Thursday, June 5, 2008

{...infertility...}

It's what's for dinner.

So I find I am hesitant to write on such an intense topic. The rules of 'Internet etiquette' have not been established, and because of this I fear that most of you will be scared off. I want you to know that you can comment freely. After dealing with infertility for almost 2 years I have made it passed my 'offended by everything anyone says' stage. This is what is on my mind, what I am going through on a daily basis, and since this is my blog I shouldn't feel hesitant to write about it.

As many of you know, infertility has been a constant raincloud in our lives. It all began a year and a half ago with the loss of a baby girl at almost 20 weeks. We had a few more miscarriages after and this started endless tests and procedures, which lead to the discovery of a brain tumor, then brain surgery, and now it seems as if my body has responded to my brain surgery by throwing myself into early menopause. I know right? Awesome story.

For the longest time I have felt so ashamed of all of this. In fact I still do. I have wanted to keep it secret because I felt as if I would be judged and looked down on. I mean, come on, look at the Mormon culture. I grew up knowing that everyone becomes a mom, and that it's EASY. Everyone has kids, and lots of them, so it couldn't be that hard. It was pounding into my head from Beehives on up that my main purpose in life was to raise a family. Mormon women are built for it. As I grew older, I found that I didn't have a huge desire to have children, but imagine the painful blow of finding out you will not be able to have your own. Subconsciously all those lessons and talks about marriage and children came flooding in, and I realized that I had failed. I have failed as a woman, as a wife, as a Mormon, as a productive member of society. I had applied to be part of the exclusive 'Mom's Club' and I got a rejection letter with a huge 'F' on it.

Apparently I don't look at Josh right.

Now most of you will say that I'm not a failure, and I shouldn't think that, and perhaps that no one thinks that of me. I appreciate those words, but you have got to understand that it is a completely natural emotion for me to experience. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to feel whatever I want. Hurt, anger, frustration, confusion, failure, depression, you name it. I have failed to live up to my own expectations, to Josh's, to my parents, to his parents. Of course we figured we wouldn't have problems. No one goes into marriage and eventually the thought of starting a family by saying, 'Hey, you know infertility affects 6.1 million couples worldwide. We should be prepared.' Hell no. Did I not mention before that we are Mormon, and these types of things don't happen to fertile Mormons? Oh it kills me to realize how naive I was.

Now it seems as if I have lost my identity. I don't identify with my family, with my culture, with my community, or with my religion. I don't belong because I cannot do the one most important, sacred thing women are praised for. I cannot conceive and bear a child. I am an outsider. Again, many of you will say that I'm not, it's just a feeling not a truth, that I am always accepted. Yes, I maybe be a bit more dramatic about this, but think about it...

Imagine sitting in sacrament meeting. You are on a bench in the middle. To your right? Mom, Dad, 2 kids. To your left? Mom, Dad, 3 kids. In front of you? 2 pregnant women, 2 newborns. Behind you, Mom, Dad, 2 kids. All around you? Mom, Dad, kid. Then, as you are trying to calm your feelings of hurt and loss down (by chanting in your head, 'I have new couches and a big ass tv'), you hear that there are going to be 3 baby blessings. Sunday school you talk about the importance of teaching your children gospel principals. Every one either has a baby on their lap, or is pregnant. Relief Society, well, we won't go there because I don't go there.

I am constantly reminded of what I do not have and what I am unable to accomplish.

I do not fit in here.

Now, if we go beyond the emotional and spiritual mess that infertility places you in, we hit the physical. I have always thought of myself to be healthy. Sure I probably ate one too many ding dongs as a kid, but I have tried, especially after I ventured out on my own for college, to take care of my body. You know, so I could be hot and get married. Skip to the present, and holy cow, I am the biggest physical mess you will ever see. I am overweight having gained almost 100 pounds in the past year and a half. Of course there was the brain surgery that I am still recovering from, but add in all the pills I have to take. Lots of awesome hormones to try and reverse this whole menopause thing. Medications that make me cranky, sick, tired, mean, deadly, the hulk. I can't eat certain foods without having insane stomach cramps. My ovaries feel like they are imploding on a daily basis. I fall asleep at work. I fall asleep at 4:30 when I get home from work. I can't sleep at night. I am constantly nauseated, tired, flushed. Oh, let us please not forget the hot flashes and the night sweats. Try waking up at 3 am DRENCHED in sweat. Try walking through the store and being hit by a hot flash and having the urge to strip yourself naked, throw up, and then pass out.

DAILY BASIS.

Costco would revoke my membership if that happened, and then my life would really suck.

