In the last month or so, I have had several unexpected infertility and loss bonding sessions.
A sweet co-worker going through her first loss. The lovely tech taking my blood the day before Mother’s Day while being surrounding by pregnant women. The online friend trying to figure out how to mark the due date of her lost baby without falling into the pit of depression.
These three conversations were a result of my openness and willingness to talk about infertility and loss. This is fairly new for me. I used to be fully in the closet. I don’t even know why. Why don’t people talk about infertility? It’s too personal? That just seems silly now. I gain so much from these interactions. Infertility, despite the strong online community, is very isolating in real life. Fertility is all around you – literally. You feel alone in your grief with only your spouse to hang on to. Until you start talking about it. When you find a person dealing with infertility too, the bond is immediate. You are sisters. Sisters in loss. We have our own club. It sucks, but it’s ours.
I wish that there was a way for us to find each other IRL. Without stupid rubber bracelets. Something more subtle. Purple nail polish on our pinky fingers?
It took me forever to get pregnant but look at him/her now!
I struggled with infertility but now I have 11 kids!
It took me FIVE MONTHS to get pregnant!
When you have been in the game as long as I have, there is no success story in the world that will make you hopeful.
I love talking to people going through prolonged infertility; we share a bond that is amazing.
People sharing because they think they have gone through the same thing as me though is really, really difficult. Unless you’re at eight years with six losses, you don’t truly know.
I really am happy for those that have found success. I am no longer inspired by them though.
Hugs to those who have not yet had the chance to celebrate a day like today.
Today is about grief too. The world might not understand that, but I do.
I hate being pregnant.
Ugh. This one is hard to explain. It basically comes down to gratefulness and how you display it.
I’m sure that you are happy that you are pregnant. I’m also sure that pregnancy is hard, physically and emotionally. I know that. You know that. We all know that. It hurts, you feel gross and your hormones are going crazy.
I hate being pregnant.
To an infertile person, this statement is like a punch in the gut. It knocks the wind out of you and all you can do is stand there with your mouth open, trying not to cry. Or lash out. The only thing going through your head is, “Do you have any idea how badly I want what you hate?”
Infertile people are everywhere. Men, women, young, old. There is no tell-tale sign of an infertile so assume that we are everywhere. We are behind you in the grocery store check-out, sitting next to you in Starbucks and working on the other side of the cubicle wall. We are everywhere. Just remember that.
We are everywhere.
Just pray about it.
Ok, where to start? Let’s start with the assumptions.
Let’s just assume that you and I have the same religious beliefs. Now if you and I have the same beliefs, wouldn’t it also be safe to assume that I have already prayed about it?
If we don’t have the same religious beliefs, it’s kind of like patting me on the head and walking away. The thought of prayer makes you feel better. Weren’t we talking about me though?
Unless you know for sure that I have the same views as you, don’t assume. Just say that you wish me luck.
Dear Fertile People,
Have you tried blank supplements? It’s supposed to help you get pregnant.
Argh! Don’t say this!
If there is a supplement out there that did what it promised, I would know about it. The infertility community, especially the online infertility community, is crazy well researched. We can spout off stats, treatment options, test results and opinions like you wouldn’t believe. We are girls who know not only what the doctor is going to say before you see him, but we’ve researched it to high heaven, have created a pro/con list and have pages of questions.
Not only would I know about a miracle supplement if it existed, but mixing supplements and high powered fertility medicine is not a good idea. At the very least, talk to your doctor first.
So don’t say this, there’s nothing to be gained by this question/suggestion.
Dear Fertile People,
This is a tough one. You’re having a baby and you’re super excited about it. I get that. I’m happy for you. I’m also sad, sad, sad for me. Regardless of how you announce your pregnancy, it’s always like a blow to the head, unexpected and crushing. A reminder of what I don’t have.
So what’s the best way to announce your pregnancy to someone dealing with infertility? Slowly, allowing for sufficient processing time. If you’re close with the person, chances are that they probably know if your pregnancy was planned or not. A planned pregnancy is easier to deal with because everyone knew it was coming. Eventually. An unplanned, out of the blue pregnancy announcement is hard. On both parties. Do your best to be sensitive and once again, allow time for processing.
I am a fan of announcing a pregnancy via email. Not to everyone, but to those that might have a hard time with the news. Email allows me to have my reaction, whatever it may be, by myself. I control when I can/want to respond. The extra processing time is a godsend.
It’s a crappy experience for everyone involved. Sensitivity goes a long, long way.
There’s a baby shower going on today at work. I was feeling bad that I didn’t think that I could go. I put in money and signed the card but anything baby shower related is too painful for me. Then I feel bad. Then I feel sad. It’s a cycle, one that repeats itself all day.
Really though, why would I do something that hurts so much? No one will care. There will be plenty of people there and I’m sure that I won’t be missed. I just tried to explain why I won’t be able to participate and got a really, really insensitive response. People just don’t understand. But I knew that already.
The Baby Shower Guide for Infertile People:
Don’t go. If it hurts, don’t do it. Since we know that the understanding is just not there, don’t attempt to explain unless you are asked. Just don’t go. If anyone is upset you can tell them that it is too painful. No more, no less. Anyone who doesn’t get it is pretty damn thick. I don’t see an upside to going. The only downside is that I don’t get a cupcake. Oh well. I’ll live.
Infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss has stolen a lot from me. I was just thinking today that I will never again see a positive pregnancy test and be happy like I was the first time. That was a wonderful time. The testing like crazy, watching the line get darker and taking lots of pictures to send to my mother-in-law. After we lost that baby, every other positive test has been met with fear. And usually, “Oh shit.”
I just want to have that first feeling again. I want Joe to have it too. It’s one of the many things that this journey has stolen from us.
Dear Fertile People,
I’m just going to flat out say it. Unless you have suffered a miscarriage yourself, the majority of your expressions of condolence are going to be hurtful. It is one of those things that has to be experienced. Most people are so well meaning but in the moment, as the tears are welling up, you just want to scream at them.
Don’t say this after a first miscarriage:
At least you know you can get pregnant.
Is that supposed to make me feel better? Like yay, my baby died! At least I can maybe, possibly, have a replacement baby and everything will be great?
What if I want this baby?
You might have been able to get pregnant but now you have no idea if you can carry a baby to term.
We were elated during our first pregnancy. Almost 9 weeks of bliss. And then the bleeding started. I am forever altered because of that experience. It was a slow, drawn out miscarriage. Our little one’s heart just kept slowing down at each ultrasound until it stopped. But yay, at least I knew that I could get pregnant. And lose a baby. A child.
Would you say it to a person who lost their 5 year old? Well, at least you know that you can have another child. Regardless of how far along you are, your baby is a child. Your child. Who died.
Before offering your condolences to someone who has had a miscarriage, ask yourself this question: Would I say this to a woman who lost her 5 year old?
If the answer is no, don’t say it.
The best thing that someone has ever said to me after a loss? This fucking sucks dude. I’m really sorry.