Ever Upward is growing. My world is expanding. My recovery is strengthening.

Which also means my shamed silence is triggered more often. Even though my shame resilience has grown as a result of my practicing recovery.

As I meet more and more people in the infertility world, blogging or otherwise, I am finding myself comparing my story to theirs. I have always been uncomfortable with the TTC (trying to conceive) timelines. I am especially uncomfortable when our About pages and Twitter bio’s are our TTC timelines full of numbers and acronyms.

What I have come to realize is that my discomfort is simply a result of my shame being triggered.

The numbers we share to describe ourselves; how many miscarriages, cycles, IUIs, IVFs, BFNs, etc.* Hell, I have my numbers in my bio (two rounds of IVF and three never to be babies). I thought I included these because they are part of my whole story. But what I think I am figuring out through working my recovery is that I have left them in for proof and as a way to cope with my shame.

Proof that I too have suffered and lost; my comparing my story to others’, my way of shouting out, “I tried too.”

But, this really comes from my sense of not being enough, of trying to prove myself rather than owning myself. The scarcity culture, as Brené Brown describes in The Daring Way™ work. The never ______________ enough. Never pretty enough. Never thin enough. Never rich enough. Never happy enough.

This scarcity culture has helped turned these numbers into one of my biggest shame triggers.

My fear that I will be judged that I didn’t try enough. That I didn’t lose enough.

Because I don’t have a long rap sheet of years of trying to conceive or IUIs, IVFs and BFNs.

And, I have no doubt that I have been and will continue to be judged for not trying more, just as much as I am judged for not choosing adoption.

And so, at least from Ever Upward, the blog, I have removed my counts, my proof, because I am more than just my two rounds and three lost babies. I am actually even more because of my lifelong losses. These numbers could never come close to describing what I have been through or what is left as a result.

Because within this I truly it own it, and myself.

Apart from surviving infertility and thriving thereafter, I also have the mental health therapist part of my head and heart at work with these TTC timelines and rap sheet descriptions. I cannot help but be scared and saddened by it. That as men and women suffering through infertility treatments we are identifying ourselves, sometimes completely, through how many treatments we have endured.

DSC_1337We are so much more than this.

We have to be so much more than this.

We have to be because, I think, that is the only way we will survive infertility and thrive thereafter, no matter what our ending looks like.

I am not sure what our motivations are for making our infertility rap sheets part of our bios or even our whole story. But for me, it was about comparison and scarcity. Comparison in making sure the world knew I tried too and therefore have suffered. Scarcity in proving that it was enough.

Comparison and scarcity; two things I am practicing shame resilience and recovery from.

Because, I did try and I have suffered.

Enough.

Because, only I define my enough and my “did we do everything?”

For me, I need to be more.

Because, this is ever upward.

I will talk about it, I will embrace it, I will practice and model recovery from it and I will own it. Because maybe within my ownership, one person will be brave enough to demand to be more than their infertility rap sheet.

Because we all are.

So much more.

And, we all deserve to be.

*For a full list of infertility acronyms click here.

*To read more about my story and my recovery make sure to pick up a copy of the soon to be published Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating 😉, please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

This post linked with Amateur Nester‘s Link Up #9.

54 thoughts on “Our Infertility Rap Sheets

  1. This was an amazing post. I’ve been struggling with the numbers game in my own head. “How many FAILED cycles? Does that mean I’m a failure?” The answer is no. We can’t let these lists, timelines and acronyms define who we are. There is no shame is where we’ve been or where we are headed.

    Like

    1. Exactly! Thank you so much for your read and words, I am nervous about putting this one out there but I’ve really been feeling it lately so I knew I had to. I seriously needed your encouragement. Thank you!!! J

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      1. I’ve found the posts that are the hardest for us to write are always the ones that everyone else can resonate with the most. You are never alone. Put it out there and you will see that your thoughts have gone through many of our minds before. 🙂

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      2. You are so right, we have to be afraid and brave and post it all anyway! Justine

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  2. Reblogged this on Awaiting Autumn and commented:
    This was an amazing post by Justine at Ever Upward.

