Monday, June 4, 2007

Waiting For . . . Binky To Update Her Blog

My apologies for the late posting. Blogspot has been an unkind master today.

The great goddess Mel at Stirrup Queens has organized the Barren Bitches Book Brigade, in which those of us who struggle with fertility issues can chit-chat about books on relevant topics.

This round's book is the magnificent Peggy Orenstein's Waiting For Daisy. If you haven't read it, by all means, get yourself a copy. If you've gone through this, it will feel like curling up on the couch with a soulmate. If you haven't gone through this, it will help you understand those who have.

Below are some questions generated by the BBBB and my responses:

1. We have all had our own experience with infertility. Whether it was from IVF, IUI, miscarriages, or other forms we have all been there. How do you feel Peggy's story compares to yours?

Hoo boy. I would bet we've sat in the same chairs in the same waiting rooms at different times. I gave the same nickname to the same irascible nurse. Saw the same acupuncturist and stared up at the same fake flowers and wondered about the combs and drank the mud and had many of the same thoughts.

There were also many differences, and I still have no idea how my story is going to turn out. But there is enormous comfort in knowing that she went through so much, that it turned out so well for her, and that she still had the energy to write that book for the rest of us.

2. On page 152, the author writes of considering her 3 miscarriages differently - as two miscarriages and one molar pregnancy. She explains that she does that because she doesn't blame herself for the molar pregnancy (caused by sperm abnormality) like she blames herself and feels guilty for the other miscarriages. In your fertility life, do you categorize different incidences like she does? In your heart, do you feel more or less guilty depending upon whose "fault" it was? Is that a way of coping?

I've actually felt a lot of ambivalence over stating that I've had three miscarriages, instead of one miscarriage and two chemical pregnancies. For me, it wasn't a matter of assigning blame -- my scrambled eggs are likely at the root of all our problems -- but of feeling entitled to the extra care, and the extra sympathy, that came with those losses. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense. It wouldn't have hurt any less if those cycles were just negatives. (In fact, it might have hurt more).

My reaction may say something about how our society deals with infertility and miscarriage. Many people still have no idea how to deal with or express sympathy toward someone who has had a miscarriage. But infertility? Fuggedaboudit. The multibillion dollar fertility-industrial complex notwithstanding, it's totally invisible.

3. In the epilogue, Orenstein struggles with what might be called the mythology of infertility: the messages and assumptions that it's all worth it in the end; that it's a matter of luck (the chapter's title is "Meditations on Luck"); that everything has worked out for the best; that adoption might be an emotional/spiritual cure for infertility; that some couples may be too quick to seek medical assistance; that she may have waited too long to begin trying to conceive; and, as another woman told her earlier in her journey, that "the pain goes away." Her husband warns her to not become a revisionist, but she acknowledges that becoming a mother has been a "surprisingly redemptive" experience and seems to not entirely reject the above messages. Describe how you feel about the presence of this mythology, both in Orenstein's epilogue and in your own life. How has it affected the way you tell your story, on your blog or elsewhere, and how you interpret others' stories? To what extent have you revised or even rewritten your own story of infertility? Is it inevitable, perhaps even necessary, to do so?

I am revising my story every minute. Certainly this pregnancy has caused a sea change in my feelings about the journey. I don't think it's possible to avoid it. That's kind of why I blog. I don't want to lose touch with how it felt, each step of the way, in the moment.

4. When you received your IF diagnosis, did you feel as if you were being punished or it was simply a case of dumb luck?

Perhaps it was the Catholic upbringing kicking in, but I still feel sometimes like infertility was my punishment from the universe for spending two decades building a career, having a wild, fun life, and trying to forge my own path. I recognize (after fifteen years of therapy) that it doesn't work that way, and that during that time I was also working my way back to mental health after a really big trauma and years of PTSD. Still, there are so many what ifs.

Of course, the biggest what if is, "What if I'd gotten married/had a child earlier and never met Atomic?" Sure, I wish I'd met him before I was dangling over the fertility cliff, but I met him, and my life is much better for it. He is the father of my children, however long we have to struggle to have them.


There you have it. Binky's literary wit & wisdom.

Here's what my friends in the computer have to say about the book. Please follow the links and go check them out.


Sunny said...

"Many people still have no idea how to deal with or express sympathy toward someone who has had a miscarriage" VERY TRUE! The same is true for infertility. I think people are afraid to try to understand sometimes.

Great thoughts!

Bea said...

I like what you say in question two. People at large draw such distinctions between a m/c at, say, 14 weeks and a chemical pregnancy and a negative IVF cycle. But our reactions and our grief are based on so many individual factors.

I've heard people say one loss/cycle affected them more than another, but there's no blanket rule you can apply to everyone in terms of which is earlier or later, or molar, or first, or whatever.

Certainly it does sometimes "help" in some ways to have had a m/c rather than a negative or a chemical. Friends and family have more of a clue.


Carlynn said...

I found your answer to the first question very interesting when you said you could have been sitting in the same chair in the same waiting room. I struggled to relate to the book and I'm still trying to figure out why.

I really liked your comments on loss, "Many people still have no idea how to deal with or express sympathy toward someone who has had a miscarriage. But infertility? Fuggedaboudit. The multibillion dollar fertility-industrial complex notwithstanding, it's totally invisible." People don't really know what to say or they give the old "just relax" stories. It's a huge problem, it makes me as an infertile feel like a drama queen blowing her little life out of proportion. Maybe I will get a t-shirt with Fuggedaboudit printed on it and only you and I will know what it stands for!

Jackie said...

Oh, yes, the Catholic upbringing. I can totally relate...although I don't feel as though I'm being punished as much as I feel overwhelmingly guilty. I feel like I grew up hearing "tsk, tsk, tsk" and now my brain just plays it automatically whenever a moment presents itself that I could feel even remotely guilty about. Is it possible to feel guilty without feeling like your being punished? It's like I feel guilty for having bad luck...weird. Oh well, that's just me, I guess!

Ellen K. said...

That struck me, too -- that the author went through this and still had the energy to write a book about it. I wonder what sort of book she would have written -- if any -- if she hadn't eventually conceived. (The story of her attempted adoption isn't a particularly pretty one.)

I also like your comment on the invisibility of infertility.

BestLight said...

There are no shared rituals for grieving miscarriage. I had to make up my own.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Coffeegrl said...

I think your thoughts in question 2 are really insightful. I DO think the lack of awareness surrounding both infertility and miscarriages contributes to confusion about how to address this publicly.

The Town Criers said...

Yay! I'm glad you were able to post.

I love your thoughts on the lack of recognition of IF. Loss too, but IF is this invisible struggle.

millie said...

I will never ever forget those combs at that acupuncturists office.

Infertility really is such an invisible and lonely struggle that so few people get.

I hope your story turns out as well as Peggy's did.