I’ve always said that writers come to the craft from many a varied path and Tiffany is no different. Just like us, she hid her talent and only wrote on the side. When life threw her a particularly nasty curve, she did what she knew best. She wrote about it.
The written word has a magical quality to it. It has the ability to illuminate and through that illumination, it can be a crutch, a balm maybe, to take the sting out of a situation.
Tiffany’s piece, I feel, does that and can do that for others. It’s an inspirational message sprinkled with a smart humour that caught my wife’s eye, a fellow Weight Watchers member, and she was so impressed with it she showed it to me.
So in parting from my regular format, I’d like to present to you, You, Me and Infertility Makes Three, by Tiffany Clarke. After which, you can read as Tiffany tells us her writing journey.
“You, Me & Infertility Makes Three”
Tiffany L. Clarke
Several months after our wedding, my husband and I discovered that an unwelcome house guest had arrived and had become part of our family. We had never encountered this individual before in our past, and we’re still not sure how they managed to sneak into our lives. Maybe it’s because we didn’t eat exclusively organic food as children, or maybe because our lives weren’t guided by a Divine source (we’d rather eat pancakes in our pajamas on Sunday morning than attend a church). Maybe it was fate, or maybe that first pregnancy test had been hexed by goblins. Regardless of how it came to be, we have an individual by the name of Infertility living in our home, and this stubborn creature refuses to leave.
At first, we tried to ignore Infertility’s presence, which is a lot easier than it sounds. For starters, Infertility is a horrible houseguest. When Infertility first arrives, the amounts of supplements and medications that are consumed by the average husband and wife seem to skyrocket, as immune systems need to be increased and stress levels decreased. Every pregnancy test you have purchased (and we did purchase, in massive Costco quantities) will destroy your hopes and always show a negative result while Infertility is crashing on your couch. Sometimes, Infertility will bring over weird sounding friends without your permission, such as Clomid or Hysteroplasingram. This will result in heated arguments, tears, and a general feeling of frustration throughout the entire household, not to mention a dive into the pantry to consume copious amounts of sympathetic Kit Kat bars.
Infertility also creates massive amounts of tension between you and your loving family and caring friends. For every Baby Shower you attend and tiny pair of booties you gift wrap, Infertility is there to remind you that you haven’t quite accomplished all your life’s goals yet. To combat this, you become an expert on everything from breast-feeding to toilet training, but never actually get to put any of your book learning to the test. You spend hours online picking out the perfect names for any future houseguests, and cry hot, angry tears of despair when someone you know “steals” that same name from you. You avoid birthdays, bridal showers, even funerals—-you become exasperated at always explaining why Infertility lives with you, and jealous of those whom don’t have a houseguest like Infertility in their homes.
Infertility will make you doubt everything you have ever done before its unwelcome arrival. Did you invite them when you had that bike accident at age 8 or when you had the measles at age 4? Maybe there is some flaw in your genetics, and Infertility knew you’d be an easy target? Or, could it be that every time your teenaged-self said “I don’t want children,” Infertility read your message as being “Party at My House”?
Holidays and get-togethers are particularly stressful when Infertility is a houseguest. If you go for Christmas photos, Infertility is obnoxiously sticking their tongue out in the background. Family reunions result in questions from curious relatives, wondering who is responsible for inviting Infertility, and whether you are really doing anything about the situation. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are particularly hard, with Infertility following you around to the card stores and flower shops, taunting you and screaming for attention the entire time.
The worst consequence about having an uninvited houseguest like Infertility is the constant strain that is created between yourself and your husband. The never-ending stress can ruin even the simplest activity, and when making breakfast one day you’ll wonder why you’re screaming at him while waving a bagel over your head (I bet it’s that darn Clomid’s fault!) Of course, as when all houseguests arrive, any sort of intimacy in the bedroom has to be carefully planned, but you never imagined consulting calendars, taking temperatures, and analyzing every bodily function. When staring at all the numbers, you’ll find yourself wishing you had paid better attention in Algebra class during high school. Oh, and trust me, while Infertility is crashing on your couch, lovemaking is going to seem like a chore, it doesn’t matter how many darn candles you light.
