There are babies everywhere right now. Facebook is a constant eruption of sonogram pictures and people are forever happily announcing the birth of their babies. It’s a super challenging time of year for so many reasons. Spring and summer forces everyone outdoors and strollers are plentiful, which is wonderful for so many reasons AND it’s also painful for those still trying to conceive. It can be even more devastating for those who have recently miscarried.
1 in 6 struggle to conceive. Many are infertile as a result of other health conditions. Cancer, PCOS, endometriosis, abdominal scarring, Crohn’s Disease – are just a few of the things that can lead to infertility.
I asked some infertility patients in Conceivable Dreams what they wanted to tell people about infertility, what they wanted to share about their journey, the myths and facts. They shared some incredible, insightful and emotional comments a few weeks ago here in Nine Things We Want You To Know About Infertility. Once they started talking and sharing their stories and thoughts, the comments and feelings flowed fast. This is part 2 of this infertility patient series, because they had so very much to share. From guilt to anger, sadness and despair – this is all about the emotions of infertility. This is all about the feelings of infertility.
What we want you to know about the feelings of infertility:
Valerie: It’s been an up and down roller coaster!!! Emotionally, physically, financially…. It’s made some of my relationships with friends more difficult but it’s made my marriage much stronger and for that I will never give up!!!
Once people start opening up about doing IVF it can be surprising how many others have questions, or are currently trying to conceive and need some support or reassurance. Infertility patients and their friends and relatives are talking more now than they ever have before, partly as a result of the number of people sharing in Facebook groups and on other social media sites. Awareness has grown in leaps and bounds. Some advocacy goals have been achieved together as a group of collective voices sings a more powerful chorus. BUT individually on a personal level patients struggle with complicated situations, a barrage of appointments, and emotions. Everyone’s story has common threads but they are also very unique.
Anger, Disbelief and When You Feel Like Nobody Else Understands:
Elaina: Don’t tell me you understand because it took you months to get pregnant when it was 3 to 6 months. It took me 84 months to get pregnant. Your 3 to 6 months is a drop in the bucket.
The emotions are complex and secondary infertility is every bit as big a deal. Your body has betrayed you regardless of whether you already have a child or not. The feelings are valid and in fact secondary infertility is one area of infertility that is growing.
Elaine: Our first was natural (but took a long time) but we required IVF for the second….and then the third was natural (no rhyme nor reason). I felt guilty going because we already had a baby but so desperately wanted a second baby!
Louisa: I always feel like a failure.
Pain, Sadness, Alienation, Isolation and Hurt:
Lara: It’s very hard to spend time with couples who have children when you have none of your own. I no longer spend time with some of my friends anymore, not because I don’t like them, or don’t want to see them, but because it’s too painful for me.
Jealous, Envious, Hurt:
Andy: Infertility happens to single people too, and for LGBTQ people, its often not a “couple’s” issue the way it is for hetero people. It’s a different set of issues.
The other thing is the nasty evil ugly feeling of wanting to be happy for your friends, but also feeling jealous and envious, and hurt because they are having kids, getting pregnant, whatever, and you are not. But then on top of that you feel guilty for feeling envious. I call that whole combined thing the ugly green monster of infertility.
Elaine: I feel like people have some inkling that IVF is expensive, but not HOW expensive it is. I don’t think people understand AT ALL the amount of TIME it requires!! Before work appts every other day for invasive tests/taking hormones/talking about it/thinking about it..
Resentment and Grief:
Heather: Also, finding out you are not able to conceive on your own brings a grieving process that includes a bit of resentment toward the one that has infertility. It doesn’t last long but it’s real and it’s ok to feel that way! It also brings guilt, anger, fear, doubt, hopelessness among so many more feelings!! Let yourself go through them all!
ALL THE FEELINGS:
Kate: “For us, it’s the various stages of emotions. The initial confusion at realizing that things aren’t happening a easily as it is for others. The hope at getting referred to a specialist. The anticipation of perhaps finding a reason. The uncomfortableness and violation both physically and emotionally during treatments. The defensiveness and self protection at people’s comments. The thick skin needed to not feel that we need to explain our finances to people, whether it be due to their assuming that we must have excess money due to not having to care for children, to explaining just how much treatments cost. The hope every month that ‘something, anything’ took. The happiness at others success. The jealousy and pain at others success. The constant triggers, from pregnancy test commercials, baby showers, and ‘family’ holidays, to one-on-one conversations. The frustration at passing time. The isolation, even among groups like this, due to feeling like your circumstances aren’t as clear cut. The pain of constant milestones passing by. And the unexpected random realizations that we will have no branch on our family tree. From simple thoughts of ‘life goals’ like watching your child get on the bus for their first day of school, graduation, driver’s licence, our retirement, grandkids etc. And the staggering weight of debts accrued financially and emotionally. Just when we feel that we’re at a comfortable stage and able to cope, any one of those can rear its ugly head and send you spinning into an undertow again.”
In Ontario Infertility patients have a group called Conceivable Dreams to help advocate and support people going through the process. If you are struggling with infertility in Ontario you can follow this group on twitter (@ohip4ivf ) We tweet and share our messages with #ohip4ivf #onpoli hashtags.
You can follow some of the advocacy and events for infertility patients in Ontario by watching this site: http://www.conceivabledreams.org/ I am community manager for this group and as such I am compensated. I support infertility patients in Ontario. All of the patients mentioned here were happy to give voice to some of their feelings this month. If you want to be added to our private Facebook support group email me firstname.lastname@example.org please indicate subject line (Infertility) in your email.