Thursday, 24 November 2016

Speaking plainly (of infertility and doubt).

I have just gotten back from a wonderful 9 days in Thailand, a couple of days in Bangkok and then a week in Kamalaya.

Kamalaya was eye-wateringly expensive but I did it as a "treat yoself" thing, and to embrace the childless situation in which I have found myself.

It was worth every penny. It was absolutely magnificent. There, I felt the best I had in about 18 months.

I have a tan, but the post-holiday blues have struck, because one cannot run away from one's problems.

I was trying to think of a nice, nuanced way to write this, with clever analogies, however I have had a day where I will just put it the hell out there.

I wrote a post alluding to all of this, and it was put back into draft mode. Somebody, in a very kind and well intentioned manner, said that they hoped I had a child, as I will love them. I have no doubt that I would love a child, however one is not forthcoming. It is not that simple.

So here it is, simply:

After 2 years of trying for a baby, including a miscarriage and monthly rollercoasters and a few tantalisingly late periods. I have had my hair thin and a thick smattering of acne. I have debilitating PMS which actually meets some criteria for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. I feel so bad a few days before my period that I just want to sleep for 5 days to let it all pass. I am not so alarmed by these feelings anymore, as I know they pass, but they are still bloody unpleasant.

I am tired of it. I realised this during my time in that magnificent place. It is little wonder that I don't feel ready to do IVF.

IVF gives many a lot of hope, but it seems like a war of attrition - stimulate the ovaries (without overstimulating them), get a good crop, then inject a sperm into them, then freeze them and then test them for abnormalities, then thaw them out and stick them up the wazoo and see if they stick. At each point there is a risk of failure. Success is by no means guaranteed. It just takes all the wonder and joy out of things, for me, anyway. It's another roller coaster that I am scared about getting on.

The only narrative that is out there is that the infertile woman goes automatically to IVF. There is no talk of stopping and having a think about things, because the time is a'tickin! There is the narrative about the woman who was desperate for a child and went through dozens of cycles of IVF and then JOY!

I have always had misgivings about doing IVF, and they have not disappeared now the prospect is increasingly real. Rather than push these misgivings to the side, I actually have had a think about them (and dropped a few dollars in the therapist's office).

Mostly, I have had to have a good hard think about why I wanted to have a child. To talk about this in a safe environment. It is hard to talk through things with others, as the response generally is "oh go through with it, you will love having children, or you don't want to regret not having a child". These are undoubtedly well-intentioned but not very helpful for me.

Had the pregnancy proceeded, I would have embraced it without too much thought and been buoyed by lots of lovely happy hormones. However, the requirement to mix up a little human in a test tube, for me, has forced me to consider things. It is not a comfortable process, and, without going into any detail about the thought processes, it is one I am still struggling with. It is hard. I have also started to think about a life without a child, and what that might look like.

Anyway, I just wanted to get that offa my chest.

I have learned from all this a way to respond to people who are having a tough time.

The only way is to say "that's shit. I am really sorry" +/- "want a wine/chocolate/cuddle/diamond ring"


  1. Very sorry to read about the problems you're having to deal with. You will work your way through them and come to a decision on what's the right answer for you. No-one else can tell you what to do - and it would be as wrong to give you false hope as it would be to take away hope.
    But please don't suggest people turn to alcohol when they're having problems. It really is not the answer and can make matters worse, particularly if they decide to self medicate with it whenever they're feeling down. Allowing them to vent their grief or problems may help them (though it will probably depress the hell out of you) can be helpful so they feel they're not alone. Also if you know a good psychologist or specialist counsellor, this can help. But sometimes you may need to try several before finding the right one for you. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. Hi Pammie - thanks for comment
      I am seeing a very good therapist who is the first point of call for me, and am a big believer in having a therapist with whom one has a good rapport.
      The comment about wine was a flippant one, point taken, have amended.
      Which brings me to another point - the reason why I did ocsober was that I was using a glass or two/three to take the edge off some anxiety/depression. I chose the health retreat rather than a standard boozy beach resort partly for this reason. Hence I know what you are saying.

  2. The thing about your blog is IT'S YOUR BLOG. It's your safe place to be as flippant as YOU want. If people don't like what you write about how you cope they need to go elsewhere and keep their moralising and judgment to themselves. Way to kick a person when she's down. You do you, darl ((hugs))

    1. Thanks love. Hugs right back. Let's wine when you come to melbourne or I get my bum to Gippy.
      I don't think Pammie was moralising and potentially was talking from experience of somebody close to her. She's a good egg. She actually raises a reasonable point.

    2. Thanks Cilla. Glad you understood it wasn't meant to be moralising.
      It's true, I have a friend who has been suffering from depression after losing her husband and both her parents in the space of a couple of years. She has been self medicating with alcohol and also gambling - and it has become a major problem for her. Seriously affecting her health so I worry for her. She rarely drinks more than a glass of wine with a meal when she's with me but I know that she hits the whisky bottle at night when she feels down or she goes out to gamble or both. She has told me that sometimes she knows she can't drive home so she goes to sleep in her car. Have told her to call me and I'll come around if she feels the urge to drink/gamble - but she never wants to contact anyone at these times. She's a very intelligent woman who had quite a brilliant career and is not hard up. She knows what she's doing is self destructive but she can't seem to help herself. I just wish she'd never started on the alcohol path. Pammie

    3. I knew it came from a good place - I can tend toward the impulsive and have a family history of alcoholism. I am very mindful of this. However, after the 7th friend announced her pregnancy while I was at a conference during ocsober, I had a big old cry into a bowl of chips and a (one) glass of pinot grigio.

    4. Can absolutely understand how you felt.
      But you know it's going to continue to be difficult when these friends all have their babies and are thrilled to bits and want to share their happiness. That could even be a worse feeling for you (though of course you'll be happy for your friends) - so it's important to be prepared and discuss this with your therapist. Good therapists can suggest so many strategies for how to cope with difficult issues. Particularly if you have a family history. Half the battle is being aware of this and doing something about it. Sadly my friend won't seek professional help. Pammie

  3. Always here to buy you wine in moderation (or a coffee) but also the download / debrief that a wine or two facilitates.

    I am glad we have our blogs as safe places.

    It is true, though, sometimes all you can do and say is agree that life can indeed just be s*(& at times.

    SSG xxx

  4. Your holiday sounds fabulous, but it sounds like you're having a lot of soul searching and heartache at the moment. I think end of the year can do that in general, let alone with the big decisions you have to confront. Hang in there, and I'm so sorry you're going through this xx