17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Monday, January 29, 2007

From the Tales Inbox: Being Infertile Among the Fertile

From our "on and off again" reader, Melissa (and understandably so):

During a talk in the primary program the sunbeam teacher shared she was expecting. Then before Christmas I learned our Primary president was expecting. She, with a brand new one year old, was 6 months along. I tried to suck it up, and instead broke down in a bathroom stall. The next day I found out one of my students was expecting- 15 years old & ecstatic- while I still wait for my turn in the stirrups.

I'd always heard “the one "purpose" of a woman is to have a family. To have babies. To raise a family.” I never intended to repopulate the world, but a couple would be nice. Being LDS, my “lacking-the-multitude-babies” is even more blatant. We’ve recently moved to a new state- therefore joining a ward where no one knows what is going on with me. I’m the only mom who works outside of the home, the only one over the age of 23 who has an only child. One lady I met is 29, my age, and has 6. She also happens to be my VT. Her comment when she walked into my home with 3 kids following behind her was on how clean my house was- and having only one child must be so nice. Over, and over, and over again- rubbing salt in wounds without even knowing it.

I hate that I can't think about anything else but my infertility . I hate that I don't feel like a "normal woman." I hate that it's affected my relationship with my husband (scheduled sex just isn’t all fun & fertility drugs create a person that just is not… pleasant). I hate that it affects relationships with my very fertile friends. I hate that is seems to be a barrier.

So- I give to you, helpful hints on how to treat "infertiles" (or those you suspect to be)..

1. It’s not your business, unless she makes it your business. Stay out of it, unless you are brought into it. It’s no one’s business why someone hasn’t any children. It’s not your business why you saw her pull out a needle before she went into the rest room. If we wanted you to know, you wouldn’t have to even ask. Respect our privacy- so much of our lives are no longer private anyhow, that parts that are- we cherish.

2. Stop with the “pat answers.” We know how old we are, we know life isn't fair, and we know stressing isn’t good. However, we also know our medical issues in great detail. Just because we’re 25 doesn’t mean we have plenty of time for a family. Those quick answers-- they don’t bring comfort, in all honesty, they can bring even more pain. It’s like you belittle the real problem we have. Because it is a real problem.

3. Listen & learn. If we choose to share with you details of this painful journey- listen to us. Let us discuss tests, sperm counts, lap’s, clomid and all the other tidbits. If you see an article about infertility- read it. Learn what IUI’s, FET’s, IVF, ART are. I can’t even explain how nice it is to talk to my friend Jill, knowing she has taken the time to find information on her own- so I'm not always explaining every detail.

4. Be a friend. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from it all. This is such a consuming problem for so many- we just can’t escape it. Friends know what you need, what to do to help, when to leave us alone, and when to bombard us with phone calls. Be that friend,

And most importantly--

5. Don’t hide your pregnancy from us. Tell us, please don’t let us figure it out by seeing baby movements under your shirt or having someone else accidentally slip it out. Send us a letter, an email- let us know in private so we can take time to ingest it. Don’t be offended or jump to conclusions when it takes a bit for us to get back to you. While we will be so thrilled for you because we love you and want the best for you. We also need to be sad for ourselves, and to mourn at not being able to share the same joyous news.

I've worked so hard over the years at this crazy thing baby making stuff. Harder than most I know, but also knowing others who've worked harder than us. We've suffered heartache from positive HPT‘s that never grow, from negative betas, and from the ride itself. Some days I think I've moved on- but oh the pain is right there. I smile and offer congratulations- meaning it, but with a "I hate you" look in my eyes. But I don't hate you... I hate what my body isn’t doing for me.


  • Melissa- & Others,

    You have so many valid points here. THANK you for expressing your feelings here. It does help to understand.

    I feel the same way at times about having a disabled child.

    Most of the feelings you described, make me want to say YEA, she *gets* it.

    I appreciate you even further *exposing* yourself by helping us all learn.

    Thank you!
    posted by Blogger Lisa M. at 1/29/2007 04:26:00 PM  

  • Beautifully said, Melissa, beautifully said.
    posted by Blogger K&M at 1/29/2007 05:05:00 PM  

  • So good to know. It's easy to take my fertility for granted (I guess that's the case with anything that comes easy in life). I try to be compassionate and react accordingly to those who struggle with infertility . . . but of course, not knowing what it's like I'm sure I've said/done the wrong thing many times. I know I mean well (like most I'm sure), but it's good to hear some basic do's and don'ts. Thank you for sharing.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 05:55:00 PM  

  • I know a lot of infertile women would be ecstatic if they could just have one child!

    Are you considering adoption? Do you get asked that alot? Is that question offensive to you? I have a lady I VT and she gets really defensive and emotional when we talk about having kids and I want to ask her but am scared if its offensive or not...i don't see why it would be...

