The Great Time Suck

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Someone recently asked me a question that left me speechless, which doesn’t happen often.  Introverted by nature, I’m almost never the proverbial life of the party, but I almost always have something to say.  Particularly when it comes to infertility.

Anyway, in this particular moment, this person wanted to know the following:  ”What is the worst part of infertility?”

Huh.

As I stood there, staring through her, I struggled to find an adequate answer.  The question was innocent enough.  I suspect that she was gathering information to try to understand how to better help a friend in need.  But infertility is different for everyone, and thus it’s nearly impossible to find one specific strategy that helps across the board.

I didn’t want to react too quickly, as I could sense that her intentions were good.  I didn’t want to use sarcasm or rely on quick wit, as I tend to do at times.  I wanted to make sense of the question and provide an answer that had meaning.

And then it hit me:  Time.

Infertility is a lot of things and brings out a lot of emotions.  There negatives like you wouldn’t believe and silver linings that somehow make their way through the darkness, just when you least suspect it.  I’m 150% stronger than I ever wanted to be thanks to this lousy uterus.

But the one thing that infertility takes from everyone – across the board – is time.  It takes days, months, and years of your life.  It takes moments of calm.  It takes moments of happiness.  It takes everything you once had and changes it.  Sometimes you reemerge better on the other end, but sometimes you don’t.  It takes events you would have attended but didn’t because you couldn’t answer the questions one more time.  It takes family gatherings that were once fun and fills them with stress and anxiety instead.  It takes time away from caring your body, your mind, and your soul.

Infertility sneaks into your life under the cover of darkness and steals time left and right.

How can you fix that for a friend?  You can’t.  But you can be there.  You can help create moments of laughter over wine, chocolate, and silly movies.  You can walk together, soak up the sun together, or catch a favorite band together.

You can return time to your friend stuck in the great time suck simply by being a friend.

Time is the thing that we all seem to have the least of these days, and we can’t afford for infertility to take what precious time we do have.

Help restore time.  Be a good friend.

Please join me over at Everyday Family this week, where I shared a little bit of my story in Time Marches On.

Share Your Story: Things I Really Want to Say

I get a lot of email from fellow infertiles that just need to vent.  These women have stories to tell, but nowhere to tell them.  Sure, they share them in bits and pieces with their partners and loved ones along the way…but sometimes they have some feelings to share that aren’t so share-friendly in large groups.  I’m so glad these infertiles have found me and trust me and feel safe within the pages of Clomid and Cabernet.  Because, honestly?  That’s the whole reason I started this site.  Today a fellow infertile has a few things to say, and I promised to share them on her behalf.  I’m sure many of you can identify with her…

 

“Things I Really Want to Say”

 

-Anonymous

 

This cycle seems to be incredibly difficult. It is just my third IUI but with new drugs (and this being the last IUI before IVF), the snark fills my brain constantly. Whatever coping mechanism works, right?  I bite my tongue and just try to make it through to the end of the infamous two-week wait.

 

But secretly, this is what I’m saying in my head…

 

To my childless and not trying friends: Please stop using the word “breeder” to refer to parents. I know you seem to think that because I am also childless, I find babies and toddlers and kids grating. I don’t; I desperately want one. I can’t share in your diatribes.

 

To those who find out: Yes, yes, if I would just relax my ovaries would somehow magically produce 24 follicles each month. Why didn’t I think of that?

 

To those who complain about other’s fertility treatments: Selfish? Wasteful? Shut the frack up.

 

To the other women in the waiting room: We are all here for the same reason. Each of you, every time I see you, make me feel better, make me feel less alone. The diversity of you – the thinner and the heavier, the younger and the older, the married and singles, the gay and the straight – help me give myself a break on the self-blame. Maybe, just maybe, we can muster up a good morning while we do our third day of blood draw and ultrasound this week.

 

To my best friend: Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for listening to way too much detailed information about side effects. And thanks for responding to reports of blue discharge with the ever-important question, “Are you having an affair with a Smurf?”

