Remember when you were in your twenties, and some of your friends started getting pregnant, and you thought, “awwwww…” then texted your other non-pregnant friends and made plans for going out that weekend, completely forgetting about the fact that some of your friends were pregnant and you were not? The thought of infertility never crossed your mind; you were trying fervently to NOT get pregnant. As more and more people were getting pregnant, the inevitable, “You’re Ne-ext, tee-hee-hee,” seemed to pop up in every conversation with anyone capable of drawing breath; total strangers on the street: “Are you pregnant?”
When I think back, I’m pretty sure I asked some of my friends, “So, when are you going to have kids?” just to get the pressure off of myself. Now, I feel like a jerk for asking; Now, I try really hard to NEVER ask anyone, even if the chick is blatantly pregnant. The reason why: it is none of my business, and I have no idea what she is going through; she may not want to talk about it, so I will not pressure her; it is private and a sensitive topic for most women, especially so with women (and men) experiencing infertility.
I have a daughter, conceived and carried naturally, but we are now struggling with getting pregnant again. We have been trying for 2.5 years, on our own at first, and now with the help of a reproductive endocrinologist. I swear, if I have to get one more sonogram — you know the one; the “wand” shaped one. Ugh. Not to mention, seemingly endless needles and shots, and blood tests. I hate getting blood drawn. I have to lie down in the baby room and stare at paper kites and pictures of kittens hanging from the ceiling so I won’t pass out. I hate needles in general, and for a while, I was getting three pokes a day in the stomach. Plus I’ve had to deal with supplements, supplements supplements, hormones, hormones, hormones, surgeries, surgeries, surgeries, and, BILLS, BILLS, BILLS.
I’m not really a fan of the code “infertility” they put on all of your tests and paperwork. I think it should be something more hopeful, like temporarily experiencing difficulty conceiving (TEDC). “Infertility” makes it sound like it’s impossible — just what we need. I didn’t even want to title this post as such because it is such a jagged little pill to swallow. But really, how many people are truly just super-fertile?
Pretty much everyone I know has had some sort of difficulty with conceiving, whether it be missing periods, an unusually shaped uterus, a husband with low motility, or endometriosis, EVERYONE has a story. I’ve maybe met one or two people who were like, “We weren’t even trying, hahahahahahahaha,” and I throat-punched both of them, so we are good…just kidding. If you’re having sex, you’re kind of trying, right? Biology, 101.
“Fertility” is not one of my favorite words either; it makes me think of soil. And Maxi-pads. You know, when you got your first period, and your Mom handed you a maxi-pad and was like, “You’re a woman, now” and you were like, “why me?” That’s kind of how I feel now, with TEDC, “why me?” Although, I probably have not had it as hard as some women; I have one child already. I should just be satisfied with what I’m given, right? Well…I am, but I am not ready to just give up without trying for another. Like in Forrest Gump where he says, we are kind of like the feather floating on the wind, controlled by destiny, but kind of not. I don’t think I would have this burning desire in my heart to have another child if it just wasn’t meant to be. At the same time, I know I have to prepare myself for whatever comes my way.
On the positive side, my doctor said it is better to have some extra body fat to conceive, so I’ve been treating myself to whatever without feeling guilty: Ice Cream! Doctor’s orders! (Side note: I was by no means underweight before.) More importantly, my eyes have been opened to understand this struggle and empathize with so many others who have faced or are facing infertility. My heart has been opened to the possibility of adoption, which I never even considered before. Most importantly, I feel like I have grown closer to God and been able to strengthen my faith.
I have changed quite a bit from that fist-pumping twenty-something I was a decade ago. I see now that fertility is a gift, but if it doesn’t come to you, it is probably because your other gifts are stronger. If you are going through TEDC, or have gone through it, know that you are CERTAINLY not alone. Most of my friends have had some type of help to get pregnant.
Do’s and Don’ts
In the meantime, if someone asks you if you’re pregnant, say, “No, are you?” If someone asks you, “when are you going to have another?” say, “I don’t know; how about you?” If it seems like all of your friends are pregnant, remember that they will face their own struggles and difficulties; no one’s life is perfect. Be there for them—it may help you stop obsessing about your situation.
If you have a friend facing infertility, just be there for her, let her bring it up and talk about it if she wants to. Go with her to the doctor if you’re able; bring her food if she has to have surgery. Give her a shot if she can’t do it herself and her husband is out of town. Send her a text to see how she’s doing. Pray for her and send her positive thoughts. Listen. Don’t divulge every detail of your pregnancy if she doesn’t ask about it; it can be hard to hear how wonderful every little kick feels if someone is unable to get pregnant. Do some research if you don’t understand something, or ask her about it if she brings it up in conversation. Don’t give unsolicited advice (what Mom or anyone for that matter really enjoys that anyway?) Don’t act like she’s dying every time you see her, don’t give her that, “I’m so sorry” look every time she talks about it, and don’t just avoid her completely.
And please, for the love of God, don’t ask her (or anyone else) if she is pregnant.