Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Outsiders


There was a recent post that seems to have caused a lot of stir in the community.

When I read that post, I did not get offended at all.

It could be because I have lived in that place she was coming from.

It could be because I have felt the same kind of hurt and defeat that fueled that post. Not a defeat of giving up a dream but the defeat that only failed IVF cycles can bring.

And I am a little shocked at the backlash over this.

I am not going to link the post or mention the blogger.

I am just going to write about some of the issues that resonated with me.

Warriors come out and play...

When I first started out on this journey I felt so utterly alone.

I felt like I was the only one going through this.

I felt like there was no one out there who could possibly understand.

I felt like an Outsider.

I felt as if only I have ever had to face such a cold, harsh reality...

I may never have children.

It's a crippling fear and with the fight or flight instinct most of us choose to fight.

And I did choose to fight.

I fought like hell.

And I found a community of women fighting the same battle.

I had found my warriors.

I was no longer the Outsider.

The "fertiles" became the Outsiders because they would never know what it's like to fight and all they would ever be able to do is take it for granted.

And you could laugh it off when a "fertile" announced a pregnancy, complained about morning sickness or a talked about an "oops" pregnancy.

We could point to the Outsiders and actually feel sorry for them because they would never be able to appreciate what they have the way we, the warriors, could.

Because they didn't know. They have no clue of the magnitude of the situation and they could never understand. And we told ourselves we would care more, appreciate more and love stronger.

And your girls, your sisters, your warriors...they know. They fully understand. They are there in the trenches with you.

And there is this huge feeling of solidarity.

The feeling that we were all in this together.

We're all warriors fighting the same battle.

But what happens when you become battle weary?

We no longer get support?

Or when one of our sisters succeeds!

Sensitivity and compassion are lost?

You made it!

If it were me I would be screaming from the roof tops.

And you do!

And you should!

You should be over the moon happy and not feel the need to defend the means by which you got there.

Maybe it's something like "survivors guilt" which causes everyone's defenses to go up.

You fought so hard and you made it.

And I don't blame you. I don't fault you.

But for those of us left behind being within hearing range of that celebration magnifies our own battles. Our own losses.

It plunges us into a place where doubt of our ability to achieve the same success clouds our ability to truly embrace the victory.

"You can't win. You know that, don't you? It doesn't matter if you whip us, you'll still be where you were before, at the bottom. And we'll still be the lucky ones at the top with all the breaks. It doesn't matter. Greasers will still be Greasers and Socs will still be Socs. It doesn't matter." - The Outsiders

So now who becomes the Outsiders?

Those of us left behind?

Those of us still fighting?

Or those of us who have won the battle?

There is definitely dissention in the ranks.

A division among our own.

Aren't we the ones who are supposed to understand and show the most compassion?

Wasn't the Outsiders, the "fertiles" who were insensitive and didn't understand?

Weren't they the ones that callously threw around pregnancy and baby talk that ripped our hearts in two?

And now we are attacking our own because a limit has been reached?

This dissention, this division I didn't understand when I was a new soldier, ready fight and full of the promise of victory.

I remember early on in my journey one of girls left the community. I checked in on her to see if she was okay and she told me that all the new pregnancies and ultrasound pictures and baby talk was just too much for her to take.

I didn't understand. At the time all the talk and seeing your fellow sisters win gave me hope. It fueled my determination to keep going.

But Now...

After 10 cycles, 2 pregnancies and 2 miscarriages I also know the complete devastation that only IVF can bring.

Now...

Every BFP, every ultrasound, every complaint about morning sickness, every mention of bellies and nurseries fills the empty void within my being with the loss of a million dreams.

A pain so intense that it can bring me to my knees.

As happy as I am that our fellow "soldiers" were able to win the fight, it still hurts that I am still fighting. And it brings a whole new level of devastation that one could only imagine because unfortunately for us, those of us left behind, we must face the very real possibility that it may never happen for us.

It is beyond battle weary.

I myself have shouted from the roof tops that I would never give up.

But now...

I have felt many times that I was done with IVF. I have been angered and enraged that mine didn't work and I was putting myself through such physical and emotional torture. I was infuriated that I have spent nearly $50,000 (Oh yes you read that correctly) on treatments and my arms are still empty.

IVF has become a bone of contention for me.

I am contemplating my ability to charged into battle again.

And it makes me contemplate the risk of going forward with no guarantees.

I dread starting a cycle and all the shots and all the medications. I can see the effect it has had on my body and my appearance.

But I can also see IVF for the true miracle that it really is.

Really without it, what options would a single gal of "advanced maternal age" have?

On my last FET I remember watching these 3 shining dots on the ultrasound screen as they burst into my uterus like shooting stars and even though that FET failed I was overcome by the miracle of it all.

It blew me away.

But I am in full retreat right now.

And really it isn't whether or not I could face another failed cycle. I am actually more afraid of my cycle working and miscarrying again.

That I could not face.

And as I try to decide my next moves, I try to find my support base and realized that I have truly been left on the battle field alone.

My friends who have won, who have rightfully moved on to a place where this pain is a distant memory. I cannot join their ranks. I do not belong. And their celebration becomes my heartache.

I can't march with the new soldiers joining the fight. Their optimism becomes my dissention.

It really does becomes divided.

I wish it wasn't so.

So who are the Outsiders now?

"You can't win. ..you'll still be where you were before... It doesn't matter. Greasers will still be Greasers and Socs will still be Socs. It doesn't matter." - The Outsiders

In truth The Outsiders are the battle weary. The ones that are left behind.

*By the way I am not giving up, I am just trying to find the best way for me to achieve motherhood.


