Infertility has forced me to skip showers. Yes, you read that right. Let me explain.
I'm skipping baby showers. Over the past few months, I have skipped multiple baby showers and sprinkles. Friends, I just can't do it. It isn't because I'm not exceedingly happy for family members and friends who are pregnant, because I am. It certainly isn't because I am jealous of the guest of honor, because I'm not! I just cannot bear to sit in a room, talking about all things baby with very pregnant and very insensitive family and friends.
Now that my husband and I know that we will get great health insurance this summer because he switched jobs, we know that we will meet with our reproductive endocrinologist in July, which will be the first time since our last failed intrauterine insemination (IUI) attempt for Baby No. 2. To say that I am on an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. You see, after our fourth failed IUI, at about this time last year, I was done. I knew that we could no longer afford to pay out-of-pocket for treatments, and even if we could, I knew I wouldn't be able to handle the stress of knowing that we were spending enormous amounts of money on a chance of getting pregnant. Too much pressure, right? So the last 12 months, I have been grieving. I have been grieving that I will never feel hiccups from a baby inside me or nurse again. And I've been grieving that we won't be a family of four and that our son will never know the love of a sibling.
But now, we have another chance, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. Excited? Certainly. Thankful? Absolutely. But I also feel nervous and scared. I'm anxious about jumping back into the world of procedures, injections, hope and failure. Mostly, I am not looking forward to the insensitive comments and questions that always follow.
RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, says 1 in 8 couples experience infertility. That equates to more than 7 million women of childbearing age in the United States. Chances are high that you know someone who is enduring infertility right now. However, as "common" as infertility is, most people still have no idea how to communicate with someone who is experiencing it. I know because I've had to deal with a lot of nonsense during our struggles to get pregnant, first with our son and now.
Friends have apologized to me or avoided telling me that they were pregnant when they knew I was trying. Very fertile friends have told me that if they found out they couldn't have babies, they would simply accept it and use the extra time to travel. Other friends have told me that I'm lucky to have one child and that wanting another baby is selfish. And some friends have said that maybe since I can't have another child that God is telling me that I wouldn't be cut out for having two kids.
This is the first time that I have written about these comments, and each one makes me feel angry, inadequate and hopeless. Infertility is hard enough to deal with that I certainly do not need extra comments and advice to add to the stress. So this time, I'm doing it differently. I have chosen to go into self-protection mode and avoid baby showers.
Everyone who walks through infertility is different, and everyone has unique ways of dealing with it. However, chances are high that if you are dealing with infertility, you have had your share of run-ins with stupid people. And for those of you who have no clue what to say to someone struggling with infertility, here are some tips:
1. It's OK to ask me about my infertility journey. I don't mind talking about it, and I'm thankful that you care to ask.
2. It's OK to tell me that you are pregnant, describe your current pregnancy or dish about your newborn. I want to celebrate with you! If you don't talk about your pregnancy with me, it makes me feel like you are treating me differently.
3. My 4-year-old is totally awesome and a complete miracle. I am so thankful for him, and I get down on my knees and pray every night in gratitude. Please don't assume that my desire for another baby diminishes that.
4. Please don't think that I am angry at the world for my infertility situation. I am not. I am sad about it, and it takes up a lot of my time, but I am still my normal self who wants to talk about things other than follicles and ultrasounds, too.
5. It's OK to not know what to say. After listening to my experiences with infertility a few years ago, an old friend from college was silent for a few moments before simply saying, "Wow, that sucks." It was the perfect thing to say, and it remains the perfect thing to say. It does suck, and I appreciate the validation.
If you're still looking for some advice on how to act around someone who is walking through infertility, RESOLVE has some great info here. But mostly, just act like a normal person and don't say anything stupid and insensitive.
So, if I've skipped your baby shower lately, I'm sorry. I always send a gift. But I need to protect myself and my heart; to do that, I need to surround myself with people who don't make me feel worse than I already do.
What about you? How do you deal with insensitive comments from others? Are you skipping showers too?