I have recently become a friend’s confidante. Without going into detail, which is not mine to give, she’s had fertility problems. This is month 1 and treatment hasn’t worked. Today, my heart genuinely hurt for her because of how upset she was; clearly she is entering that black stage of realisation that fertility treatment is not a magic cure.
I sympathised, empathised, told her I understood, that she wasn’t alone in this and that I would be there any time she needed to vent or had questions – like I’ve been saying for the few months she’s been visiting the hospital. She is so early on in the process and I almost begged her to not think negatively, to see it that it’s not working yet (the word yet got me through some rubbishy times!), that trial and error is the key…
I will be there for her. I will be there for anyone going through this shitty, shitty time.
Now rewind back to March 2015. One of the most painful blog posts I ever wrote, typed with tears streaming down my face whilst going through the most turbulent time in my entire life, was entitled, ‘Miscarriage is easy to deal with’. You can find the whole post right here. To paraphrase, after trying for months and months, going through invasive investigations, continual blood tests, intense treatment, experiencing the elation of becoming pregnant three times, but facing the torture of losing them, we had just been told it was just bad luck, nothing was ‘wrong’. Hours later, I experienced some of the most cutting comments I think I will ever encounter regarding infertility and the turmoil we had gone through; that losing a pregnancy before you hear a heartbeat…well, I quote:
“When you’re so early on, you haven’t heard it being alive. And when you hear the heartbeat, then it’s not there, it’s like you weren’t really pregnant at all. That must be hardest to deal with. Not hearing it must be easier.”
And here is where I feel like I’m a bitch and I don’t know how to deal with it. I really need help, perhaps a slap or a punch.
The person who said this to me is the friend going through fertility issues.
Whilst I said (and I genuinely mean) the right things, deep down, I wanted to grab her shoulders, shake her, scream at her; to yell, NOW you’re beginning to get it, NOW you’re seeing it’s not an easy journey.
Today, you said you felt like infertility was beating you: you’ve only been on this road for only weeks. You’ve had investigations and are starting treatment so early on, treatment that most women don’t see unless they’ve tried for an entire year.
Today, you saw the pain that when a treatment doesn’t have the desired effect, how devastating it is: you now know the hell of hearing the words, “We’ll try again next month” and knowing, realistically, that it will feel like three times the length of time, because time all but stands still when you’re dealing with infertility and the treatment that is bound by cycles.
Today, you felt the punch to the heart that happens with the realisation that the experts can’t ‘fix’ you instantly: you felt that hellish, sick turbulence in the pit of your stomach that you might be facing the same shit news again next month.
Today, you said you felt infertility was taking over your life; that you don’t understand why it’s not working for you.
Today, you thought it was the end of the world because the first thing they’ve tried wasn’t quite right.
You are crying, you are bereft. And I feel for you, I really, really do. Almost so much it makes me feel sick because these feelings I had are still there, despite my growing bump.
Imagine going through ALL of this, multiple times, week after week of disappointment, failed treatments, tears you don’t think will end…you endure 20 months of this hell. And then out of nowhere, you get that positive test! You’ve waited, tried, cried, cursed, and then this is it! Pregnant!
Then baby is gone, in the most barbaric, physical way you can experience. You pick yourself up. Next time will be better. It has to be.
But it isn’t. You go through the treatment, the hell, the waiting, the scans, the invasive process, but it happens twice more, the third time with you ending up being admitted to hospital.
Imagine going through all this, then being back to square one with horrible recurrent miscarriage tests. Imagine you hit rock-bottom. Your boss doesn’t support you and does their best to make you feel like you’re failing. Your friends can’t understand fully and you’re distancing yourself from them. Your husband is changing before your eyes. Yet there’s no reason for your misery, tests conclude.
And on your lowest day, someone muses that what you’ve been through is not really that much of a big deal.
That person was YOU.
You made me feel terrible. YOU trivialised the situation we faced, where we didn’t know if having our own children would be a real possibility. YOU made it out like our babies weren’t that much of a loss because we hadn’t heard their teeny, tiny heartbeats.
Yet today, you cry and cry because your very first try didn’t quite go to plan. You have so many options left, you’ve been going through this for less than half a year, you’ve barely dipped a toe in the hell-hole that is infertility – yet YOU thought OUR awful experience, which far outweighs yours, was no big deal.
Can you now understand how you hurt me?
Can you understand how cutting your comments were?
Can you now see just why I was falling apart?
Now I know how this sounds. I’m not making it a competition on who has suffered the most – I wouldn’t and haven’t, ever, because I know from entering the blogging world in the limited capacity that I have, that there is always someone going through an experience that makes yours look like the tame equivalent of a burnt dinner.
But I know how gutting infertility is. I understand how she feels. I get why she is so upset and heartbroken and feeling like already, what’s the point. Even now, 8 months pregnant, I’m suffering with the mental scars that our journey has left us with. I would never stand there and say, “Well, we had X and Y go wrong, so it’s worse than you.”
But when the person suffering now is the one person who was so cutting, made my pain seem overly dramatic, it’s hard to NOT to lean this way.
And I HATE myself for it. I feel sick that it even crossed my mind.
I’m not this type of person. I’ll be there for anyone and everyone. I figure if our experience can help someone else navigate this and feel less alone, then it’s a life-raft I’m more than happy to throw out.
But this, this I find so hard to deal with, that she saw my situation as nothing, but yet sees her small blip in this debilitating world of sun fertility as so drastic.
I would never say any of this to her, I’d never even speak it aloud to anyone but my husband. The irony of the situation is painful, that she’s looking to me for the support she so desperately needs. I actually really, really like her; she is witty, clever, kind and fantastic to talk to. I want the best for her, I want to help, I want a miracle for her, I don’t want her to go through months of hell, I want her to be ok, to have a baby quickly, to be happy. SO much. Which is precisely why this situation is so hard. When I’d confided in her, I really thought she understood. Then she so unknowingly, but cruelly kicked me to the floor. It’s hard to not say it out loud. It’s hard to not feel floored.
But I will support her. I will be there. I will.
I stand by what I said in my original post: So those who don’t understand it, haven’t experienced it – you have no idea. Do not judge or put a label on what is hard, easy or easier to handle because you just do not know how it feels to have your life ripped apart once, twice, three times and more. Please, just don’t talk.
But I do understand. So I need to be there, however hard I find it, whatever has happened in the past. However hard it was for me to hear what she said.
It’s not about me; it’s about her.
And God, if you’re there, please give me the words and the actions to cope with this situation that I’m finding so hard to deal with.