Someone I know asked me the other day why her friend doesn’t just give up trying to get pregnant already. “I mean it’s been two years!” The words came out before I could think, “Two years is not that long!” I know women who try for much longer. And it’s really hard. It’s hard for a year. It’s hard for seven years. It’s hard in a hundred different ways. And the obsession with seeing those two pink lines can rule the day. Every day.
This process of dealing with fertility issues– at once heart-wrenching, incredibly irritating, absurd, obsessive and full of meaning and longing–often requires that you find someone who gets what you’re going through. A friend who dismissively tells you to start looking into adoption, as was the case in the above scenario, might not be the owner of the shoulder you need to cry on.
This week babble has launched a Special Issue called “Trying To Conceive” that provides a bit more understanding. There’s a lot of practical advice but there are also lots of personal stories which can be so crucial. Everyone’s story is different, but hearing them and seeing how the process of re-currant miscarriages, at-home artificial insemination, IVF treatments play out for a whole range of parents (dads included) can make a big difference.
In one of the stories Dani Klein Modisett, editor of Afterbirth: Stories You Won’t Read in Parenting Magazines, attended a support group through RESOLVE and says, “Everyone was trying hard to be polite. But infertility is not a polite experience. The feelings involved are so big — to a cartoon-like degree — and once you honor them, you can gain perspective and find the humor.” Jane Castanias, a RESOLVE support group leader in Washington, D.C also would ask each person to share the stupidest thing someone had said to her about her infertility. It helped bring the mood back from the edge of despair. In another piece I there’s a list of stupid things people say about miscarriage.
Support groups can be so helpful, especially since friendships with women who are not dealing with fertility issues can be strained. And a lot of that support can be found in these stories. One my of my absolute favorite stories is by Maude Allen. She writes about what she’s learned from the experience of dealing with infertility:
“Sure, I wish I had started this all sooner, listened to my body earlier, but I’m grateful in a way that it hasn’t been easy. Because now when I do have kids, whether by birth or adoption, I know I am going to listen to them. I am also going to cook them real food and take them on hikes and thank them every day, because just by taking their time getting here, they’ve already taught me so much that I want to teach them.”
photo: Adam Schilling/Flickr