Keeping it Real

So, I have a bunch of posts in draft form. All on pretty "deep" spiritual topics. All just needing a paragraph or two to finish them. But I've been stuck on them all for a while now. Some longer than others, but I just haven't been able to finish them.

And then Simcha posted a request from one of her readers for someone to write about infertility (secondary infertility specifically) the way that Simcha writes, in a "real way" that isn't all Holy and that says that infertility sucks. (Edited to add: this certainly isn't the way that Simcha writes, she's awesome. But this will say that infertility sucks. Points for meeting 1/2 the criteria?)

I was convicted about what I do here in a way that made my "stuckness" about the draft posts make sense. I realized that if this here blog is giving the impression that I am "holy" and perfect at "offering it up", well then you all have a very different picture of what infertility is like, for me at least. I also realized that what all of those posts in draft form are missing is a paragraph that goes something like this:

"I've just written all of these beautiful (I hope), spiritual thoughts. And I want to believe them. I want to feel them in every fiber of my being and I want them to be true. Occasionally, for fleeting moments, they are true. But honestly? I just want to be a mom and infertility sucks. It sucks big. fat. donkey. balls."

Eloquent, no?

So, in hopes of not negating posts that exist and that are to come regarding the spiritual journey I'm trying to go on - I give you my "keeping it real post."

Infertility sucks.

It attacks everything I am - as a woman, as a wife, in my femininity, in my ability to use my mothering gifts, as a daughter, as a sister. Every. single. thing. is tainted and attacked because my body is broken. It doesn't work.

I am jealous and devastated over pregnancy announcements.

I've avoided baby showers and bridal showers for the past 3 years.

I used to love children, being around them - I was a teacher for goodness sakes, a preschool teacher - and now I avoid them. I sit far away from them in church and I long for daily Mass with the old ladies and me.

I have anger, deep-rooted-want-to-yell anger, lots of times, but especially when there is an intention at Mass for "mothers".

I sob before and after intercourse with my husband because, well, in our world sex does not equal babies. (Not every time, but at least once per month. Once ever is cruel, repeatedly is devastating.)

I see pregnant teenagers and I wonder why God lets them get pregnant and not me.

I am having a second surgery next week - to determine the extent of my brokenness.

I spend hours crying myself to sleep - asking God "why". I walk a very thin line of understanding that I did not, in fact, do this to myself because of being on The Pill for so long.

I have moments of insight, moments of reprieve, moments of clarity and understanding, but they don't last - and they are always replaced with deeper questions, deeper fears. It is the largest onion to be peeled in the world.

I don't want to be a spiritual mother - I want to be a physical mother.

I don't want to "have" to adopt - I want to make a baby with my husband.

I don't want to have to explain why one does not, in fact, "just adopt."

I don't want people to feel sorry for me - or not know what to say to me - or feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me - or talk about me behind my back.

I don't want to snap, hard, at a new priest who was truly just trying to be helpful.

I don't want to plan infertility retreats and start FB groups.

I wish not a single one of us knew each other because of infertility, but rather because we met at "mommy and me" groups and in Catholic moms groups online.

I hate this as badly for you, my infertile sisters, as I hate it for me. In fact, I hate it for you more. If I could fix it for you I would. Which only makes me hate it more, because I cannot fix it for you.

I don't want to ponder how our marriage is fruitful in other ways.

I don't want to dig deep into Church teaching and documents to answer questions about a marriage that is childless being fruitful, and full sacramental.

I dread small talk. I'm an extrovert - I love people. I dread being asked the "getting to know you questions." I avoid meeting new people for this reason.

I have no motivation to run because I am having surgery again and won't be able to run the Pittsburgh half after all.

I feel invisible. Alone. Left behind. Useless.

And I could keep going, but if you've read it this far, to spare you, I shall stop.

I truly do not write all of this to make anyone feel bad, or uncomfortable or even to ask for your prayers (though prayers are always appreciated). I write it because I think I need to get it out. I know it's harsh and rough.

It is real.

If I've hurt you by these words, I am truly sorry. If you've read this and for even a moment thought that you are less alone, then maybe it is worth it.

Or maybe it just contributes to the notion that infertile women are crazy. I don't know.

For those fleeting moments that I believe and feel all of the spiritual stuff that is here, I will continue to write them. To explore them. To try to make sense of all of, this. If I don't, the pit of sorrow, self-pity, and despair that is waiting to swallow me up will win. It will not win. All of this will not win. I'm too stubborn for that. (Hey, maybe I do have a bit of fight in me after all?!?!)

 But, for those nights when the tears come, those moments when I want to run and hide, if I am to be honest about this road on which I am, then I must write this as well. Otherwise, I deny that girl who feels all of this, and I make myself truly invisible.


