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What I’d Like to Say to My Non-Infertile Friends

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a blog by brenda

You know those moments in life when you experience something so incredible that you have trouble putting it into words? It could be the most amazing sunset, a moving conversation or just a random feeling where everything feels right for a minute. You can’t fully express it to others. You usually end up saying something like, “You really just had to be there,” or “My words can’t do it justice.” Well, infertility is like that, only not in the glorious sense. It’s just as difficult to put into words in a way that encompasses “everything” for those who have never lived it to fully understand.

No matter how many thoughts, experiences, procedure descriptions, or emotions I pour onto this screen, I cannot wholly explain the depths of infertility. It seeps to places most of us experiencing it never knew existed. It affects our marriages, our friendships, our careers, our physical health, our sex lives, our emotional strength, our finances, our futures, our self-worth, our ability to make decisions. There is not one aspect of our lives that infertility doesn’t touch and to completely describe this here is not possible.

This is why it is so hard to answer someone who has never battled this beast when they make statements like, “I’d just keep doing IVF until it worked,” or “You can always just adopt.”

These are reasonable suggestions . . . when this is your first introduction to infertility.

These seem like quick fixes . . . when your view is from the cheap seats.

These look like perfect solutions . . . when your choice is simply mythical.

The view on the field is so much more intense and powerful and confusing and real than you can even begin to imagine. Our decisions are made after many years already walked (and sometimes crawled) on this painful journey, with tens of thousands of dollars already spent (or borrowed), with the heartbreak of failed cycle after failed cycle still so raw and fresh, with an already much too long laundry list of invasive and embarrassing procedures, with a newfound marriage strain because our spouse just wants to be done with it all and we aren’t quite ready, with grief that comes from never knowing what pregnancy feels like, with facing losses like never seeing a child that shares our eyes with our spouse’s smile.

While I don’t expect you to understand this, I do hope you can respect our decisions and simply try to support us with whatever we choose to do next. Our experiences have changed us and taken us places too difficult to really explain. While the decisions may look simple at first glance, there is so much more to it than can be written here.

I may not know how to make your view into this world less cloudy, but hope you know that your cheers from the cheap seats are appreciated and heard ever so loud and clear.

Thank you for simply being there.

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Comments (7)

Like always, you have put into words so eloquently what many infertiles try to stumble out everytime a fertile says something inappropriate. (even if they don't mean to)

Thank you. Thinking of you,

I hear you, sister. When we've reviewed all the options and tradeoffs a thousand times or more, it's only natural for us to get impatient (and, yes, outraged at times) when non-infertiles casually discount the efforts involved in further fertility treatment or adoption. The only thing worse is when uneducated folks imply that we're not working hard enough. We're working hard all's just that there are no slam dunk easy answers. If there were there wouldn't be a $3B plus industry around trying to get those answers.

I would LOVE for all non-infertile women to read Liz's blog AND B.'s comment. I'm guessing that most (not all) of them aren't intentionally insensitive, they're just . . . well . . . clueless . . .

No one has every told them what to say, not to judge, that just listening and supporting is enough. They feel like they need to say something and it's frequently the wrong thing

It's kind of like the race issue . . . until the dialogue is opened, feelings are hurt, people are offended and the wrong things are said. Frankly, I don't think they can truly understand. How can they walk a mile in our shoes? But that doesn't mean it's not worth trying, right?

If you could tell them one COMPLETELY HONEST thing about what they should or shouldn't say/do, without worrying about the repercussions, what would it be?

I'm not sure if Liz meant that YOU were fertile bashing by what you wrote or if she just doesn't like it when other people do it...What you wrote is an explanation of how IF feels; you weren't bashing people who are fertile. You were explaining that specific comments hurt, particularly when they come from people who haven't walked in 'your shoes.'

I agree with you on how it totally encompasses every aspect of your life. It truly does.


I love the reference to the "Cheap Seats"...what did we do to make it to the VIP box anyway? ...thinking of you.

I still wrestle with trying to get people to understand it. Since we have the boys they are less inclined to believe it really hurt or understand why it still does. Having them should have healed all the wounds and I should be content. It's hard to make someone else understand a pain they can not feel for themselves, even with in the IF community our pains are different.
Nice job B.

I don't like 'fertile bashing' but they do sometimes need educating.

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