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I think it's impossible *not* to compare pain. And in my experience, the people who scream "you can't compare the pain" the loudest are usually the ones who are saying "secondary is just the same as primary" or some other such nonsense - and who are, therefore, COMPARING THE PAIN. Why do these women not understand that saying "this is the same as that" is, by definition, COMPARING?

Sorry, didn't mean to drag out my own personal soapbox.

I've always thought, as you pointed out, that it's not just what you've gone through, but it's what hope you've got left. When I had been plugging away for 5 years and had only gone as far as injectible + IUI, it was clear to me that someone who had only ("only") tried for 3 years but had already had 3 failed IVFs clearly had less to hope for than I did. The last resort is the last resort, whether it comes sooner or later. And again, a 25 year old hitting that last resort still has more hope than a 40 year old who hits it.

I thought the pain scale was interesting. Before my IVF I was at 3150. I am now at a comfortable 2650, unless you count each year since my daughter's birth as a continuing year of IF (I wasn't sure if I should or not), which coincidentally puts me right back at 3150. Well, okay, that shows me the scale can't be accurate, because I'm nowhere near where I was before my IVF. So I guess I shouldn't add the last five conception-free years after all.

Tomorrow is tranfer day on IVF #5. My husband and I said before we started down the IVF path, that we wouldn't become one of "those" couples - the ones who seem to want to have a baby no matter what the "cost." Now that I've tallied my score (Tertia, I'm with you on the quanitative vs. qualitative approach) and see that I'm @ 4900 points, I'm "scoring" higher than I ever thought I'd allow myself to go.

You see, I've thought all along that this cycle was fucking fantastic. I even collected an amazing 8 eggs, just a week before turning 40 (an age that NEVER bothered me before my IVF journey). Then the call came yesterday that only 3 (FUCK!) had fertilized. I'm sitting here wondering will I hold firm at 4900 points with a "great cycle" (qualitative meaningless words), or will the numbers inch upward?

I've been with you through quite a bit of your journey Tertia (back to 2002), and you've never been pitied in my book. I simply am astounded at the way you are able to see what has happened along the way, and the way you are able to put into words the feelings that so many of us have had, either with a poignant and simple truth, or with a dash of scarastic humor.

Tertia, there is a point to your post. Infertility is a war with many battles, with many wounds, and many scars. Those of us that have ventured into this world will forever be different. Hopefully not bitter, hopefully not pitiful, but brave and a bit softer around the edges with others in the same struggle.

Boulder, 4900 points and hoping to hold, realizing that I've become one of "those" people.

What a great post Tertia.

I so relate to everything you and LAF write about here. I remember soooo well looking down the barrel of that gun. It was my 2nd IVF and this was it for us. My dh didn't want to attempt any more IVFs after #2 and wouldn't consider adoption, donor egg, surragucy etc. He wanted to "just" live without children. Not an option for me. The pain, the utter hopelessness was horrific. It was the saddest most terrifying time in my life.

Infertility, in a word, sucks. For everyone who has to endure infertility suffers.

I believe I am the oldest bitch - can't I please win at something?

The line is drawn, the gun has sounded and I am running as fast as I can.

This dog better be able to hunt.

Cos it sucks being the saddest story around.

I hear ya. I deal with it with humor, but ya know, beneath the thin veneer of humor lies pain.

I don't tell "live" people my whole story because 1.) it seems to dimish their pain and 2.) I don't want pity.

Insightful post.

Tertia, there's no way I can say anything remotely intelligent or helpful or ANYTHING right now, but I still wanted to tell you how much I CARE.

God be with you ...

First of all, I wanted to thank you for your kind words. I'm extremely flattered, especially since you are one of my very favorite bloggers. I think you are fantastic.

Another funny thing is that after the fact, I thought I should have called my post the Pain Olympics. You also covered a base which I had intended to touch on, which is that I, too, am a left brain thinker. My husband laughs at me when I say something like"85%" of the time", rather than "most of the time." I used to study miscarriage stats and percentages as though that would be the path that would save me from infertility. After a while I realized that percentages are not for the one percent that have three or more miscarriages in a row, they are for the 99% that don't. They are also for the 99% of 39 year olds that don't conceive a child with Down's.

I mean what are the chances that your road to motherhood would be so filled with landmines? Probably miniscule. But there it is.

I digress.

