This blog addresses various emotional aspects of experiencing infertility. It is written by a clinical psychologist who specializes in infertility counseling. Thank you for reading, and best of luck with your journey!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Not-normal is the new normal: Infertility in perspective

I apologize for not posting as much as I would have liked to in the past several weeks.  I've been in a sleep-deprived haze, and had difficulty even thinking in coherent sentences--much less writing them.  Things are better now, thankfully, as I am back at work again.

During my break, I've had another opportunity to think about my own infertility and what it has meant in my life.  For me, the bottom line is this--infertility was a real deviation from the "normal" life I had envisioned for myself.  Like everyone who experiences infertility, I was forced to give up my dreams and expectations about how I would have a family.  This was difficult and painful in and of itself, but on top of this, I had to work extremely hard in infertility treatment and in our adoption.  After all, nobody makes you get IVF, or adopt--it is a choice, and you must make the process happen.  As we all know, these processes are difficult, time-consuming, and sometimes heartbreaking.

Even after I had children, I still struggled with not feeling "normal", and a bit envious of others who were able to take the typical path to parenthood. My adopted daughter, fine now, initially had some health issues that took quite a bit of time to resolve.  In my pregnancies, my body, ever uncooperative in the reproductive arena, continued with its contrary ways.   However, as time has passed, although I still don't feel "normal", I'm around enough parents, kids, and families to realize that pretty much every one of them has some sort of issue or problem that makes them "not-normal" also.  I mention this because when I was undergoing infertility treatment, it was so painful for me to be around babies, kids, and their hangers-on that I didn't get close enough to see the details of the situation.  I imagined that everyone else was having a perfect life--certainly a better life than me.   Many of my clients have echoed similar sentiments. 

Once I started to let go of my expectations of "normalcy", everything started to seem clearer.  It was, emotionally speaking, a much less complicated task to just do what I needed to do in my particular situation to have a family.   I guess if I had to do it all over again, I wish I would have let go of these worries about being normal much earlier in the process than I did.  I think I could have saved myself a lot of anguish, and had more energy left for the formidable tasks that were at hand.

If you also find yourself feeling bad because your situation is not "normal", I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and try to move past this worry, because I don't really believe there is a "normal" way to have a family.  There are just different ways to have a family, and they all have the potential to be wonderful and problematic, all at the same time.  Try to keep in mind that the fertile world has its share of problems too, and that although you must take a different path, it is not a lesser one.

Also, I'd like to wish everyone the best of luck with all of their adventures in the New Year.  If you have any questions, or suggestions of topics you'd like me to address, I'd love to hear them!  Please don't hesitate to comment or send me an e-mail at lisarouff@gmail.com.

1 comment:

  1. What you raise in this post is so important, yet so elusive. As I go through such big struggles with infertility, I find it hard to keep in mind that no one's life is perfect and no one has it easy all the time in everything. I may look at other women who have had no issues becoming pregnant and are now happy moms, but they struggle (or have struggled, or will struggle) in other areas of their lives. Normal is a slippery concept, only a statistical one in the end. In terms of living a life that is meaningful, it doesn't matter what's normal and not normal. It matters more that we go after our dreams.
    Thanks for writing, Lisa. I always enjoy your blog posts even if I may not comment. Your perspective is a welcomed voice in our community. Thank you.