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Infertility, understanding and sensitivity.

So starting this post has been one of the most difficult things I have ever written but the insensitivity that people have is due to the lack of understanding of what infertility is, the psychological view and feelings of someone suffering and have the craving for something that is easy for some and can be the biggest challenge a couple or a woman can ever face. This is coming from my own personal experience with some details that have been withheld for my own personal privacy, so I hope you can understand that posting this public is not only a challenge for me, but also something I just don’t wish to discuss.

Infertility is when someone has struggled to fall pregnant or stay pregnant. In my case I have had both the struggle to fall pregnant and to stay pregnant. I have suffered miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy which is when the baby attaches and starts to develop in the tube which can be a life threatening situation.

The moment you find out you’re not pregnant is just this disappointment that after the months of trying, tracking your temperature, peeing on ovulation sticks, having sex that really is not that fun or enjoyable because you want it so much it becomes a chore vs having some fun for pleasure, all comes crashing down and you just feel like crap alongside the entire period side of things. So reaching this every month for 7 years, you just want to stab someone in the face. After all PMS is not an acceptable excuse for violence, but being women we have this assumed strong self-control; suck it up, eat a block or two of chocolate and try not to think about it. And having to cope with the lack of drinking when trying to get pregnant and everyone asking why you’re not drinking alcohol and coming up with excuses and trying not to say much at all.

The moment you have that positive pregnancy test is an experience that make your feelings sink to the bottom of your stomach and make you feel so excited, positive is really the answer. You can’t wait to share the news with your partner who wants a baby just as much as you do and then you pee on as many tests as you can get your hands on just to make sure that it is a big fat positive. In my case weeks or days went past from positive tests, to then have my entire bubble of happiness crash down on me. Like suddenly kicking your toe on the coffee table, you never see it coming, no one warns you and you don’t know anything different because it’s all new to your body. At that moment the discomfort is enough to go to the doctors, then the pain starts, the bleeding starts and to the hospital you go. The answer they give you is saying ‘it’s not a successful pregnancy’, ‘the baby has no heartbeat’, ‘I’m sorry, it’s an ectopic pregnancy’. Words just cannot leave your body, it seeps down and a tear will roll along with the inability to even speak, it starts to hurt to breath and you just feel like a hundred elephants have crushed your chest. But, as women, we know we have to deal with it the best we can. We cry, we deal with it and we try to take a step forward even though those elephants don’t go away. The question comes to the doctors asking ‘What I can do?’ and in my case the answer was never as positive as the moment when the first positive was seen.

Dealing with the miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy or facing those you told you were expecting is one of the most heart wrenching things to deal with, not falling pregnant is just another feeling. Whatever you have to face, whatever I have faced, no feeling has ever been the same. Over time it has built up and now has sucked a huge part of me away that I don’t know if it will ever come back. I have times lately where I don’t want to be the social person I used to be. I spend most of my time with animals just so I don’t have to deal with any conversation that may come up to do with pregnancy, someone being pregnant or infertility and I think this is what the huge drive was for this, very long winded that I’m trying to keep as short as possible, post. When it does come down to infertility and socializing you deal with so many comments that are the most hurtful, heart stabbing, insensitive comments that just make you feel like a crushed ant, like no-one cared or noticed they stepped on.

No-one will ever know the feelings, or have the same feelings, or understand the loss you have been through. No mother or father can explain it in words how they felt, as that pain is a unique feeling that only they can understand and they feel as if they were the only ones to experience it. You may feel sympathy and only you can know the support that you can give your friend, or loved one, the support they need, but sometimes and, in my case, it’s really just best not to say anything at all and just be that shoulder to help hold them up if they need it. Be mindful of what has happened and keep the shoulder close if needed.

So, if you can understand that some things hurt to say then here is a list I get so often said to me and I just picture a knife stabbing though your eye, whilst saying ‘Oh ’'ll try that, thanks for your support’, ‘oh ok’, ‘yeh maybe’. Really knife stabbing in your eye when you make the following statements or similar. And really this is just the tip of the iceberg, bigger than the one that sunk the Titanic, of comments that people have made to me and others in similar situation.

  • "You need to relax. All that stressing is causing your infertility."

  • "But you're so young! You have plenty of time to get pregnant."

  • "So, whose fault is it? His or hers?"

  • "Whatever you do, don't give up. It'll happen!"

  • “Oh, my friend had fertility issues and they did …. “

  • “When you give up trying you will probably get pregnant. That’s what happened to my friend.”

  • “I know how you feel”

  • “Have you considered other options?”

  • “IVF IVF IVF IVF, just do it!”

  • “Think of all the children in the world who need parents.”