    I’ve been struggling with the numbers game in my own head. “How many FAILED cycles? Does that mean I’m a failure?” The answer is no.

    We can’t let these lists, timelines and acronyms define who we are. There is no shame is where we’ve been or where we are headed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tricia C. says:

    Yes, yes, yes to all of this…yes my numbers are a part of my life but they do not define who I am or if we did enough (I struggle with this a lot as well). Only my husband and I know the whole story and what it feels like to be us going through this. No body has the right to judge us on what we did or didn’t do. This is something I have to constantly remind myself of as I move forward on this journey. Thank you for the reminder that I am enough and that I did do enough:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tricia,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I am so happy to see you identified with this post, it was not the easiest to put out there. We are enough and we all did enough and also don’t have to explain it! Thanks again! Much love, Justine

      Like

  4. Oh this is an incredible post, thank you. I struggle so much with “did we do enough?” and I hate being asked if we will try this or that option. It is hard enough to own your decisions and come to terms with what is right for your family, and each time I get asked about other things we could do it tears open the wound a bit. Thanks again for outing yourself out there for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Outing versus putting kind of works just as well. 😉 Thank you so much for reading and commenting, this was a tough one to hit publish with for sure!

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  5. Infertility is something that ‘happened’ to me. It is not who I am. You are one courageous woman. We all are! Regardless of what we did or did not do and by whose evaluation was it ‘enough’. Only we can determine that. I have struggled too, because we didn’t qualify for any of the treatments or attempts. We spent years waiting for a miracle and then waiting for a child, until we were spent. We decided we waited enough. Yet sometimes I feel that even on the blogosphere because we have decided to be childfree, or child friendly I’d like to call it, we are in a catagory all our own. It is possible that I feel this way out of my own sense of feeling like it is not ‘enough’ for others.
    I think your blog has hit an important chord out there. Keep it up… we all need to come together on this important issue…
    We have suffered and we are strong and we will overcome… let’s not catagorize each other.
    People who have never experienced infertility, cannot ‘get it’ completely. We who know can support eachother.
    Well Done!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. gsmwc02 says:

    This hits home for me. We didn’t go through any rounds of treatments or pregnancy losses. We turned down the opportunity to try to see if there was anything in me but decided not to because the odds were impossible and didn’t want to pass my condition to a male offspring. I feel that if we don’t even pursue adoption it will be like we didn’t even try. I’m also big on timelines as it is just in my personality.
    Incredible post J.

    Like

    1. But that is your enough, your we did everything. And that is enough! I promise. Try to embrace it and give yourself permission to accept. You deserve that peace. Sending you love! J

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jasmineshei says:

    Some times I wonder how many trying is considered enough. With every technology advancement, we are forever pushing ourselves for more. At some point, enough is enough. I admire your decision and how far you have become.

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    1. I guess there will never be enough in the eyes of science but we have to call enough for ourselves. Because, I think, only then can we be okay with whatever our happy ending ends up being. Thank you for the read and comment! Justine

      Like

  8. anabea1 says:

    Wow! My thoughts exactly. Proudly reblogging! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you so, so, so much!!! Justine

      Like

  9. anabea1 says:

    Reblogged this on My Dink-ish Life and commented:
    What a great post! Worth reading for sure!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for the reblog! J

      Like

  10. Jane says:

    Thank-you! I discovered Brene Brown because of your blog. I am reading ‘I thought it was just me’ currently & that is incredible stuff! I couldn’t believe how much shame I was mired in. But I’m working on my own ever upward. Thanks Justine for being you and being vulnerable. I gain courage by reading your words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane, Thank you so much for always reading and your support. Brené’s work will change your life if you let it and do the work! So glad you are finding it all helpful! Thank you so much! Justine

      Like

  11. busynothing says:

    Beautifully said, and so brave to say it.

