Thursday, July 22

I should probably explain the BIW thing, since I've been referring to her liberally in the comments on Karen's blog.  BIW stands for Bitter Infertile Woman.  She's a superhero that some friends from the old ParentsPlace IF board (iVillage basically destroyed those boards--most of them went to N54 and The Parent Perspective) and I created to help us through the nightmare of infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and treatment.  We were sick of trying to relax, stay positive, count our blessings, and say "it's no big deal" like everyone tried to tell us to do, so we decided to embrace our inner BIW, and we created a private email loop where we were free to be as bitter as we wanted to be.  I am so grateful for those women--we were each others' lifeline during that time, and I don't know where I'd be without them.  When you're in the thick of it, it seems like nobody understands.  And in a way, nobody does.  Even now, when I read blogs like Karen's and Tertia's, while I can relate to what they're going through, I can't feel it.  

The hardest part for me back then was not knowing how the story ends.  Not knowing if I would have to face the worst news of all, that I would have to stop without a baby, that the process would break me down so far that I would not be fit to parent, that donor egg wouldn't work, that I would be rejected by the adoption homestudy because I had literally gone insane from the pain and the stress and the devastation of it all.  I know that sounds crazy, but there were times when I thought: this is how it happens--this is how normal, functioning people end up in institutions.  I had clients when I worked in mental health who had held down jobs, even had families.  This is the kind of thing that breaks people, or at least that was my fear at the time (it doesn't help that my mom had a psychotic break around the same age I was when I was going through IF). 

I always said, if I just knew that it would end well, that I would have a baby in my arms at the end of all this, then maybe I'd be a little pissed at how long it's taking and how much crap I have to go through for it, but I'd really be okay.  But not knowing that, not knowing if it would ever work, if the hole in my heart would ever be filled, that was where the incredible pain and terror came from.

So now that I know my own happy ending, I can sympathize and I can hope and wish (I am not so sure about praying, see this and this for an absolutely gorgeous discussion of why), but I can't be there again. Not that I'd want to, god knows, but I'm glad these folks have each other, and I'm glad I had Gina and Giz and Anne and Hope and Dawn and D.  And I'm glad we had BIW.

That was the point of this post, wasn't it, to explain who BIW is.  She's a superhero in charge of protecting the infertile from dorky, stupid, useless, idiotic, horrible, rude, intrusive, misinformed, and obnoxious comments and attitudes of DFDs, or Damn Fertile Dorks.  She often takes the guise of a Xena-like character, wielding an ultrasound probe and an intramuscular needle charged with progesterone in oil.  We prefer to refer to her actions as "smiting" other people, in the vein of this comic Giz frequently cited while experiencing recurrent early miscarriages.  But BIW usually just smites the DFDs with harmless annoyances of life--despite our deep anger, we IF folks don't really want bad things to happen to the DFDs.  We just want them to be a little less smug about it.  BIW is also really good at reminding us to allow ourselves to be as bitter as we wanna be.  For a long time in there, I was constantly trying to relax and improve my attitude and get HAPPY so that it would a) make me pregnant, magically, just like the DFDs said it would and b) make me feel less like a bitter, dried up old hag (at 30, mind you).  BIW is glorious in her bitterness--she's mad, she has progesterone, and she's not afraid to use it!

So anyway, BIW is out there cheering on those who are fighting for what they deserved to have without a fight.  She'll be there to defend you from DFDs who have stupid advice to give you.  She's got Infertile Myrtle's back.  She is grieving with those who are climbing out of the depths of despair.  I still call on her from time to time, when people say "double trouble," or ask if I "took something" to get twins or when other twin moms brag about how "natural" their children are (yes, mine are made entirely of petroleum products and cellophane).

So BIW lives...rock on, BIW.


Impetua said...

Amazing stuff.

I went back and looked at some of the links.

I will try my best not to be a DFD. (though to my credit I have yet to offer conception advice to anyone, let alone someone who is having difficulty getting pregnant). I count my blessings every day and have no idea why I am so lucky...

Evidently it is time to stop bitching about my screamy baby and get on with it. I am humbled.

Cate said...

Hey Impetua, not to worry. I should have pointed out that DFDs do not represent all fertile people. The key part of that is the DORK part. You have to act like a dork, not get pregnant on the first try, to be a DFD. Of course, if you get pg on the first try and then lord it over me, and complain constantly about your m/s while you know I just miscarried, and then complain constantly about motherhood while I'm still trying to have the baby that should have been born when yours was, well, then, you're a dork. But if you use your own personal blog to work through the difficult experience of adjusting to parenthood with a colicky baby, well, I don't think that means you're a dork. I think it's great for those who never had to worry about it to get a sense of what IF is really like, but don't worry that you're a DFD. I should be more careful with terms like that. When I was TTC, I had a term called "CPW" which stood for Clomid Popping Weenie. That is not to say that taking clomid makes you a weenie. Not at all. Even if you got pg the first time you took it. It's the people who took clomid once, got pg, and then became incredibly smug because, as far as they're concerned, it wasn't the clomid that worked, it was the yoga/meditation/attitude/vacation/relaxing, and they are here to tell you that it's going to be all right, and they're going to impart their considerable wisdom, because, of course, they figured it out and you didn't, and if you could just get it through your thick skull, everything would be okay. It's the attitude that makes the dork or the weenie, not the fertility or the clomid. The top CPW in my life is the woman who came back to our IF support group to say goodbye after getting pg (we later found out, with twins) on her first clomid cycle after her DH had surgery, though they did have dual factor, and who informed us all (all vets of multiple IVFs and miscarriages) that "everything happens for a reason." Great. Thanks. See ya.

