June 20, 2010

Last night I went out to a party with Right Guy’s work friends. I haven’t been going out much lately and when I have we’ve mostly hung out with my friends and/or mutual friends. Almost all of them know about what’s going on with me and most of them know we’re trying to get pregnant because of it. But his work friends… I doubt it. Unless he’s told them – and why would he? – I’m sure they don’t know a thing about it. Most of that crowd is slightly younger – late 20s & early 30s – and single. The ones who were still at the party at 11pm anyway. Most of the marrieds (with or without kids) had cleared out by the time we got there. Except one couple. And they had their toddler with them. Before you get all outraged that someone had a toddler out at a party at 11pm let me just remind you that this was a party of pediatricians. There were probably about 5 of us there who were not pediatricians. So if they want to keep their toddler out late I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

I hadn’t seen this toddler since he was a breastfeeding baby so I was surprised at how much he’d grown. And of course, those feelings of jealousy started creeping in. And I thought I had them under control. It was just the one couple and one kid. I can handle that, right? Well then I started feeling jealous of all the other women there. They’re all fertile and woe is me, poor little me, I am not. But then it occurred to me [light bulb over my head moment]. They might not be fertile. None of them have kids. Maybe they’re not fertile. People are presumed fertile until proven otherwise. So maybe I wasn’t the lone Infertile in the group. And then it hit me [Wile E Coyote getting hit with a ton of bricks moment]. I wasn’t jealous of them for being fertile. I was jealous of them for being normal and still having more or less flat tummies. It wasn’t the infertility that was making me feeling alone and different. It was the POF (premature ovarian failure, a.k.a early menopause).
Wile E Coyote
I think the odds are decent that someone else at that party will experience some level of infertility at some point. The stats on infertility are like a moving target – I keep seeing different numbers. But 1 in 8 (or 7 or 6) couples experience infertility. And there were certainly enough couples there for those odds. But I think the odds of one of those women going through menopause early are much, much less. 1 in 100 women in their 30s and 1 in 1000 in their 20s. It’s a lot more common than you would think but it’s still a low number. I was feeling alienated because no one else there could know what it’s like. It’s not just the infertility. It’s the feeling old. Feeling like I’m 50 when I’m only 36. Having to worry about osteoperosis. Having to be much more conscious about my health overall. Having that old lady belly fat that is IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of. If my cousin is right, there’s no diet or exercise that will get rid of it. He says I need testosterone for that.

Anyway, what to do about these feelings of isolation? I think that’s what motivated me to tell my friends (and a few coworkers). I hate pretending to feel OK when I don’t. And, although, they can’t relate they can be there for me. So I don’t feel so alone with my close friends. But I feel like a freak and so alone in a crowd of strangers or acquaintances. Last night it had me in the bathroom crying. OK so the alcohol didn’t help. But I’m still trying to figure out how to not feel isolated/alienated/alone when I’m around people who don’t know. If I shout from the rooftops “I have POF!” then I’m just defining myself by that diagnosis. That’s not what I want. I know that’s where I am right now – I’m still struggling to not let this diagnosis define me. I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.

But I’m not sure I’m ever going to not feel alone. 1% of the female population in their 30s. Where are they? I’ve met a few on twitter (actually several of my POF tweeps are in their 20s). And most days, I don’t identify specifically as a POFer but as an IFer and there are a TON of helpful tweeps out there for general infertility support. But I’d like to meet a fellow POFer IRL. I think. There’s a fine line between getting the support I need and letting this define me.


One Response to “Alienation”

  1. barrenlazza Says:

    Hi Foxy

    This blog reached out and tugged my heart strings.

    This is what I have found the most upsetting too – and what I have cried my eyes out about and walked around feeling like I have a broken heart about.

    Firstly there is the alienation of feeling old before our time (huge grief for the youth we thought we had for a bit longer).

    Then there are weird feelings about how we don’t feel womanly as our hormones aren’t nourishing us any longer and we can’t have babies (nothing worse than feeling as if your body is beginning to pack up on you).

    And that’s linked with how we feel about ourselves sex wise ie: I didn’t feel sexy for ages – until I came to terms with everything and also because I have a wonderful husband who kept telling me he wanted me.

    Then there’s the fact that no-one else around us understands and we can’t really tell many people about it (it’s bad enough telling people you’re infertile, let alone saying you’ve gone into early menopause – youch!)

    Then there’s the old chestnut – grieving for the biological children we’ll never have (well I definitely can’t have any as my ovaries are definitely kaputt).

    So it’s one of those suffer in silence type situations which is really crap.

    I have days where I just feel so sorry for myself I can hardly breathe. But gradually I’m getting better – especially when I put everything into perspective and at least can say I am alive, have a wonderful husband and family and am in good health (with some HRT and Vitamin D supplements!)

    Please try not to feel alone – just remember there are others out there too – like me – and I feel just the same as you.


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