This is such a traumatic thing to go through. I tell Josh probably every day that I'm going to quit. That it's too hard and I'm not strong enough. I barely make it out of bed every morning. There isn't a day that I don't feel like crying, where I don't feel like this is entirely too much for us to deal with. Infertility is a loss of so many things. In our case it has been a loss of pregnancies, of dreams and of expectations.

Sure, maybe I am being insanely dramatic and perhaps I am exaggerating...

Actually, I'm not. This is real life for me. Sometimes I just gotta let it out.


(not gonna lie, i'm insanely emotional and this might not make sense, but raw emotions rarely do. please be gentle with what i have shared with you today.)

18 comments:

Jen :) said...

Kenna,
Thank you so much for sharing that. Having lost a pregnancy I can relate (NOT understand) to what you feel regarding the whole mormon = babies thing.
I'm going to email you right now.
Oh, and of course you are allowed to feel whatever you want! I'll punch anyone who says differently.

The De Souzas said...

You're right--it's your blog, you get to post whatever you want. And ditto to Jen--you're allowed to feel whatever you feel.

I think it's GREAT that you're getting it all out. We all love you, Kenna. No one should think any less of you for anything you've said.

And for the record: it's a real battle, the whole "feeling like you don't fit into your culture" thing. If people think you're overreacting, they're probably not looking at it from your perspective.

We probably all have a list of things (some more extreme than others) that we feel like makes it so we don't fit in, so maybe we could all be a little more understanding of each other.

Sorry for the novel.

Karen said...

I am so sad to read this, but it is good for you to let it out. There's nothing wrong with that at all.

I don't know what it is like to go through what you are with infertility, but I do know what it is like to not fit in with the culture. I have never fit in to it myself, and choosing not to have kids after over 2 years of marriage hasn't made it any easier. I have noticed the same things you have. I don't have anything to say that will make you feel better, but at least you aren't alone, right?

I hope you get through this difficult time and that everything you want to have happen, happens.

Kayla said...

I heart you! I don't know how it feels to deal with what you deal with daily, but I can definitely empathize. Heavenly Father has given you these trials because he knows that you can take them...you're stronger than most, so don't give up!

Susan said...

In all honesty I have no idea what it would be like to go through all you have. But the feeling like a failure I totally understand (in a diff way). I hate keeping a clean house and making dinner and thats all David wants from me and I can't do it. Also I hate having responsibility. So I tend to neglect those that I have. Oh well I am who I am and I will be this way forever.I love ahving you as a neighbor, you're so much fun to be around. Really you are!! (Plus you're giving us cool couches)

Jared and Shalynn said...

It makes me sad that you are feeling the way you do. I hope with time you will realize that you are not a failure! I have many family members who aren't able to have children of their own, but through adoption they have what they've always wanted. They don't experience the part of being pregnant, but they get to bring home the best blessing of all. And really that's all that matters. I'm not gonna pretend like I know how you feel because I don't, but I want you to know that I care about you a lot. You are a great person and you deserve way more then you're giving yourself credit for.

Lisa said...

My natural instinct is to want to do whatever I can to make it better. I just want to fix it! But I know I can't. I hope you know that I love you and that even though you do feel this way, nobody else sees you as a failure. (Even your mormon culture) Hang in there and if you ever need ANYTHING let me know. I don't mind driving down there!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kenna. You don't know me, I kind of ended up on your blog by mistake. Maybe it's not my place to butt in since I'm not a friend. My sister recently went through a similar struggle. She tried to have kids for 6 years. She thought about adoption but couldn't shake the desire for her own child. About a year ago she had a baby boy with the gracious help of a surrogate. Have you ever thought about that as an option? Of course you have! What am I thinking?! I'm sure you've thought of every possibility. Like I said, I'm sorry to butt in but I really hope things get better and everying becomes bearable again. My best wishes to you and your husband!

Kenna said...

Dear Annonymous,

First off, I really wish you would let me know who you are. I'm not going to freak out if someone I don't know comments on my blog. It actually makes my day. I thrive on comments especially the perspective of new people.
We have thought about surrogates. I won't lie, the aching for having my 'own' biological child is very real and very strong. I have had a couple people (sis in law and a close friend) offer to be a surrogate. There are a couple problems, money, of course, and that I have PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome)and the chances of getting a healthy egg out of me is like 1 in all the eggs. We still plan on keeping it in the 'spank bank' but it's not something we can look into right now.
I appreciate the comment. It's nice to know that others are willing to support me, even if you don't know me. That's one of the most awesome results of the blog. Thank you so much.

Kenna

Kristen said...

Who cares about the rules of 'Internet etiquette'? Damn the man!

