I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours…

Hi Kids,

TEST DAY tomorrow…pretty exciting times really!

Your mom is out gallivanting with her book-club ladies, coffee & cake followed by a movie…good timing really, because if she was sitting here at home, she would be going mad(der)…getting more tightly wound up by the second…and probably driving me crazy. So, she’s having some good distractions, getting to cuddle some baby twins and then getting to lose herself in the latest (what I’m positive is totally mind-numbing) teenage vampire movie.

I, on the other hand, have spent most of the day on the Fertilicare forum, waiting for one of the ladies who’s testing today to post her news. There was some rugby on the telly, so, to make sure I didn’t miss the news on BloomingB’s test (or miss any of the rugby), I set the laptop up in the lounge and watched the rugby whilst repeatedly hitting refresh on the laptop…all to no avail. The rugby was appalling and there’s been no news from BloomingB…(I hope that means that she’s too busy celebrating to bother logging on and updating us).

Now the rugby’s finished (and I’m not in a good mood as a result!!), and I’m tapping my fingers, still waiting for news…so, before I lose my few remaining marbles and the very last strands of my fraying patience, I thought I’d talk to you guys…and here I am.

But it’s test day tomorrow and that’s totally consuming my thoughts…so what to post about…then it hit me…I wrote a long post a while ago, but decided as it was a little too inflammatory and negative, that I wouldn’t post it…but now I’m going to…

Like I say, it’s touchy stuff, so if you’re easily offended or feeling particularly vulnerable or sensitive…don’t read any further…and if you do read further, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

What the hell…so here it is:-

There are a great many things about infertility that are strange. Every time you look around there’s some new strange aspect, some new strange conversation, some new strange experience. There’s almost no aspect of IF that isn’t just a little bit peculiar. And rather than point out some of them (which I might do in other posts in the future), I’m just going to talk about one of them.

The strangest strange thing about infertility (in my opinion) is the feeling that there’s some kind of level of infertility.

I’ve noticed this feeling out there in the land of IF, this sense that people seem to try and compare people’s infertility – like there’s some kind of scorecard, some kind of judo-belt-like colour rating system. And I think everyone out there has their own score mentally noted. They’ve done the maths. And whenever they read someone’s blog, read their posts on forums, talk to them or talk about them, they’re mentally scoring that persons IF journey and comparing it to their own…

‘Oh well, they were practically fertiles, I mean honestly, one little lap and she conceived naturally’ or ‘They’ve only been trying for 13 months…really, what are they worrying about’ or ‘They haven’t even had an IVF yet’ or ‘IUI’s are so easy…wait till she gets to IVF, then she’ll know what we’ve been through’ or ‘They haven’t had a miscarriage, so they have no idea’ or ‘She’s already got one kid, why can’t she be happy with that and leave us real infertiles alone’ or ‘I know they’ve been trying for 8 years, but she’s only 31 for goodness sake, what’s her problem’ or ‘Poor motility…it’s not like they don’t have sperm or something’ or ‘She got pregnant on her first IVF – she has no idea what it’s like’ and on and on and on… ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

…and I get it…some people have experienced way more than others, some have really been through the proverbial wringer. There are those people out there that when you hear their story, you marvel at their strength and dedication, their perseverance and you wonder how they keep going. It boggles your mind how much they’ve endured, how much they’ve spent, how much they’ve sacrificed in pursuit of this goal to have children.

And I suppose this is natural. Some people seem to get off lightly. But the thing that really gets me is this feeling that I sometimes get, that people have problems being supportive of everyone who’s been through less than them. This feeling that you’ve gotta earn your stripes to talk to the uber-vets – those people who’ve been through it all and are still fighting. That you should only expect support from people on the same IF scorecard level as you…as if those with a lower belt colour can’t know what you’re going through so can’t really understand, and that those with a higher belt colour shouldn’t have to acknowledge the lesser suffering of those below them.

Sure, they can offer a bit of advice and support to people on a different IF level, but don’t expect them to actually really really sympathise with you…you haven’t been through enough yet to warrant their sincere sympathy, or you’re too new to this to be able to really comprehend their suffering and provide valuable support to them.

The problem with this is that I think it’s human nature. I think people need to put everyone else in a box, give everyone a grade, a label, so they know how to deal with them, how to interact appropriately.

So you find yourself automatically analysing your own battle with IF and trying to grade yourself…to figure out your own IF score, your IF belt colour. When calculating your IF score, you need to group things into one of three categories: time, procedures and hardship factors. The first two are fairly obvious (other than I’m not totally sure on the various points scores for the different procedures – does 4 IUI’s = 1 IVF, or is it 6?). The third category – Hardship factors – seem to mainly feature the pain and heartache you’ve had to endure, the difficulty you’ve had with the whole journey, with the procedures (like side-affects from meds) as well as the financial burden of ART.

