Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Obsessed? Who, me?

Ever had someone accuse you of being obsessed because you blogged about infertility, especially if you stopped trying to conceive or decided to adopt? How many IVFs do you have to do to be considered obsessed? How many months or years is it still acceptable to be sad about it?

I started blogging because I was encouraged by the likes of Pamela Jeanne and M at Thin Pink Line (which is password protected). I was astounded at their candor, their rawness, their audacity at putting it all out there on the line. I'm an actress and I could relate to that. You can't be a great actress and not risk opening up your guts to the world ... on cue. You are asked to remain an open vessel for directors and playwrights. You put a little bit of yourself into your work. And when you see a performance from an actor, one that really makes you stop and feel something, it's an incredible thing. That's why there are actors - they want to reach you, make you feel something. They want a connection to people they don't even know.

It's the same with writers I think. And whether you are a professional writer or a blogger, you want someone to get you. You want to share yourself. Is that an obsession? I guess if you neglect your husband, kids, work, real friends, don't answer your phone type of thing. I don't know if that's the right word. Some of us work, some of us don't, so we have time. Some of us even have meaningful work and kids and hobbies and still blog.

Is it the subject matter that counts? Infertility causes misery. And misery loves company. So are we just a support group with no time limit on our meetings? We all get to talk as long as want about ourselves without a facilitator. And women love to talk. And not just about the weather, but all the gory details. We don't have to get in a car and find parking and pay for coffee. We can blog in our pyjamas while the spouse is asleep or even at the office while we eat lunch at our desks. Heck we can even blog with each other while watching award shows. We talk about our husbands, our friends, the nosy neighbour, the grocery clerk who wants to know why you're buying a pregnancy test kit.

Would it be different if I blogged about politics? If I fretted more about Obama or Hilary? What was on the news that night? Those matters can certainly make you miserable and stay up all night wondering if this world is going to hell in handbasket. What if I decided to read political biographies, watch CNN all day long (which would make you paranoid) and then maybe decide to run for office? Would that make me obsessed?

What about those who blog about cancer? The chemo treatments, the radiation, the hair loss. Would that be okay to do even if one had survived it? Could one blog for years with other cancer survivors and egads, even meet them in person? Would one invite them home for tea? I know a woman who survived breast cancer, and she turned it into a one woman movement. She performs, she sells T-shirts, she's made it her mission and a career. I've seen her perform and she was wonderful, incredible, honest and funny and touching. I wonder if anyone has accused her of being obsessed. I know infertility is hardly the same thing. It's more like psoriasis. Annoying, painful, embarrassing but .... most people don't have it. Infertility is not a life threatening disease, is it? Well, not unless you undergo treatment and have some sort of violent reaction, right? Anybody?

I mean it's not like I mortgaged my home, sold my car, crafts or cookies, organized marathons, benefits, wrote a play/musical/book, organized a massive collection of blogs from all areas of the IF/adoption/miscarriage/stillbirth/pregnancy/donor IUI/donor egg/surrogacy world. That would be obsessed, right? Who would hire a fertility coach, change specialists, fertility clinics, pay thousands of dollars to be in the less than 10% club? I mean, honestly, who would then shell out thousands more for adoption, pay someone to come into your lives and pry into your business, get fingerprinted and fill out tons of forms, fly halfway around the world, risk heartbreak and disappointment just for the privilege of raising a child or two? That's just crazy, if you ask me. I mean it's not as if one gets paid for all this. Well, some people get paid and paid and paid. If I made money at this, would it still be an obsession? Would it be socially acceptable? Oh, I get it now. It's only an obsession UNTIL IT WORKS.

What if a few of us banded together, kind of like a super hero team? We could be like - The Fantastic inFertile Four or the Super Bitter Barren Bitches or Team Rotten Eggs. One of our team has gone through the fires of IVF and after her 25th effort, she became pregnant with ten babies(I'm sorry I don't know the name for that) and at times the other team members gripe at her when she complains how tired she is. ("We'd love to be as tired as you. We'd love to have 10 kids at once, so kwitcherbitchin'!) Make up your own team name! Hell, why not T-shirts, bumper stickers, antenna flags! Does that sound obsessed? Do you remember how weird it felt to wear the pomegranate bracelet that Marie of Bella Vida made? What if someone asked you what it meant? It's not like it was the yellow or pink or blue or white or red bracelet.