  • “Have you thought of not having kids?”

  • “But think of all the cool things you can do without kids.”

  • “Why don’t you just get a pet?”

  • “Oh, my other friend had that”

  • “It’s because of your past life.”

  • “You need to lose weight.”

  • “Why aren’t you pregnant yet? When are you having kids?”

  • “Can I do anything to help?”

  • “You should see a different doctor.”

  • “This diet/food/essential oil/vitamin will make it happen.”

  • “Maybe you should stop trying.”

  • “I get pregnant anytime my partner breathes on me.”

  • “You guys would make the most beautiful babies!”

  • “Oh you got a baby cat, that’s the baby you lost.”

  • “OMGI can’t get pregnant, I’ve been trying (Under of year of trying, 2 years of trying) I Have to do IVF I have no other options can I ask you questions?”

Then the other joys of having friends, those who have never had one point of struggle of anything to do with infertility come out with the following statements:

  • “I’m pregnant.”

  • “I’m pregnant, again.”

  • “I can’t believe I’m pregnant, and we weren’t even trying.”

  • “We were only trying for a month…and I’m pregnant.”

  • “I’m pregnant…with twins!”

If you know someone’s been struggling, telling them you’re expecting can be like a knife to the heart, that and the feeling of feeling like no-one cares or even thinks of you existing on this universe. Of course, if it’s a close friend or family member, you’ll want to share your news, but be sensitive. It’s the most painful thing you have to deal with as you are dealing with the green eyed monster that is jealousy. But baby bumps show and hiding it from me can even feel worse. As women, humans know when someone is hiding something and that adds an entirely new level of emotions and feelings on top of that horrible feeling of your friend lying to you. After time you understand why they hide it, of course they don’t want to hurt you, but it’s a situation that no-one can do anything about. It’s not nice for the person who is suffering from infertility but there are things you can do to soften the blow.

My best advice when telling a good friend or family member with infertility issues is just be kind, don’t make a huge deal about it. Sometimes it’s best to say it in person, privately. Don’t make statements saying “I’m sorry” “I know this hurts for you” “I can understand the feelings you may have”. Just come out say “I just wanted to let you know we’re expecting”. That’s it! Don’t go into details, don’t give information that’s not asked for, keep it simple. If the person who has the infertility issues wants to know more they will ask. Change the subject quickly to something a little more up beat, usually wine is a good option, pour them a VERY large glass and leave it be until they are ready to speak.

The sensitivity, if you care about this person, is critical of your friendship. Suffering with infertility as bad as I have had it, you don’t want to be around people. I avoid most of our friends who have kids, I avoid baby showers, I avoid anyone really that I may end up in some kind of “family” based conversation with.

Understand when you are expecting that your friend with infertility is hurting. They want to be happy for you, they want to support you but they are deep down feeling so awful inside. So scared of hurting a friendship if they say something like “hey I know your excited but can we cool it down around me with the baby talk, lets talk about anything like movies, food, cooking. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I don’t want to talk about the thing I want more than anything in the entire world, the thing I have had ripped away from me and you get it” or really “shut the fuck up, I don’t care, I don’t want to talk to you, you insensitive **** as you know what I have been through, can you just stab me instead of me having to listen to you go on and on and on about this”. This is usually the one I feel like but I’m talking about 7 years of infertility, heart break, IVF and my world feeling like an insignificant ant every time someone gets pregnant around me. Do I want to feel like this? No way in hell do I want to feel like that towards a friend, family member or someone I care about, but jealousy is a bitch and it’s so hard to control. The best thing I have found is to avoid the situation, keep your mouth shut and drink wine!! So if you’re around me and I avoid you, it’s not because I don’t like you anymore, it’s just that I care for our friendship/relationship and I don’t believe in hurting you because I feel like crap inside.

IVF and that entire experience., Let me just say if you are shy you won’t be after this., If you don’t like swallowing tablets - get over it! You start injecting yourself with needles like a pro. Weird stomach bruises making you come up with the strangest door knob stories. Painful internal ultrasounds when they can’t find your ovaries to see how many eggs are there. The extreme bloating when it looks like you’re 6 months pregnant and ate a whole watermelon, but really it's just another side effect from the weird, wacky and wonderful cocktail of drugs they give. Not forgetting the hair loss, once having long, thick, lush hair to it all falling out and becoming brittle. But the sacrifice is what we take on with the small hope it will be worth it.

IVF for me was just a lot of crying, ice cream, weight gain and disappointment. Then comes the psychotic moments that you just have absolutely no control over or really know that it’s happening until it’s over. You just feel like a hormonal wreck, one moment you are so happy, laughing your ass off, then the next you’re sitting under a table holding your legs rocking back and forth crying hysterically.

