I recently discovered a new friend I’ve made through my children’s school is struggling with infertility. This is significant to me in many ways, not the least of which is the very real truth that so many of us are literally around the corner from one another but still feel so alone in our struggles.
We are friends on facebook, and she bravely posted a link to a blog post she wrote about her diagnosis. A friend of hers responded by posting a link to her own (non-infertility) blog and the initial post she linked to had images of her own child as a newborn. My jaw dropped. I know it wasn’t meant with malice, but it points out to me how easy it is for “fertiles” to stumble in trying to support friends with infertility and how badly infertiles need each other to lean on.
I’ll never forget standing in an elevator at my former job, in the middle of my IVF cycle, when one of my co-workers said to me, “Maybe you just weren’t meant to have children.” I was speechless. And devastated. The co-worker/friend standing in the elevator with me just shot me a “let it go” look. But the experience taught me to keep my mouth shut about what I was going through unless I was talking to people who really got it – other people battling infertility, and the few friends who’d been standing with me through the entire process, fertile or not.
The emotional distance between the fertile and the club of the infertile is a difficult one to navigate. Often those of us battling infertility have very close friends or family who seem uber fertile. For me, it’s my brother and sister-in-law. In the time I’ve been trying and failing to have another child they’ve had two, both conceived within a month of my sister-in-law stopping the pill. I love my nephews with my whole heart, and yet, holding the youngest when they all came up to visit the week before Christmas was so incredibly bittersweet.
I spent much of last night struggling emotionally. I’m at the end (hopefully) of my longest non-miscarriage cycle in five years, and I’m still waiting for things to get moving so we can see if we have a cycle to do this month. It’s hard not to feel useless and like a complete disappointment. Basically the one major thing I’m constantly focusing on I’m not succeeding at. There’s not a day that goes by that TTC isn’t rolling around in my conscious brain, and I can’t do a damned thing to make it happen. It’s now March. Three months into what we decided would be our last year of trying. And I haven’t even gotten through a complete cycle.
This is hard. Harder than I thought it would be. Getting back on the roller coaster would be hard, I knew that. But I feel my hope dwindling. I guess the lesson is that beating infertility once doesn’t make battling it again any easier.
Fertiles will say things like, “Just relax.” “Maybe you should adopt.” “But you already have a boy and a girl.”
They don’t get it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t. To my new friend K, my fellow infertile, I wish I didn’t have to welcome you on this journey. But know there are a lot of people out there who get it. Welcome to the club, where every member is a reluctant one.