The best way to get Infertility out of your home is to call in the experts, your own superhero team of dreams. Your group will change radically over the years you spend trying to become rid of Infertility, and may include an acupuncturist, naturopath, yoga instructor, gym coach, dietician, endocrinologist, surgeon, and ultrasound technician. You will visit the pharmacist enough that she knows you by name, and you’ll be able to give directions to and from the hospital as if it were your home. Your friends and family will offer their support; well wishes, hugs, prayers, and advice to help get rid of Infertility. Yet, at the end of the day, the best two members on your Dream Team are you and your husband. No matter how many times it seems Infertility has you beaten, the two of you will wipe each other’s tears, hug, and try again. Oh, and just wait until that Infertility sees the next big round of super doctors coming its way!
Next, Tiffany tells us a bit about herself. As this blog is all about the writing journey I’ve highlighted a couple of phrases I found particularly significant to the writing process;
For as long as I can remember, I have always been in love with reading, writing, and just words in general. As a child, one of my teachers introduced me to the work of Roald Dahl, and I finished the books as fast as she could find them, particularly relating to the main character in the book “Matilda.”
I started writing my own work in high school, when I found myself bored and unchallenged in a few of my classes. High school is a confusing time for most people, and writing became an outlet for my emotions. Yet, I never considered my writing to be anything special until my proud Dad tried to send all my poems to the local newspaper. I was embarrassed, hid the envelope, and the poems were never sent. After all, he’s my Dad, it’s part of his job description to think everything I do is amazing, right?
Over the years, I found myself writing any time I was bored, stressed, or feeling overwhelmed. Once I managed to get all my thoughts and feelings written down, I could breathe again and look at the situation more realistically. There is something so therapeutic about writing your true emotions down in words—-I think that it is an acceptance of how you actually feel regarding a situation, versus how others think you should feel about a situation. Too often, we deny our feelings and keep silent about painful experiences—all because we are afraid of what others will think of us if we share our stories.
When I start writing something new, I don’t have a plan or an outline. I just start writing my thoughts or ideas as they are, without organizing or editing. I’ve written on napkins from coffee shops, on the back pages of school projects, cereal boxes, store flyers, even the palms of my hands. I regret all the times I have written the beginning of a good piece, and then accidentally thrown it out. I have considered picking up a tape recorder so that my raw thoughts are all out before I am tempted to start rearranging or changing wording.
My fear of being rejected has prevented me from sharing any of my writing previously, even from my close family and friends. Most of what I write is about very personal experiences, which has also made sharing a bit difficult, since I refuse to sugarcoat how things happened.
This is not my first completed piece, but the only one that I have felt compelled to share with others. When I wrote it, I cried the entire time and felt so alone. When it was finished, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. By sharing this piece, I wanted someone going through the same experiences to know that they are not alone, and that everything they are feeling is okay. Many women with PCOS related infertility, also struggle with their weight. Although I no longer follow Weight Watchers, I find the message boards such a wonderful community, that I continue to post there, and hoped that if any of my online friends were experiencing the same hurt, this piece would comfort them and help them to know that they are not alone in their struggles.
Currently, I am writing two short stories, and keep bouncing back and forth from each depending on my mood. One is a serious piece I started in university about both of my grandmothers and their life experiences, tentatively titled “Barbie Dolls & Butcher Knives.” The other piece is about working retail environments, and is more humorous in nature.
Thank-you Tiffany, for sharing this with us!
Tiffany Clarke is a Halifax based writer just starting out and using life to fuel her muse. As more information becomes available, i.e. blog or website, I will post it here.
Please comment. Beginning writers need all the support they can get.