Pain Without Growth

The pain is different with TTC. It lingers and it fades, but it comes back again and again and again. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.

With writing, it’s different. You go into it expecting a long process. You go into it knowing that it is a daily, uphill battle – but also that each battle begets success, in a way. Not every novel will be a success, but you will learn with every novel. You will get closer, inch by inch, day by day. And when you look back over the months, years, decades, you can see that progress.

You still feel pain, flares of insufficiency, but that pain changes with the progress. It evolves with each new challenge and the challenges are just that – new. There is pain, but there is also growth.

And if you ever quit – you still have the words you wrote.


With Crossfit, it’s different. The first few workouts are awful, maybe far worse than you expected. You get anxious the night before each class. You are terrified when you see what’s on the board. When you can’t finish a workout or have to scale it, there’s guilt and shame.

But then it gets better. You get better. You learn to take each workout as it comes, to get through the tough ones rep by rep, heartbeat by heartbeat, and to celebrate your small successes.

Sometimes, you still cry when it’s awful and you can’t breathe and you’re only on round 3 of 10. Sometimes, you look at the other girls who started when you did and watch their weights go up faster, their muscles grow larger. They can do more than you. They can always do more than you.

Then you look back at all you’ve done and how you’ve grown and how much stronger you are and you realize there will always be pain, but in the pain, there is growth.

And if you ever quit, you can still carry your friends to safety.


Then there is infertility and TTC. Every four to five (to six to seven) weeks it feels like you’ve been slammed in the gut by a train. But the pain teaches you nothing. There are few lessons you can take from punch to punch, except empathy and patience and how to take care of yourself. The waters are too murky to improve – you’re just throwing darts blindfolded.

When you’re in that murk, you have nothing to show but bruises and scars. Which you hide, of course, beneath a foundation of smiles because maybe you should just relax or consider adoption or here, take my kid.

There’s no growth, no trajectory, just endlessly cycling in place, watching the world pass you by. Pain that you swallow, pain without growth.

And if you ever quit, all you have to show for it are scars.



Filed under depression, TTC

4 responses to “Pain Without Growth

  1. I feel for you. I “quit” back in, was it April? March? I still think about trying again. An embarrassing amount of the time. It could be because I’m not a quitter, it’s just not me. I still think about how I’d like to give my parents their first grandchild, and my extended family who I’m close to a new relative, who they’d bond with as a new baby, how I’d like to be thrown a baby shower, etc.

    Going the foster adopt route changes that. Even if we get a newborn, the child will be almost a year by the time the rights are terminated, even assuming the birth parents basically surrender right away. Odds are we’ll go through more than one placement by the time we get a child who we can adopt (with average length of a year). Only twelve percent of children in foster care are adopted. That’s about 1 in 8. And that’s without factoring in our lack of interest in certain special needs (it sounds bad, but we’re trying to be realistic about what we can handle).

    What’s your plan B? Will you guys save up and try more medical interventions? IVF? Switch to your wife trying?

    • In a weird way, my brother getting pregnant this summer has at least taken the pressure of “grandbaby!!” after us. They’re getting all the attention now anyway, so it’s better to just let that be.
      I’m a little afraid of how often I’ll think about trying again too once I officially quit. I know I’ll be filled with what-if’s.
      I don’t know what our plan B is any more. So much depends on what we hear about France in 3 weeks. I might keep trying, might go back to the RE, if we leave later than November. Dr Lady is looking into sperm donors for herself over there, but it’s just – she’s supposed to be post-docing and doing science, not being pregnant. Her carrying during the next two years is less than ideal, so we’re having a lot of talks about that. :/

      • My wife and I had a talk about her carrying, but she’d want to go off get medicine, and I would be too worried for her getting severe ppd. The mental illness her mom has got worse after having kids. But if it was something she really wanted to do, I’d support her and we’d just try to find a reproductive psychiatrist.

  2. I had to laugh as you described Crossfit. It’s all so true.

    And as for infertility, I do a LOT of denial about what we have done and how much we have spent. I REALLY focus on only looking forward, not backward, because if I consider how much we have put into this and the fact that we have nothing to show for it, I could easily spiral downhill. So, I march forward and ignore those facts, pretending that any earlier disappointment never happened.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s