    I'm almost 27 and get the questions a lot (even though I just got married in April, yes people are crazy). For me, personally, I don't care when people ask me. It just doesn't offend me, but I do understand that I'm not like everybody else. I know that if I can't actually give birth to a kid, I can always be a mom through alternative routes (adoption, etc). I don't think I would even try the fertility route. Even if I CAN have kids, I almost feel like that might be selfish for me to do (like I need to have this little mini-me or something for my ego) when there are so many other kids that need homes. Just my thoughts...
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 05:59:00 PM  

  • Actually- I have an 8 yr old, so I'm a "secondary infertility" person. :) I am ever so grateful that I was able to have one- but, I never, ever want the only child. Adoption- yes- but it's quite $$$ and at least before all the other stuff was covered by both insurances. :)

    It's not offensive in this sense- I opened myself up to it. It's offensive when it comes from peopel face to face who think they have teh "right answer." Does that make sense?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 06:08:00 PM  

  • Tamrobot, your comment "I know a lot of infertile women would be ecstatic if they could just have one child!" is exactly the kind of "pat" answer that makes our guest contributor cringe. I went through 3 painful years of infertility, IVF, drugs, surgery and am now blessed with two miracle children. Hearing "You're young" or "But you've already got one" doesn't help a person going through infertility at all.

    Melissa, I feel for you. I've done the ugly cry in bathroom stalls as well and it's not pretty. Thank you for your candor and directness.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/29/2007 06:09:00 PM  

  • That makes total sense.

    I actually didn't know that any insurance covered fertility treatments. All the people I know have gotten way into debt for the treatments. I guess I assumed they would be way more expensive than adoption. I should take up your advice and read up on all this stuff. Thanks!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 06:15:00 PM  

  • Chloe,

    I know that my comment could've been considered a "pat" answer. I need to remind myself that the "look on the positive side" comment is not the best response.

    At the same time, her post could have made an infertile women (who hasn't been able to have any kids) go into the bathroom stall and do the ugly cry.

    Nonetheless, my apologies.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 06:28:00 PM  

  • No prob, Tamrobot :)
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/29/2007 06:29:00 PM  

  • I enjoyed this post --it helps me to know what to "not do"...BUT...

    What DO I say? I'm very serious about this. You've told us the "don'ts", but what are the "do's"?

    I mean, what does "be a friend" mean? I've tried and tried to reach out to my friend who has been unable to conceive, while I've had my three. And I didn't hide the fact that I am having my fourth from her, either. But I don't know if I'm doing it right. She lives too far for visits and even phone calls, but I want to be a better friend to her in this regard. What do I do? What do I say? I feel constantly punished by her because I can conceive easily. I mean, I know this sounds awful, but why do I feel like I have to constantly apologize for being able to have children easily? I really don't think anybody should have to apologize for their blessings. Or should I?

    So, please, tell me! I want to be a good friend, I don't want to be bitter myself, and I don't want to accept the silence. I really, honestly want to know what to say and what to write that might bring comfort. Or should I just stay away from the subject? Help!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 06:51:00 PM  

  • Cheryl, the thought that occurred to me after reading your comment was "level with your friend, tell her exactly what you wrote here and see what she says". I think it's different for everybody - maybe she has something specific that she needs from YOU.

    Am I off here? It seems like this might be a good idea...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/29/2007 07:10:00 PM  

  • What does being a friend mean? It means exactly that, you give her her space and let her come to you and if you are truly friends then she knows you are waiting there to give her a shoulder and pass the tissue box so both of you can sit and cry together, thats what being a friend means. If there is distance seperating the 2 of you, mail the tissues and cry on the phone. We will cry for different reasons and she will know that. She will cry because of what her body is not doing for her and I will cry because I will feel like a failure as a friend because there is nothing I can do to ease the pain. Just be there ready to talk and more importantly ready to listen. LOVE YOU MELISSA
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 08:08:00 PM  

  • I've only visited here because of my friend Melissa! :)

    As another person who has secondary infertility I have to say that the saying "Aren't you glad/grateful/blessed to have your child?" is highly off limits to say to someone who's suffering through this. Yes, we, who have these children, DO feel blessed, grateful, and glad to have them in our lives...how can we NOT!? BUT you can't see the heart-ache in our hearts! You can't KNOW the hurt we feel when someone tells us to be grateful for what we have...not hoping for more. That's like telling ANYONE: "Don't dream...what's the point...you've dreamed before!"

    Melissa, you put these tips beautifully! BEAUTIFULLY!

    To be a friend to someone with infertility means just that...be a friend. Don't treat them any different than you would your fertile friends. Why make them feel that they are your "special" friend? Just allow them a little extra time to digest things...infertility is something that is CONSTANTLY on the mind of a woman suffering through this! CONSTANTLY!!

    I hate to beat a dead horse, but I, too, feel passionately about this topic!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 09:21:00 PM  

  • This topic is always so fraught with pain. It took us years to have our first. We were lucky that even though we were living in Utah, no one ever asked us the "when" question, or perhaps they just assumed that I was "too career-oriented." Maybe I just put out the off-putting don't you dare ask me vibe, haha.

