Thursday, December 13, 2012

Infertility: yours and mine

Third attempt at this post. Did you know T3 gives you writer's block. Apparently, it does.

I have regular lunch dates with some very close friends. I love them to bits. We talk about everything: work, life, good wines, narcissistic parents. You know, the gamut. They have been very supportive to me through IF hell. One had a child in the last years. One actively started trying. I was always apart because of IF, but they never let me feel that in their company. These are pearls, people.

By early last spring, our lunch conversations migrated to infertility, and not just when it was my turn to speak. Turns out they were both facing this scourge. The thing I wouldn't wish on my enemies was now afflicting my good friends. I stood dismayed at how we could all get taken by the wide-cast net of those nasty statistics. Could it not spare one of us?

I didn't have much experience with IRL infertile friends. I had one friend who struggled with IF. She moved away soon after getting pregnant, although we did support each other through at least a year of IF hell and I was very thankful for it. I have another friend with IF who started trying at 40 and was never successful. She is also very supportive. All my other IF friends are reading this blog right now.

My two close friends are in the thick of IF/Loss hell right now. That's about all I can write in an effort to protect their privacy, but they are in the kind of hell we have all experienced here. It breaks my heart into a million pieces to know that they are going through this, just like it breaks my heart when you go through this (most recently Adele - I'm so sorry, lovely woman).   

I'm not sure if there is more to say than I am sad. That it is unfair. That I don't understand why this even happens at all. I struggle with pop-ups of just-world beliefs* in my brain: it's not fair...but life is not fair.

I guess the other thing I can say about it is how entirely strange it is to be a pregnant infertile in the face of what my dear friends are going through. There was a time when I had to psych myself up a great deal before going to lunch with them because I was certain they would have pregnancy announcements. And now when I see them I feel sad that they have to look at my belly. I know they are happy for me. And yet, I can't help but perceive myself like my old infertile nonpregnant self would: a difficult reminder.

It is strange to negotiate the world as someone who is hypersensitized to infertility and someone who is pregnant at the same time. I even make assumptions about who might be infertile in my viscinity and try to avoid them if I see them and they don't know I'm pregnant yet. It happened at the gym the other morning. A woman I know showed up (I don't usually see her there in the mornings so I was surprised see her). I remember her telling me about a miscarriage within the last year, and I purposely avoided her. Why should she be subjected to me at this point, I thought.

I realize that I am not realistic in my quest to protect everyone around me and that I might, you know, have issues. But darn, it hurt so much to be surrounded by all the bellies all the time. I walk the halls at work and wonder who is suffering in silence (and let me tell you, there are plenty-a-pregnant-belly walking around at work right now).

You want to know if I'm feeling survivor's guilt. Maybe. But am I a survivor yet? That's the other side of the coin, the side where I'm not sure this is for real yet. Someone asked me the other day where I was thinking we would send gummy to school. I answered that we were still hoping gummy would be born. The person laughed. I was serious.

My beloved friends who are in IF hell worry about dragging me back into the world of IF with sharing their struggle and their pain. They would like this to be all unicorns and butterflies and kittens' whiskers for me (I'm paraphrasing: my friends have huge hearts but are not one ounce of corny). I'm not sure how out of the IF world I am, to be honest. I sure am not done dealing with my own feelings about the years of infertility and childlessness I faced. (But you know, I'm a licensed psychologist now so I should be done with that by next week). I can relate to my friends much more easily than say, to this couple we visited last week. They wanted to talk about their decision to only have one child when the world expects them to have two. I could appreciate their questionning process around the number of children they would have, and I could give my view on having been an only child myselt, but I was glad they never asked: 'what are you thinking about: one or more?' We're still working on being able to have one child. Still hoping and praying and holding our breath.

*the notion that people get what they deserve - which I try hard not to believe in too much because it's simply not how life works.


  1. Well written and thought through. You are a very thoughtful woman indeed Augusta. I'm sure that your friends are comforted by your deep understanding of such areas. Best wishes to you all.

  2. It is so very hard to have dear friends experience the pain of IF. Having been on both sides, I think it is easier to feel joy for a friend who you know has struggled as you have; it is easier to witness and celebrate their success.

  3. This is so thoughtful, and I relate to it so much... I don't have much of a bump yet so not really worrying about that but understand the sensitivities entirely.

  4. I can relate a lot to this post... I saw friends drop off as soon as we adopted V, as I know it was painful for them. And I understand, but there are so many layers to this... as I still was never able to conceive a child. Even though I didn't have a real bump per se, I could still hurt others, and it sucks. I struggle with wanting to embrace every minute and not wanting to hurt others. I hate IF/ Loss. I totally understand what you mean about the just world theories, I try to avoid it, but IF always brings me back there.

  5. I had a similar experience as yours, after having my son 2 close friends of mine did IVF and both were successful. At the time I tried to be as much of resource and support to them as possible, I think it helped as one of them had one of her friends who is now doing IVF call me with her questions. I think given how sensitive to their feeling you are and how supportive you are they will seek you out and be happy you are their friend.

  6. Hugs. It's true, this nasty IF shit is everywhere. Its mind boggling when you start talking to people how many people it actually affects. And I too find it really quite impossible to think there might be people who think we have 'made it to the other side' as I feel far from secure in my position and the experiences of infertility arent wiped away that easily.
    I'm sorry your friends are having to go there with this nasty journey - all I can say is that they are so super lucky to have you beside them, I bet they appreciate that.

  7. Yeah, I'm still hoping and praying and holding my breath with you, and I'm sad that you have a Guilty Belly and sad that your friends have to struggle, and thank goodness people don't get what they deserve, or I'd NEVER have two lovely babies... but I also remember that as I became more and more visibly pregnant, I moved through a phase of sort of guilty sheepishness and then proud delight. I hope you get a similar experience, when gummy gets so big that you just can't help but revel in it. Anyway, sending love to both you and your friends.

  8. What an ugly, ugly stroke of luck for you and your friends. Good for you for recognizing those just-world thoughts and pushing them down -- this is NOT right and it is NOT fair. But it is wonderful that you (and they) have someone to talk to IRL. I think you're probably giving them so much, and though it's hard for you to be the one with the big belly, I bet they're grateful you're there at the table.

  9. I think we always stand with one foot in that world of IF and loss, no matter what happens. But it IS such strange territory to have the other foot on the road to parenthood. And when it's friends going through the difficult days...well, we'd do anything to spare them those if we could (I always think of it in terms of "each woman's loss diminishes me"...apologies to Donne). It's strange to hold so much in one's heart.

    Merry Christmas, Augusta. I am looking forward to 2013 for you (the Year of the Gummy). xo xo

  10. Thanks for posting your complex emotions. I am not pregnant (yet!) but I can already see some of the girls from my RESOLVE group going through this after they get pregnant. They still feel infertile and not 'safe' yet and want to be part of the group, but they also no longer exactly fit in with us either. I am hoping I find myself in this limbo someday too and have to figure out how to navigate it! I think my RESOLVE girls are going to start their own 'pregnancy/parenting after infertility' group!