notes and your lifeline

First a couple of notes. Many sincere thanks for your support and kind comments on my last few posts. Writing about my grief and experience dealing with people who don’t understand has helped me immensely to process my own feelings and thoughts. I am so grateful not only for your support and affirmation of what I’ve been feeling, but also that my words seem to have resonated with some of you. I can only hope this might help in some way, as it has helped me.  

Also, my thoughts on comparative loss. Like many of you, I would hate to hold up one experience against another and be forced to say one is worse (or better) than the other. I don’t believe in the grief-o-meter or the grief olympics. On one hand, a loss is a loss and it sucks. On the other hand, each individual loss is unique, with distinct circumstances, and we all have our own experience. I could never believe that an early miscarriage is somehow “less than” my own loss halfway to term. Similarly, I would never presume to know the feelings of a woman who suffered multiple miscarriages, or whose baby died at full-term, or a parent whose living child died young.

As many have already said, the same is true for primary vs. secondary infertility. I only know my own experience. I can try to imagine another person’s experience, I can have empathy, I can affirm that indeed it sucks. But I can’t know exactly what that person feels. I just wanted to clarify that while my grief for my child and my fertility are unique to me, I think what I’ve experienced is also common to other related forms of loss. Grief is universal. 

On another note, I realized after my last post that I focused on the lack of “real life” support for infertility and loss. I didn’t acknowledge the incredibly powerful support I get through other means, especially online. This is probably for two reasons: first, because most of us have to find a way to function with the reality of dealing with family, friends, work, etc. in our day-to-day existence, and I view my online life as my secret haven, my safe place; and second, because I had just written about the importance of telling my story and the critical support the online world provides, particularly my “virtual” friends from my bulletin board days (though they are more “real” than many friends IRL), and the blogosphere. I didn’t want to neglect the fact that I really don’t know where I’d be without my virtual network of support. Deep gratitude for all you do.

Which leads me to this: What is your lifeline? What’s the force or activity in your life that keeps you going, through all the loss and heartache, through infertility?

For me, there are at least three things (maybe this is cheating, I’m just grateful to have them). (1) My husband and best friend, the Amazing M, has held me up more times than I care to count (that’s why he’s amazing) — through his incredible bear hugs, his open heart and loving words, his generous spirit and passion, his sense of humor, and his profound faith in me and in us. (2) Writing has helped tremendously — in the early days after my loss it was journaling and now through the wonders of blogging. Other forms of art have been helpful too, especially music. (3) My virtual networks — it used to be the bulletin boards, now it’s the blogosphere and my virtual network of friends who have been there for every bfn and so so much more…

What keeps you going? What holds you up? What guides your way? What is your support? What’s your lifeline?

Is it your partner? a parent? sibling? friend/s? support group? therapist? religious or spiritual faith? art? journaling? blogging? exercise? meditation? reading? music? Inquiring minds want to know… (Next I might ask where’s your “happy place” so put your thinking caps on…)

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~ by luna on January 22, 2008.

8 Responses to “notes and your lifeline”

  1. Well, since I am battling secondary, my comment will be full of “triggers”, so please skip this if you want.

    What keeps you going? What holds you up? What guides your way? What is your support? What’s your lifeline?

    1. The first thing is my family. My husband and my children. When I am having a bad day, they are the ones who can make me smile. My hubby will bring me home flower and make me dinner. My kids will just be themselves as they are too little to know any better. Although when I found out my cycle was most likely cancelled last Monday, it was my two year old who hugged me and asked me to not be sad. Which made me cry worse because it just kills me that these two little girls are not “enough” for me. I don’t feel like I should be allowed to feel bad for myself when I have them and it puts me into a bad downward spiral.

    2. The hope for a better future. Without hope, I wouldn’t keep going. No way. And although it’s this same hope that kicks my ass on a monthly basis, without her, I’d of given up already. Without the hope for a future that includes what I’m trying for, I wouldn’t be strong enough to take another step on my own.

    3. The blogosphere. When I have bad news. When I have good news. I feel the need to immediately tell everyone in blogland. Really – when I got back from my cd18 follie check, I told my husband and then said “hold on, I have to go update my blog” before I’d speak more about it with him. And then when I see the message about how many comments I have to read, my heart swells. I ~know~ my bad news will be taken gently and hugs given in return. I ~know~ my good news will be carried away with hearty congratulations. And the best part about these comments? The people who left them GET IT. They get what I’m feeling. My IRL friends, while they love me and will give me the same response, I know they are only trying to get it. I know that while they genuinely care, they are only saying what I have taught them to say (without my teaching, I’d still be getting the “well, there is always next month!” responses).

    Those are my three. And they are the most important “threes” a girl can have.

  2. Your question made me think back to an earlier post, in which you wrote about the importance of having witnesses to our stories.

    And that is my answer. My husband is, of course, my rock, my closest companion on this journey. But my witnesses provide another lifeline.

