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.
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.