Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Review

I have been reading the book, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner. I am almost finished the book (which is a quick read if you don't break it up like I have) and until today it was just that, a read. I was struggling to find the connection to what I was going through and the examples in the book. This is part of my problem though. I don't like to hear stories about people who struggled with IF and then got pregnant because they never relate to me. I have read countless memoirs and heard many stories, but they are just that...stories. Aside from all of you, who get it, I am just not interested in hearing about so and so who took for Clo.mid for a few months, stopped and then got pregnant. I tried the Clo.mid, it did absolutely nothing for me so shut the fuck up, it won't help. I didn't even last a full cycle on it. After five days, I added injectables and haven't looked back since. That was over three years ago. I have been on injectable hormones for 32 cycles (timed intercourse - IUI - IVF - DE IVF).

I am not usually jealous, but rather upset for myself when I hear of other people's success; and especially with this last loss, I found myself very very sad, depressed, angry, bitter, jealous (insert other adjectives that fit) and questioning why. I would not consider myself an overly religious person. I don't attend synagogue on a weekly basis, nor do I follow the Halacha (Jewish law) to the letter, however I do keep many of the traditions and try to find meaning in what I believe. Over my IF journey, I have become more in tune with my Judaism. I have begun going to the Mikve and also consulted with a rabbi from time to time. At each major failure, I have found myself questioning my faith. Right now, I am really struggling with this. I am so angry that my life right now is defined by calendars, cycles and hormones; I just want to cross over already. I want to be myself again. The happy, outgoing person that A. fell in love with. I know she's in there somewhere, and I am trying to find my way back to her.

When reading the book today, the section that really spoke to me was about anger and jealousy. It was the first time since reading the book that I was able to relate elements to my life and my situation. I don't know if that made me feel good or not, but it did give some validity to what I was reading. It also helped me to not feel so alone. For the first time, I felt like someone got it. Someone that wasn't reading this blog. Someone that I hadn't met and that didn't necessarily experience IF.

"What do we do with our anger when we have been hurt? The goal, if we can achieve it, would be to be angry at the situation, rather that at ourselves, or at those who might have prevented it or are close to us trying to help us, or at God who let it happen. Getting angry at ourselves makes us dressed. Being angry at other people scares them away and makes it harder for them to help us. Being angry at God erects a barrier between us and all the sustaining, comforting resources of religion that are there to help us at such times. But being angry at the situation, recognizing it as something rotten, unfair, and totally undeserved, shouting about it, denouncing it, crying over it, permits us to discharge the anger which is a part of being hurt, without making it harder for us to be helped.

"Jealousy is almost as inevitable a part of being hurt by life as are guilt and anger. How can the injured person not feel jealous of people who may not deserve better, but have received better? How can the widow not be jealous of even her closes friends who still have a husband to go home to? How should the woman whose doctor has told her she will never be able to bear children react when her sister-in-law confides to her that something may have gone wrong and she may be pregnant for a fourth time?

It serves us no purpose to try to moralize against jealousy and talk people out of it. Jealousy is too strong a feeling. It touches us too deeply, hurting us in places we care about...We hurt ourselves more than anyone else by feeling jealous, and we know it. But we still feel it.

Perhaps that is the only cure for jealousy, to realize that the people we resent and envy for having what we lack, probably have wounds and scars of their own. They may even be envying us.

Anguish and heartbreak may not be distributed evenly throughout the world, but they are distributed very widely. Everyone gets his share. If we knew the facts, we would very rarely find someone whose life was to be envied"
(Kusner, 120-124).

It's a lot to think about. I'm still processing how these words make me feel. Each sentence touches on a different part of my emotions - even some I didn't know I had. I have two more chapters left of the book and then I will be able to completely reflect on what message I have taken away from it, but for today I am comforted knowing that I am not alone.



  1. What a great post! I totally agree with you on everything. I think everyone is jealous of other people. I know people are jealous of where I live, that my state mandates some fertility coverage, and so on. And those are the things they can say out loud and I just sit there, silent.

    When my best friend got pregnant, I was not jealous. I know that she had been through hell trying to conceive, had a failed IVF and other measures didn't work for her. I wished I had a viable pregnancy too, but it didn't happen and I am grateful for her friendship and support.

    And, to be totally honest, if someone gets pregnant on one of their blogs, I am not interested in reading. Happy for them, but not interested.


  2. R., thank you for sharing your thoughts on Kushner's book. There were times I worried that I was a horrible, evil person because I'd feel resentment over the ease that someone else conceives. It wasn't until other ladies acknowledged struggling with the same thoughts that I realized I wasn't alone. It truly is very comforting to know that these emotions are simply a part of being human.


  3. I am touched by the last paragraph... I do HAVE to remind myself from time to time that everyone has their own struggles and that many of them I may not know about. And yes - despite the fact that I recently lost a daughter at 19 wks - I do realize that people suffer (dare I say) more tragic losses and deal with "worse" life events every day. Remembering that - mixed with a little time passing - is how I can continue to live with my loss 2 1/2 months later.

    All my best.. tbb1

  4. Thanks R for sharing snipets of the book. The info about anger really resonate with me. Hope you had a great day

  5. I'm glad you found a part of the book that helps. I know it's hard for me to remember that everyone has their own scars when sometimes it seems things come so easily to them.... We could all use that reminder - thanks for sharing with us!

  6. I'm glad you are getting a lot out of this book - it sounds very useful. I'm sure it is hard to make sense out of everything that has happened to you, and hopefully this will help you find some balance.

  7. OK the first thing that struck me was 32 cycles with injectables? Holy heck. Even though we did five IVFs and I had several surgeries...I never had that kind of continuous hormone blast. Yikes.

    The second thing--I do really try to think in terms of what I have that others might be jealous of to help me keep perspective--and I liked the part he said about anguish and heartbreak are distributed widely (I mean, I don't like it that the world is like this but it is so true). Thanks for sharing.

  8. I totally understand what you wrote in the beginning, about hearing "stories." After my first miscarriage, it seemed like EVERYONE was interested in telling me about theirs. And all I wanted to do was scream at them: "Did it take you SEVEN YEARS, IVF, and $20,000 to get pregnant in the first place? No? Well, then STFU!!!!"

    I didn't of course, but I sure wanted to.

    I am glad you've found a part of the book helpful. I get what the author is saying about directing our anger at the situation, but for me it's been awfully hard not to direct it at God. I just feel so abandoned, and so helpless. I prayed with every fiber of my being for the lives of both of my babies -- and to no avail. I now waver between a raging anger toward God, for allowing this to happen, and being unsure if He even exists. Normal reactions, I think, but I'm still processing them so logical thought is hard.

    ((((Hugs))) Thinking of you today.


  9. Thank you for your comment on my blog and for sharing this excerpt. You are so not alone! I'm glad something in the Kushner book hit home. I sometimes try to remind myself that the fact that someone is walking around with a baby or visibly pregnant doesn't mean she got there on the first try. Even though I often ruefully assume everyone else did. Take good care of yourself and let yourself feel what you feel.

  10. thanks for this post. it gives me a lot to thinks about. take care