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16 comments:

  1. Thanks for your post. I'm on a TTC journey as well. Today, I found out a friend of mine who was doing In Vitro is now pregnant with twins. I am happy for her, but her success brings my failure back to reality. Another friend of mine, who had a baby a few months ago, said "Just be patient, it'll happen to you". My first thought was "she doesn't get it, no one gets it"... as difficult of a subject this is, it's feels less lonely to find someone who "gets it".

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  2. Oh Michaela, it is nice to know you are still out there being the warrior you are! I know the blog entry. I know the backlash. I have felt SO similar to you! Ironically, I just did an entry and mentioned one of the related comments where I fit the description from another infertile as what would be an "outlier". WOOHOO! :heartbreak: I also explained how I was shunned by one group along my journey to parenthood. I do feel there are many who suffer with infertility but it is a short sentence with a bit of reprieve... and then there are those of us that are kind of left behind. With the aftermath. Not only of our own experiences, hurts, losses and such but in an awkward place of joy for those we have befriended tinged with that sharp edge that hurts even more because we are still broken and left standing. Broken... but standing! I hope that you get your child just as I get mine and people are right that it helps heal the wounds and reminders of how awful it was to get there.

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  3. Michaela, I know this is easier said-- please hang tough. I am cheering for you... and thinking about you.

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  4. Michaela, thank you for your eloquence and honesty. You are not alone.

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  5. In keeping with your war analogy, I too admire those have have gone over the top and made it through no man's land to the other side. Sadly, we're still stuck in the trenches dealing with trench foot, lice, and cadavers. It's hard to stay optimistic. And more so lately, I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I may never be a mother. A shitty reality but my reality nevertheless.

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  6. Sending you love and hugs. I'm glad you will keep fighting.

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  7. I can really relate to your post. I am so battle weary as well and question if I really have the energy to go on to the end. Feeling so left behind too, by fertiles and infertiles alike. It's an awful feeling, I'm sorry anyone has to experience this.

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  8. So so well said. I'm glad you'll keep fighting...I will be here cheering you on whatever choice you make or path you take.

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  9. Eileen ("Irish" from FT)February 29, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    It's like you stepped inside my heart and read what's been beating there. DH & I just celebrated 9 years together.... but that means 9 years of TTC but still no babies. The monthly BFNs are bad, but you're right that the failed IVFs are an indescribable kind of pain. I've had to step away from the forums b/c the optimism rubs me the wrong way when I know the reality. Hope seems more like an insult or a taunt than something good. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you're not alone. I stand beside you- still fighting- and I'm honored to be an "outsider" with an amazing woman like yourself.

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  10. I'm chiming in late because I myself was MIA for a bit. Michaela, I hope that you do not feel alone. There are many of us who are not newbies but have not made it yet either. I have not tried nearly the number of things that you and so many others have, but I do feel the pain of that loss, that emptiness. There are others who know the pain also. Maybe we need a third group- the veterans; we've been around a while, know the likelihoods, etc, and are still here in whatever form we need to be. I've been off the messageboards for over a year now because I couldn't deal with the newbies or the successes of women I do not care about. So please know that you are not alone. I'll be beside you every step of the way if you let me.

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  11. So well put, Michaela. I'm so sorry you are still fighting the fight--and I'm with you all the way. I've not been through as much as you but identify so much with what you say. I'm with you all the way--whatever the end result--but hope that we can all celebrate becoming mothers together. I've been trying this so long with no success that I can't even imagine what it would be like to be pregnant and to have a baby.

    Keep on fighting.

    Moya

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  12. Michaela, this was a great post. Thanks for linking it in the Roundup. I loved the Outsiders, and what I think I've learned from all of the recent brouhaha is that we are all outsiders no matter where we are in our war. The question now is how we can support each other so that no one feels alone no matter their status.

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  13. it can be a lonely existence ttc, long term ttc is even lonelier and couple long term ttc with multiple losses and the eventual conclusion of becoming the loser in the fertility race and ending up with empty arms for good and you truly feel like an outsider.

    no one wants to talk about those of us who end up never becoming a mother, those of us who have no choice but to live childfree. those in the trenches don't want to admit that this outcome, never becoming a mother by any means, is a real possibility and the ones who have won the prize of motherhood don't particularly care because they've got the prize.

    144 cycles, too many losses/miscarriages to count and too many years lost to hoping to finally live the life we thought we would, while the life we did have slowly ebbed away. we had to draw a line.

    now we try and live a life childfree and i have to tell you, this side of the blogosphere is a pretty lonely place.

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  14. Your post resonated so strongly with me. I'm in that battle weary category too. I've seen so many leave me behind time and time again. I am so grateful for the continued love and support I get from so many of them, but it's just not the same as knowing someone is in the SAME place as you are. It's hard when you become the "worst case scenario" over and over. It's hard to be the one that people think about and say in their minds, "At least I haven't had to be in her shoes" It's so hard to be the one left standing when you thought you were all on the same battle field.

    Just wanted to say that I get it. I'm there too. Thank you for your post. Don't know why it's taken me so long to find you blog, but so glad I did today. Looking forward to sharing in your story and hoping to support you along the way as a fellow battle weary soldier.

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  15. I don't know how I am just seeing this... I was just about to give you a shoutout on my recent post as being someone I tend to look at for comfort if only in knowing that we have traveled similar roads (as single women on this journey). Then I read this, and... well, as you can imagine, it made me laugh a little at the irony of what I was about to post. Thank you. For being you, for being wonderful, and for being someone I often feel can understand me, even when I wish you couldn't.

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