Thursday, June 23, 2016

7 Years of Infertility

This year we will celebrate 8 years of marriage. It's hard to believe that that also means that we've struggled with infertility for nearly the same amount of time. But things have changed in those years.

I don't really think of us as struggling with infertility right now. Like most couples we talk about when we might be ready for another child, but it feels like we are somewhat in control of that decision and with infertility, everything felt outside of our control.

The reality is though, we are still infertile. We do nothing to prevent pregnancy because we know it won't happen. We've done nothing to prevent pregnancy in over 7 years and in case you were unaware, infertility is considered actively trying to get pregnant for one year. I think we've met that requirement. Don't get me wrong, I am a believer in miracles, but it doesn't actually cross my mind very often anymore, not the way it used to.

On the plus side, we don't have to think about family planning if we aren't ready to add to our family. On the down side, we only have 1-2 more chances with our remaining embryos to have a biological child. Embryo transfers are expensive, adoption is expensive. It's a lot more than just deciding to start trying again and see what happens.

This has become our normal. Someone asked in a natural fertility group that I'm part of how long everyone has been trying to conceive. This is what sparked my thinking. I thought about it and my answer was that we tried for 5.5 years, then our boys joined our family and from that point forward, we haven't been trying because we haven't been pursing fertility treatments, but we are still definitely infertile. It feels like a dividing point where I took on the identity of being infertile, and then I no longer carried that as something that defined me or our family.

It's been freeing.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Finding my tribe

During my recent ProDoula labor training, we learned about personality types using a different system than I have been exposed to before. In learning this, I also learned that I am the type of person that needs to have a network. I want to know that I'm not alone in what I'm going through. In this day in age of social media, that is now far easier. There are Facebook groups for almost everything where you can ask questions and get almost immediate responses from someone who is in the same place you are or from those who have already walked that same road before you.

When we were in the thick of infertility I began blogging for this reason. I needed to put my thoughts and feelings somewhere. I needed to feel like I was educating someone on the pain of infertility because that was the only thing that was in my control. I really was seeking a network and community. Sharing our story welcomed those who were also facing infertility into my network. Through in person relationships, Facebook (FB) friendships and FB groups I found a tribe of women who understood what we were going through.

Then we moved onto adoption. I found a group for those who were going through the adoption process, but were not yet matched. Some were just beginning and others had been waiting for years, but again, I found my tribe.

Then we became adoptive parents and I found a new tribe. Those navigating the waters of open adoption. Some with kids far older than my own and who had been doing this much longer and some who were just beginning.  I could ask questions and I've learned more about how to do open adoption well from these groups. Again, I found my tribe.

With our adoption also came twins and Down syndrome. I tried twin groups, but I didn't really feel like I fit with our unique dynamic. I found a group for parents of children with Ds and then I received a message from a the co-founder of an amazing organization that not only had a group for mom's who's little ones were born in 2014 like Asher, but also a group for mom's with a twin or two with Ds. Again, I found my tribe(s).

However, there was one tribe I was lacking, but in a place where my desire for support was growing. That was a tribe for spouses or wives of someone with Cystic Fibrosis. As we've faced new developments with Elias' health the past 6 months, I was starting to feel lonely. I had questions that I didn't want to wait for clinic checkups to ask. There are a lot of amazing groups and resources for people with CF themselves or for parents of children with CF, but I didn't fit into either one of those categories. I wanted to talk to those who knew what it was like to have a spouse with this disease. The changes that come with age with a condition that is progressive. The CF community isn't huge to begin with, but add that to the fact that CF patients can't actually be within 3-6 feet of each other (depending on your source), it can get pretty lonely. Finally, on a particularly difficult week, I asked in a larger group for CF support if there were any groups for me as a wife of a CFer. And there was. I now have a tribe of CF wives. All of our husbands are in different places health wise, but we can offer each other support. We can talk about the hard stuff and we can celebrate the victories. Again, I have found my tribe.