    It was relatively easy to get pregnant with our second (only took us 9 months of 'trying'.) The first was the difficult, trying, sad, heartbreaking, crying in the stall, miscarriage, doctors, and stirrups baby.

    Even now, as obviously pregnant as I am, I wish I could wear a shirt or something that broadcast, "We were infertile! Don't envy, I was you! This wasn't a simple path! We aren't taking this for granted, it took us years, don't give up hope!"
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/29/2007 09:29:00 PM  

  • Tam: before moving here both our ins's paid. I wasn't diagnosed as infertile, it was a secondary issue- so the funds were there. Here, not so much- so we're dancing around seeing what to do after a much needed break. :)

    Cheryl- of course you shouldn't be apologizing for conceiving easily! I think the way Chloe, Ashley, & Dawnyel explained it was exact! It so depends on a level of friendship. I do not treat all friend the same- all know varying parts, heck even family are that way. My mom & sister know some- but a lot more than my in-laws.

    Sometimes things get tied up or said wrong, feelings hurt- but that's where a friendship comes in handy and you can attack it- come clean, and move on.

    Sometimes- as hard as it would be in any situation, silence is all that there can be. Because, it's easier, it hurts less, and it allows for much thinkage.

    A very dear friend told me she was pregnant just 2 weeks after we had a miscarriage this summer. I didn't reply for a long time- I couldn't because the hurt. Instead of letting silence ensue, she emailed me and it caused great hurt- all around. I ended up calling, her not being home and breaking down in tears to her husband. It was all settled out- but it was hard. I needed quiet and she needed to know I didn't hate her.

    Our friendship was also very new- I met her just 3 yrs ago, and while we've been very blunt about loads- this was our first "see what we're made of moment." With friends I've known much longer- we've had those moments, and they know when to push, when to step back, when to ask.

    And as always-- this article & additional comments are just my interpretation-- obviously it doesn't stand for everyone. :)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 12:14:00 AM  

  • When I was going through the "infertility thing," I think I mostly wanted to know that I was still a good person. Too often, especially in the church, our worth is bound up in our children - potential or otherwise.

    For me, having a friend who could tell me all the good things about myself periodically would have helped me see that my worth has nothing to do with the children I have. It would have also shifted my focus to other things - things I could feel good about.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 05:32:00 AM  

  • Ok this is the part I don't get. When you hear someone else is pregnant, and that has nothing to do with you, why that is so hurtful.

    b/c when I hear that someone has something that I want, my reaction is to focus on how I can get it too, and be happy for those people.

    Since I met Chloe post-infertility, I see that she is like me...if she wants something that someone else has, she focuses on getting it, and doesn't wallow in NOT having it....but she also had the ugly bathroom stall cry....

    so it seems to me that infertility must be exempt from all other "rules of living"...is that what it is? It's just completely separate, no rules and regulations apply...totally different, cannot even be compared to obtaining anything else (goals, stuff, relationships), b/c it's a baby?

    I am asking and trying to answer my own question...can anyone confirm or further explain? thanks
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 05:48:00 AM  

  • Kage- but, after years and years of trying to do everything I can to get what I want- I still don't have it. I admit, I refuse to go into extreme debt to get my wishes. However how many IVF's do I have to fail at, or the IUI's that failed, we won't do ART- but because my doctor said it would be a waste of emotions & money and we agree.

    If you think I'm wallowing, then it's because you don't know "me." You only see what I've posted here- and trust me, infertility does NOT define who I am. It's a part- but not a defining one.

    I do not "wallow" in what I don't have. I grieve each time another doct appt failed, each time I write out a check to pay for a procedure and learn 10 days later nothing happened. Or when I deal with people who have the disrespect to ask about my future/birth control/whatever methods. Any pregnancy dosn't make me upset- it's the ones that hit close to home- the ones that will be a part of my day to day. I am happy for them- that's not the point.

    Anyhow, like I said. You only see what this offers. Which, is quite jaded towards a single topic- since that's the topic I was asked to share.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 06:35:00 AM  

  • Thank you so much you guys for answering my question. I guess it does just depend upon the level of friendship I have with my friend. But I really appreciate the "DO's" because all I ever hear are the "DON'Ts"....

    Kage, I was thinking about your question, and although I'm totally NOT qualified to give an answer, I had a glimspe of it last year when I had miscarried, and then my cousin announced that she was pregnant to the entire family --knowing I had miscarried less than a week earlier. Yeah, it shouldn't have mattered. I had three kids. Yeah, I shouldn't have cried like I did on the way home, but it really did hurt.

    I kind of likened it to having something taken from me and given to someone else.