  1. I love, appreciate and understand 110% everything you have written here. IF is a horrible, horrible thing. I hate that so many of us have to carry such a heavy burden -- it's especially heavy when I have to deal with ridiculous parents who have no idea what sort of gift they have in their children.

    I love you so much and I continue to pray for you every day!!!

    1. And I love you and send lots of prayers back to you!!!

  2. I love these posts and I love your deep spiritual posts. There is no more effective imagery than big fat donkey balls, just sucking. ha! But really, I appreciate your spiritual posts because I can imagine you sitting there and toiling like I do with these thoughts that make sense, and then writing them down so that later you have SOME PROOF that something good came of the never-ending cycle of groundhog day that infertility can feel like. And I had no idea surgery was next week already... :( Praying for you.

    1. Yes! That is exactly why I write the spiritual posts, because if I don't it feels like they never existed and that there is no reprieve in this.

  3. Thank you for posting this. I read blogs, sometimes even yours and I wish I could be as "holy" as the ones who write them. I hate having IF and then I feel like such a horrible person for hating it so much and not carrying my cross with grace. I have read several posts where people state they are thankful for their IF. I don't understand it. I guess it it because I am not there yet. I am jealous and mad when I see pregnant people especially those who aren't good parents. Then I feel bad for feeling that way and bawl my eyes out during confession while I confess those sins. I am always on an emotional roller coaster that never ends. Thank you for writing this post! Thank you for making me feel like I am not alone feeling this way. I pray about handling it better all the time. I wish I could say I am thankful for my IF, I hope one day to be there.

    Praying for you and your upcoming surgery!

    1. I get that some people can say they are "thankful for their IF", but honestly, I never have been. So I totally get this post. Just like I am not thankful that I have incurred multiple miscarriages. I am grateful that I have babies in heaven, but seriously, I would have rather had them here on earth and yes, I know that sounds selfish. I have said repeatedly on my blog (and probably bored readers to tears), that I am not good at suffering and a lot of times I do just white knuckle myself through the craziness and anxiety. Definitely not the makings of a wanna-be Saint! But that is where I am at right now and I guess my encouragement to you (I know I don't know you) would be to go easy on yourself and whether or not you carry your cross with grace, leave that up to the Lord. He knows your heart and it sounds beautiful to me. (And to make my point even clearer...I am a cancer survivor and yes, I can truly say I am thankful for having gone through cancer - the chemo and radiation, it did teach me a lot about myself and life and whole host of other things and I felt this way within a short time of being done with treatment. I am not sure if I will ever get to the same place of gratefulness with IF...it was so much more painful and all consuming.) End rant. :)

    2. I meant "get this comment". I have a separate comment for Rebecca's overall post, which was awesome!

    3. I can't honestly say that I am thankful for my IF, because I'm not. I hate it. I want children, not barrenness. BUT. I am thankful for some of the good things that God has brought out of my IF, like a greater appreciation for the truth that children are an undeserved gift (I used to think I had a right to one when I wanted it). Maybe that's more like what some people mean when they say they are thankful for their IF. They're actually thankful that God was able to bring some good into their lives through it and in spite of it, rather than just leaving it to be a big pointless crappy mess of pain. ;)

    4. Being thankful for IF... I agree with JBTC - I am thankful for the health issues I had (not cancer, but Crohn's) because it taught me a lot about God and about my own strength. It was easier than being thankful for IF. But without IF, I would have been one of those people who thought infertility happened as a result of something the person did. It was such a shock to me to be infertile because according to the church, DH and I did things "right". We waited until we were married and didn't use contraception. But you know what wasn't right? My heart. It was SO filled with pride. And now I look at other couples with compassion, not judgement. Like Casey said - that is a great good that happened as a result of my IF.

      And Rebecca, you are in my prayers. Thank you for being real. Love you, friend!

  4. Thank you for this post. I loved it all and found myself saying "yup" to pretty much everything you listed off. It would be silly not to record the graces that IF bears in your life so your deeper posts are a testimony to what God can do even in the midst of great suffering. But every now and again it can be so healing to "let the guard down" and just be really real. Thanks for doing that here.

  5. Rebecca - again, you nailed it. Keep keeping it real...we love you!

  6. We all need to keep it real, every now and then, and I admire and appreciate you for being courageous and compassionate enough to be real with all of us.

    I can identify with almost every single thing you shared. IF does suck. It's horribly unfair, and I hate it. It has changed me as a person, some ways good, but I think more ways bad. I hate how it has contributed to me not trusting God the way I want to. I hate how it has hurt all the other infertile bloggers. I hate that we have all cried and cried and feel so broken.

    But I love that you share your spiritual posts, because the seed of hope that they contain reminds me to try to hope too, and I need that reminder to not give in to despair.

