Dear Infertility Sister,
I hate that you are even reading this.
I hate that you most likely know what most, if not all, of the following abbreviations mean: 2WW, AF, BD, BFN, BFP, CD, CH, CL, CM, CP, DH, DS, DD, DPO, EWCM, FSH, GnRH, HPT, HcG,HSG, IVI, ICI, IUI, IVF, LH, LMP, LP, LPD, OPK, POAS,RE, TTC, UI
I hate that you’ve never experienced a BFP. Or, if you have, I hate that maybe you’ve experienced a M/C.
I hate that the statistic is 1 in 8.
I hate that you are 1 in 8.
I hate infertility.
I actually hate the word hate. But, it’s the only word that makes sense. I was 1 in 8 too. It took us 7 years of
trying to conceive, TTC, unexplained infertility UI, and a miscarriage M/C before we were blessed with our dear son DS. There are so many things I want to tell you. I’ve been stewing over this blog post for a few days now trying to figure out what exactly I want to say and how to say it. I know that we all have similar, yet very individual experiences, so I am just going to share a few things that stick out to me when I reflect back over my own journey. Here goes.
Give yourself grace. Don’t feel guilty or beat yourself up if you need to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone on social media. Or if you need to skip out on a baby shower. Or if you just can’t bring yourself to visit the newborn in the hospital. Or if you feel that sinking feeling every time you see a pregnancy announcement, ultrasound picture, baby bump, or birth announcement. I can remember so vividly the day my amazing OB/GYN gave me that advice. I had been feeling so guilty for feeling so much grief over other people’s blessings. You know what it’s like, feeling happy for someone else but at the same time feeling like the dagger in your own heart is being twisted just a little further in. It was probably the simplest piece of advice for her to give me, but it was so freeing for me. To have her validate those feelings and let me know that I wasn’t the only one was exactly what I needed to hear. So, I am passing that same advice on to you. Yes, it is possible to genuinely be happy for someone else and be completely devastated at your own situation. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Give your spouse or significant other grace. I will start out by saying that my husband is amazing and was always supportive. That being said, there were times during those 7 years that I sometimes felt like maybe the infertility wasn’t bothering him as much as it was me. Or maybe he wasn’t as desperate to have a baby as I was. I have a couple of thoughts on this. Men, in general, are fixers. If there’s a problem, they like to fix it. When they can’t fix it, they get frustrated. Men are also protectors. When I would want to buy stuff “on faith” that our “someday baby” would wear it or that we could use it for the “future nursery”, sometimes my hubby would seem less than thrilled. And that would frustrate the crap out of me. What I was misinterpreting as my husband just not really wanting a baby as much, or not really wanting to dream with me about it, was, in reality, him wanting to protect me from the pain of having to see baby items but no baby. And maybe trying to protect himself too. Another thing with men is, they typically don’t verbalize these things so, don’t assume it’s just because they don’t care as much. It’s probably that they are trying to be fixers and protectors.
Protect your relationship. TTC is no joke and it can be fun, at first. But with all of the charting, and timing, and scheduling that comes along with baby making, the romance can get zapped out of your relationship really quickly if you’re not careful. Now, I’m not going to tell you to “just relax” because we all know how much we hate to hear that. Am I right?!?! Plus, it’s really not possible when you are TTC. What I will say is this, take a break if you need to. A few years into our journey, I had just completed a couple of rounds of Clomid with no success and came to a point where I knew that I needed a break. It didn’t mean that I didn’t think about getting pregnant 24/7 but it did mean that I needed a break from doctor appointments, tests, hormones, charting, and trying to time everything perfectly (if you know what I mean). Did it result in a pregnancy? No. But that wasn’t the point. What it did do was allow us to focus on each other and our relationship.
Take care of yourself.
I wish I would have actually gone to a support group or a counselor during those years. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t. There were so many times that I felt so alone. I always thought about it but never followed through. Looking back, it would have been so helpful. If you have thought about it, I would encourage you to do so. If you haven’t thought about it, I would encourage you to do so. Forums and Facebook groups are helpful but they really aren’t a replacement for one-on-one interaction with a counselor or other people who have gone through it or are going through it. If you would like to search for a support group through Resolve’s website, click here
Support your fellow infertility sisters. If you are struggling with infertility and you know of someone else who is as well, reach out to her. Don’t wait on her to reach out to you. Someone has to take that first step. There’s so much good that can come from supporting each other. In doing so, also be careful not to compare your grief with hers. Maybe you feel like you’ve been through more. Maybe you feel like she’s been through more. It doesn’t really matter. Support each other without playing the comparison game.
Keep a journal. I have always loved to journal so this is one thing I can say I’m glad I did. It’s a great way to get all of your emotions, hopes, fears, dreams, frustrations, etc. out on paper. Also, someday you will be able to look back through your journal and see how this whole thing unfolds.
Guard your heart. Guard your heart but be careful not to harden it. Don’t lose who you are through this struggle. I just recently realized that I let that happen in some ways. Now I am asking God to restore some of the joy that I lost in the process. Because, while I thought I was guarding my heart from some things, I was really hardening it.
Remember that you are more than 1 in 8. It’s very easy to let infertility define you. Don’t. Right now, you might be 1 in 8 struggling with infertility but you are also so much more than that.
I wish I could sit across the table from you and let you ask me questions, tell you more of my story, or just listen to yours. I hope that you know you are not alone. I am praying for you.