    I also think people feel a need to list these stats because it “justifies” their pain, which is otherwise so overwhelming and invisible.

    We can’t really quantify our pain otherwise, so we use the numbers as placeholders.

    But it can also be a point of obsession. The more we use those placeholders as a focal point the more we reinforce and possibly inflate their importance, perhaps in ways that aren’t healthy or conducive to our own recovery.

    In that Ted Talk you recommended to me way back when we first “met” it really drove the point home: pain is pain. It’s not a competition.

    At a certain point it can be healthy to step away from the numbers. The longer we cling to them, the harder it will be to have our hands open and free to hold something else — our beautiful recovery.

    Like

    1. You are so right! Thank you so much for these lovely words and taking the time to read! Our recoveries are incredible, we must be ready to open ourselves and our lives up to them. Justine

      Like

  12. Nicole says:

    Reblogged this on You Have a Pretty Face and commented:
    Thank you for helping me understand we’re more than this number.

    Like

    1. Nicole,
      Thank you so much for your read and comment and the reblog! So glad you found this helpful. This was a scary one to put out there but so glad I did! Justine

      Like

  13. Beautifully said. “Enough” is so different for each and every person. I’m not big on judging. In fact, I remove myself from that environment if possible because we can’t all walk in each other’s shoes. No one knows all of my past but me. I don’t know the nooks and crannies of everyone’s life that touches mine. I have never made a “rap” sheet, because to do so holds on to all of our losses. Not just the ones caused by infertility, but of life. Resilience is an amazing thing, but it is also work. It is letting go, a lot of the time, of things we can’t control. Don’t hold on to the hurt. Hold on to that which makes us stronger. For me that’s “love”. I believe it is for all. Love God and love one another as I have loved you. It’s profound in healing. Thank you for being so brave, owning your journey and sharing it with the world!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and write these amazing words! Resilience and our work to wrestle with it and fight for it is what it is all about. And, yes! It is in the love that we find our healing! Thank you again! Justine

      Like

  14. mombie says:

    Amen! I make a point of saying “mother to a beautiful girl after a long journey” or something like that on my bios. This is not a competition about who “deserves” a child more or who can “justify” moving on to a child-free life or adoption. We all have the right to belong in circles of support, regardless of the steps we have or haven’t taken, or the doors that have opened or closed for us. In my experience, I’ve found that my harshest critic is usually myself. Once I can find peace with my decisions and hold my head high it seems that the rest of the world generally can, too… And those who can’t don’t seem to bug me anymore. :). Great post, as usual. 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for all of your support! I don’t have enough thank you’s for you. I truly feel like you are one of my fellow warriors both in story and in helping building this platform that sometimes feels impossible to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Love, J

      Like

  15. chels819 says:

    “We are so much more than this.” Amen! Great post!

    Like

    1. Chelsea,
      Thank you so much! This one was not easy to put out there, which also means I know I had to. Thank you for reading!! Justine

      Like

  16. Lisa says:

    I’m a little behind in reading the blogs that linked up, but wow, I’m so glad I finally got to do it. This is really food for thought for me. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about all our “numbers” as a means of comparison, but rather as a way to empathize and find common ground. When I see that someone has similar numbers as me, I know that person is likely to really get it. That being said, I waited until I had been through 4 failed IUIs and was starting IVF until I really started blogging. I felt like I couldn’t be a “real” infertility blogger unless I’d made it to that IVF stage. I never really thought about why I felt that way until now. I definitely need to chew on all this a bit…

    Like

    1. Lisa,

      This one was another really difficult one to hit publish on. It was really more about my shame and comparison but I can’t turn off the therapist part of me either which feels fear for us when we over identify with these numbers. Thank you for your support and for you! Love, Justine

      Like

  17. bethgainer says:

    This is a courageous, honest post. Yes, you suffered, and it’s unfortunate that the general public often judges one’s decisions. How hard is trying hard enough? How much suffering is suffering enough? We cannot compare. I was rendered infertile by chemotherapy treatments, and as a newly divorced person, I adopted a baby. Adoption isn’t for everyone. And — get this — I’ve been judged by people saying adopting is not the same as having a biological child.