So I guess I'm still a bitch. Ah well. But please don't take it personally. It's okay to complain. I complain a lot. Parenting is hard. Pg can be hard (another thing you can't control that's completely random and unfair). Birth is hard. We deserve each others support. You deserve to be listened to by people who will not be traumatized by your complaining, and IF women deserve to be listened by those who respect that what they're going through really is hard. I like reading your blog, and it makes me feel lucky that my kids were such easygoing newborns (NO LONGER!). I'm glad you read that stuff. But don't take it to mean that you have to be happy all the time, even if you *are* incredibly lucky. I am cranky a lot, but it doesn't stop me from being grateful for what I have to be cranky about.

Hugs. You're fine. Thanks for being a cool fertile friend. (CFF?)

Anonymous said...

What a headful of a post, as well as the links :) I'm sure I've had my dorky moments, but it's good to keep reading folks' stories you know? I can relate a bit - there's probably a parallel set of terms for "bitter preemie moms" or "bitter 2nd trimester birth moms" or the all-encompassing "bitter it-should-have-been-some-other-way moms". I cringe when folks talk of Toby as "our little miracle" - well yeah, but Hannah's no less of a miracle if you're thinking about it in those terms (dork!). Bla bla bla - there's a level of "life just is..." and sure you deal, but some things are harder than others to deal with which just sucks but very simply just "is". --Sara

Anonymous said...

wow cate. it kinda brings it all back, ya know? i have to say my experience was a little different – i didn’t have too many dfd’s in my life saying stupid things. for me it was just everyone and her sister (and her cousin, and her hairdresser, and her neighbor....) getting pregnant. some of them twice in the time i was ttc. it was certainly no fault of their own, but it did start to make me bitter...

one of my best friends got pregnant after i quit ttc and we started pursuing adoption. she totally shut me out of her pregnancy – just didn’t share it with me at all. we’ve never really talked about it. i don’t know if she thought it would be too painful or what, but i made it clear (embarrassingly so it felt like after awhile) that i really wanted to be involved. she’s very superstitious and i often felt like she thought i was a “jynx” or something. like i was going to bring her bad luck. i don’t know. it felt terrible though. another friend of mine is actually in labor right now, and she’s been so open and generous with me in sharing her pregnancy. she didn’t treat me like some dried up old infertile prune who couldn’t possibly know anything about pregnancy and childbirth. yet another friend who just gave birth also shared her pregnancy with me, and said afterward that she considered me her “doula.” it’s been very healing for me.

so this fall will be 4 years since i first got pg and m/c’d. 4 years, wow. it will also be 3 years since i got my final diagnosis of super-high fsh and threw in the towel on my dream of pregnancy and childbirth. 2 years since i started pumping milk in preparation for nursing micah (i’ve been lactating almost 23 months!). it’s now almost 15 months since dear sweet micah was placed with us, and i can’t imagine my life any other way. i’ve worked so hard in the past couple of years to feel strong and womanly and healthy and whole – all the things that infertility robbed me of – and i have to say i feel great. i’ve lost 30 lbs – the weight of two pregnancies and miscarriages, 6 clomid cycles and 7 months on a induced lactation protocol. i’m training to run a half marathon. working toward becoming a lactation consultant and doula. i love my life, and it feels good to no longer feel bitter.

but i have to say, that as much as micah has totally filled one hole in my heart, there’s still another hole that will never be totally filled. the pain eases with time and love and hard work, it’s true. but “infertile woman” will always be a big part of my internal sense of myself. i’m getting more and more able to embrace that identity, and even to celebrate it – to honor it for the many ways that i am a stronger and wiser woman for having endured that loss. but still my heart aches sometimes.


Anonymous said...

Hey Cate!
You know I am grateful for knowing you. You guys stood by me in my darkest hours when I was "sniffing chalk" (you know from the writing on the wall).

I'm glad for having you!

Although I am still bitter!
Gina (proud BIW!)

Cate said...

Oh you guys, I just got back from vacation and you're making me cry. I love you guys. I really do. Marta, you're my hero, and I hope you keep telling your story and doula-ing for the women who need you. You rock, mama. Gina, same goes for you. Gosh, I forgot about sniffing chalk, LMBO. I've got a couple of glasses of wine on board so I'll stop--otherwise this will get severely sappy. LOVE you. Me. (PS: I'm not responding to Sara's post because I just spent the week with her, LOL, and she's probably sick of hearing from me)