There are support meetings with Resolve or the IAAC. Why didn't I go to one of those? Too lazy (or crazy) to leave my house? I had a chance to join a support group while I was in treatment. It was held once a week early in the morning of a week already full of early am blood draws and ultrasounds. Oh, I know. I didn't want to wallow in someone else's complaining and misery because I was so certain I was going to get pregnant and I had plenty of support. I didn't want a hair of negativity to touch me. Later, I didn't want to share the shame of a BFN when my smug optimism failed me. I didn't want to encourage other people and ignore the fact that I was miserable myself. I feared watching a "stitch and bitch" buddy leave me behind when they finally became pregnant. Yeah, I probably should have gone. But I didn't. I kept it all inside and held it together. Well, not exactly. Now, it's time to join the world of waiting adoptive parents. I registered for parenting classes. I can solve the childlessness part of my life, just not the infertility. I'm moving on, or have I?

This blog will eventually turn into an adoptive mum blog and will I have the time to do it? Will I be less obsessed? Of course, being a mother is a good type of obsession, right? It will be okay then to talk about my blessed child non stop to anybody who will listen, 24 hours a day and google the colour of her poo to see if she's okay or not. That will solve everything. Quick, get her a child so she'll shut up and be happy. She'll be quiet, she'll be - WHOLE. Or maybe it's just time to live childfree and unfettered. I thought about it. Life would be way simpler. I could have more shoes. I mean, who likes to wake up really early, change diapers and be worried about sharp cornered furniture? Who wants to deal with lawyers, birth/first parents, social workers, nosy questions, mounting debt, tainted apple juice and car seats that are a mystery to buckle up? You'd have to be crazy, huh?

I know a woman that is still waiting for a miracle, she is one year older than me. She's still has the TTC bug after continued negative results. Is she obsessed? And it's happened, you know. Google it, there is still a 49 year old who conceived naturally. Oh, I forgot, you already googled it, haven't you, admit it. Forget the stats for Down's Syndrome, a child is a child is a child and one couple I know are so proud and happy to have their adored son.

So you can figure out now that it touched a nerve and perhaps there's a good reason for that. But I don't give a shit. That's another post. I know I'm okay. I just like to process til the cows come home.

The women in my Buddhist district got together to chant for an hour. One woman had her 1 year old baby with her. A year ago, I couldn't bring myself to attend her baby shower. Her little boy pulled himself up to me, he looked at me and smiled and it made me feel good. Not bitter. Not where is my baby? Or why not me? He was just a little baby looking around, checking out the faces in his world. His mum hovered nearby moving all inappropriate objects out of his way, cooing and tickling him, right by his side, her eyes only for him. Totally in love. There was a time when I could have barely tolerated this scene. I would have been angry or upset in some strange way that I would feel shame. Now I watch and learn, my chanting (daimoku) warming my heart. I guarantee you that with a child in my life, I will probably gripe because I haven't had a schedule since 1980 something. I moan when I have to walk the dog in the pouring rain. I'm old and spoiled now.

Life goes on, but I am forever changed. Forever fucking infertile until the day that I am not. Maybe I'll never "get over it". Maybe I will. And maybe it doesn't really matter. I am happy with my life, I've accepted the holes, I still struggle every now and then, and I know there will be many struggles ahead, but I am not defeated. I have my mission. And I am not ashamed.


luna said...

beautiful post, thanks for this. obsession is all relative. I call it focus. ~luna

Guera! said...

I don't know where to begin. I relate to so much of what you are saying in your post today. I am trying to write about other things in my blog but my desire and failed attempts to have a baby combined with my hopelessness is like the big elephant in the room. ...had a nice glass of red wine tonight.

loribeth said...

Well, only dh knows (of the people in my "real life") that I blog (& I'd like to keep it that way) -- & he thinks I'm Internet addicted/obsessed, period. ; ) I asked a similar question in one of my earlier blog posts (i.e., how pathetic am I??) -- it is 10 years past my daughter was stillborn, almost 7 since stopping treatment, yet loss & infertility continue to cast shadows over my life, & probably always will. If that makes me "obsessed," well, so be it. I find it cathartic to write things out, & affirming to read other people's blogs & find they have similar feelings & experiences.

I think that only a non-infertile person could use that label, though. Walk a mile in our moccasins & I think they'd become a little "obsessed," too.

Tigger said...


That's really all I can say. It was highly amusing to read your tirade and know that it was like hearing my own inner voice. Thank you for putting all that out there. Obsession really is just your point of view.

Working Girl said...

Brilliant post!!! I have a good friend who asked me last spring if I was "obsessed" with my fertility. I have barely spoken to her since!

One View said...

Great post!!! I think there are moments where I've been obsessed and moments where I had to just let it go. But the determination and want never goes away and I think that's why its so hard. Even when you do heal and feel better, its always a struggle. I think IF affects us so much that it becomes a part of who we are and its something we will forever be changed by no matter where our journey takes us.

