Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Double B Book Brigade: Tour 13

This tour's selection was "The Empty Picture Frame" by Jenna Nadeau.

  1. Depending on where you are on your IF journey, how did this book affect you? For example, if you have a child/ren after IF was it easier or harder to read? If you are in the middle of your IF struggle did the book help or hinder? Give me your thoughts on how you were affected reading the book no matter where your IF journey has taken you so far.

Since I fall pretty squarely into "post struggle" this book affected me in a flashback sort of way. All along there are echoes of thoughts, feelings and situations I struggled with. Some parts made me sad as I read them and said to myself "Oh yes, oh yes - I remember how hard that was." Still other parts made me laugh as I recalled the craziness that often engulfed me - the sad, tragic - yet comedic gyrations of trying to coordinate a "normal" life interposed with syringes and tiny vials of white powder, frequent monitoring (which required 4 hour trips each time) and all at the whim of my Auntie Flo who often was sporadic in her appearances and had a knack for showing up at the most inconvenient times.

  1. On p. 141, Jenna describes hiding out in the bathroom during her nephew's third birthday party but then realizes, "I couldn't even come close to having fun. I hate myself for that... I don't want to turn every moment into a moment about me and my sadness. It is never my intention, but it is always my impact." She describes how she doesn't like the person looking back at her in the mirror. Have you had a similar "mirror moment"? If so, describe it. Did this realization result in a lasting change in your outlook or relationships with others? How much of the responsibility for "impact" lies on the infertile person's shoulders?
Our struggles to get pg and especially our losses made being involved in certain events difficult and another struggle. On the one hand I hated myself for being unable to let my happiness for others - especially since I truly cared about them - override my personal disappointments and failures. My mirror moment came for me when I was injecting Follistim in my bathroom hoping to achieve my 11th pg and that pg would end successfully. I prepped the area - swiping my abdomen with the alcohol swab, grabbed the readied syringe and plunged. As I withdrew the needle I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror - my pale bloated belly exposed, riddled with bruises and the scars from the recent laparoscopy for my tubal and failed multiples pg and remember thinking "That can't possibly be me!" I hardly recognized her. I decided I didn't want to be her anymore and determined that cycle would be my very last - win, lose or draw. I just couldn't do it anymore.

As for the responsibility - we make our own choices and responsibility for our happiness doesn't lie on the shoulders of others. Some choices are harder than others, particularly when behind them are strong and emotionally charged emotions. Some days I was less than valiant - others I surprised myself with a strength and grace I didn't know I possessed. I came to believe it wasn't so much what happened to me, but what I did with it and I was determined to not let it destroy me and permanently turn me into the bitter, unhappy person I sometimes saw flashes of over the years. That said - I didn't expect myself to be admirable and perfect every day either though! Nature of the beast - some days are just going to require herculean effort just to get through, smiling not an option! Just surviving it being the objective.

3. On page 147, the author talks about being more aware of the pain of others. How do you
feel your infertility has affected your relationship with others?

Okay - in honesty, I lost friends along the way. Oftentimes my dh could not understand why I was so miserable and tried to tell me that other people's happiness did not detract from my own. My own family - those who should love and support me the most - often failed in being the support I expected. Not everyone understood my need to talk - but I have a bit of the martyr in me and I continued to talk even though I knew it made them uncomfortable at times. The interesting thing is - all that talking did have a beneficial effect later on - a sister in law had a few miscarriages and my mother told me that because she had seen me go through mine, she felt better equipped to help my sil through hers. My baby sister lost her baby to SIDS and suddenly I was the family expert on baby grief and I was constantly asked what they should do, what they should say, how do they respond? My family is much more open and compassionate about baby loss and infertility struggles now than they had been in the past - while this is a sad thing, it is also a good and comforting thing.

I "see" hurt people now. I see in the eyes of others the hurt and frustrations I saw countless times in my own. Sometimes I feel like I can "come to the rescue" and say I understand. Other times, I flashback and I start shaking from the memories and recalled anguished feelings and I have to remind myself it's over now and I am okay, that I survived and pray that we both find our peace someday.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens ( You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.


loribeth said...

Good to have you back again, Julia, & glad to have you on the tour! LOL about being a martyr... i have a bit of that in me myself!

ekunkelmann said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Is there a fine line between being open and being a martyr?

JuliaS said...

LOL! I called myself a martyr because it went beyond being open - it made them uncomfortable and oftentimes me miserable - but I spoke about it anyway because I was miserable not talking about it. I needed love and support and compassion and I was determined to get it I suppose!

seattlegal said...

Your comment about seeing others hurt brings back flashbacks is so true for me as well. I have to remind myself a lot of the times, that that part of my life is over. I have succeeded in the infertility struggle. I guess maybe it just takes some time to get over or maybe it just stays with you.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

What an image--and how it brought you closure as well since you knew in that moment what would happen next in the overall sense whether the cycle was successful or not. It's hard to step back from yourself when you're in the middle of the situation.

Caba said...

I agree that many times during the book I found myself flashing back to those moments. I think regardless of "success" or not, those pains just never leave. Thanks for your thoughts!

Samantha said...

That was one thing that I think was very brave about Jenna in writing the book - she did try to step back and analyze her situation while in the thick of things. Her last chapter demonstrated her finding her balance and getting some perspective.

I have not always been happy with how I feel and my behavior. But I think you are right - some days will be bad, but other days will be better. Now that I'm pregnant, it's tempting to judge my earlier behavior harshly, but it's where I was at the time, and I did what I could to survive. It sounds like you did the same, and also knew when you were ready to move on, regardless of outcome (like Mel said, you paint a very vivid picture!)

I'm glad you have opened up your family to more understanding and compassion.