It does depend on my mood, I admit, but nothing grinds me up the wrong way (is that even an idiom?) than someone, especially someone “close”, that attempts to ‘be there for me’ in all the wrong kinds of ways. There is no textbook for those people, our friends and family, colleagues and well-meaners, I know this. So I’m writing one (or starting it).
Lets begin at the start. You do not understand.
You may have ‘tried’ for 6 months, a year even. You may have even had to take chlomid, been diagnosed with pcos, or feel like its ‘taking forever’ to fall pregnant. Just don’t ever say you understand. You do not understand. Until you’ve had your vein collapse from too many blood tests and can inject your stomach with a vial of drugs daily, and even then… You don’t understand what I’m going through because you are not living in my home, in my life, in my perpetual cycle of grief. Plus, no two journeys are ever the same. Even if they seem like it.
On the topic of grief – when I say out loud ‘I’m not going to be a mom’, don’t fucking correct me. You have no idea how much it took me to say those words out loud. It is part of my acceptance stage I go through as a part of a cycle thats stuck on repeat. Of course I don’t want to believe it. Of course I haven’t given up hope. But it takes more courage to say those words as part of my healing journey than you could ever know. So don’t take that away from me. (Unless your friend is throwing a pity party and looking for attention. This may not be a one size fits all piece of advice. Proceed with caution).
Don’t tell me to relax. Don’t suggest that I take a long weekend, or go for a nice dinner with some wine. Remember, that when I started trying to fall pregnant, I too, like you, thought it would happen easily. Thus… I’ve done relaxed. I’ve done ‘not thinking about it’. I did all of that years ago. It didn’t work then. It won’t work now if I try and fake being relaxed.
Don’t tell me ‘to enjoy this time without kids’. I am. And I have been. But I want nothing more than to, err… ruin my time, and have kids. Because, let’s be honest. Your time, isn’t ruined at all is it? In fact, you’ve been overheard saying (or writing all over facebook) that you’ve never known a joy like this since becoming a mom. Don’t tell me to enjoy my time. I did enjoy my time. All 30 years of it prior to wanting to start my family. Like you did.
Don’t head tilt. Please. I beg of you. Don’t look at me with sympathy as you try and grasp what it is we’re going through. Sometimes, I genuinely hold your new baby and just think “Oh cute. Look. Its a baby”. I promise. I’m not always thinking that I want to run away with it, or that I want my own. Sometimes I’m even thinking about the lie in I’m going to have tomorrow morning or that I really need to reply to an email from my boss.
We also don’t want your success stories. Yes, yes – you know a couple that tried for 10 years, and then ‘stopped trying’/’on their 6th IVF’ fell pregnant. I get it. Trust met, there are a hundred more couples that are crying at night, suffering depression or separating from each other, that you don’t know about. They don’t write the books, or update their facebook’s with miracle children. The success stories, just remind us of our failing.
Don’t suggest things to try. Chances are… we’ve tried them. And we’re far more of an expert in the field than you are. Chlomid is NOT the answer. It doesn’t solve everything to do with falling pregnant. And actually, as far as stimulants go – its a really crappy drug with horrible side effects.
Adoption is touchy. Some people get to that decision quickly. Others don’t. Others never will. Don’t push it down our necks. Don’t tell us that parenthood isn’t about conceiving and carrying a child (especially don’t do this as you cradle your own child in your arms), and that being a parent to a child doesn’t mean you have to give birth to him/her. It may be true. But just don’t.
Don’t tell us that we’re still young and have plenty of time. That people are having babies at 40+ these days. I am young. I was younger when I was 30 and started trying. And this is going to suck even more when I’m 40, and still trying.
Right, a rant? Perhaps. Not directed at anyone. Just getting shit out there.
But on the ‘what to do side’. I speak as ‘we’ – ‘we’ the people who have this infertility thing. The list is short(er), but….
Want to be the friend who is there for someone with infertility? Research. A person I trusted with my story, took the little info I gave them and researched. They researched and understood, while not actually understanding anything at all. They tried. And knowing that, that they actually took time to try and understand the procedures I was going through, meant more than the world. So that when I said today was a ‘bloods’ day – they knew I meant blood tests, and not some weird vampire shit.
Don’t act like we’re aliens. We’ll make our own decisions about coming to your child’s party. Invite us. And there’s no need to say ‘you don’t need to come if its too hard for you’. It is hard. But we’re adults. And we can make our decisions. Just understand when we do.
It’s not always deep. When I say I’m fine. I am. Or I may not be. Leave it. No head tilt. Fine can genuinely be fine.
Don’t stop telling us you’re thinking of us. If you mean it, that is. Its nice to know that you care. But it doesn’t always need to be a big thing. A simple sms now and again means a lot. Well, it means that you do care and haven’t forgotten about us in your awesome parenting-life you’re living.
Keep including us. We have good days. We have bad days. We may turn down some things though, and worse – we are probably going to cancel some things at the last minute. Really, this does suck for you a lot when we do, I know. But please don’t take it personally. We are doing the best we can. We are trying not to run away. Not to freak out. Not to pull away from everything that was once good in our lives.
But all of this – for you and for the ‘we’ amongst us – is not always that easy.