My blog name is suddenly antiquated…
But really, for me, 2016 was the year of infertility – not because its where it started, but because it’s where it ended for me.
This last year has been a very… It’s been a hard year. I have spiralled in and out of some level of depressive symptoms since adolescence, but admitting that I can’t procreate has brought out a whole new level of self loathing I was not in any way prepared for. I am lucky in that I have not failed at many things I have tried to accomplish in my life – I can quite literally count the things I feel I utterly failed at on one hand (my grade 9 royal conservatory piano exam (I fell apart playing the raindrop prelude and couldn’t pull it back – I failed by 2%, I got 58% when I needed 60% to pass…), the 1 high retrieval when working at a zip line (seriously, what freak of nature can pull themselves back up a 150 meter zip line? Not this girl… Seriously, those freaks of nature are kinda awesome… but I digress) I didn’t get into physio school (3.64/4 not a good enough GPA – 3.81 was the minimum I would have needed. FML) aaaaaaand getting pregnant – 3.5 years of unprotected sex and counting). Don’t get me wrong, there have been things I didn’t do well at. I only count my first race in a single scull at an international regatta not a fail because I didn’t tip the boat – I still came in last place, I’m just happy I stayed upright. For me I only feel like I failed when I don’t meet a basic level of function or achievement/reasonable expectation. I don’t think that it was an unreasonable expectation to have achieved any of my major failings: The piano exam I was prepared for, I knew, and know, that piece of music well, and even recognizing that I messed up, I still could have brought it back. The 1 high retrieval -well, that was a full body muscle failure, I was exhausted, but still, I think I could have done better. The GPA – i’m smart, I just like to multitask a lot, and i’m terrible with details… you know, those basic details like studying for exams thoroughly…..
Pregnancy, or the lack thereof, has been a whole other thing. I think it’s a basic mammalian expectation to be able to procreate. So not being privy to that arena has been a failure on a very basic and disturbing level. I have several friends who feel no drive to procreate, and they feel no such failure. But I think that that lack of sensation comes because they made a choice – one that I did not. I did not choose this for myself, and neither did my Husband. We planned a life with children, our own, our genetic weirdos, and despite our efforts, that has not been possible. I don’t think he resents me – he’s made it quite clear that our relationship matters more than our hypothetical children, and I hope he continues to feel that way. We have had open discussions on adoption, and I think that that will ultimately be the direction we go for. At least we will try. I’d like to adopt a child, or siblings, out of the foster care system. I have no drive to look after an infant.
But on failure: I think that’s the hardest part. It is for me. I don’t know if that is the same sensation that other women who are confronting infertility face – I suspect if I had a concrete answer as to WHY we can’t conceive I would have an easier time of it. But there isn’t an answer except that we can’t, and at this point we statistically won’t. I don’t handle failure well. Years have passed since most of what I mentioned above, and they still bother me. In true character, I haven’t handled this one well. Well, I don’t think I have. I’ve been a withdrawn, shrivelled, miserable version of myself. And apparently my self flagellantism knows no bounds. I recognize that I have been grieving, and will probably continue to need to grieve. I am trying very hard to hide my grief from everyone who cares about me, because I don’t want them to know how much it is still bothering me. I think there is the outside perception that this is something to get over – something that will pass. And I let people think that. The very few people I have confided in, I allow to think that it is a passing thing, and i’m over it. They don’t need to know that each fresh menstrual cycle is a fresh indication of failure, or how hard it is for me to congratulate my friends on their progeny. Sorrow is hard – it’s hard to experience, but somehow it’s doubly hard to inflict on the people who care. I think my Husband is aware – he’s around me enough that he sees through my public persona and sees me hide and regroup. I think one or two of my closest friends have a whisper of an idea that I may not be as upbeat as I profess, but they respect me too much to push the issue. Because the funny thing about grief is that it has an expressed shelf life. Then those around you want it to be over with, and it’s time to move on. Public expression becomes insufferable, and you have to internalize to not put out those around you. So instead I push it down, and away, and make up stories to myself about how I’m ok with this, how I have grown in ways that I never would have had I had children, and how I can be so much more than I would have been professionally, personally, athletically, academically. All of which is true, to some extent – I would not be who I am now without the experiences wrought by this one small quirk of my physiology. And much of what and who I am I value. But the very honest truth is I would still go back and trade it all just to get pregnant. But thats a secret I can’t tell, and a grief I can’t share.
So this last year has been hard, because I’ve had to be honest with myself on a level I haven’t been able to be, and probably won’t be, with anyone else.
2017 is starting bright – we have possession of the town house we bought, we started painting it today. It has two bedrooms, one will be a shared office, one will be ours – no room for a hypothetical child, we are letting that space go, at least physically. 2017 holds promise professionally, academically, and athletically. I plan to continue racing a rowing scull, I think I can push my fitness to a new level I have never gotten to before, and that excites me. I have five courses left to finish my masters, and I am building and running a falls prevention program for adults in my community who are at high risk of injury. My husband and I work well as a team, and I think that having our new home to work on will be good for us.
So let 2017 be bright