Ok. So. Awareness Day begins...
First, be aware that 1 in 8 couples face infertility. It's a significant number.
And that male factors contribute just as often as female factors.
And that you've probably offended someone who's trying to conceive.
Oops. What that too harsh? Too finger pointed?
Look. I'm not aiming to blame anyone for not knowing how to handle this, or handling it wrong, or accidentally saying the wrong thing. I checked Amazon - there's no "so your friend is infertile" book. Which there really should be.
Because people say some pretty awful things without realizing what they're doing.
It wasn't my support system that ever said anything wrong. It was strangers, acquaintances, people I know but don't know who I had just about had it with (and am still dealing with). It was their questions that cut the deepest, incited the most rage, and made my anger go to 11. No jury of infertile women would ever convict me for the things I mentally did.
Today is Be Aware of What You Say to People Day so sayeth Me.
Some of these are things said to me, some to friends, and some I hear all the time. Somehow, we have to stop this cycle - infertility pun intended. We need to raise awareness of infertility in that
1. It exists.
2. You probably know someone who faced or is facing an uphill conception battle.
3. Even the smallest comment matters. Good or bad.
Here's my list.
And my open apology for how bitter some of this comes across. Sue me. But don't. I spent all my money on a baby so you'll get nothing.
Nope, changed my mind.
I'm leaving it. That feeling you get like you've been punched in the gut, that's what it feels like to be asked this when you're trying to conceive. Stop asking this question. I'm invoking the 'Diary Of' principle here. "You think you know, but you have no idea". Plenty of people were shocked that Chuck and I had so many problems (fertility problems, other problems are a given) and so much had gone on without them knowing. You just can't ask people this question. You don't know what's going on in their life.
I'll see you the above answer and raise you this snotty one:
You know when I wanted to have children? 2009.
You know when I had a baby? 2013.
Bitter Betsy party for Susie.
Whatevs. That's a lot of time to be asked this turd of a question over and over. You don't ask someone who is struggling with obesity when they want to lose weight. You don't ask someone who is unemployed when they want to get a job. You wouldn't. You're a good person. You have tact. Emily Post would have loved you.
So why is this question okay to ask? It shouldn't be. Stop asking it. Instead, listen to people as they talk. Really listen. Unless they bring up having children, don't. Unless they mention their family planning timeline, don't enquire. Keep your foot out of your mouth.
Oh my gosh, is that what we did wrong? We tried too hard. Where were you with this magical piece of information in 2010?!
Okay, I've calmed down. Yes, stress can play a role in a woman's ability to conceive and this could be the case in some "unexplained infertility" couples. But there are medical reasons for infertility and those reasons account for two-thirds of all cases.
Take us. You could wipe our memory, set us in Hawaii, liquor us up and it won't fix our problems - although, if anyone would like to fund this experiment, you have my email. We would be more than happy to oblige.
Infertility is a disease. And it should be treated like one - but that's a rabbit hole on insurance policies and state politics that I'm not going into today. Think of it this way: someone gets diagnosed with diabetes. Do you tell them to stop trying to regulate their blood sugar and it will manage itself? Of course not. They need help fighting the disease. So do we.
I understand the thinking behind saying this and thinking it's ok. Human nature is to try and give ideas that might help. But this is not a valid suggestion and saying it definitely won't help. Saaawreea.
If someone has opened up to you about their struggles, listen first and if you have no idea what to say, "I'm so sorry" works wonders.
One of my best friends gave me information on infertility support groups she'd researched for me. She knew she couldn't help in the way those women could. I never went, but the very act of giving me those numbers did more to lift my soul than she will ever know. Now that's providing support. She's such a keeper.
I'm pretty sure I've covered this one. And if not, this meme should suffice.
Bottom line, it's okay to not know what to say. Listen, hug, and agree that it stinks. Even though my friends and family had nothing to compare this to or draw from, at the end of the day they could just hear me out and that made a big difference. I was always heard. And we all know I'm pretty loud.
"My sister's, friend's, cousin's, neighbor's State Farm agent adopted and then got pregnant! " Congrats to them - what a miracle! How exciting! What a blessing! Also I kind of hate them.
Please to see the rant three above where I explain that there are medical reasons why people can't conceive. It isn't all fairy dust and magic like we tell the kiddies. Suddenly having a baby doesn't make someone any less infertile, whether they conceived that child or adopted him.
And while we're here, just because Baby #1 was conceived complication free doesn't mean infertility can't strike on Baby #2 which is so important to keep in mind.
And brings me to the questions I'm getting all the time now.
I'm at a loss for how I am supposed to answer this question (without being nasty) so feel free to weigh in with ideas. Here we are, a year from Sam, his placenta barely dried in the ground (kidding) and this is my life right now. It baffles me.
Aside from the fact that it's none of your business (I'm working on the not being nasty part), people know about us. They know we can't have a baby and yet still they ask, like it's no big deal for us to make one. It's a big freaking deal with no guarantees. Family planning takes on a whole new meaning when that conversation involves bank rolls, doctors, medicine, and a teensy bit of insanity.
Again, just because I have a baby, a beautiful treasured boy, doesn't make me any less infertile. You might be curious if someone is going to expand their family, we're all curious, but let them bring it up to you. Let them talk about their family planning. It's theirs to discuss.
Rude answer: If I'd had it my way, Sam would be kid number 3. It didn't work out that way. Thanks for remembering.
We would love to have more kids. Is that going to happen? I don't know. But I guess I'll let you know since this seems to be important to you? Geesh.
Here's the thing. People choose to have a one kid family all the time - some by choice for medical reasons, financial reasons, or like us - this might be all we get. It's not the end of the world - we love our life - but people act like having an only-child is the worst option out there. It's not. It's just not.
I'm not trying to be mean today or take anything out on anyone (although it does kind of seem like that - ohhhh well). Take me with a grain of salt like you always do. I just want to raise awareness of the things we say to each other and maybe remind everyone that what we say or ask or suggest might not be taken as well as we're intending it. I've said the very same things I mention above to plenty of people before I was chosen to walk this mile along with them.
But now I know better.