Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stressing me out

In recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to devote a post to Resolve's Bust an Infertility Myth theme. I'm busting the myth that not having children isn't stressful. I hear parents complain all of the time about their kids making them crazy because they drew on the walls with markers, puked in their bed, shoved a pickle up their nose, forgot about their science project until the night before it was due; the list goes on and on...

However, the stress of not being a parent or trying to become one is also incredibly daunting, and I think much worse.

As my pregnancy virgins and I know, the stress of not being able to conceive can overtake your life - your relationships with your spouse, your family and friends, your finances, and your dreams. Don't forget the stress on your body, mind and spirit (perhaps that's part two of this post).

Your marriage:
I've never been close to the brink of divorce, but I know of infertile couples who have (and some who have even split up). When trying to conceive completely consumes your life, it consumes your marriage, too. Being tethered to the doctor's office, being told when to have sex, hormonal outbursts from fertility drugs, and blame games on why she can't conceive are enough to rock the strongest marriage. Add to all of this, the fact that the one person who completely understands what you're going through, is going through the same horrible thing. Ugh, even writing all of this is stressing me out.

Your family and friends:
Relationships with family and friends can also change dramatically when you're dealing with infertility. There always seems to be a teenage second cousin who gets pregnant or a hyper-fertile friend who "wasn't even trying" to bring up a lot of resentment and bitterness. And, as much as we try for this not to happen, it can just be inevitable. Heap on the sometimes insensitive, but well-intentioned "advice" that we're sometimes given about "not stressing", "just adopting" and "trying a conceptionmoon", and it's enough to drive friendships apart. And, when you're the only friend at brunch who doesn't have a "birthing story", you can find yourself jealous of episiotomies and C-sections. I've seen several posts along these lines around the infertile blogosphere. Tension-filled rooms at family gatherings asking "when are you going to start having kids?" can also result in a moratorium on Sunday dinners at the in-laws.

Your finances
Fertility treatments, adoption home studies, background checks, and attorney fees, and the countless bottles of wine and retail therapy can set your finances into a tailspin. Do you put a new roof on your house with a leaking ceiling or do an IVF cycle? Put brakes on your car or buy a round of follistims? Take out a loan to get pregnant? I know of women who've had yard sales, just to pay for an IUI. Truly, thinking about the money we've spent on fertility treatments makes me a little sick to my stomach (would do it all over again, but still very stressful!).

Your dreams
If you've gone through fertility treatments, the process to adopt or other family building methods and no child comes into your life, there is the definite and heart-breaking loss of a dream. You may find yourself wandering about the 4-bedroom house that you bought to fill with children or aimlessly driving around in your SUV with a third row of seats - empty. I mourn things like Saturday morning pancakes made by daddy, fun at the zoo, running through my neighborhood with a jog stroller - dreams I've had since the day I met my husband. And, that can be the most stressful feeling of all.

So, as difficult as parenting may be, I'd take the stress of being a mom over the stress of not any minute of any day.


  1. well put. thank you for writing this!

  2. I think the stress of the shattered dream is what I feel the most. Currently sitting in our downsized home with the suv parked out in the drive. It's tough...

  3. Oh man! I so want to quote your entire post on my blog. Perfectly said Lu!

  4. Hi Lu! Happy ICLW and Happy Easter!

    I totally agree with you. I'd take the stress of being a mom over the stress of not any day. The emotional drain IF puts on us is just unimaginable. My marriage has suffered because of it. Fortunately, we were able to lean on each other in the end and have become much stronger. After all, my DH and I both want the same thing - we just have different ways of dealing with it... Tension filled rooms - I've been in way too many. Friends/family just don't know how to approach our obvious situation, so things just get weird... Finances - well, we've definitely spent close to what we would have to pay for one child to go to college.... And we also have those dreams - we have a three bedroom home and huge yard that we bought with the thought of filling it with children. We have the 7-passenger vehicle for our "dream babies" and all the things that go along with having children. We're still hanging on to those dreams, and hopeful that they will come true.

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post!

    ICLW #65

  5. I agree with fluffynest - the stress of the shattered dream is the worst. For me, my second miscarriage wasn't just the loss of a child, it was also the loss of a dream. We had planned for that to be our last attempt, and while we could have gone on financially (I have good coverage) emotionally, I could not face it again. I think people who have not been through infertility have no concept of the emotional toll it takes.

  6. Well said, my friend, well said.

  7. so very true. I wish it weren't, but it is.

  8. This post brought me to tears. I feel EXACTLY the same way.

  9. I know exactly how you feel and am thankful you were able to express all of the feelings so well. Mothers who complain drive me crazy. Visiting from ICLW.

  10. Great post!

  11. I found you through ICLW and have to say that this post has touched me more than I can say. I've read some really great posts, but this one takes everything that has been bottled up inside of me and puts it out there. The struggle we face dealing with IF is unimaginable and I would take the stress of parenthood any day. I can't wait for morning sickness, backaches, swollen feet, feeling 'bigger than a whale', 12 hour labor, 2:00 a.m. feedings, teething,snuggling a freshly-bathed baby, terrible twos, mouthy teenagers.
    I get so angry when people give me the "be careful what you wish for" or "are you SURE you want to be a parent" speeches.
    Of course I want to be a parent. So far I've had three long years to think, "is this what I really want?" "Is all of this stress really worth it?" Of course it is!
    I am so blessed to have found your blog. I can't wait to read more!

  12. Hi! Happy ICLW! I love to read this kind of posts as of course I can completely relate.

    Love, Fran

    ICLW #131

  13. Happy ICLW (#54).

    I really loved this post. I think we all have stories about someone telling us how lucky we are not to have kids since we get to "sleep more" and "go out when we want to." I think one of the big differences is that we, often, have to keep our stresses inside -- it's not easy to put our struggles out into the world and talk about them openly.

    Thanks for this post.

  14. Hi from ICLW.

    You couldn't be more true in what you wrote. It's amazing how much infertility controls your life. Meds control your life. Sex isn't romantic- it's calculated (or in our case, pointless with MFI). Money is tighter. Life is difficult but we'll all make it through.

  15. Thank you. Just...thank you. You helped me feel less alone.