    Like

    1. Beth, Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I know judgment is so automatic in us, or at least feels that way, but it doesn’t move us closer at all. Makes us more alone, I think. Thank you again! Justine

      Like

  18. Catherine says:

    We do this in the realm of cancer as well – identify ourselves by our staging, our type, our prognosis. It’s so limiting I could almost shout when I hear those phrases leading conversations. But then, there are phases, I reckon, and people deal with their pain differently. I guess if we don’t need the judgement, neither do others. Though I do firmly believe we are a compilation of stories, a quilt of different selves made into one beautiful thing. So, I try to move away from those labels as much as I can at this moment.

    Excellent post. Thanks for sharing how you feel -because it’s very how many feel, including myself! ~Catherine

    Like

    1. Catherine, Thank you so much! The comparison will never help us! I followed this post up with the one called Loss is Loss, would love your thoughts on that one too! Thank you for taking the time to comment as always! Much, much love, Justine

      Like

  19. Meaghan says:

    Thank you for this. Neither my husband nor I have hit our “enough” yet, but this post (and several others) helped me realize I’m living in fear of that line and am hitting a point where I realize there may come a time where it has to be drawn. And it may be drawn before we’ve exhausted all of our options …it may be drawn because we are just d-o-n-e…and that will be okay. I’ve got to take the fear out, if I’m going to take care of myself through this and really listen to what I and we need.

    Like

    1. Meaghan, I am so glad you found this piece helpful. Only you and your husband can define your enough and everything, it’s your family. But, I can’t promise that you can also define your own happy ending. Sending you both clarity, love and light on this journey. You may also really find my book helpful. Thank you so much for for reading and commenting!

      Like

  20. Stacey says:

    I found you by the link you left for this post from the Huffington Post. Woah, way to absolutely stop me in my tracks! I’ve always been hesitant to list my ‘stats’ – something just felt bad or wrong about it. Probably because my numbers are still low, and I was comparing to all the others out there who have been through so much. This is just what I needed to read: We are ALL enough, we are ALL more important than our numbers (not that they AREN’T important, they are just not the MOST important part of us). I love Brene’ Brown also and I love how you tied this all together. Thank you for your post and thank you for giving me permission to think past my numbers. 🙂 Hugs!

    Like

    1. Stacey, Thank you so much for reading and for this incredible comment!! This is an older post for me, but I’ve been sharing it because I’ve been frustrated and have felt so invisible myself this week for NIAW (and I’m an advocate hosting the FB event!). I hope you find some of my other pieces helpful too. Thank you again!! Justine

      Like

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  22. Ruth says:

    I’m sure there are many who judge you…and me too. I’ve learned that their judgement (if that’s what it is) comes from a place of immense discomfort. They don’t know how to accept my decision as right for me. They want to make it all better, offering unasked for solutions & asking questions that do not help me. It’s about them not me & I’m OK with that. My journey (similar rap sheet to yours) is mine. My hurt is my hurt. There is no good in comparison. There is no way to compare our grief. Thank you for writing this Justine. I think you speak for many of us…and we do not judge you.

    Like

    1. Ruth, Ahhh, what you write is soooo true. Thank you so much for these words.

      Like

  23. Anna @ To Make a Mommy says:

    We are all so much more than our “rap sheets.” Those lists of diagnoses, and miscarriages are limiting in many ways, including that they constantly pay homage to western medicine’s understanding of “infertility.” I am so much more than my diagnoses, and my losses!!! Thanks Justine 🙂

    Like

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