    And perhaps (tell me if I'm wrong! I know I"m not qualified to talk about this in this way! Apologies if I'm completely off base here) infertility is such a hard thing because there IS NO CONTROL. It's not like something you can "accomplish" one day with goal setting. It's expensive, it's invasive, and eventually, you may have to stop short of the "goal". And with a baby, it's sooooo personal. It's innate --it's a part of you. It's something you are trying to create with a person you love, and when it doesn't "work", then you can feel like a failure, or that something is wrong, or you did something wrong, or maybe it's not going to happen...And then hearing about other people getting pregnant? I'm sure it's akin to what I felt. Something has been taken from you and given to somebody else.

    Yeah, I got over the fact that my cousin got pregnant ---and not just because I got pregnant again myself. But for a month or so, it was hard. I really had to NOT think about it to get over it...
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 06:38:00 AM  

  • I really appreciate this post. I have a friend from back in college that I just got back in touch with and found out that they'd been trying to get pregnant for the last 3 years. I feel like there is a wall between us, and I don't know what to do. Well, I know better after reading this post. But I'm still trying to redefine our relationship.

    I get pregnant really easy (on the pill, both times), and I feel like she resents me for it. Which is understandable, but I don't know what to do. This is who I am and I can't change that. Nor can a really relate to her heartache. I feel like we come from two completely different worlds. She works all day longing to be a stay at home mom, and I sit at home dreaming about the days when I can ditch my kids.

    I realize there isn't a one size fits all answer here. But is there something I could do to bridge the gap? How would I bring up a discussion like this without being offensive?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 07:27:00 AM  

  • Melissa,

    Thank you so much for writing this honest account of the struggles you face. It is something so many women go through. And while I don't think anyone can really understand the pain associated with infertility unless they have gone through it, I feel like your post has helped "both sides" (I know there must be a better way to put it) move a little bit closer together.

    Thanks for opening yourself up to what might be hurtful questions, but I do believe your honest answers have only helped the situation and created more sensitivity towards the issue.

    I might be off base here too, but it seems like what you call "wallowing" is the pain that comes from the constant reminder of the fertile people close to you and the constant reminder you get from the church that you are "failing" at what is presented as your innate gift. The ability to give birth is so complicated, emotional and tied up with our church doctrine that I don't think it can compare with any other "goal setting".

    I completely understand why space from people who send you to that "bad place" is sometimes needed.
    posted by Anonymous tftcarrie at 1/30/2007 07:52:00 AM  

  • As someone with both primary and secondary infertiliy issues (we went the full round of treatments before adopting our first--then got pregnant without anything, and finally not able to get pregnant again and had to do a total hysterectomy at age 33) my opinion aligns more with Kage and Tamrobot. In my experience secondary infertility was far worse than the first go around. I cannot explain why except that I think Heavenly Father was not yet done shaping that part of me. And for me, the very best advice I received was from a very fertile friend (she actually struggled with her fertility because she didn't feel she had control over how few children she would have liked) who offered the very "pat" answer: "Turn it over to the Lord". At that point I walked away from all the "trying" both treatments and adoption. And with great relief let Heavenly Father take that burden from me because I had done all that I could do. I do not make light of this trying to sound like it all just happened...it was still very hard and very personal. But it is just that--very personal. Each person's life is different and your personal struggles are meant to shape you personally. Often times in these discussion about infertility I am left with the same impression that Kage expressed--infertility must be exempt from all other "rules of living". I think these forums are a valuable tool to educate those that might not know and for those who are going through it to share feelings and experiences and not feel so abnormal. Melissa, your points were well thought out and beautifully written. Hopefully those in the dark about it can understand just a little more... But couldn't it be said that just as much sensitivity is needed from the "infertile" with those around her? People offering "pat" answers don't mean anything but goodness by it. Having one child is nice!!--to a person with six kids. Would she trade places with you, no--but neither would you trade places with her. Take her comment for what its worth.
    posted by Anonymous beenthroughthepain at 1/30/2007 10:24:00 AM  

  • melnhead, my use of the word wallow was not meant to be a direct judgment on you or anyone, and I was speaking more about non-infertility situations where I think wallowing is happening more than grieving...

    "if she wants something that someone else has, she focuses on getting it, and doesn't wallow in NOT having it" (I was not speaking about a baby here, more a husband, business, a house, that fendi bag)

    I do understand that this is, as cheryl puts it "not in our control" and thus not to be looked at the same way as perhaps other life goals (thank you carrie).

    I also never put any weight on the church doctrine tie-in before...but now that I am thinking about it, perhaps that is why i feel pressure to have more children, even if my husband and I don't really want to...and I am sure it is a stab for my fellow sisters when the topic is brought up.

    Of the bullet points, I know I have said stupid/pat things in the past, and totally regret it. I resonate with the LEARN point, b/c ever since I have known of close family members' infertility, I have wanted to learn as much as I can about it.