 

To my partner: I wish I could make you understand how much I wish I did not snap at you at the littlest things when my emotional health is on the verge due to extraneous hormones. Thank you for holding my hand when the substitute doctor refused to use a smaller speculum. Also, the high five after the sperm count announcement might be superfluous…

 

What thoughts run through your mind when you’re feeling down about infertility?

Don’t Ignore…Infertile Friends

This post is part of Resolve’s National Infertility Awareness Week.

 

Infertility continues to be treated as a disease that only affects individuals or couples.  That couple over there, the girl I grew up with, my brother and his wife….

Given the silence that inevitably surrounds infertility, it’s an easy conclusion to draw.

You might know about it, but the actual infertility only affects them or her.

The truth is that, with 1 in 8 couples affected by infertility, infertility actually affects everyone.

It tears families apart, it tests the strength of marriages, and it destroys friendships…if we let it.

 

I lost a friend to infertility.  It’s been years since we last attempted to connect; we both seemed to know that it would never be the same.  It doesn’t make me miss her any less.

It was days after my second devastating miscarriage (yet another loss at 13 weeks) that I was supposed to take part in her wedding.  She stood by my side two years before, and I was honored to do the same for her.

The dress was resized, the back up shoes with lower heels in the same shade of silver were purchased, the rooms reserved, and the flight was on schedule.

But, without any warning, my body betrayed me for the second time in six months.  The ultrasound revealed another lost life within me.

Tearful messages were exchanged.

It’s ok, I will understand; let me know what the doctor says.

Those statements, it turned out, were just words.  Things people to say to cover the hurt and fill the silence.

The second D&C was every bit as painful as the first.  Instructions were given.  Rest was suggested, followed by a mandatory follow up appointment…to occur days after the wedding date.

Frantic phone calls were made.

I’m so sorry.  This is a nightmare.  I never thought this would happen twice.  I love you so much and I want to be with you.  I can’t believe this is happening.

Guilt set in.

The phone calls went unreturned.  For months and months, I made the same apologetic call.

As the infertility wore on, and the silence continued, I became anxious, depressed, and isolated.

At some point, my husband had the good sense to intervene.

You are going through enough.  You have to let go for right now.

That friendship never did come back to me.  That friendship was just another casualty of infertility.

 

Friendships and family relationships often suffer as a result of infertility.  How could they not?  It’s very difficult to know what to say, how to react, and how to provide support when you have little knowledge to draw upon.

Having lost a dear friend early on in my battle, and having dealt with statement after statement that shattered my soul, I did what many other infertiles do along the way:  I hid.  I got wrapped up in treatments, tests, and attempts to conceive.  Life became a project, and I was no longer willing to share.

I decided that I would rather go it alone than continue to explain my feelings and frustrations only to be told, “you need to relax”, “the fun is in the trying”, or “it’s just not the right time for you”.

Some studies suggest that stress plays a significant role in infertility, and that participation in mind/body programs (including group support) might help reduce that stress.

That, of course, is where this site comes in.  My greatest is hope is to create a little community where we can share our stories, provide support to one another, and seek help if we need it.

But our friends in the land of the fertile can help us too.  Friendships and family relationships shouldn’t have to suffer.

 

Ways for friends and family to provide support:

  • Listen; really listen.
  • Avoid stating opinions based on something read in a magazine.
  • Avoid clichés. 
  • Ask questions to gain understanding.
  • Offer to be there for appointments or immediately following appointments.
  • Check in often.
  • Use the words miscarriage, infertility, and pregnancy.  Don’t be afraid to call it like it is.
  • Invite us to parties, showers, and evenings out.  Let us decide what we can handle.
  • Talk to us, not about us.
  • Invite us for coffee, a movie, or lunch.
  • Bring us books and magazines.
  • Pour the Cabernet.

 

If friendship and support can decrease stress, and less stress can increase fertility, then we are most certainly in this together.

Please…DON’T IGNORE INFERTILE FRIENDS.

 

For more information on understanding infertility, please visit:

Infertility Overview

National Infertility Awareness Week