It’s appointment after appointment, blood tests, ultrasounds and I’m talking the dildo internal ultrasound without the happy ending your vibrator gives you, just a heap of cheap disgusting lube up in your junk that makes you feel so uncomfortable for the entire drive home as you can’t get rid of it all in the bathroom. The showers prior to your appointment, baby wipe quick tidy up before you go into the Doctor’s, the aircon blasting at your junk as you don’t want it to be hot or like a disco box down there, before some male gynecologist fertility specialist gets all up in there. And how could I forget making sure your bikini line is all tidy for the Doctor who gets to get up and look at your cervix without buying you dinner first. Instead you get to pay them a shit load of money that you saved up, instead of spending it all on the dream wedding you will probably never get because wedding vs having a baby ? Not really a hard choice is it.

The egg collection and surgery itself! Oh, the bloating after that and you can only take Panadol, no heat packs, baths or hot showers. FANTASTIC experience on that one if you enjoy discomfort that is! The days of phone calls discussing how your embryos are and the excitement builds of the possibility at the end of this cycle of being pregnant and the wait is really sucky, but you get to talk to people about it. It’s positive and slightly stressful but also enjoyable and exciting. Then it comes to your egg transfer, you go in, the doctor has your legs spread on the stirrups and a little screen for privacy. You get to watch it all go in whilst making awkward small talk because he is looking right up your VJAY. After that you get to lay around for 30 mins or so, hoping to whoever your pray to that this thing stays up there, sticks itself like super glue and you get a big fat positive at the end of it. You finally stand up to walk out but really don’t want to walk big strides incase anything drips out! .. You’ve just spent north of 10k, so fingers crossed it works. The awful 2 week wait to see if this worked, see if it’s superglued itself up there. The final blood test to say YAY or no, you’re a total fuck up and a failure as a human being.

In my case, I’ve not had a successful IVF round and really never a positive experience but I’m keeping this a bit light as I don’t want to scare anyone off about it. I’m pretty open and happy to without filter honestly answer any questions has for me. On my first time I didn’t know what was around the corner and no-one was there to really tell me the unfiltered truths/ If only I did have, would I have done IVF ? I’d say ‘No I’dd never do it again, it was a mistake’ but really that’s heartbreak talking and you never know what will happen with your mind set in the future. After all, never say never that you’re not going to do something.

The relationship, the feeling that you have failed your partner as a woman, a fear that he will leave you if you can’t bear a child for him, are just some of the emotions that over time become so overwhelming of the insecurities in your own relationship. Although in my own relationship I know for better or worse, he will put up with me and I do some crazy things sometimes and he is still here. The thoughts do run though your head, if they are normal, if they are not, it’s a thought and a challenge I have faced with the infertility and the whole experience. Maybe it’s normal, but honestly what is normal?. Infertility affects the relationship. You can’t say that it doesn’t, I found at times I have no sex drive, I feel so disappointed in myself, then you think sex is to make a baby and the positive result is the root of the problem and yet I’ve found the motivation to do it is very hard to find. Bringing that emotion to the surface, challenging it head on and finding ways to overcome it has been a challenge for me to overcome. The fight at times is harder than other days, but take life a day at a time, face the challenges as they come. The blame? If you can’t say you don’t feel like blaming yourself at times, you want to blame your partner, I’'m not sure if it’s the hormones or emotions, but the human race feel that blaming others to make themselves feel good is something that again I have experienced. Over time the answer I have found is no-one is to blame, your partner wants it just as much as you do. When you have been trying so hard, they hurt just as much as you but they stay strong and hide what they feel and, in my case, keep holding me up when I feel like falling to my knees.

To finally wrap this up. Don’t act like you know what someone with infertility is going through, because you don’t! Everyone’s infertility is different, and even if you have struggled to get pregnant yourself, it is not the same for everyone, no loss is the same and no personal experience is the same.

I understand what I have been through is something that not many have or will ever have to experience. I have lost babies and not by choice, I did everything I could to fight for them, If I'm ever going to be able to carry to full term or fall pregnant again no-one knows. I wouldn't wish for anyone to go through what I have and nobody deserves infertility.

I wish I could put in words the exact feelings and emotions. How it feels to go through what I have, to have someone understand every detail I would love to explain it, however I don’t see that that’s possible. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I think I'm hard as fuck, but it's the small things that stab so hard and make you feel like you don’t even exist, that “ant feeling” and it could be just a few words or actions. I hope from this you have learnt some additional sensitivity in dealing with friends or family with infertility and if you have experienced anything, I hope for your dreams to come true.

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