    So thank you!! Thank you for this post and all your posts. Thanks for being real and sharing your beautiful soul with all of us. Know that you have my love and my ongoing prayers for healing in every way you need it.

  7. I am so sorry you have to write this, or any post about experiencing infertility! I wish I could punch IF in its ugly face, actually.

    Please know that you are loved no matter what kind of post comes through those fingers! If you can't "keep it real" with friends, then who?!


  8. Your words are always so inspiring. I've never gotten the impression that you're just perfect and holy all the time. Your authenticity always comes through and I so admire your grasp of church teaching. I love how much you work to understand and share it with others- even though you'd rather be doing something else. This is an amazing, honest beautiful post ad all your posts are.

  9. Reading your posts gives me hope that IF produces some sort of good. Even if the spiritual moment of clarity is just that, a moment, it is moving you (and us) in the right direction, toward God and our salvation.

    That being said, I hope I can say this next bit half as eloquently as you write. This all pisses me off! What I am terribly mad about is that someone who wants to read about IF in a "real way" makes you doubt yourself about what you write.

    We know IF sucks big fat donkey balls. It hurts horribly. I hate that you and the others suffer so. And if writing about how it relates, affects, and is effected by your faith isn't real, I don't know why we believe in God at all.

    Your faith and insight are a light to us all. In those fleeting moments we see that it can make sense. Please don't ever, ever think those words are wasted or are not real!

    As always, you're in my prayers!

  10. You are a brave and holy woman, even if you have to cry and wonder and rage at times (totally understandable). Wish I could give you a hug!

  11. I wish you could fix it for me too...but there is no fixing as we all know too well. ugh. Someday I will look back and know why I had to be on this journey. Someday.

  12. You express so well what I remember constantly feeling. The pain of infertility was sometimes almost suffocating. It was long ago for me now, but it was bad enough that I still think about you all who are still 'in it' every single day. It makes me want to cry.

    (PS I have written a lot of "thankful for infertility posts, but it was only after the adoption of our children! no coincidence there!)

  13. I'm fine with reading the raw, aching, messy stuff if it means that you get an outlet and I can know how better to pray for you.

    *hugs* I will be praying for you next week.

  14. Just so you know, I have stopped going to wedding showers and baby showers myself. I get bitter, I get angry, I get lonely, and sometimes one just has to have a verbal tantrum. I do not know HOW MANY TIMES I have told GOD that I am NOT speaking to him. And He just stands there and takes it without blinking an eye, and NOTHING seems to change or IMPROVE the way I want it to. "HELLO!?! Is anyone out there listening to me?" I've felt that way plenty of times. I think a lot of the angst (at least for me) is that it seems like the ENTIRE world gets to go to the party and you don't. Now I am the happiest when I am hanging out with my friends who do not have children, and we really don't sit around and talk about how we wish we had them either.

  15. I couldn't agree more that IF sucks big fat donkey balls!! I hate that it has destroyed so much potential happiness in our lives - we cannot look through rose colored glasses ever again. I don't think you're holier than thou - I love anything you write!! - and I appreciate the keeping it real. :-) our sentiments on IF are exactly the same!!

  16. This is the kind of post I've been waiting to read from you. Somehow, I've known this is how you feel for a long time, but you seemed afraid to say it. So I'm glad you wrote it because it's necessary to be real. I can't imagine how any of these words might hurt someone like me...but I guess I can see why you'd worry about that.

    I know my suffering is different, but over this year of grieving Gregory, I have understood what it meant to feel like avoiding pregnant women, avoiding newborns, avoiding baby showers and all that stuff. I did have a "watershed" moment where I was happy at news for the first time and I recognized it. It made me sad that I'd been resentful and unhappy for so long, but also made me glad that God had granted the Grace in my heart to start to move forward.

    So much love for you, my friend. Many prayers.

  17. I so needed to read this today. Oh Rebecca, thank you for your honesty because it is so refreshing. I wish I could fix IF for you and me but all I can do is pray, so I will pray for you and your upcoming surgery. I can relate to so much of what you said, well all of what you said actually.

  18. Love you. I think you're wonderful. I can't believe you said the donkey balls thing. That actually made me laugh, sitting here at my desk, and I shouldn't be laughing while I'm doing accounting. Please don't do that anymore. ;)

    God I wish I could take this away from you. But I remain steadfast in prayer for you...

  19. Yep. I waffle between whether I write too many posts about how much it sucks, or if I write too many about whatever insights you get in the midst of the crap. Or if I start out too often with how much it sucks and end with something that "I learned" as if it's always neat and tidy like that, but none of this is ever neat and tidy. The point is that it is really painful not to be able to fully live out the vocation you feel called to as a woman, and thank you for sharing your feelings so openly about this. It helps me know that I am not alone, and know that I am still praying for you as well!

