There isn’t much else out there like infertility. There’s no outward signs of it, it is both isolating and humiliating, many times there’s no logical explanation for it and most of all? Everyone has their own opinions on it.

“Don’t give up hope!”

“You worry about it too much, just relax, it will happen!”

“I had this one friend who couldn’t get pregnant and then…!”

Those of us who are left with no babies have learned to smile through these comments. Or at least stuff the pain in our hearts that results from hearing these comments deep down where they won’t offend those naive enough to say such things. Other times we turn to our most trusted girlfriends or partners and we rant, rave and cry through the reminder that something about our parts doesn’t work right.

It is a right and a priviledge as a woman to bear children. Sure boys can pee standing up, but we? WE CAN MAKE PEOPLE. Well, some of us can. And when that ability to make people is taken away? We’re left feeling like this strange middle gender, with boobs and periods, but no babies and certainly unable to pee standing up.

Knowing that my body worked at least once, that it made a perfect little person adds to the frustration. Imagine banging your head against a wall over and over. Finally a million dollars falls out of the wall. Hooray! Of course you’re going to keep banging your head against the wall, of course it hurts and it’s frustrating and it consumes your every thought, but for the chance at another million dollars? BANG BANG BANG! And no matter how much anyone explains how illogical it is to keep banging, or maybe to try another “get a million dollars” tactic, you’re going to keep banging until YOU are ready to stop.

Although I’m not sure anyone is ever really capable of stopping. The urge to try that wall just one more time…maybe this time it will work…that urge will always nag, somewhere.

Silly little things can set off the deep stabbing hurt of infertility. The swollen belly of a stranger, a facebook status update, filling out Kindergarten admission papers and having to leave the “other siblings” column empty, even buying a new car.

There isn’t much I can say about infertility that hasn’t already been said by other brilliant voices on the topic throughout the Internet.

But I can say this.

I have braved the trenches of the completely hideous emotions that result from the bitterness and anger that I allowed to overtake my heart and mind when I was deep in them. I was blinded by jealousy and anger. Some of the more mild thoughts were “Why her and not me?”  ”She can’t even take care of the other kid she has.” then they became more intense “Another one? Really? Does she even realize her other kids aren’t that great?” to the worst, I was actually happy when someone had a miscarriage.

Me.

Happy about a miscarriage.

That’ll show her! Teach her to talk about her pregnancy so much!

I’m ashamed that I ever allowed a thought like that to pass through my mind. I don’t care how much I hurt at the time, her pain was not about me. It never will be. The Casey who thought those thoughts deserved to lose friends. She was going rotten from the inside out.

Any difficult life situation will cause unavoidable thoughts to pop up in someones head. And just as we can’t keep a bird from landing on our head, we can very well keep it from making a nest while it’s there.

To those of you who have to watch a friend struggle with infertility, the truth is that there isn’t much you can do aside from be a friend. You will never be able to fix her (well, unless you’re a brilliant, brilliant doctor or a genie) but you can listen. Understand that there will be times when your friend is ticked off, but it’s not about you. And there comes a point where if she makes it about you? You need to set her straight. It’s not your fault you can get pregnant and she can’t. You shouldn’t have to change who you are or what your dreams and goals are in life to accommodate the ugly and hurt feelings of another. I can promise you that it’s hard as hell to work through a relationship where this is an issue, but in the end? It’s worth it.

To you others dealing with infertility, especially if you’re in an ugly place, don’t alienate your friends. It’s not their fault if they can and choose to get pregnant. Imagine if your positive test finally came and you called your friend up. How would you want her to react? Angry and distant because you finally got what you wanted? The truth is, your closest friends, and many others around you aren’t afraid of difficult pregnancies or what their insurance will and won’t cover. They aren’t worried about where a baby will fit into their lives and schedules, they are worried about telling you. They are scared to death of hurting you. They are frightened that they are going to lose you as a friend.

So they keep it a secret from you for as long as possible. Sometimes you find out from other sources and the hurt is magnified. But they didn’t keep it a secret from you to hurt you, they kept it a secret because they didn’t want to hurt you.

No matter when you hear it, it is going to hurt. I’m sorry, it is. But the amount of time it hurts will lessen and dull, and eventually jealousy and hurt won’t even be your first reaction. Please don’t take it out on your friend, they will hopefully understand that you may need some time to work through your emotions, work through them as best you can and support her as best you can, you would want (and dare I say expect) the same if the roles were reversed.

As for the friend facing that phone call to tell someone that you’re pregnant? You’re going to have to take a Band-Aid approach. Do it quick. Yes. Your friend is going to feel it. Sorry about that. Remember it’s not your fault. But trust me when I say writing that email or making that call when you think about it is much better than her finding out weeks later through a friend of a friend, because that’s the equivalent of pulling that bandage off millimeter by millimeter, hair by hair.

Infertility is just another thing that we’re all going to have to learn to get along on. Rarely, if ever, is anyone ever going to understand both sides. Love, patience, understanding and forgiveness are all going to have to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Cupcakes, fruity drinks with umbrellas and stupid movies with vampires don’t hurt either.

