hormones, stupid people, and peeing on sticks.

today is one of those days.  one of those days i don’t want to reach out.  i don’t want to talk.  i don’t want to feel a damn thing.  i don’t want to be.  yeah.  pity party for one, please.  i feel like this post has been writing itself in my head for a couple weeks now and i am just emotional enough today to put my thoughts down on screen.  my little brother is having a baby.  well, his wife.  they are becoming parents and giving our parents their first grandchild.  yes.  i am happy for them.  they are a wonderful couple and will be fantastic parents.  yes.  i am excited to be an aunt for the first time.  yes.  i have gone to showers and put a smile on my face.  yes.  i want to punch a wall.  yes.  i cry every time i leave a family gathering.  yes. i wish it was me.

when my brother first told me the news, i could tell everyone was “nervous” to tell me.  like i was going to flip out.  like i was going to lose it.  don’t worry.  i did.  but i am much more polite to let anyone witness that raw emotion.  i remember not knowing what i was more upset about, (a) they were treating me like i was fragile and pitiful (b) my little brother and his wife got pregnant without thinking about it (c) everyone had game talks about how to tell me (d) all of the above.  the answer is d.  it is always all of the above no matter how long the list.

i got through the gender shower because i was just so positive that any day we would also get pregnant.  i lost it around the holidays because the realization that their baby is almost here and we have only had two chemical miscarriages in the almost 9 months.  then the baby shower almost destroyed me.  again.  if i was just with my brother and his wife, i would be fine.  they are so support and understanding without trying too hard.  this leads me to the bulk of my blog post.  these are all things that have been said to me during this heartbreaking time for my husband and myself.  take note.  pass along.  the following is a list of the worst things to tell someone struggling with infertility with some ways to simply show your support instead.

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1. relax.  or better yet.  stop trying.  i seriously had a family member walk up to me at the baby shower a couple weekends ago and state, “well, it doesn’t look like you trying is working out so well.”  what they hell kind of shit is that to say?!  i will tell you what. i don’t care how old you are.  i don’t care.  people you are on notice.  my patience is running tremendously thin with people and their comments. in case you didn’t know, worrying about getting pregnant is not a scientific cause of infertility. also, infertility causes stress. not the other way around. ps. try relaxing when your body is being probed constantly and is riding an hormonal roller coaster.

2. try not thinking about getting pregnant.  how about you think about the daily struggles of someone that wakes up every morning to take your temperature and pee on a fertility monitor stick.  then on “high” days peeing on another stick.  seriously.  my bathroom counter looks like a damn science experiment.  super sexy.  super relaxing.  infertility is caused by a medical condition, sometimes known and other times, unexplained. it is not related to forgetting how much you want a baby.  and to add to the emotional roller coaster, when we do get a positive test, my first thought is not “wonderful” it is “how long until i miscarry.”  i will never have a pregnancy where the thought of losing my child won’t be on my mind.  wanting something too much does not cause fertility problems and you simply cannot turn off your desire to be a parent. it is good to keep in mind that what others might view as an obsession can just be the process the doctor is prescribing.

3. are you pregnant? you look pregnant!  no joke.  someone said this to me.  after i lost about 70 pounds.  yay.  nothing like a little motivation.  in general, this is not something you want to say to ANY woman that may look pregnant. also, keep in mind that during certain fertility treatments, many women can go through pregnancy symptoms due to the drugs in their system and yes, their tummy area might look rounder than usual.

4. you should just adopt.  even better “you should get one of those black babies.  they are real cute when they are babies.”  what the hell?!  seriously.  what they hell is wrong with people. i have even heard “maybe your troubles are a sign you should adopt.” each person has the right to decide what route they are going to take, how hard they will fight against infertility and how they want to create their family.  the best is when people with no trouble having LOTS of babies will tell me that they would LOVE to be able to adopt and it must be so wonderful that that is my only choice.  people just need to stop.  adopting a child is such a tremendous decision.  one that i know i can’t make until i have resolved the feeling that i am going to my “back up” plan.  that child should never be viewed as a back up plan.