With all that in mind, I thought I might calculate our IF scorecard…and here’s what that looks like…

I’ve been infertile my whole life (as far as we know), so I reckon we get some serious points for time…but on the other hand, we’ve only actually been trying to conceive for 18 months…take out the normal 12 month waiting time that most people have to go through before ‘qualifying’ to see an FS and we only have 6 months ‘in the game’…we’re actually newbies…we don’t even have sperm…so we’re not even really trying …jeez, not sure we even qualify for a IF beginner’s white belt (well, okay, that’s changed since I wrote this originally – yippee, but we still don’t have enough to conceive in any way other than through ICSI). That raises a thorny question in the scoring…if you don’t have sperm yet, are you actually trying to conceive…I know I’m on meds to rectify that, but still….what points does that scenario score? – can’t be many.

But that’s okay, we’ve just started our first IVF cycle – well that’s plenty of IF points, because IVF is the Big Kahuna (although you do get more points if you’re having to use intralipids, ICSI, PICSI, PGD or any of those more advanced IVF-related additions) and we’re using ICSI – so there’s good points scoring there. But we skipped the months and months of timed cycles, and we didn’t bother with a number of IUI attempts before progressing to IVF, so we’ve lost a whole heap more IF scorecard points there…as a result, we’ve also lost points on the hardship factors – no costs of these multiple procedures and no emotional pain and heartache from repeated 2ww’s and multiple BFN’s. We’ve never had a BFP that resulted in a little baby, and we haven’t adopted or inherited someone else’s child, so we’re scoring there. However, we’ve never had a BFN, a chemical pregnancy, a m/c or a child that never survived…so we’ve lost a lot of points there. We’re a heterosexual couple so we’ve lost hardship and complication points there and our points take a further knock because our family are trying their best (and mainly succeeding) to be really  supportive and understanding.

So, in summary, I’ve been infertile for all my life, but we’re newbies, by the end of next month we’ll have spent over R80,000, but had very few procedures, we’ll have only had one official 2ww and as we had no sperm before hand, the 7 years before that with no contraception also don’t count.

do you see how ridiculous this all is…

We’ve both been on the Fertilicare forum for well over a year, with a combined post/comment tally of well over a thousand (although 85% of those are the DW’s) – and before you comment, I do not equate number of posts made on a forum with real experience or knowledge. We’ve spent months and months researching every aspect of our diagnosis, understanding ART and the possibilities, the procedures and the acronyms, we’ve emailed overseas organisations, we’ve met others struggling with IF…and I still feel like we’ve not been through enough to be able to make eye contact with the uber-vet’s who’ve endured unfathomly more than we have, and are still gamely trying to conceive their children (I know “unfathomly” isn’t a real word, but it sort of explains how impossible it seems for someone who hasn’t been through what these people have, to understand how they keep at it).

Am I crazy to think we’re lucky – we may be the first infertiles with a negative IF score – our IF belt colour is…whatever would come before white I suppose. It seems strange to me that this infertility issue had me on anti-depressants 18 years ago when I was told I would never be a father, and yet I still feel like a newby, that I have no right to complain about what we’re dealing with and what we’ve been through, because deep down I know, as much as they may say otherwise, any infertile reading it will automatically perform their own mental IF scorecard, compare it to ours and be thinking that I have no right to bitch and moan…

Thank goodness we’ll have an IVF cycle under our belt soon, or we might be laughed off by every other infertile.

And it leaves me with this little nagging feeling that if this IVF cycle works, our first ever ‘real’ IF procedure will have resulted in our baby…and that there’ll be a whole world of IF’ers out there thinking we know nothing, that we had it easy, that we haven’t “suffered enough”. That we got off lightly…and you know what, if this cycle works (and I believe that it will), I will also feel that we got of lightly.

I know it might seem crazy to say it, but there are days when I look at what we’ve been through and I think it hasn’t been that bad. Maybe your mom’s slipping some kind of drug into my morning coffee…but some day’s I think we’ve weathered this brilliantly. Your mom and I love each other more every day. We have learned to talk about absolutely everything and anything – nothing is too difficult, too embarrassing, too private for us to share with each other. We still laugh a lot, we have as much fun as possible, we enjoy each other and share each others dreams.

Yes, there have been tears, sleepless nights, difficult decisions, problems, compromises, embarrassing situations, pain and distress…but shouldn’t you have to go through this to ‘earn the right’ to have a child? Isn’t it the perfect lesson in dealing with what the hardest parts of having children are? And if you can keep your sense of humour, can keep from becoming bitter and twisted, can still enjoy each and every positive thing life gives you, won’t you be better parents for it?

I don’t know, but that’s my hope.

And so, after all that, I can’t understand this sensation of needing to compare each others IF score, but somehow, I understand people’s need to do it…it’s the IF equivalent of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”.

And as much as we’ve been through, I feel like we’re only just approaching the IF white belt, we’re only just getting on the first rung of the IF scorecard ladder, because your mom and I are doing alright. In fact, we’re doing great…and the only thing that’ll make it greater is for a good result tomorrow on Test Day…here’s hoping.