Comments

  1. thank you for this post. i’ve walked in the shoes of infertility…hardest thing i’ve ever had to do.

    my heart hurts for you. may you find the strength to keep enduring.

  2. I don’t know how to say this without sounding rude but it needs to be said because no one ever said it to me. It IS okay to be infertile. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a woman or a wife or a mother. It doesn’t make you any less of a person.

    My infertility sucks. But it doesn’t define me. It doesn’t even bother me most days. Sure, would I love to make a baby with my husband? Absolutely. But do I let it consume me? No.

    I have two beautiful, wonderful, amazing daughters. We’re working on adding two lovely, sweet, marvelous sons. It requires a lot of money and paperwork instead of a lot of dirty fun time, but adopting our kids is the best thing we’ve ever done.

    Adoption isn’t the answer for infertility and it isn’t the answer for every family. But allowing yourself to be defined by your ability or inability to grow a person is silly. Women are SO MUCH MORE than our reproductive organs.

    Infertility sucks. But it doesn’t have to suck away your life too.

  3. Hearts you. If I said anything while staying with you a few weeks ago, it was out of love and out of the fact that I hope beyond hope beyond hope for you to have another little baby every single day. I just don’t want you to ever give up on that hope okay? That is what best friends do, never let you give up hope. exes and ohs.

  4. I’m a fellow infertile, who just had a baby last year. Many of the things you wrote are thoughts that I have had from time to time. I am glad you are someone who is gifted enough to express these thoughts so eloquently! I have a best friend who was there for me as my hubby and I tried and tried and tried and sometimes started to succeed, then failed again. She never said much about it, but always listened and let me know she was praying for me. I for some stupid reason, held a grudge against her for having 2 babies in the time it took me to get one. I want to scream when I think of the thoughts that went through my mind sometimes…I won’t mention what they were, but I’m glad God forgives! How could I have been so dumb? She always said “I just know you are going to have a baby!” I hated that. But, I like what Kim Orlandini had to say above, “That is what best friends do, never let you give up hope.” That is what she was trying to do for me, she wanted me to have hope, and tried to offer it in any way she knew how because she loved me and wanted to see me happy. I was just ignorant and selfish… I see that now. You are right when you say “Rarely, if ever, is anyone ever going to understand both sides.”

  5. Such a wonderful post — expressing so well what those of us who have infertility struggle with and so helpful for those around us who are not infertile so that they get a glimmer of understanding of how we are feeling and how to handle us. I could never tell them as well. Two things — please don’t be upset with yourself for what goes through you mind, you can’t stop that, you can just ensue it flits through without lodging in and festering The other is for the fertile crowd — for me, advance notice BY EMAIL was great — that way I could process the news and my reaction at my speed in my house so that when I saw the pregnant person I was able to show only the part of me that was happy. I also totally understood when my cousin who had just had a late miscarriage sent me an e-mail when my daughter arrived from overseas that said how happy she was for me and that she couldn’t talk to me for a while. It took a while for her to be able to talk, but she stayed in touch via e-mail and we are fine now.

  6. Merilee A says:

    You are such an amazing writer Casey, and as always, thank you for being brave enough to share your stories, happy times and heartaches. You give a lot of people comfort who may be suffering too but don’t know how to put their feelings into words. By giving them a voice, their pain is validated and they know they’re not alone. I know I’ve said this before, but I may not understand exactly what you’re going through, but I can definitely relate in a different way. I sincerely wish and hope we all can find what we are definitely deserving of. Love you.

  7. Beautifully written. Even though I have no idea whether I am fertile or not, adoption has been my means to motherhood. I could feel the wounds you talked about. I have thought some of those ugly things, too. We are sure learning how to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice, aren’t we?? Thank you for sharing this post! <3

  8. I, too, am ashamed to say that I felt relief when a friend lost a baby.

    After losing two pregnancies back to back – I couldn’t take it that the ENTIRE WORLD was pregnant. I didn’t want my friends to stop having babies, I just wanted them to get pregnant in a few months down the road. I was beyond depressed and when a friend lost a baby (after close to a year of trying), I actually felt relief.

    Relief at not having to attend a baby shower, relief at not having to pretend excitement, relief at not having to look at ultrasound photos that weren’t mine, relief at wanting to feel excited – but not really being excited.

    That was a low point for me too. I think it was right around that time that I turned off the crazy switch in my head.

    Anyway, it is comforting to read that someone else had a similar feeling, followed by the extreme guilt/shame of feeling that way.

  9. One other note – the day I started spotting with my first loss was the day my dearest friend received a positive test result. I remember thinking “How are we going to make it through this?!”

    She spent 9 months trying to pretend she wasn’t pregnant and not totally enjoying her pregnancy. At the time, I was thankful – now I sort of feel like, because of my losses and deep depression and her desire to make me feel ok, I cheated her out of the magic of her second healthy pregnancy…

  10. The best gift a friend can offer to someone struggling with infertility is to listen with your heart…

  11. i will keep banging my head against the wall until another million falls out…and hope this time it stays. sending you baby dust on this journey that we are on together.