    Also, can I just say that if someone brings up "spiritual motherhood", the thoughts I have in response tend not to be particularly spiritual or motherly? Just saying.

  20. Both your spiritual and "real" posts are so inspiring... and yet, at the end of the day, I just want you to be a physical mother, too, and to say goodbye to IF forever. I want it so badly for all the ladies suffering from IF and secondary IF (and I may find myself in that second catagory someday, and that is not far from my mind either as I watch some families just grow and grow with no trouble or like you said, crisis pregnancies happen over and over). Continued prayers.

  21. Keep on keepin' it real! You DO make me feel less alone! Although as we've all said ad nauseum, I wish no one ever had to experience IF. But wow, I could have written each and every one of your statements up there.

    Not to sound like a broken record, but Fr. Philippe in "Interior Freedom" has some great things to say about "keeping it real." He says that only when we accept reality (sometimes in all its ugliness and sorrow and utter brokenness) can the Holy Spirit enter in and work on it. Denying reality (pretending like everything's OK when it's not, or like I'm thankful for IF when really I hate it) prevents the Holy Spirit from working on that situation because He only works on reality, not on an illusory life that we wish we had. Anyway, I found that a very comforting thought and it gave me "permission" (don't know exactly who I thought I needed that from...) to acknowledge all the real CRAP that IF brings. Jesus is there in the midst of it!

    Anyway...as always thank you for being YOU and being so brave. And for the record, I do think you're holy, but not a fake holy. A real, authentic, appealing holy. =)

  22. "I wish not a single one of us knew each other because of infertility, but rather because we met at "mommy and me" groups and in Catholic moms groups online."

    Much as I wish that we weren't all going through this, I can't help but be grateful that IF has brought us together. An hour is quite a drive when you're worried about an infant's feedings or a squirmy toddler; that and so many of the mother's groups I've seen (courtesy of glimpses through family members) are driven by proximity. Would I really have gotten to know you, Kat, Donna, the Amys, and so many more if it weren't for this shared (horrible) experience? And if we had met, we we have become as close? So often I've heard complaints of women whose "friends" drifted away when their children no longer had the same interests because their common bond was simply children of the same age. I am so glad that I will get to see you this weekend, before you have surgery again.

    I, too, don't want to "have to" adopt, and I hate having to explain that one doesn't "just adopt." As we've been watching the Olympics, many of our discussions have revolved around potential countries from which to adopt and their current restrictions.

    Though I don't cry before intercourse much, I am deeply ambivalent about it. The struggles to make oneself desire your husband ... because it's the right time of the month and you have good mucus. Trying not to force or schedule it, while acknowledging that in some ways, you have to, or at least be aware of when the best times are so that you're not wasting the medicines and all the side effects they entail.

  23. Thank you, Rebecca. I needed this, especially today after going to the RE for the first time in more than 6 months. I know I have said repeatedly that I know I am not holy, nor graceful. This IF thing has totally "ruined" me, to a certain extent. I am not the spiritual person I once was, and I don't know that I'll ever get it back (and honestly, most days I don't care if I do or not). Thank you for keeping it real. I am blessed to know you. And you are always in my prayers! -Erica

  24. As someone who experienced infertility before welcoming a son and who is now experiencing secondary infertility, I so appreciate both this post and your more spiritual posts. Your spiritual posts give me something to think about and and to aspire to, and posts like this make me feel not so alone. I feel blessed I stumbled upon this community of IF or formerly IF women. Even though I do not necessarily share the same faith or beliefs, I am inspired by all of you and feel a kinship in our repsective journeys.

  25. You are brave in your honesty and I personally continue to feel these same things. I will add: Worse yet, IF is a very lonely road that few will travel with you for as long as it lasts. Usually you have to give out support and love before it is ever given back... The longer you deal with IF the harder it is to really love others when your own reserves are low...it is a fight to stay positive, to not lose hope and to keep faith. I know this sounds depressing but CD2 is talking...

  26. I found myself 1000% agreeing with everything you've said here. And I'm so happy you shared it. It's not easy to let others see the ugly side of IF, but it's really there, and it's how we feel 90% of the time. Lke you said, the graces and the blessings and the happy times, they're great for sharing, to make it look like you're ok inside, but the reality is, this stuff flippin' stinks. Big time. I'm so sorry anyone ever has to go through it. Thanks for being raw and honest here. You were brave to share these feelings. And you certainly made me feel less alone.

  27. I wish you didn't have to go through this, and write this blog or start the Facebook group. I have to say a BIG thank you for keeping it soooooooo real. I do feel less alone. ...and I hate IF, the emptiness of my womb never seems to leave my mind. :(

  28. I second Donna. You are real and always have been. I love your blog and I love this post.