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~ by HopelesslyTTC on 24/07/2010.

8 Responses to “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours…”

  1. I know what you mean, I noticed it too. But I think it’s more just scales of denial. I remember finding out we were IF and thinking – maybe I’m only a LITTLE bit IF? And then slowly but surely realising that I’m actually, probably, really, completely IF. I’ve had no treatment yet (probably the lowest score there is right?) but geez I feel the pain since I’ve realised that.

    I’m thinking of you guys today and tomorrow. I was secretly hoping MiW would have POAS but I’m proud that she hasn’t…

  2. Oh how you’ve hit the nail on the head! So very true! Just wanted to pop in and wish you guys the best of luck for tomorrow. I hope that you can get some sleep and that tomorrow brings with it the best news ever. I’ll be waiting with bated breath to read about it
    Good luck to you and MiW I truly hope and pray that this is it!

  3. Sorry for holding you in suspense – not my intention…this morning was just such a whirl wind for me…will check in tomorrow – don’t pull a *Blooming B* on me and hold me in suspense 🙂 ALL THE BEST!!

  4. Well, I’ll explain how I think this works, but this is just my opinion based on observing the human race….

    You guys are kind people who feel a huge amount of empathy for others, even if you had endured the most horrific journey possible (and I seriously hope you get the best possible journey) you would probably still find yourself thinking that somehow other people had had it worse than you…. it’s just your nature.

    Those folk who think their deal has been so much worse than everyone else’s probably thought that right at the start of their journey when they hadn’t yet had much of a rough deal at all – but it is in their nature to feel hard done by.

    I know which camp I’d rather be in… :0)

    Good luck, thinking of you both x

  5. I hope I’m not one of those vets you’re talking about… I really don’t want to be like that, but maybe sometimes something slips through that might have been better left unsaid. I am truly happy for people that don’t have to go through multiple IUI’s or IVF’s or miscarriages and get their baby. It’s no fun to go through IF for 10 + years and still have nothing to show for it, and I do not wish it upon anyone! The problem is we really don’t like ourselves anymore – I mean who can live with jealousy, envy, guilt,anger etc for so long and still like yourself? So on behalf of all the vets I would like to apologize and say – you are right, its not fair to keep score…

    I really do hope you get good news today and your loooooong awaited BFP (I’m not sarcastic here) and please do not feel guilty if you do get your heart’s desire!

  6. The Pain Olympics! There have been some great posts about this in the past.

    http://laf.typepad.com/laf/2004/08/a_few_weeks_ago.html
    http://tertia.typepad.com/so_close/2004/05/ivf_barbie.html
    http://tertia.typepad.com/so_close/2004/08/the_pain_olympi.html#comments

    I think it works both ways. I personally don’t presume to know what it feels like to go through ART for years on end with no baby at the end of it all. I haven’t faced the decision to quit and walk away empty-handed. Or what it feels like to get PG and lose the baby after a stay in a NICU.
    Do I expect my blog friends who have made that step to hang around while I vent about having to do ART for a second child? No. They’re welcome, but I can imagine it hurts too much.

    I confess, I don’t seek to connect with those newly arrived at IF’s threshold. My bitterness levels are too high for those still hopeful of a quick fix. I’m not for giving false hope, but I don’t want to unnecessarily dash anyone’s hope either. That leaves little to say.
    Of course I’m glad for all those who do have success quickly, but I don’t feel compelled to watch up close.
    Say I were to connect to 10 new arrivals, and 8 have success with some treatment within the year. Would I feel glad for them? Yes. Would I feel left behind? I’m afraid so. The good news is that the 8 new arrivals are in sync with each other and are in the best position to support each other, in other words they’ll do fine without me.

    I hope you get great news tomorrow. Our first transfer was a success, so it can happen. Finger’s crossed.

    • Hi LutC,
      thanks for the links, I’ll be sure to check them out when I get a moment.
      Hopefully and I were chatting about this the other night again and she said something fairly similar to you…that it’s probably more a case of the Vets not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade because its that much harder for them to deal with the uber-positive newbies all throwing baby dust and sticky dust and god-knows-what-other-kind-of dust around the place. They are more cynical and realistic, because life has beat them around the head a bit, and by separating themselves out, they aren’t continually putting a dampner on things for the newbies…which I can understand.
      My only other comment is that I completely get your point about the 8 newbies…but as much as the 7 other newbies can provide lots of support and hand-holding, it’s only the vets who can provide the experience and real-world advice that is often what these newbies need.
      When it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, everyone has to do what’s best for themselves…
      Thanks for taking the time and effort to comment.

      • That’s what I love about IF blogs (rather than forums), the relationship doesn’t have to be symmetrical.
        When I was a newbie, I read the blogs of vets before me and learned a lot. I can’t say I built up a relationship with them, because I only rarely commented on these blogs (too many comments already), but sought out other newbies (with few comments). Not perfect perhaps, but has worked for me.

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