I know this sounds cheesy, but I'm really proud of you and grateful for your ability to just expose your feelings out there in the blogosphere like that. And it appears that I'm not alone.

As lame and insincere as this may sound, I do understand to some tiny degree what you're going through. Damn PCOS has been the bane of my existence for the last 7 years. While I haven't yet tried to have a kid (that I know of), my doctor has told me not to count on it. I do understand the daily ovary implosions and the hormones that screw with my weight and everything else that hormones like to screw with. I've watched friends of mine get married and have kids and know that that will probably never happen for me, and it absolutely kills me. I sometimes slip up and let it make me bitter and misanthropic (even more so than usual). So I do know at least an inkling of what you're feeling.

But unlike you, I have the advantage of being separated from having to deal with it directly for a few more years (God willing) until my maturity level catches up with me. In all seriousness, though, when that time comes I can only pray that I have the strength and grace to handle it the way that you do. And I can only pray that I will have as many people that love me and support me as you do.

I know you and I have had our moments in the past where we didn't always in synch, but I am so glad that in the last year or so we've had a second shot to be in each other's lives. We may not get to see each other much or talk often, but I just want you to know that knowing you has made a profound difference on me - though whether that's for good or bad is yet to be seen. :)

I love you!

The Wendler Family said...

Dear Kenna,
I have thought a bit about your post. I want you to know that I am sad for you. You have experienced a great loss. I can't begin to understand what life has been for you the past year and a half or so. All I can say is that I am glad we, and right now at this time esspecially you, have a knowledge of the Atonement. Christ suffered not just for our sins, but our pains, sorrows, and heartaches. I don't know how it will be made better, but I know that with time the Savior will make it better. The Lord is infinately wise. I don't know what all of these tials mean for you or why they have been given to you in such abundance within a short ammount of time, but all things will work together for your good, even these trials. You will be blessed with motherhood in one way or another, in this life if you so choose, as well as the next. Your example speaks volumes to me about the faith you have in our Father in Heaven's eternal plan by your will, however small it may be day by day, to carry on despite what you have gone and continue to go through. I love you!

Melanie

Betsy & Richard Lee said...

Infertility just plain sucks! It's your own personal hell that punctures the heart deep, and is a word that is used to lightly for what it means!
I think along with all the lessons in YW that we get about families there should be some warnings about infertility, because I think every girl thinks it's as easy as prom night! Quite untrue, and even with all the people I've known who've had babies, I still think the miracle is getting pregnant in the first place! (seriously, the stars have to align just right to make that baby!)
I have a whole list of things I wanted to say in response to your post (encouragement, empathy, suggestions, etc) but having KIND OF been there I know the best thing to hear is I'm so sorry!!! That truly, honestly is a horrible place to be put in, and you go ahead and vent and scream and cry whenever you feel like it. It's healthy to vent and you have every right to! *hugs*

Ashley said...

That post made more sense than anything I have ever heard (more like read, I suppose) you say. You are right about it all.

Holly & Kasey said...

I came across your blog while bored at work through Cali Jones blog. We went to high school together and you probably have no idea who I am, but I have to tell you how your post hit home. I too have been struggling with fertility issues. I have only gone through three miscarriages and it has been hell, so I can't even imagine what you are going through. Church kills me every week to go to and I swear that there are more pregnant woman now than there ever has been. I hate it. I hate to see new babies. I hate to see women "glowing." I understand what you are feeling and it just plain out sucks!! I am sorry that you have to go through what you are.

Mandy said...

kenna - you don't know me, but i've found a lot of strength going through your blog over the last couple of weeks. i realize that this is an older post, but it really spoke to me. i'm so sorry for the struggles that you are going you. you are amazing - don't forget that. thank you so much for sharing your gift of perspective and writing. i feel like i'm not crazy for having the same feelings on a daily basis. that alone has brought me comfort. i love you so much as a sister in the gospel and hope you think of this as an over-the-internet hug. hang in there, dear.

Jessica GaleForceOne said...

I think we should start a Mormon Mom club for all the Mormon Mom's without kids imo

And we don't have to apply to get in..and we all get A++'s and gold stars!

Natalie Daniel said...

Gah, I could not love you more! I found your blog on my friend Mandy's and I love it! I have struggled with infertility and have felt this way! I admire your candor, I wish I was more open with my trials. The lord puts people like you on this earth to teach others! What a blessing you are! Congrats on the new lil man!!! He's adorable!

Whitney said...

Amen sista! Every word you wrote TOTALLY resonates with me. Infertility sucks. That is all there is to it. My only consolation is that there are wonderful people out there (like you!) that totally get it. We're all in this together, right?! Thanks for sharing a part of you that is really hard to share.

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