    Lately, when I do speak to friends/family I try to keep it real and in the moment and less hopeful/optimistic/cheery. I try to be in the place that they are in and just be there as much as I can, knowing full well I will just never, never, never ever get it.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 10:37:00 AM  

  • "But couldn't it be said that just as much sensitivity is needed from the "infertile" with those around her? "

    I think maybe it is more sensitivity that is needed by the "fertiles" and more forgiveness? by the "infertiles".

    Should a woman going through infertility be eternally offended by a comment made by a woman with six kids who didn't know the situation she stepped into? Of course not. And I don't think Melissa was. Did the comment hurt nonetheless? Of course. I know I have said/done hurtful things in the past unintentionally but I still hope that I am forgiven of the hurt I have caused. I think Melissa's points are great because as a friend, I don't want to cause pain, unintentional or not. Even if my intentions are really good, I would still like to err on the side of sensitivity instead of expecting my friend going through the struggle to be sensitive to me.

    beenthroughthepain, it seems like you might be able to have a clearer view on your situation now that your are through it and not in the middle of it anymore. I would never expect someone in the middle of all to feel the same. It's nice to know that you have made some peace with it all and that a friend (who was obviously inspired to say what she said) helped you get there. I think that is the kind of friend we all hope to be, but it sadly, it doesn't always seem to work that way.
    posted by Anonymous tftcarrie at 1/30/2007 11:02:00 AM  

  • It just seems to me that there are no standard do's and don't's to follow and that is where it gets complicated for me. The original post says to not hide your pregnancy, but when a friend shared news of her pregnancy, it was hurtful and the second email was even more hurtful, even though there was no response to the initial announcement. To not have your pregnancy acknowledged by a friend is hurtful, especially when you're trying to be sensitive to what they're going through. I would have been worried, also, that I had inadvertently caused offense.
    Being in a situation where I am pregnant and my sil is having fertility issues, I feel like I'm a huge walking reminder of what she hasn't been able to be blessed with yet and I just don't know what to say or do. It seems that regardless of what you do, there is the potential to be hurtful without intending to, like so many well intentioned people have done before. And yet, the woman who received a pat answer heard exactly what she needed to.
    It seems to me that fertility issues do have a different set of rules. My sister is in her late 30's and unmarried and these same rules don't seem to apply. How many times have you asked an unmarried woman why she wasn't married? I would think that the same level of sensitivity should apply to everyone who is struggling through their own personal heart aches.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 11:30:00 AM  

  • i agree that this is a very complicated topic because there are no blanket dos and don't's. i found it frustrating to read not to treat a friend who is infertile differently then 2 sentences later read that i am supposed to treat them differently. everyone is an individual & has different needs & wants - and a friend is someone who recognizes that. sometimes we just need to ask our friend, "what can I do for you?"

    i think that everyone should realize their own self-worth and not focus so much on what other people (including the LDS church) think or say. everyone gets their feelings hurt (intentional or not) & ultimately you cannot control what other people say. yet, you can control how you react.

    there is kind of a cheesy saying that someone once told me when things didn't work out the way i wanted/pictured (and i'm sure it fits into the "pat answer" category but i'm going to share it anyway): "when a door shuts, a window opens." at the time, i thought it was so stupid but now that i am "not in the middle of it" - it really helps me process & accept the situation in my head.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 12:11:00 PM  

  • This post hits so close to home because I was there, for four years. Not childless for all four of those years as we were blessed to adopt our first two daughters during that time, but still "infertile". Having our girls healed the pain of not being "Mommy" but there was still a constant longing for what I had not experienced - the feeling of a baby moving and thriving inside my body, and then the moment I had dreamed of for all my life - MY turn in the stirrups (I love how you wrote that Melissa!)

    Infertility is a wound that goes deep, to the very core of your heart, cutting off your dreams and hopes for your life, shaking your faith, testing the strength of your marriage and your other relationships and the depth of your patience and your sanity. It's not just physically painful, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And the journey often seems hopeless, with no promises that the pain will end.

    If you haven't been there, you can't know.

    Something that was really hard for me to deal with was friends acting like being pregnant was no big deal, like I wasn't missing much. I knew they were acting indifferent because they thought it would be less painful for me, but what I'd rather hear was gratitude for their miracle. It was easier for me to deal with yet another friend having what I didn't knowing that at least she felt blessed and grateful. Also, PLEASE - I know pregnancy is hard physically but there are plenty of people to commiserate with on that topic. Don't ask me to find sympathy for your morning sickness and stretch marks when they would mean my greatest dream realized.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 01:02:00 PM  

  • Brenbot, I totally believe what you just said. After trying for a year to get PG with my 2nd, then suffering a miscarriage, and while "waiting" to miscarry our home teacher asked us when we were going to have more kids. I wanted to SCREAM.....
    After he left I just cried and cried. Later that night my DH said "how could he know?" I hadn't shared any of this with anyone.

