Today is the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week in the USA. I know I’m in the UK and we have a different week, but I think that when it comes to infertility, we are all in the same stupid boat, so here’s my two pence.
The theme this year is “you are not alone”, which I think is incredibly adapt for a week dedicated to the trials and tribulations of struggling to concieve. I feel like a lot of the time, we do feel alone in this struggle. Not because people don’t understand, but because it is such a different struggle for everyone who is going through it.
Take Amy and I for example. There was never an option for us to “not try, not prevent” or just “start trying and see what happened”. It was always going to be full on or bust, purely because we needed a donor. That involvement of a third person in our relationship and our quest for a baby has always been very difficult. It was harder at the start, back in 2012, because we were working with a donor who we had absolutely nothing in common with. That made it very difficult. Every month I bemoaned the fact that we couldn’t just “have sex and get pregnant” like “everybody” else could. It has been easier in the last fourteen months or so, because Superhero Donor has become a great friend. We have loads in common with him, so although it only started as an arrangement whereby we get his sperm, it has blossomed into a friendship. That certainly makes donation time much easier.
Once I had thought through the fact that technically, we were already considered in the infertility bracket just for having no sperm, I was surprised and upset to find that I am not very fertile at all. It took us fourteen months to get our first positive pregnancy test and the first few months were the hardest. In the sperm donation community, we were surrounded by women who got pregnant first time. Of the trying to concieve group that I was part of at the time, there’s only Amy and I who don’t have children. Some of the women have had two since we began trying. The cruellest part of getting that positive test, though, was that we lost the baby. I think we both had a bad feeling because I bled basically from the first day the positive test showed up, but you try to remain hopeful. But no, fourteen months into our journey we lost our baby at just under eight weeks.
People try and give you advice. It’s well meaning, but some of it is utterly ridiculous. Just relax. Take a holiday. Lie down after inseminating. Take pills. Don’t walk after you ovulate because you will never get pregnant because you’re jiggling your womb around too much. Inseminate more. Inseminate less. Would sex with a man work better? People have lots of advice, unfortunately most of which is totally useless. People tell you you’re thinking about it too much – obsessing. I have to say, it is hard not to obsess when your body isn’t doing the one thing that we are apparently put on the earth to do.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that infertility is a VERY lonely place, because we all think differently. We all have different struggles and different issues as well as different ways of dealing with the problems, the thoughts and the emotions. When it comes to conversations with friends that are suffering from infertility, I try not to say “I know how you feel” because the fact is, I don’t. I try to sympathise. I listen and I don’t bombard with “fixes”. Two of my least favourite phrases are “have you thought about IVF?” And “you can always adopt.”. I don’t know why people think these two things end all infertility journies – I really don’t.
So, if you’re friends with someone who is suffering with infertility, even if you are suffering yourself. Don’t try and offer solutions. Don’t try and advise them. Don’t try and recommend things or tell them to change what they’re doing. Just listen. Just hug them. Tell them you’re there any time they need you, because sometimes a listening ear is more beneficial than all the suggestions in the world.
As for us, I’m not sure where our journey will take us in the next year. I hope that by the end of 2015 we get great news, and hopefully by the end of 2016 we will be holding our baby – finally! But if not, we will keep trooping on. Because that’s what us infertility warriors do. Whether that is trooping on whilst continuing to try or ending our journey by continuing as a family of two, life will go on.