Pamela T. said...

I'm giving you a standing O from the lounge in the Stuttgart airport. I hope you can hear me because I'm clapping REALLY loud.

You've captured so much of what's been on my mind and in my heart. Damn, it's good to know I'm not alone in this experience. Now, I'm sure there's a beer in my future today. Can I get you one?

Deathstar said...

I'll have a Stella Artois please! Enjoy Paris!

Wordgirl said...

Bravo bravo!

I do get some grief -- but mostly it's teasing from G "are you going to blog about this" -- and then there are my few friends who know about it and the general consensus is (insert literary accent here)"I read your blog and darling, I don't read blogs"

I, writer that I am, believe that there's a great honesty in this medium -- and while you might keep up boundaries like any other process -- it is the risk of showing your self that ellicits that powerful reaction of connection. I envy your acting.

I think the subject matter issue is an interesting one -- and part of me wants to say that to dismiss the subject of fertility and infertility out of hand is almost a dismissal of the feminine somehow -- you know this derisive attitude towards women's work and 'female concerns' -- the old fashioned 'domestic sphere' -- (not to say that this isn't or can't be a male issue too..but...) I just think that this issue is just as vital as any other issue one might blog about -- but I find that in my own work too -- you know I want to apologize somehow for the nature of my blog.

Do you know that Marge Piercy poem about writing (Oh sure it knocks my particular degree but still):

“For The Young Who Want To”

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don't have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else's mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you're certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved

I LOVE the last two paragraphs here...I am there with you lady...standing (albeit virtually) right by your side.


Anonymous said...

I'm here via Pamela Jeanne...
thanks for this great post....
almost all of it resonated and this:
"Oh, I know. I didn't want to wallow in someone else's complaining and misery because I was so certain I was going to get pregnant and I had plenty of support. I didn't want a hair of negativity to touch me."
is something I almost completely forgot about...


Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm 37. Just married last year. Have already been a victim of the Obs word. I agree tremendously with all that you have said. Have been told I'm internet Obs. I've been trying all of two months and now I'm Obs..incidentally...before marriage I was marriage Obs.(also spinster clueless man-hater lesbian slut -!!).

Your skin tends to get so thick. You want to tell everyone to f--k off instead of merely thinking it....and I mean that with respect to my late marriage (my GOD 36!!!!) which came under heavy fire in my community as well as my sudden need to get pregnant yesterday!!

(Saying it however will merely bring the Obs word behind your back in whispers as you would be deemed far too sensitive maybe even too much of a crazy insane bitch to have it said to your face.)

Climbing out of my being, I find it part of the learning of becoming a woman(and I do believe that is a journey as opposed to an age) to accept that reaction to my personal aims and perceived failures (one and the same here)and to go further and analyse those who have made such comments and the carelessness and selfishness and insensitivity of those persons.

What does it signify of such a person who stays close to your heart and mind and yet complains so cruelly in this way about your most intimate attempt at conversation with them yet?

I mean you're an educated, brilliant woman. Beautiful and charming and all the good things. Why are your conversations about infertility so heinous to certain persons?

I often find that our personal stricken paths tend to reveal much about life in this way. I find that we become thinkers and actors (meaning those who act upon signals as opposed to those who accept the mediocre and live without realising it for being targets by such persons). I find that we appreciate more. We love more deeply especially since we see things more clearly and know where to place our love. We feel more deeply.Our angst is greater. Our soul feels depths and heights unlike others.

But we will never all feel everything in life that everyone else feels. Each one of us is designed differently. Created for different things. We in our own way contribute to the balance of the universe.

As for persons who become so montrous in our minds for using the Obs word...there are few individuals in any society. There are few who would think independantly of the natural way of thinking....women are barefoot and pregnant while men go hunting for food....this being the natural subconcious mind of most humans.

We can choose to forgive and forget...we can accept and forget...or we can sit up...take notes...move on with our lives and with our powerful knowledge with new direction and with dedicated purpose.

Whatever you one is near accurate (as you already have seen so clearly) for labelling you in that way. The human inability to aptly deal with matters that appear unnatural or beyond have to think instead of not have to climb out of their own skins and become unselfish is natural whereas such ability would be learned and rare.

Remember the truth is a powerful light of knowledge that purges ignorance. There is an abundance of ignorance in the world. But the truth exists. This is just another leg of the journey toward finding that truth. This is an important and challenging time in your life. It is also a happy and healthy time. Despite the fact that your body is eternally yearning....your soul is soaring as usual.