5. “who’s fault is it?”  infertility affects men and women equally and there is a huge percentage of couples that cannot find out the exact reason they are not able to conceive. clearly, there is no fault. and a couple that has a strong relationship will face this challenge together as a unit, so it becomes a couple’s problem and not an issue that affects just one of them.  often times i feel the blame.  thankfully my husband is always there reminding me that we are in this together and until the doctors say, “ah ha this is the problem” it is a problem that we share.  equally.  seriously.  stop being friends with people that ask you this.  and if you are that person, punch yourself.

6. “i didn’t even want to get pregnant…”  if your pregnancy was unplanned, do not rub it in. basically, don’t be an ass.  even if it’s true that you are dealing with a surprise baby, it’s so painful to hear for somebody who is doing everything she can to conceive to hear. it’s true that hearing about a new pregnancy or listening to a lot of cute baby talk can be painful for those with fertility challenges. in an effort to protect fertility challenged friends, sometimes people attempt to keep a new pregnancy secret. or they share almost nothing about their little ones, leading to awkward silences. this isn’t a good idea.  instead, give us the news of your pregnancy in a way that allows us privacy and room for our initial reaction – email is probably best, and a phone call is much better than in person. i have panic attacks that my initial reaction will be my raging hurt girl inside and i will flip a table new jersey housewife style.  secrets never remain secret for long, and we’re bound to hear your good news eventually.  especially in the world of facebook and social media.  we’d rather hear it from you.  i have an amazing friend that has two beautiful kids and a third on the way.  she is on the very short list of people with kids i can tolerate.  she understands that while i adore her and her kids, i won’t go to birthday parties.  we schedule a one on one visit around their birthday so i can spend quality time with her and her kids.  finding people in your life that are understanding and kind without treating you like you have a disease is rare and i treasure those relationships.

7. do you really want to be a mom?  “motherhood is overrated. it might not be for you.”  again, real comments people.  who decides who is right for motherhood?  yes, many people decide not to have children and there is nothing wrong with that. many of those people are my friends.  and it is refreshing.  but if you are actively seeking a pregnancy, undergoing medical procedures to conceive or taking medications to boost your fertility, clearly not having children is not what you think is best for you. yes, we know, kids are loud and don’t allow you a moment to yourself, kids never let you sleep, kids get in the way of sex, kids are a hassle. and we still want them. desperately.  we are not lucky to not have kids; our lives are not easier for the lack of them. in fact, infertility also takes away the quiet inner moments, infertility keeps us up at night, and infertility is a hassle. admit that you wouldn’t give up your kids even if it meant you’d have more sleep and less stress. if you would rather trade in your kids for peace and quiet, then please keep those thoughts to yourself, as they’re not very flattering – it just makes us wonder why the universe gives people children who don’t want them.

8. stop asking if we are pregnant yet.  we know you’re curious, but asking repeatedly whether or not we’re pregnant reminds us once again that we’re not. and “any news?” is essentially the same as asking if we’re pregnant, so don’t even think of trying that question instead.  you are not clever.  you are transparent. instead, assume that if we were pregnant and were ready to share, we would have already told you. if you want to ask us how we’re doing, then a simple, “how are you doing?” is best.  keep it simple people.

9. stop giving unrequested advice.  especially if you have never been down this path.  we know you just want to help, and maybe you heard of a new fertility treatment on the news that you’re sure will cure our problems. or perhaps you believe strongly in a particular health lifestyle, and you believe “if only” fertility challenged people lived that lifestyle they’d be as fertile as you are. or you’re sure if we would just relax, things would resolve magically.  offering these tidbits of advice feels condescending. it feels like you don’t think we can figure this out without your wise advice, as if we aren’t researching options endlessly ourselves. plus, that new fertility treatment you read about may not be available, and without understanding our exact fertility issues (please, don’t ask), you can’t really provide targeted advice.  try to understand we’re doing our own research and speaking with our doctors about how to proceed. if we want your advice, we’ll ask.

