Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Truth About Pregnancy and Infertility

I didn't post this back when I wrote it last fall, but it still applies.

Yes, it is miserable. I'm nauseated for most of my waking hours and many of the ones I'd rather spend sleeping. I'm SO dizzy. My digestive system will mutiny unless I walk on eggshells to please it. But even when I'm in the bathroom for the twelfth time of the day, or when I have to lie down in the middle of the hallway to avoid passing out, I couldn't be happier. I'm puking and potbellied and pitiful and it's AWESOME. Pregnancy is a misery better than (a) any other misery and (b) most of the dates I went on when I was single. Even if I could relive ice skating and chocolate with Mike what's-his-name, I'd still rather be puking my guts out. And let's face it, puking a few times for every ultrasound I see of those two little wiggling twins is SO much better than the movies I might go out to see if I didn't have such a heinous headache.

In other words, I made the right choice. It may just be the low flow of blood to my brain right now, but I'm pretty sure I'm thinking clearly when I say there's nothing I'd rather suffer for. When I wanted this so badly, I wasn't chasing some stupid dream that would make me miserable. I was chasing something that would make a life, though sometimes miserable, so worth every pain.

A lot of people try to comfort infertile women and men by making them feel better about not having kids. How great it is to travel and sleep in, or how much freer they are to do what they want. We all know none of those folks would trade their kids for a lifelong vacation in the south of France, so why the BS? My favorite words of comfort came from the husband of an old friend, who had a sweet toddler daughter: "It is so worth it."

If you're wondering what to say to your infertile friend, those are the words. I am most grateful for the people who supported my desperate desire, rather than those who tried to minimize what I wanted most. So many of my friends were so supportive, and I can't thank them enough. But I think a lot of people just have a hard time knowing what to say.

I think I posted an infertility etiquette article a while back, and those can be very useful, but I think it can be summarized into a few simple rules:
  1. Be supportive of whatever they decide to do - and don't bring up the cons of the situation, because your friend almost certainly knows.
  2. Don't talk about your friend's infertility success or failure story. Those can be super depressing either way, and everyone has their own situation.
  3. Don't diagnose. "I have the same thing!" and, "You have the exact thing my cousin did!" are two of the least helpful phrases you can utter. Not only do most women have real doctors to diagnose them, but even when the condition name is the same, every woman is different, has different symptoms, thinks differently about solutions, and responds differently to treatment.
  4. If you know your friend is at a dead end with her current doctor, or doesn't like him, be prudent about recommending one you know to be good. A friend recommended me to Dr. Young, who ended up being the perfect fit and sending us to the ICRM, where we did IVF. I'm forever grateful for the recommendation. Similarly, another woman recommended a specialist when I was fine staying with my doctor, and it was just a tiny bit annoying.
  5. Support support support. Infertility can easily cause depression, and what your friend needs is people who will be her friend when she's having a hard time doing happy people things like throwing parties and going out with friends. Make lunch dates. Show up at her house, announced or unannounced (be prudent, again). Call or send an email. Social interaction is a natural treatment for depression, so this is the one case where you can be your friend's doctor. But maybe skip the baby shower and do something where you can talk (about infertility or not).
Those are the things my friends did for me that really helped get me through it. Also, not complaining about pregnancy, because every symptom is a blessing. Remember, you're not fat, you're carrying another human being in a life support system made out of your body.

And now that I'm there, I think I can say from experience that your pregnancy can't be worse than no pregnancy at all. Unless maybe you're teen pregnant (that is so an adjective now). But that's besides the point. Even if you are, there are hordes of women so jealous of your miracle.

1 comment:

Shar said...

Amy - I love how you share everything: the good and the bad. This is a great list. the only thing I would add for my personal "don't" list is for people not to ask all the time when you're going to start a family. or have another one. they have no idea when the time is right for each person or what the difficulties might be. i was so happy to be pregnant, but i think i am guilty of the fat thing. actually, i know i am. i loved your previous post about that. love our bodies for what they do. so true.