A note to the fecund: What to say to your sub/infertile friends

For those not drenched in a history of the biological sciences:

fecund – producing or capable of producing offspring, fruit, vegetation, etc., in abundance; fruitful: fecund parents; fecund farmland.

So you have a friend struggling to get pregnant?  Here’s a primer of what to say, and, importantly, what not to say.

This is based on my experience, and from what I have heard from other friends who are struggling,  or have struggled, with sub/infertility. It may not be true for everyone.

What to Say

  • I am so sorry you are going through this, it must be so hard.  (Then listen to her, try not to judge or offer advice – see below)
  • Wanna go get a drink/pedicure/see a movie?

What NOT to say

  • Relax! We sub/infertile women get this all the freakin’ time.  And it is frustrating, and not very relaxing to hear this.  Here are some facts – While extreme stress can cause anovulation in certain circumstances, normal, everyday stress from being an involved human being  is not going to regularly stop a woman from releasing/implanting an egg.  Even if stress plays a part of your friends sub/infertility, it’s likely not a big part.  Please, don’t tell us to relax.
  • Stop Trying! Honestly, this is infuriating.  We know you mean well, and your cousin got pregnant when they stopped trying… (by the way, the little stories about the people you know are not all that easy to hear either.  Again, I know you mean to be inspiring…)  Here’s the thing – most people that consider themselves sub/infertile can’t stop.  On top of that, the likelihood that they will conceive when not being conscience of their fertile times is even lower.  So the advice, well probably well intentioned, is illogical.
  • Maybe your not having sex at the right time.  I seriously got this from an accidentally pregnant friend.  (Ironic?) It has been rubbing me the wrong way for almost a year now…  Insinuating that a sub/infertile woman is unaware of when she is ovulating is a real insult.  We know EXACTLY where we are in our cycles.  EXACTLY.   (Especially those of us with regular cycles – this is slightly less true with those with irregular ovulation – but even then, they know in retrospect, and know if they made love at the right time.)  In fact, any insinuation that a woman doesn’t know or isn’t aware of what is going on with her cycle can be offensive – even if it is true.
  • You will get pregnant soon enough. You don’t know this.  It is certainly possible that they won’t.  And it sort-a feels like you are shushing us, or saying that none of this really matters, it will be over soon.  But this is a really big deal to us, and we worry every day that it won’t happen.   And you being to sure about it is not usually helpful.

I cold keep going, but I think I illustrated my point – my point being that the very best thing you can do for your friend is to understand, to listen, and to continue being their friend – even though it may be hard to be around her right now.  And offering advice, suggestions,  stories, antidotes, and hypothesis is not helpful.  We know we aren’t as much fun as we used to be.  And we can’t wait ’til we can be the fun-lovin’ lady we were before this hit us.  And we’ll get there – just try and understand.  We really appreciate it.

Tuning in, tuning out, becoming numb

My husband hates it when I watch TV.

Mind you, I have never in my adult life owned a TV.  And I really never watched much either.  Sure, we’d have movie nights, or get together with some friends to watch the program du jour, but never with  regularity.  So I can see how my new habit surprises him.

I’ve never had a TV, but I have (almost) always had a computer.  And along came internet TV.  And hulu and netflix on demand…

And after that, infertility.

I have NEVER had as big an appetite for television as I do now.  (The same is true of novels.)  I feel a strong need to escape my story and get into someone else’s.  And TV sitcoms are so easy!  You just need a twenty some odd minutes, and you can add to that in increments.   I might sit down to watch 1 or 2 and end up watching 3 or 4.  I can see how that would bother him, but I also now how good it feels to temporarily escape, to some happy place where funny things happen and situations resolve over the course of the program. Somehow, novels and suduko don’t quite match up.

Sensitivity

I have always been a self-conscience and sensitive person.

However, as I age, I tend to have more confidence and (somewhat) thicker skin.

Then the last 2 years happened.  Thyroid disorder caused weight gain.  And if there is ANYTHING I am particularly sensitive about, it is my weight.  I have managed it well by eating health foods and loving cardio-vascular exercise, so its is not out of control… but I am still 20lbs more than I think I should be. On top of that (because of thyroid disorder???), I can’t seems to conceive a child.  It feels like all of my accumulated confidence has been replaced with an overabundance of sensitivity.

