You know what sucks the most about infertility? Other than the crushing sadness, financial burden, constant worry, prediction kits, pokes and prods, and the having your hopes dashed with each new cycle, of course.
For me, the worst thing about infertility, is that you can’t talk about it.
It’s socially unacceptable to tell people that you’re trying your damnedest to have a baby but no matter what you do it’s just not happening. I get it. It’s totally a bummer and kinda awkward to hear about my non functional ovaries and barren womb. But, in those instances where I have mustered the ability to tell a friend/coworker/random person asking about our plan to have children in the few remaining years of my ability to mother a child </sarcasm>, they flood me with advice that I’ve A) already heard or B) already tried.
The worst one is when people say “oh just don’t worry about it! My sister’s brother’s ex wife’s cousin tried for years and then when they finally lost all hope and gave up, they got pregnant immediately!”
Awesome. Thanks for that?
I’ve had the tests. I’ve taken pills. I’ve had sex with my poor sweet husband every other day like clockwork for a year and a half. I go to the doctor three times a month, have ultrasounds twice a month, and have all the blood sucked out of my body (and I’m not an easy stick) once a month. We are exhausted. We are broke. And I know I am really, really tired of not being able to talk about it.
My darling James is a much more private person than I am. He shares very little with a short list of people. How I managed to get on that list I don’t know, but I am so thankful that I am *hopefully and theoretically* at the top of that list. I am not a private person at all, so I guess almost everyone is more private than I, since I’ll tell anyone anything anytime. Why do I do this to unsuspecting strangers as well as friends? I suppose it’s because I’m an extrovert and thrive on having more people in my life and sharing personal information is a good way to let people know you trust them. Or it’s that my “filter” is actually a colander with HUGE holes that even fettuccini can slip through. I think both of these things are true, but I also believe it’s because I am an external processor. I need to be able to bounce feelings, ideas, and thoughts off of people. I like being able to see feedback and to feel solidarity in my life circumstances.
When I had my gastric sleeve surgery in 2014, I told the world (shameless plug: read about my weight loss journey here). Anyone who would listen got an ear full about my new and exciting life as a healthy person with a banana sized tummy. I have many friends who kept their surgeries more private, which I totally understand, but that’s not how I operate. I wanted to let the world know that weight loss surgery is MORE than just weight loss surgery; it’s a complete and total lifestyle change that effects you and everyone around you, in positive and negative ways. For me, it has been the greatest gift of my life and I want to share my experience with everyone so that it become less about vanity and more about health and wellness for your body, mind, and soul.
Maybe it’s because I was so excited and thrilled about my surgery that I felt like I could talk about my experiences. It doesn’t really bum anyone out too much. Sure, people judged me and made comments about how I’m just “being lazy” and if I “just got off [my] ass and put in the work” that I wouldn’t need a surgery to “cheat” and loose weight. But duck those people. I don’t need that negativity in my life.
Infertility is different.
Infertility has taught me that [just about] everyone has advice and really, really wants to be up in my metaphorical and physical business with tips and tricks for getting knocked up. It has also taught me that this taboo subject goes back farther than I could ever imagine and women (and men) for centuries have dealt silently with grief and pain. At this point in my life I totally understand Sarai’s passion to have a child. I would do just about anything to get a baby to call my own at this point. Probably not have my husband sleep with our handmaiden, because technology and fertility advancements (and also because LOL handmaiden on our budget?!), but I still get that drive and unquenchable desire to fulfill the call of motherhood placed on my heart by God. (So, in this part, if I had a works cited page, I would have a little number pointing you to the book of Genesis, chapter 16, but I don’t so go look it up if you want to know the story. Or click here because I did the hard googling for you).
So, random person that I’ve just met or family member that I haven’t spoken to in years, I know you mean well when you ask me when my husband and I are going to have kids, but please, stop asking unless you want a real, raw, unabridged answer. Because I’m tired of protecting your feelings by saying “we will one day” or “sometime soon” just to crush my own spirit a little bit more. And honestly, I really just don’t want to talk about it to you. My people know and those people don’t tell me to try random sex positions or to just stop thinking about it, because they know we’ve tried just about everything (including feng shui’ing our apartment) and that it’s actually always on my mind (go ahead, ask what day of my cycle I’m on and what that means for my cervical mucus, temperature, and follicle size. Because I always know the answer. Because it’s all I think about).
If you or anyone you know isn’t pregnant even though they’ve been married for more than 5 seconds, don’t ask them about their reproductive plans. Allow them to share that information with you IF they want to WHEN they want to. And if they do, remember that unless they specifically ask you for advice or sex tips, don’t offer that up to them. Listen to them, because sometimes it’s just good for your soul to be heard when it’s hurting. Care for them by being sad for them when they are struggling, support them when they are weak, and pray for them and their babies to come.
Now I’m going to return to watching The Crown while eating chocolate, drinking wine, and staring at my laundry pile (because that’s what you do when your uterine lining is thinning and you are on your period after your 8th round of fertility medication. It’s how I find a little bit of shalom in this mess so don’t judge me).