    These witnesses include not only my therapist but also, increasingly, the women who I’ve met here in the blogosphere. These are people who listen, but who do not judge, patronise or offer trite advice. These are people who I can trust to hold elements of my story for me.

  3. At the risk of sounding like the little girl in the grade school whose turn it is to answer the teacher’s question, but is baffled because all her answers have been shared, I’d point to you and say, “what she said.”

    Seriously. My husband, my writing and, more recently, this warm and wonderful online community of virtual friends is directly responsible for getting me through the worst of infertility and its fallout. Collectively they hold me up, guide me, offer support and a lifeline to knowing that while I feel I’m in unchartered territory, I’m far from alone.

  4. I have to agree that numero uno is my husband. If he wasn’t 100% with me on this I don’t think I could ever survive. Laughter would be my second. If through all this misery I was unable to also see the comedic moments than it would be truly an unbearable experience. And then my online community is absolutely vital or else I would be forced to only talk to myself, to the walls, or to inanimate objects and people would think I was an escapee from a mental hospital. Having people to talk to and having a forum to write your thoughts is no doubt a lifesaver. (A good massage doesn’t hurt either).

  5. My areas of support have changed during this process. Of course, the usual suspects (husband, family, dear friends, supportive fellow IFers), but also, well, me. Chicken or the egg? Maybe. But I’m trying very hard to prop myself up, to be gentle with my emotions, but also to demonstrate some internal tough love when needed. I’m trying very hard to let myself go with respect to the uncertainty. Sometimes the “I’m just a piece of a much bigger picture” works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I feel I’m getting more centered.

  6. A lot of food for thought here. I’ve actually been thinking about the “comparative loss” thing a lot since a new member joined my Resolve group. She went lost her twins at 21 weeks pretty recently — the first time I’ve met someone in real life who’d been through that. Just to look in her eyes breaks my heart. But I also feel like an ass for being so torn apart over my two early losses/embarrassed to complain about it in front of her. Gotta work on that…

    While I’d say my husband definitely keeps me going — I also think what keeps me moving is curiosity, too. I just have to know how my story turns out. Will I be a mom? And if not, what other path will I find myself on? I really have no idea. Sometimes (if I’m feeling optimistic) I can be excited about all the possibilities, mom or not. But sometimes I’m just so scared.

  7. I would have to agree wtih everyone above, including yourself. My dh,definitely; my real-life pregnancy loss support group & the support I’ve found online — being able to write & vent about whatever is bothering me at the moment, & know that I am not alone in this struggle and that my feelings are normal in a very abnormal situation. An occasional visit to a therapist for some third-party perspective. And I think one other thing that I wrote about when we did “The Handmaid’s Tale” for the book club — a strong sense that I am more than my uterus, that I am a person whose life has value and meaning, even if I’m not able to reproduce like most other women. Which is not to say my self-esteem hasn’t taken a beating. But I sense that other people & sometimes society generally would find me a heck of a lot more interesting if I had a baby in tow. And I find that totally unfair.

  8. What keeps you going? What holds you up? What guides your way? What is your support? What’s your lifeline?

    This has changed for me over the past couple of years. When we (dh and I) first started this journey 10 long years ago totally naive thinking that we had all the time in the world- we thought we could put off ttc, get our careers off and running, get our marriage started- spend time getting to know one another. Fast forward 3 years- I start nursing school- thinking we still have plenty of time, we decide that finishing school would be the best thing to do before starting our family- finally after being married for 4 1/2 yrs- being in the last year of nursing school we decided to start ttc- nothing happened. November 2004 I developed a DVT and clots in both lungs from estrogen therapy that we were using to regulate my cycles and get me to ovulate regularly- so ttc was put on hold for 6mo- in April 2005 had ovarian cyst drained- in October 2005 our very first BFP- finally! We did it! I finally felt like a woman- I felt complete- society looked at me differently- I was a fertile- I was one of them! And then it happened- I had a m/c….I was a failure- I was a freak- I was infertile yet again.
    The possibility that we had become pg on our own- even though we had lost it- was what kept us going- that we may be able to actually fulfill our dream of becoming parents- if we did it once, them maybe, just maybe we could do it again- and so started the fertility treatments that following spring- failed treatment- successful treatment- m/c; waiting for several months- pg on our own- m/c; waiting for several months- three more unsuccessful treatments- and now the possibility of living without children,
    DH, friends and even family support our decision to keep trying, but when I bring up the discussion that I can’t loose another pg- that I can’t do this again- the treatments have been called off by my MD for medical reasons- so we are on our own- adoption is not an option- IVF is not an option- we are getting close to being out of options- we have not been doing anything to prevent pg since August- yes 6 months- and there is no pg to show for it- many fights between dh and I- because he really isn’t ready to be done- I feel like I am taking his dream away by saying that I am done.
    I don’t look my age- I look like I am in my 20’s- not my 30’s, dh is going to be 40 in June- I need to know that my support person in life really does support me- but sometimes…I am not so sure- I think he is stuck in societies view that we are broken without child. I didn’t realize just how screwed up I really am….infertility bites!

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