    We all say dumb things sometimes that might offend or hurt someone. But it is our reaction to it that controls the situation and gives us learning moments. I do believe the question was none of his business and I have never asked anyone that question. But it taught me to not be so sensitive and to have patience and understanding. At that moment it was very hard, but as you find peace and turn it over to Heavenly Father it comes. And to this day, he doesn't know how that one little question affected me.
    posted by Anonymous idaho at 1/30/2007 01:25:00 PM  

  • As the husband in an secondary infertile couple it is true that people don't have to try to offend, but st the same time, they don't try not to offend. Stake Presidents who call you to repentence because they assume you are just putting off having a family, or the brother that has 6 kids who bears testimony that the reason they are having their seventh is because they are so righteous.

    In our experience, it comes down to lose the judgement and show a little sensitivity
    posted by Anonymous Craig S. at 1/30/2007 02:45:00 PM  

  • Everyone has so many wonderful points- to which even the ones I don't agree with, I understand. :)

    There is no "safe cure" on how to treat someone with IF. There are no lessons I can share to help bridge a gap. Of my 5 close friends- including the one where she announced her pregnancy after our last M/C- they know everything. We've discussed everything- good, bad, and ugly. We've had bumps- but we've also fixed bumps. With the "ugly" from that friend, total misunderstanding on her part- in part to her family and things not having to do with us. So much of this can't be totally explained- because if it were I'd have to open my journal. :)

    But, let's not forget hurt feelings come from so many other factors. A hard day at school with the kids, coming home to a messy house, a dog torn yard & no quick dinner fix can make me have a mini-melt down after my VT's come over. not because of what they say- but what they say on top of everything else.

    The point is- it's hard. Period. This isn't something I can control- which stinks. But, I try to control my feelings about it in public. I don't share much at church because I honestly feel close to no one. I'm the only mom who works- they hold HFPE during the day, from 10am-12pm. I just can't see me being part of this group anytime soon- I refuse to quit my teaching job just to get church friends. I did share with the Bishop- only to have it go very, very sour- my guess (without knowing Craig) is about as ugly as his SP. It had me breaking down in front of him- him saying I was unrighteous, and me now avoiding him at all costs.

    Once again-- I don't carry this around as my creed- it's just there. I have never asked women about children or if they plan to marry, or anything so personal-- I think my journey has helped make me a little more sensitive about it all.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/30/2007 04:11:00 PM  

  • Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

    Infertility is a lot like motherhood (ironic statement, eh?). You just don't understand until you've been through it.

    I got so freakin' fed up with people telling me that they understood, or that I should be glad that I don't have other kinds of trials. One woman, who had 2 kids, said that she would take my infertility any day over her trials, which she specified included not having a nice house. I wanted to deck her. My other infertile friend in the room had a similar look on her face.

    So, what do we want? We want people to listen to us. Period. It's amazing how many women refused to talk to me about my miscarriages and subsequent infertility, mostly because they felt awkward, or silly, I suppose, or they would launch into diatribes about how grateful I should be for one, that 4 kids is so hard. I get that 4 kids is hard. Clearly. But when I need to talk about the lack of 4 kids, telling me to "Come over to my house, and you won't want any more kids!" is an incredibly sucky answer.

    Does infertility give us a blanket license to whine? Of course not. Should we be grateful for our blessings, and realize that others have worse tragedies? Absolutely. Should we put it in the Lord's hands, and turn ourselves over to His will? You bet. Is it dang hard to do all these things? Unbelievably, so just be patient with us as we work through the pain of our trials, love us as we fail to see the bigger picture of life, and let us work through it all without saying things that make us want to deck you.

    Mostly, being a friend consists of statements like,

    "Wow, that sucks. How are you doing with that?"

    "What's the latest from the doctors?"

    "How are you feeling, physically and emotionally?"

    "How far along were you when you lost the last one?"

    "What's the plan from here?"

    "Is there anything I can do?"

    Pretend to be interested, even if you're not.

    On the sharing the pregnancy front:
    Yes, it's painful to hear that other people are pregnant. But I had to realize that the people who were getting pregnant were not doing it to hurt me (yeah, DUH, but seriously, sometimes it feels like that.) What bugged me was the people felt they had to tiptoe around me, or would say, "I didn't want to tell you, but...". What was the greatest was when an infertile friend of mine got pregnant, and we all rejoiced. As she gave me a hug, she said, "I wish it was you, too." I smiled at her, and said, "Me too." That was the greatest--we could all acknowledge her joy, and acknowledge that she wishes it was mine, too. That's love.

    And, BTW, I am grateful I have one. I don't need to be reminded what a blessing he is. File that kind of statement under the "I really want to whack you" category.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 1/30/2007 05:44:00 PM  

  • Heather O, it's strong stuff you're putting out there...and I'm glad you did it. Well said.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/30/2007 06:29:00 PM  

  • I love this thread. I have learned soooo much. Thank you, Melissa for doing this...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 1/30/2007 07:57:00 PM  

  • Melissa,

    This post was well written and you brought up some good points.

