what now? life on "the other side"

This post is a spin off from the PAIL feature post questions that sprung from this article.

What does the “after” feel like to you? Is it bittersweet, or are you at peace?
I seriously think my answer to this just depends on the day. Honestly, the majority of the time, I’m at peace. I am happy. Every single day I think about how I am so, so, so grateful to have Stella in our lives. The bittersweet only comes to the forefront of my mind when (1) I think about my friends who are still struggling in IF hell for TTC#1, or (2) when Charlie and I wonder whether we’ll ever be blessed to have another child. At this point, we pretty much feel like if it happens, it happens…neither of us necessarily wants an only child, but neither of us thinks our marriage can handle the emotional and financial strain of TTC for #2 through ART…so we shall see. For the most part, though, I’m just incredibly thankful that we took that leap of faith that led us to bringing Stella into our lives.

Do you still experience negative emotions surrounding your ALI journey? Did you expect this?
Yes, I still experience those negative, jealous emotions all of the time, and no, I didn’t expect it.. While TTC, I had really hoped that once I got that BFP…once I held Stella in my arms…once my dreams of a baby came true – that I would more easily be able to accept the accidental/easy pregnancies of my friends. Sadly, honestly, that hasn’t happened. Sure, it doesn’t stab my heart as sharply as it used to, but there are still so many days that I think what the fuck is wrong with me?…as I cry or grimace or groan about yet another pregnancy announced on FB. What is it about FB that makes those announcements even worse?!

Williams discusses feeling like a veteran versus a survivor. What is your take on this, as it relates to the ALI journey? Do you think of yourself in some other way?
I am a Veteran. Definitely. Yes, I survived IF, but just that word “survive” makes it seem like that journey is behind me and long gone. Maybe some day I will feel like that, but really, I think that IF will always affect me…whether it’s because of my own fears regarding TTC#2, because of my fears for my friends and siblings (both that they might have problems and my fears of being jealous of them if they don’t), or because of my fears for my own daughter and her possible TTC journey some day… I think that no matter what, my take on family building will always be affected by the path I had to take to get here. That’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, I think, though I am thankful that I am so much more empathetic towards others now. It’s sad that it can take you experiencing a difficult situation for yourself before you can truly empathize with others…though I suppose that’s the definition of empathy – the capacity to recognize feelings that are being experienced by another.

How can we help each other get “there”? What will healing look like?
Healing for me is continuing to talk about my journey…to share that it isn’t always easy…to assure others that you’re not alone if you’re struggling to create your family. There are resources out there, and I feel like every time I help a woman find the best resources to help her…every time I help a friend understand the pain her sister is going through…every time I can help anyone have a little more compassion for a friend or family member that is struggling through an ALI journey… every time that happens, a little more of my heart heals.

9 comments

  1. Great post! 🙂

  2. I love the feeling I get when I'm able to share my story with a friend, and possibly help them a little to at least start listening to their body and looking for signs. I never thought I would be comfortable doing it, but I am, and if I can help just one person over this awful hurdle, I almost feel like my journey was worth it. I wish those awful pings of jealousy had disappeared though…

  3. Thanks, Fiona. Like I was saying to SRB this morning, obviously I'm in a pretty good head space right now. There are definitely days (and weeks) where I don't feel nearly so well-adjusted or comfortable with the "after." It's always something in flux for me I guess.

  4. Exactly! It makes me feel like this was at least a little worth it when I can educate someone about their cycles and such.

  5. I still struggle with IF having two healthy kids. Granted it took us 3 years to get and stay pregnant again, but having C doesn't make those 3 years of pain and jealousy vanish. It is easier to deal with IF because I have my girls but I don't think it ever goes away completely.What is nice is that one of my SIL's is struggling TTC and she can talk to me about it. All of her other sisters had no problem getting/staying pregnant so they can't relate to her at all.

  6. You are an amazing woman Josey!

  7. I can so relate to much of what you said. I didn't expect to still have all of the negative feelings or bitterness. I hate that I can't just be happy for my friends who get pregnant so easily – not that I am not happy for them, I am, it is that I am not "just" happy – I am also sad and bitter about it. I also agree with the "veteran" aspect – IF will always be a part of who I am and a part of our story. Just because I have a daughter now does not mean that IF is gone. If/when we want to TTC #2 our only hope of doing so is through DE IVF – there will be no accidental or surprise pregnancies here. Helping others who are dealing with IF is one of the surprising good things that has come from this. I have a few friends who are also struggling and I know that being able to talk to someone who has "been there" has been a blessing to them so I think it has brought me closer to those friends.

  8. This was interesting to read your "after" thoughts Josey. I haven't had too much experience with this just being in the thick of the first trimester nervousness, but I recently saw a FB baby shower and froze up with jealousy. What? I'm going to have a shower too, what is my problem? It's just this initial reaction of hurt and pain. It was shocking to realize I still felt that way. I'm curious to know when I will start worrying about #2 at this point. All my new doctors see endometriosis on my ovaries, and I'm so confused. The IFer in me wants to get to the bottom of this and research and find out if THAT was my actual diagnosis and how likely it is that I could get pregnant again. And all my doctors act like it's no worry at all because I"m pregnant now. It's still a huge concern of mine, but right now I'm just choosing to not worry about it…yet.

  9. Thanks for posting this. It was interesting to read. I like the thought of being a "veteran" vs a "survivor". Once you've been through IF, I really don't think those emotions leave you.

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