Thursday, April 29, 2010

What if?

What if infertility ruins my relationship with my husband, my
siblings, my in-laws, my friends, my colleagues?

Infertility makes me grumpy, depressed, jealous, ... all sorts of
traits I don't prize in others nor in myself.
The birth of my daughter, after years of treatment, lifted my spirits
enormously ... until we decided to start trying again. It all came
rushing back.

Depression makes me withdraw from people. The same with jealousy.

  • No, I don't want to go to another baptism - another baby conceived AND born while we were trying.
  • No, I don't want to attend another nephew's or niece's birthday part - we could have had a child that age, or that age, or that age, if only.
  • No, I don't want to discuss pregnancy discomforts with pregnant colleague 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.

Jealousy eclipses empathy, at least as a first knee-jerk reaction.

  • Sure, it's a pity she's on bedrest from the second trimester, at least she has a reason to be on bedrest.
  • So you're worried you may be pregnant again, but you would have wanted a little more space between your kids. Well boohoo.

Grumpiness casts a shadow over my relationship with my husband.

  • No, I'm not in the mood tonight, nor was I last night, or the night before that. I can't remember when I last was in the mood, nor can I imagine ever being in the mood again.
  • Don't you dare complain about the inconvenience ART causes you, you only have to sacrifice one single day for an entire cycle of treatment.
  • If your not asking how I'm doing under the treatment, I'm sure not going to tell you on my own.

Being confronted with my own weaknesses in the face of adversity has - I believe - given me more understanding for those of others in facing their adversity. What if infertility has been an intensive course in empathy? Both giving and receiving empathy, with all it's imperfections. What I've learned is that the effort you put into truly trying to understand the other's position goes a long way into being truly supportive, even if the words that come out aren't perfect.

Now all I have to do is put this in practice, to rebuild the relationships damaged by depression, grumpiness and jealousy.

This week Resolve (U.S. infertility association) organizes National
Infertility Awareness Week, see
For basic information about infertility, see

Mel enlisted the blogging community to give an insight in the various
ways infertility impacts people's lives, expressed so aptly by the two
words "what if?".


At 30 April, 2010 04:07, Blogger Heather said...

I feel like I could have written this.

Will I ever not have that knee-jerk reaction? Will I EVER be in the mood again?


At 30 April, 2010 15:04, Blogger Winnifred said...

wonderfully written.... I feel like I spent a year in a baby haze and then had a few months of HAPPY and then just like you -- went back into the IF 'depression'...

I would have to add to that list -- the relationships with my children... I feel like I'm not nearly enjoying them enough because of this cloud over our life.... like that's fair in any way?? :(

Worse, I fear that IF we cannot add another baby to our family I will have forever lost amazing development years to this 'depressive state' without even being allowed to witness it again.

Oh, and the baby baptisms and such -- the ones that I'm most often obligated to attend or at least be HAPPY about (showers, parties anything) tend to be for OOPS babies in my family cause they're all THAT fertile. Yeah, not so much.

thinking of you...

At 30 April, 2010 16:09, Blogger Piccinigirl said...

I love all these posts and this one written with all the anger I feel , even after my prayers were answered is one that I feel will stay with me for a few days.

we have talked about adding a girl to the twins, but when I think about being 40 and infertile, when I think about the money we don't have to try again anyway, I feel all these things you write about..I feel sick to my stomach and I go right back to that place I was for 4 yrs, of depression and feeling such self loathing that I can't breath.

thinking of you and standing with you...

At 30 April, 2010 16:49, Blogger Sara said...

I've read a lot of "what if's" and this is my absolute favorite. This should be required reading for everyone.

(Thinking of you, and hoping and praying for great news.)

At 30 April, 2010 17:56, Anonymous Mrs. Hope said...

I know. Will I ever *not* be jealous? Or ever not SIGH internally (and maybe out loud) as someone complains about birth control or oopsies or their overall normal fertility?

I thought I could keep my head above water this time, this second go-round, but then the invisible undertow of the unimaginable happened.

have you tested???

At 01 May, 2010 10:50, Blogger Bea said...

Oh, definitely well put. I think there is a bit of a crash-course-in-empathy effect. It doesn't have to be infertility, of course. What you say about putting the effort in to understand (vs saying the right thing) is so very true, too.


At 02 January, 2011 18:37, Blogger Lavender Luz said...

Lots of head nodding and remembering over here.

I especially love this:

"What if infertility has been an intensive course in empathy? Both giving and receiving empathy, with all it's imperfections."

I hope 2011 brings you equal amounts joy and empathy.

At 15 January, 2011 03:28, Blogger Hope said...

I could have written much of this post. Especially the parts about withdrawing from friends and family.

Here from the Creme de la Creme. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. :-)

At 20 January, 2011 01:53, Blogger a field of dreams said...

Beautifully written. Nodding my head with every word. I hope you find peace in 2011.

Here from the Creme.

Thanks also for commenting on my Creme post!


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