    Thanks for reminding me that its important to remember we don't know what is happening in the private lives of those around us.

    We should always give people the benefit of the doubt and not judge their particular situation. I've learned that from experience as well.

    posted by Blogger Mel at 1/31/2007 06:02:00 AM  

  • What a conversation piece this has been. I am not generally a commenter, but I thought I would add my 2 cents here. I have experienced the "secondary infertility" as you call it, and no, it isn't fun. I got pg with my first with ease, so when I wanted another one, I figured I was "fertile Myrtle" so it would again be no trouble. Well, after years of trying to get pg, getting pg, having multiple miscarriages, and having to have a d&c, I decided to change the course. I quit taking all of the fertility meds and went the "if it is meant to be, it will be" route. I had a hard time thinking of all of the druggies living on the street getting knocked up every day, and here I am with a good husband, and healthy & happy home, and I can't bring another child here. Well, it was time for an attitude adjustment. The entire time we were going through this, we kept praying, "thy will be done." But did we really mean it? I had to come to the understanding that there really is a "plan" and we don't see the big picture. We finally decided to investigate the adoption route -- we filled out all of the initial paperwork, kept praying about it, and I felt really good about it. The month were were going to send in the papers, I showed up pg. At first, I was confused -- I had changed my whole mindset and was ready to adopt, I wasn't exactly ready to go through another pregnancy. But I was excited -- every time I was laying on the bathroom puking, I would smile to myself -- it was for a good cause, right? There were some minor complications with the pregnancy, but we made it through, and had a healthy baby. Before the birth came, my dh and I were discussing this turmoil we went through to get this baby. We came to the conclusion that it wasn't until we truly accepted the fact that "thy will be done" that I was able to get pregnant.
    This is my story. Everybody's story is very personal and different. This experience I had was a major testimony builder. We all have things in our lives that we struggle with, some are just more hidden than others. I think it is important not to get offended when people say things. During that time, when people would say things, they never meant it in a mean-spirited way. They had no way of knowing, and they were just making conversation. Sure, it is a tacky way of making conversation, but it is nothing to get offended by.
    I do wish you luck in this troubling time. Just try not to get too caught up in it and forget to be greatful for what you do have -- the good things in life!
    posted by Anonymous Missy at 1/31/2007 07:11:00 AM  

  • I have read through this whole conversation several times, and have really enjoyed reading so many different opinions, experiences and perspectives. As someone who's been there, I have had the opportunity to be the one many friends have turned to for understanding and btdt advice. And even though I experienced infertility, it is still difficult to find the right words. Every person deals with infertility differently. It's hard to say "do this" or "don't do this" because it's so personal. I think the best thing to do, in trying to be a good friend is listen to the spirit. Infertility is a lonely road and in my experience, the Lord is the only one who can bring true comfort - and sometimes He comforts through a friend.

    Before I was ever pregnant and before we decided to adopt, when I was at my lowest, I found a deepened testimony and comfort (in the middle of baby-factory Provo, UT where we were living at the time) while singing the hymn "Be Still My Soul" #124 in RS. It was one of those moments you don't expect but desperately need. To this day I can't sing that song without tears of gratitude for the promise that God will "guide the future as he has the past." I turned my burden over to the Lord, not knowing that I still had years of heartache ahead. But that moment, more than any other, kept my faith afloat when nothing else did. I know it's easy for me to say now, but looking back at what we experienced during our years of infertility, I wouldn't change it. Those years strengthened our marriage, increased my gratitude for blessings I have, made me more sensitive and aware of other people's struggles, and has allowed me to develop very personal relationships with many wonderful friends. And above all, our infertility blessed our family with two beautiful daughters through adoption and I wouldn't trade them to be fertile-myrtle in a million years.

    I meant to include this story in my original post (where I didn't mean to not include my name. I am anonymous 1/30/2007 01:02:00 PM)
    posted by Blogger rebecca at 1/31/2007 09:30:00 AM  

  • rebecca-
    I think I know your husband...? tftcarrie --do I know her husband? anyways, rebecca, could you email me? cssavage at gmail dot com (sorry if this is weird)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 1/31/2007 07:36:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger K&M at 1/31/2007 08:41:00 PM  

  • The overall best thing you can do as a friend of an infertile is to say, I am here for you. I may not understand, but I love you and I can see you are in pain. I am here with open arms.

    It means the world to know that sometimes nothing else needs to be said but that we are loved.
    posted by Blogger K&M at 1/31/2007 08:44:00 PM  

  • My wife is 6-months pregnant after four-years of working through infertility.

    Back in 2002, we left university and moved away to pursue a job, settling into a new ward and a new environment. Suddenly, in the space of about a year, our peer group of "new marrieds" graduated to "young families" -- everyone but us. At first, it was difficult for her to listen to all the other ladies her age who were getting pregnant and having kids. She avoided "girls nights" because she knew that the baby-focused conversations would eventually turn to her, and people would ask her when she was planning on starting a family. Since we were new to the area, she didn't feel comfortable talking about such a personal subject with people she didn't know quite so well.

