Or as I like to call it: Grieving my Loss and How Not to Be an Asshat to an Infertile Girl.
In my searches to find women who share the same issues as me, I realized something else I never quite understood about my infertility. Along with the shame, there is grief. You can liken infertility to the feeling of losing a near and dear one. The thing is an infertile woman is grieving the loss of her ability to carry a baby. While this feeling may heal over time, the feeling of grief may get opened up. Month after month after month. For years on end. It’s like experiencing the loss of a loved one. But over and over again.
I wondered how that was, how that worked? For awhile I wasn’t even buying it, that’s not grief I feel. I never had a baby in my uterus, how can I grieve it? But I can. I have been. But I didn’t know it. And the thing is? That grief is brutal. And it is real. I am not great at explaining my feelings, but this is the best way I know how to explain how it feels to be infertile. On top of the shame and fear, there is grief. Sometimes enormous grief. Hopefully it makes sense.
The bottom line is that I grieve my infertility now. Sometimes it’s really tough, sometimes it’s a non-issue. It honestly depends on the day, just like any other kind of grief. The important thing is that I have finally given myself permission and room to say “it’s okay to grieve this, to be sad about this.” I tell myself this on a regular basis: own it robinson, you aren’t weak because you grieve, you aren’t less because you’re infertile.
Moving on to my last point: How Not to Be an Asshat to an Infertile Girl.
The insensitivity of others can be staggering sometimes. When people who knew that Edder and I were trying to have a baby but not getting pregnant would say things to us like: “are you sure you’re having sex right; maybe you shouldn’t work out, do yoga and run so much; maybe you should adopt, then you’ll get pregnant; you can just be the fun aunt and uncle (oh no you diiiin’t); you can always just adopt (because it’s just that simple…blink blink); maybe you should eat better; maybe you should _____ insert anything or any advice here” it makes us want to punch that person in the face. And HARD.
Do not make me pull out that ultrasound of my lady bits and explain to you exactly why we can’t have a baby…. because I will do it. Then I will punch you in the face. HARD.
I realize maybe sometimes people just want to be lighthearted about the situation, I get that. I try and understand that some people may not know what to say, or are dim, or think they’re really funny (let’s just be clear right now, you are not that funny), or just don’t get it/can’t put themselves in my shoes. But…. for the sake of all of us “infertiles” out there… regardless of how sensitive or insensitive you are regarding this topic, know this.
Think before you offer us your sperm (or advice). Because, gross. And just, no.
In closing, you don’t have to tip-toe your life/pregnancy around an infertile woman/couple–in fact I hate it when people do that to me, I am not a leper (usually)–just be kind. Be thoughtful. Be empathic. BE A REAL FRIEND. Just give me a damn hug and hand me some Starbucks.
But, here’s the biggest thing: DO NOT, under any circumstances, offer your advice or opinion unless asked. That is what my Reproductive Endocrinologist is for. Simple, right? RIGHT.
If you want to know more about not being an asshat to an “infertile” there is a fantastic article here: http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family–friends/infertility-etiquette.html
p.s. i plan to continue writing about ‘insight’ into being infertile, it’s therapeutic for me, but i think it also offers a glimpse inside what it’s like for someone going through it.