Infertility, Exposed

I got my period today. Great.

It is amazing to me how I can mentally prepare myself for this disappointment, but nothing really softens the blow. Every single month.

Given that my doctor is recommending I see a reproductive specialist, I figured it was about time to actually tell my family about this. Though for no apparent reason, I am officially “not fertile.” And if I’m going to head down the road to IUI, IVF, ritual sage burning, or whatever else this stupid journey has in store… well, I figure they should probably know about something this big happening in my life.

I had been putting it off for a few reasons– my mother’s health, my sister’s health, and plain old avoidance. This is simply a conversation you don’t ever want to have, let alone with family members who have proven themselves to be emotionally deaf as of late.

In order to minimize the horror show, I planned this out carefully. 1) I told them about a week before my period was scheduled to arrive.  I’m one sad bird just before, what with the magical combination of raging PMS and the dawning realization that I am still not pregnant. I did not want to add painful conversations to that list.  2) I picked my methods of communication: email for my siblings, a phone call for my dad. Why email? It may seem impersonal, but I didn’t think I could handle having this conversation 3 times. My dad would require a personal touch, fine. Even if he is batty these days, he is still my dad. My brother and sister can just lump it.

Much to my surprise, everyone was totally decent about it. (Aside: Maybe I’m not giving them enough credit? Discuss.)

My sister offered me her eggs. I actually thought this was a little bit funny. Don’t get me wrong- it’s a nice gesture. It’s just very much what my sister does. She plays surrogate parent, swoops in, and tries to solve the problem.

My brother wrote back almost immediately saying how sorry he was. He and his wife had 4 miscarriages when trying to have their second child. I knew this, but what I didn’t know is that this was also for “mysterious reasons” i.e. no doctor could figure out why. I wouldn’t say that this was “nice” to hear- that’s just weird. But I appreciate that he knows what a complete shit time this is. (Only worse. Because I can’t imagine actually getting pregnant, only to miscarry. FOUR TIMES.)

Then came the call I was dreading… telling my dad. I just didn’t know how he would take it. Lately when something goes wrong, he has been lumping it into the massive pile of misery brought on by my mother’s injuries. My nephew isn’t doing well in school? He is obviously distressed over my mom. My sister gets diagnosed with autoimmune diseases? They are worsened by stress, and it must be my mom’s medical problems that brought them on.

It’s a wonderful way to minimize the suffering of others, isn’t it?

Any way, I was almost curious to see how he was going to bring this back to my mom. But nope, not once. He just said that he was sorry, and that he would support me and Mr. Ostrich any way he can.

(The other shoe is about to drop. Wait for it…. wait…)

Then he went on to talk about how parenting was one of the best experiences of his life. Of all the things he has done, seen, or accomplished, being a parent was the thing that gave him the most joy. For real, Dad. I’ve just told you I may not be able to have kids, and you tell me that was the best thing you ever did? You couldn’t just humor me and say “Jet skiing. That was the best thing ever. Do that, and you can die happy?” Sometimes you really need to think before opening your mouth. Sigh…

Interestingly, I learned that his parents tried for 3 years before he was born. They thought that it was a fluke that they got pregnant in the first place, and were doubly surprised when they had twins about two years later. I’m not sure this makes me feel better, but it is sort of amazing how many people I know have experienced some kind of wonky fertility.

So now I’m totally exposed. I don’t feel any better. Honestly, what makes any of this feel better? I’ve been trying to find ways to enjoy the life I have, but that only lasts a while. Then I’m back to the tidal pool of sad face where I spend most of my time these days.

Next up: Arguing with insurance and medical professionals. My two favorite things.

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6 comments

  1. bionicbrooklynite · May 23, 2014

    Well done, family! And well done ostrich, too.

    I think with some of this stuff there isn’t really “better” on offer, just “not worse.”

    • thecommonostrich · May 25, 2014

      Ah yes- the realization that there isn’t a good or bad, just varying degrees of suck. On my better days (or “not worse” days) I remind myself that unexplained infertility is not as bad as… say, finding out I don’t have a uterus. Unexplained I can work with.

  2. Haisla · May 24, 2014

    “Jet skiing. That was the best thing ever. Do that and you can die happy…” That crack’d me up. I wish there was something like jet skiing that could make it all better. Even when talking about deeply sad and depressing things, you can make me laugh. Thank you for that, Ostrich, it’s a gift. And I’m sorry it has to be this hard.. xx

    • thecommonostrich · May 25, 2014

      Thanks! I was actually reading your post this morning about finding things to be grateful for. I’m starting a list of things that are gifts in my life… My own post to follow!

  3. conceptionallychallenged · June 5, 2014

    I’m glad they responded ok, apart from your dad’s ode to parenting. Honestly I think some people have a hard time grasping the concept that we’d want to have kids but truly can’t easily. When I was pregnant with the twins, after 4 years of infertility, FIL commented how he was glad we finally decided to have kids. I didn’t even know what to say.

    • thecommonostrich · June 6, 2014

      Now I don’t know what to say. That’s SHOCKING. On behalf of the larger cosmos, I’m so sorry someone said that to you. It is interesting to me how people assume that this is a choice. And then doubly interesting how people respond based on their own perspectives on it- I’ve had people tell me I’m selfish for not giving my parents grandchildren (As if they are some kind of present? What?) Other people give me little speeches about how the world is overpopulated and I’m doing Earth a favor.

      Their reactions say so much more about them than they do about us, right?

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