And so I proceed through my life sensitive to any word or action, and assume the worst from everything.  Sometimes the logical side of my brain can compensate and convince the emotional part that is ridiculous to think that that was a personal attack on my.  Other times I can’t seem to let go.  The discussion goes loosely as follows

Emotion: “Why is it that ___ didn’t go to my birthday get together?  She must find me a debbie downer and she doesn’t want to hang out out with me ever again.”

Logic: “She still thinks you’re great, but had a sick kid/work obligations/something else perfectly rational”

Emotion: “Well, maybe, but I still need to stew…”

Again, I think the balance between logic and emotion, and which one wins, have everything to do with my cycle.  Now, for example.  I am about to start my period, after the longest luteal phase ever.  Yep, 19 days, brought to you via the clomid challenge test and a bit of supplemental progesterone.  (With nothing, I have a 12 day LP) The worst part is that it allowed for so much stinkin’ hope to get in there.  And it is just now, this hour, being crushed by the little pink calling card I find, which signals red coming soon.

I’m going to bake myself a birthday cake.  Happy freaking birthday, mama.  You’re barren.

Failure

It’s hard not to consider myself a failure.

I have failed.

I feel terrible for my husband, who married a beautiful, intelligent, enthusiastic women, in love with life.  He is now married to a sad and apathetic women unable to bear a (nother) child we both want to badly.  I have aged and gained weight (Stupid thyroid).

I feel like I am also failing as a mother, in the quest to o it all over again.

I don’t know how I will get through it, honestly.

Having Hope

Sometimes, I feel hopeful.  Maybe *this* is the month.  I/we did ____ (New herbs, acupuncture, thyroid medication, an HSG, the clomid challenge test, making love 5 days in a row, whatever), and that was different than all the other times…

It feels dangerous to have hope.  It feels dangerous not to have hope.  If I am hopeful, I am more let down when the signs my period is coming show up.  A lot more let down.  But if I don’t have hope… well then I am not manifesting what I really want.  My husband and I generally like to ‘manifest’ our desires – put the intention out there.  But I don’t want the huge let down.

Hope seems to show up in very predictable times in my cycle.  Nearly always at in the middle.  Something about those ovulation hormones make me feel better.  I am prettier, thinner, and more fertile… or so I think.  Today, at 7dpo, I know that the hope is about to drop off.  So I am hanging onto it, as much as I can.  But not too much.  Cause come on, really.  Why would *this* time be any different?

Other People Pregnancies

Because of where I am at in life – mid thirties, a mom of a preschooler – I am constantly surrounded by pregnant women. A couple of years ago, I loved it.  Now, I deplore it.  In fact, I avoid situations where there are pregnant people, or where someone might announce a pregnancy.

Obviously, there are times when I have to be around pregnant people.  My sister in law, for example.  We started trying when they were pregnant with #1.  And yes, #2 is due is a couple months.    And here’s the point of this post – It’s not that I am not happy for them.  I love my niece and my niece to be.  I truly do.  And I am happy for my SIL and BIL.  But they serve as a marker in time.  They summarize just how long I have been waiting/trying.   In the amount of time I (we) have been trying for one, they have had 2.

My husband has another sibling, who had a baby at the same time as my BIL/SIL, and I get nervous every time we talk.  I now they wanna have more kids, and I am building myself up to hear the announcement.

As a rule, I don’t attend baby showers.  It is just too painful.  I imagine what it would be like if I was the other party.  I don’t know that I’d understand, honestly.  Before we started trying, I tried co-hosting a shower with a friend who has suffered infertility – at that point, she was in the process of adopting.  I didn’t understand why she didn’t want to do it.  I do now.

Who is Being Barren?

An introduction to me:

I am nearing my 36th birthday.  Yep, a year past the fertility drop off.  I have be struggling to conceive my second child for well over a year and a half.  My daughter, almost 4, was conceived in no time… The month before we had plan to start to ‘try’.

I have recently begun a journey into the crazy world of reproductive technology, but I have really just stuck my toe in…

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