  12. My heart goes out to you. My husband and I weren’t done with having children when my doctor told me that my body couldn’t carry another baby to term nor could he guarantee that I would make it through another pregnancy. Compound that with finding out that I had pre-cancerous growths in my uterus that required a hysterectomy when I was 29. I pray that God gives you the desire of your heart. Hugs to you.

  13. you are absolutely amazing.
    absolutely.

    i’m sorry for your hurt.
    and i’m elated for your self-awareness.

    you’re an amazing writer, and friends are lucky to know you and all of your perspectives.
    i know you have worked hard to get where you are.
    so kudos to you.

    oh, and— you’re a fantastic photographer with an adorable little girl!

  14. It’s like I wrote this post myself. Secondary infertility here after 2 healthy babies. Three years trying. Three MC’s, 2 D&Cs, Asherman’s Syndrome as a result, another surgery… Everyone around me was pregnant. Having babies. And getting pregnant. And having babies. The depression. You can’t find your way out…

    And then … it happened. I got pregnant. The WORST pregnancy. So many drugs. So many shots. So much pain. Living overseas, but sent back to the US due to complications. And Transfusions. And stress. An early delivery.

    I know your pain. I lived it. I’m so sorry.

  15. I’m just so tired of the monthly creaking caravan ride up the old tracks on my personal increasingly rickety roller-coaster of a reproductive system. Will I get to throw my hands up and rejoice this month? Won’t I?

    And the kindergarten checkmark for zero siblings. Yep. That sucked. Just checked it last week. It stung like I never would’ve imagined, so I did it reallyreally quick and tried to pretend I hadn’t read it after that. Like it wasn’t a question on the sheet at all. Like my ache was from reading about the vaccination list and the dates and how hard it is to believe the first ones occurred five years ago.

    Etc.

  16. So very sorry you’re going through this. I wish everyone could read this who is either going through infertility or knows someone who is so that they ‘get it’ from both sides. Beautifully expressed. Sending love to you.

  17. It sucks. I remember when my little sister got pregnant, and then again, and I was just getting older. After much money & many needles, I got pregnant and had my little baby – and then my sister got pregnant “by accident”. I usually keep that to myself, but it hurt.

  18. secondary infertility was a painful surprise for us. a honeymoon baby followed by a journey down the long and lonely road of miscarriages and fertility treatments…it all tarnished our successful last attempt with a pall of fear.
    too many people know both sides.
    i’ve never commented before, but i wanted to send my support

  19. Wow. Ok, so I came across your site a few weeks back and I found so much truth in what you write. I too have been blessed with one perfectly cute as hell little boy only to find out that I will not likely, as in snowballs chance in hell as the doctor said, conceive again. I even feel like my first pregnancy was robbed because it sucked the entire time and then ended up delivering early. I cannot get pregnant again and I couldn’t even experience all 40 weeks of the first. what a rip off. Anyways, I know where you are at and I wanted to thank you for sharing because sometimes I feel so alone so broken so much different from all the other girls that think baby and end up pregnant. It truly stinks! Some how some way I have move on pass this but for now it hurts and my heart aches for another sweet baby to love.

  20. Ditto. Just so f’ing ditto. Some days are harder than others. I’m sorry to read that we share the same crappy boat. Your analogy of banging your head on the wall for a chance at another million dollars was brilliant. Sometimes I see my son and I realize that even though I’ve always thought he was a perfect miracle I just didn’t realize what a miraculous miracle he really is because hitting that same jackpot a second time is so f’ing hard it hurts.

    Best wishes to you on a suck situation. It’s not much consolation but I feel your pain.

  21. I’m not sure what to say that hasn’t been commented already… but, I just love you… and I’m so very sorry you hurt. Infertility sucks.

  22. I wish there were some magic words I could type to make you feel better, but I know there is not. It may be a cliche, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

    This is a beautifully honest post about a deeply personal pain, and I all I can do is wish you love and peace.

  23. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but I stumbled upon your website today and really, really felt your words in my heart. I am a closet infertile, don’t have the heart to tell my friends and family that we’ve been off birth control for two years now. I feel your pain, but don’t forget the precious gem you’ve already got in your life.

  24. I can’t imagine the pain. I thought we were infertile. Now, after 10 years, I am … not. I don’t know why.

    And I haven’t had to deal with infertility affecting my friendships until now. I am pregnant with #2 and my younger sister is … not. Her reaction to my news? A week of tears.

    Not sure how to proceed – suddenly our relationship has changed. I don’t know what to say to her, how to act, or how to be.

  25. Wow. Good stuff to know. I’ve never tried to get pregnant, so I don’t know my status. I’m sure you know that my sister has has two miscarriages. Her post on @room704 helped me to understand that better.

    This has helped me to better understand the repercussions of infertility. Thank you for that.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I know the physical ache that this has caused some of you to feel. Oh, how I know. And I hate that I caused it. [...]