10.  bible quotes. philosophical quotes. you can shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.  if you are struggling with fertility and look to religion for support, great.  i don’t.  god and i are not best friends.  in fact i kind have some beef about the whole “everything happens for a reason” or “god will only give  you what you can handle.”  bull shit.  there are a number of things that happen in this world that are far more heart wrenching and heartbreaking than infertility.  walk down a terminally ill hospital floor for children.  this whole thing of you are given what you can handle.  i reject that.  i reject because there are some things that are greater pain than you can handle.  isn’t that what faith is for?  to reach out to something when you can’t handle the life pains.  i don’t get it.  but you sharing your bible quotes sure as hell isn’t helping me. stop speaking on the universe’s behalf. comments like “if it’s meant to be, it will happen,” or “maybe you weren’t meant to be parents,” don’t help. they add to our shame, as they imply we are not only infertile – but we also deserve it.  remember that no one really knows why things happen, and even if your philosophy on life comforts you, allow us to come to our own conclusions on why bad things happen to good people.

11.  stop accusing us of not appreciating the good in our lives.  our strong marriage, our great job, our nice house – whatever it is we have that’s great doesn’t take away the pain of infertility. it is possible to feel many feelings at once, sadness for our losses and joy for our blessings.  and we do.  it is what keeps us smiling.  it is what keeps us going.  every day we are grateful for the amazing life we have.  because no matter the pain, it is an amazing life.  keep in mind that people talk more about what’s troubling them than what’s going great. just because we don’t talk to you about all the wonderful in our life doesn’t mean we aren’t aware it’s there.

12.“god, i wish i could have a baby for you!”  you would be surprised how many people have offered their uterus to me.  from co-workers to friends.  it is all completely inappropriate.  while my better self is pleased that you are so fertile, i prefer to have a baby on my own in my own way. and i do understand that what you are trying to say is i feel terrible for you and wish there was something i could do to fix it.  but if that is what you mean, just say something to that effect. no offers of uterus-loaning required.  or wanted.

13. “those really aren’t miscarriages, you know. they happen to everyone.”  i know that early pregnancy testing makes it possible to detect pregnancies that would otherwise have gone undetected.  often referred as chemical miscarriages.  i have had 2 this past year.  3 total.  3 miscarriages that don’t fall into that category.  1 miscarriage at 10 weeks.  1 at 8 weeks.  and 1 at 6 weeks.  each one is different.  obviously, the farther along, yes, they are more difficult.  both physically and emotionally.  i still wake up some nights to “hearing the heartbeat” of our daughter.  yes.  we knew the gender of the farthest along loss.  yes.  i still cry about that one.  telling me that it happens to everyone, that it probably happened to you several times isn’t helpful. plenty of people get pregnant and stay pregnant, and i am not one of them.

14. “have you seen a doctor?”  please don’t ask.  along these lines, “haven’t you been trying for a while?”  i don’t need to be reminded of the months and years that have passed since starting down this path.  i am reminded with each birthday.  each christmas.  each gray hair.  i know how long it has been.  and in terms of the doctor.  it isn’t any of your business.  and if we have shared news with you regarding our medical decisions, it sure as hell isn’t your place to tell anyone else.  this is a betrayal of personal confidence.  don’t do it.

15. there are worse things that could happen. not many. but yes.  i have enough perspective to recognize that this is not the worst possible situation i could find myself in.  however.  EVERY single month you grieve a part of your life you want but can’t materialize. while i’m not saying there aren’t worse things, it IS an intensely challenging situation that has moments of big hopes and crushing disappointments. unless you’ve been there, don’t try to put it in a hierarchy of All Terrible Things of Mankind. and even if it’s not the most terrible thing ever, that still doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck.

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one way that helps me see the light from the darkness is to focus on the good.  i am currently working on a 26 acts of kindness blog feature.  another way i am feeling less woe is me, is moving.  cleaning house.  purging a closet.  keeping moving.