Infertility can be a lonely place and one of the things that became really clear leading up to and during our treatment, was the importance of having supportive people around us and having places we could go to find out more about IVF and, crucially, to find out about other people's experiences.
Read the previous post here: The Emotions, Part Three
It is incredibly difficult to manage your feelings around fertility treatment when you are in the midst of what seem like thousands of people who are having next to no trouble having babies. It is almost like it is heightened when you're in treatment. Everywhere you look there seems to be another new baby, another baby announcement, another scan picture. And it doesn't seem to get any easier to deal with. You almost come to dread the pregnancy announcements.
I realise this sounds terribly heartless and please believe it isn't intended to be that way. It is a feeling you don’t want to feel but it lingers. Everything in us is programmed to believe that any negative thoughts in reaction to an announcement as positive as a new baby are just not normal. But what you are feeling is not in any way directed at the person or people who are giving you their happy news. It is an anger at life. At the card life dealt you, for your hand to be that you are not blessed with an easy ability to have children.
Many of our friends were starting their own families when we were having our tests. And I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt, the more we heard wonderful news and the more it seemed our wonderful news may never come.
But how do you explain that to your friends when they haven't stood in your shoes?
If there was a top ten list of the most difficult things to ask people to understand, I would include infertility for those who haven't experienced it. It is such a difficult thing to explain to people. You're not telling them you resent their news or their good fortune. You are happy for them. But you're sad for yourself. You're sad for the loss even though you've never met the small person who you are grieving. That is a strange and lonely place to be.
We were always happy for our friends and we were always pleased they didn't have to experience any difficulty. But alongside this sat a constant feeling of unwelcome envy and the feeling that it may never happen for us.
We were fortunate to have some close friends who had undergone IVF and it was a gift to be able to talk to them about it. And to be honest, we were lucky enough to have family members who understood enough to be able to empathise with us even though they didn't have direct experience of what we were going through. So we were lucky to have that support network.
And externally, we found other resources online. Blogs by people who were having treatment. One in particular stood out from the rest because the person writing it had experienced just about every fertility treatment available and had documented her struggles over many years. Her story was sad but she wrote with such amazing humour that it brought comfort and light relief to read her words. Ultimately her story became a happier one and she closed her blog down. But it served a great purpose and gave hope to many people.
For those of you having treatment and for those of you in the 'testing' phase, make sure you find your support network. If it isn't the people around you, find the magical blogs online. There are always people who've been where you are. There are always people who know what it's like. Find them, and it will make the whole process that bit more bearable.
Read the final post in the series: The Club, Part Five