About being the poster child for grief... I had a good friend whose fiance became a paraplegic the same year her nephew fell out of a tree and died. After my third miscarriage and while my Dad was in the hospital with cancer, we had a good laugh when we realized that most people ended their conversations with us by saying, "of course it's nothing like what you are going through." I always thought what she was going through was "worse," but she was one of the first people that taught me that pain is pain, and there is no comparing.

And there is something tragically comic about being the role model of shitty life occurences.

You have been through so much and you are still standing, and writing beautifully too. It's inspiring. I hope your pain points reward you with two beautiful, healthy children for the rest of your life.

Yeah, all of that. Great post.

I reached the end about a month ago. I am trying so hard to make it feel like a beginning, but sometimes I just can't stop crying.

I hear you about not wanting to be that girl. The one that they pity. That's my biggest reason for staying fairly covert about my IF and treatments.

This was an interesting post. I came out at a crazy 9,000 points, which seems incredibly high. However, the irony is that I have no infertility problems. I am the exact opposite. In fact, I cannot manage to stop myself from getting pregnant. So the points work out like this...first child, died after 1 minute (10,000 points), two living children (-1,000) = 9,000. On the Pain Olympics scale, it's a lot more than others who have tried and tried and tried. Somehow, that just doesn't seem fair.

As far as pain is concerned, though, is there a scale for people without fertility problems, but those that have complications and/or difficulties with pregnancies? While I realize just being pregnant or being able to have children is such a blessing, it is painful for some of us to BE pregnant and to go through labor. For example, 96 hours of constant labor with my second child...how do you rate that kind of pain? Is is any less significant than some other type of pain because there is a happy outcome? I don't know the answer to that or whether it's even appropriate to ask those kind of questions, but I though it might be relevant in the mix of things.

I hope I am being clear that I am not negating anyone's pain or belittling their suffering...just exploring the questioning in my mind.

I wonder if some of the people who get up in arms against anything that sounds like a comparison might simply be spooked by the notion that it could, in fact, get worse.

You know, someone who's never gotten a positive pregnancy test wouldn't really want to imagine that she could hurt even more...

When we say, "My pain is just as bad as your pain," maybe what we mean is, "I can't stand the thought that there's worse in my future. This better be as bad as it gets."

What Julie said. I've been cogitating on this all day, and I think she nails it (as Tertia and Patricia did earlier).

I also think, though, that realized pain always knocks you out more than imagined pain so even though you know there's (potentially) worse pain out there waiting for you, it doesn't make the actual, current pain any less.

Does that make any kind of sense?

Perhaps this could be a discussion about resilience and hope, too. I mean, maybe as well as comparing the specifics, we can be talking about (or acknowledging, honoring) the level of devastation that the specifics have rendered. How must hope is left -- in you, in your partner, in your relationship? Do you feel that there’s anything left of who you were? Do you feel so stuck that you can’t figure out how to redefine yourself and move out into the flow of life –- the future -– again?

I ask because it could be the loss of countless miscarriages and surgeries, or it could be years and years and years of the kind of grinding IF that doesn’t include a pregnancy, but nevertheless brings the steady loss of any sense of joy, of wonder, of possibility. It’s where we end up that needs to be grappled with.

Like it or not, we have all been changed by IF and the particulars of our various experiences have effected each one of us in profound ways. And we need to talk about that. But where to now?

Sorry about the long comment -- these were the questions that came to me while reading your great post, Tertia, and the comments too...

Thanks for getting us thinking (and talking)!

xxoo

"96 hours of constant labor with my second child...how do you rate that kind of pain?"

I rate that pain as temporary. Unlike loss and grief, which is chronic, it just varies in degrees.

"Is is any less significant than some other type of pain because there is a happy outcome?"

Absolutey.

I suppose you are right Marla, having thought about it longer and discussing just this topic with my sister. It's a totally different thing...and you are correct temporary since there is only 96 hours of intense pain and 6 months of bleeding and a year of recovery. Still, it did end at a point. It absolutely didn't compare to losing a child after one minute of life...this is true...loss and grief are a different type of pain.

Again, I clarify that I was only following a line of questioning in my mind with no intention of belittling anyone's grief or pain in any way.

You explained this much more clearly and beautifully than my piss-poor attempt. You're right, it isn't about minimizing others' pain -- but it's true, some people have a more horrible row to hoe than others. IVF is clearly harder and more painful than Clomid (and I'm speaking as someone who has only done Clomid/Met so far). I still think miscarriages are even worse than the endless negatives (speaking as someone who's had only negatives). I don't minimize my own pain by saying this, because my pain absolutely sucks too. I like the way you put it: it's just acknowledgement.

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