of this! Especially about having a new perspective on suffering, and the effect of that on me spiritually as well as on the way I see the suffering (of whatever form) of other people.

    "I've been changed for the better. And life will never be the same." ...so true. I would be such a different (less grateful, less sensitive to others, less patient with middle of the night wake ups and fussy evenings are the first ways that come to mind) person without IF.

    I've been thinking about IF and miscarriage a LOT the past week or two for various reasons. This post prompted me to go back and read my entire private blog throughout the day today. I think its important to remember, wherever life takes us next (ie, secondary IF or lots of babies).

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    1. It *is* important to go back and remind ourselves of where we came from and what life what like then. I feel like most of it's really fresh in my mind still for two reasons: 1.) I was still only infertile 3 months ago and 2.) I don't feel like I'm out of the woods with this pregnancy yet. I still fear the worst around every turn. Yikes! But anyway, if things keep going well, I'll have to remember in the years to come to go back into the archives and remind myself of my experience of IF from time to time, just to make sure I'm still living a more sensitive, patient, grateful life.

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  11. I hope and pray that in time your fears will ease, while your eyes remain open. It's amazing how much we don't see until our eyes are opened; it is so easy to focus on and see only that which is closest to us. While I wouldn't wish IF on anyone, I can certainly wish that others may come by some of these same fruits in other ways.

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    1. I completely agree! I think it takes a great suffering to open one's eyes, unfortunately. Otherwise, life seems hunky dory and watching others suffering just doesn't make sense. Perhaps there's a way to get to some of these fruits without suffering, but I haven't thought of one yet. Maybe some folks are just born with it? What a blessing that would be! Thank you for your prayers!

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  12. Stephanie, please know that I am so glad that you have "crossed over." Your time with IF has brought you closer to God, and you'll be a better mom because of it. I am glad the IF helped us cross paths, and I look forward to all your future posts as a momma!

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    1. Aww, thanks, Chella! Such sweet words, friend. :) I'm glad our paths crossed too!!

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