    Most of all, two things really bothered her:
    1. Her little sister got pregnant before she did...twice;
    2. Her little sister wasn't that excited about having kids.

    There were other ladies we knew who voiced certain doubts and misgivings about becoming a mother. This would drive my wife crazy because she wanted it more than anything in the world. It just didn't seem fair to her.

    It also drove her crazy that she couldn't plan her life. She had pursued a career that would allow her to work from home, so she would be able to stay home a baby. The job did not give her a lot of hours or gobs of money, but she thought it would be a good fit for her and her chosen role as a mother. When the baby didn't come, her career was left in limbo, giving her miniature mid-life crises on almost a monthly basis.

    The treatments were good, because it gave you a feeling that you could actually do something to increase your terrible odds. It was also invasive, unnatural and almost sacreligious. It also made it that much more disappointing when it didn't work; howver, it finally worked, and now we have had six months where we can forget all about fertility. It is wonderful. We did not notice how much strain the infertility had put on our relationship until the pregnancy cut the tension and we came crashing back together.

    In the end, we learned not to bottle ourselves up. Instead of bracing for questions about family planning, we pounced on every opportunity to educate people about fertility statistics. I saw my wife take great satisfaction in this new openness (maybe she took a little too much satisfaction sometimes, responding to ill-timed questions with vicious zeal).

    Amen to what Missy said about trying to accept the Lord's will. We were quick to pray for babies, but slow to ask what we could do for the Lord while we were waiting. Similar to her case, it was not until AFTER we had learned a few valuable lessons about prayer (and after we had decided we would pursue adoption) that we were blessed with a pregnancy.

    We decided that everybody has to face trials in their lives. Maybe we'll be lucky, and that will be it for us -- smooth sailing for the next 50 years. Maybe.
    posted by Blogger D at 2/01/2007 12:04:00 PM  

  • Melissa,

    Only Day Enrichment Activities? That is so lame. If I were you, I would start organizing your own night activities and invite other women at church to join you. You could do dinner, learn/share a skill, start a bookclub, watch American Idol...the possibilities are endless.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 2/01/2007 03:45:00 PM  

  • What a hard subject to come to agreement on, mostly because personal subjects are just that, very personal experiences. I've known an unusual amount of women with infertility issues. Almost half of the women in our ward actually. One of them is one of my closest friends, and we recently learned that her baby, which was due a week after mine, had died in the womb. I cannot expect her to rejoice quite the same when my baby is born, knowing that she will be grieving the loss of hers. There was a time during all the IVF and surgeries she didn't speak to anyone at all, the sorrow and pain was so great.
    I was lucky I had her and a dear family member to turn to when I suffered my own miscarriage and issues with secondary infertility. And yes, I cried in the bathroom at church, and I'm NOT a crier.
    I had someone say "Maybe the Lord just knows you're not ready". And the 15 year old with the crack dealer boyfriend IS?! Whatever.
    But the way you respond to this is much like responding to any difficult, emotional situation. When in doubt: "I'm sorry you're going through this. I'd like to help if I can. If there is ever anything you need, please let me know" Then follow up. A call to see how their day is going. A walk around the block, catch a movie. It doesn't have to be about a baby/a divorce/ a death in the family, as much as it has to be about being a friend.
    I can't make it better. I can't take away the pain, or make my friends get pregnant. I wish I could. But I can fill some of the smaller empty places with love and be there as they grow and heal.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 2/01/2007 09:36:00 PM  

  • As a woman who went through primary infertility, 3.5 years of ttc, and 10 rounds of fertility medications and who is now going through secondary infertility to get another, I can so relate. I am 31 with an almost 2 year old. I don't feel I fit in anywhere becuase the people my age all have tons of kids and the people with only one child close in age to my son are so much younger. This was a beautiful article and I am grateful for it. I'd love to talk more with the author.
    posted by Blogger Rachelle at 2/02/2007 05:26:00 PM  

  • Wow, Melissa. This was so beautifully expressed. Oh, I am Jill, at first when I was reading this I kept thinking, "Gosh, I hope I have not offended or hurt you." It brings me comfort to know that I have not. I love you Melissa, and while I cannot understand the pain that infertility brings, I do know the pain that being divorced and a single parent brings. I try to think of the things that have been said to me that are hurtful, and apply them to this situation. I think one of the things we have always had in our friendship is an openess and honesty. If I do not know or understand something, I will ask. There are no perfect friends, but what we can all do in regards to various situations that we see our friends struggle with, is to ask and kind of check things out with them, if we feel unsure. Well that is my two cents. I think that your comments were really helpful and eye opening, Melissa.

    posted by Blogger Jillian at 2/05/2007 06:53:00 PM  

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