(This post was originally written on 11/16/15. It was written after a long year of trying and all of the advice that was offered to me during that year.)
In general, I try not to advise people on things that I don’t have personal experience with. For example, one of my best friends is a type 1 diabetic. I don’t sit there and tell her what she can and cannot eat. I don’t offer her advice on how to maintain her blood sugar. I have no experience of dealing with the challenges that someone with diabetes faces because I don’t have diabetes. Yet, I have found in my yearlong fight to conceive that people were all too willing to offer me advice on how to conceive when they have little to no experience with the frustrating struggle.
Here are some statistics for you: within one year of trying, out of a 100 couples, 20 will conceive within the first month, within the first 6 months of trying, 70 couples will be pregnant, and by the end of one year, 85 will have conceived. So, in general, within one year of trying 85% of couples will conceive a child. That means 15% of couples won’t. Seeing as my husband and I are only in our late twenties, after six months without conceiving, one starts to worry that something is wrong.
During the beginning of our struggle, probably 2-3 months in, I would say how frustrated I was that we weren’t getting pregnant yet. People would tell me constantly, “ you are over thinking it” and “you just need to relax”. Sure, at that point, it did seem a little early to be freaking out. However, literally every single woman that I am close with who has had a child, were pregnant within 2-3 months of trying. So for that not to be happening for me, someone who is a self-confessed hypochondriac, I began to worry.
Around month 5, I reconnected with an old college friend at the gender reveal party for our mutual friend. I had been made aware from our mutual friend that she and her husband were struggling to conceive and started the IVF process. While at the gender reveal, we got to talking about our common struggle, albeit she was much further into the struggle than I. Thank God for this meeting! I cannot tell you how much it has helped me to have someone to talk to who has/is going through a similar struggle. She knows exactly how I feel and the exact feelings I felt at various times throughout our year of trying. (I only hope I have been able to help her as much as she has me.)
Some would say even month 5 would be too soon to start freaking out. Others have told us it took them 6 months. As the months went on, I started to talk about it with people less and less. I found that when I brought it up, people didn’t know what to say or they would offer advice that wasn’t helpful and just ended up upsetting me.
Around month 9, I was spending time with a group of women and confessed my frustration. One woman told me “YOU NEED TO RELAX!”. At this point, hearing that seriously hurt. You try to relax after 9 months of trying when most people with no issues, should’ve conceived by this point! During the interaction one of the other women said exactly what I wanted to say but never would. “Don’t say to that her! That is the worst thing you can say to someone who has been trying for a child.” She knew. She understood what it was like to worry and work for something that just wasn’t happening. She herself went through all the testing before she conceived her son.
As we started to approach the year mark, people would tell me to “just go to the doctor already”. Couples who struggle with infertility have varying views on seeing the doctor for the first time. My friend said she was excited to get to the bottom of the problem, develop a solution, and move on. I was the opposite. I already have a serious fear of doctors, needles, and basically always go to worst case scenario. I see a mole and fixate on it and think, “ OMG DO I HAVE CANCER?!” So for me, going to the doctor created massive anxiety. I knew starting this process would involve needles and lots of invasive procedures. I had never had blood drawn in my 27 years on this planet, and I knew that would be the first thing to happen when we went to the doctor. Going to the doctor also meant to me that we were giving up hope. It meant that it wasn’t going to happen for us like everyone else and that there is something wrong with us. I wasn’t ready to accept that yet and telling me to go to the doctor just reminded me of that fact that it wasn’t going to happen for us.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone who offered the “unsolicited advice” was doing so to try and help. They wanted to make the situation better and offered the best advice they could. I appreciate the fact that they all wanted to help. However, when you haven’t been in this situation, it is hard for someone to really understand the daily heartbreak and pain you are carrying around. Sometimes all you want to do is share your anxieties and just be heard.
One of best friends said it perfectly. She told me it is kind of like when someone passes away. People always say “it was meant to be” or “they are in a better place” to offer some way of helping console the person. It’s not the best thing to say, but it’s all someone can think of to help ease the pain. The same can be said for infertility. Everyone wants to help but doesn’t know what to say because it is such a personal and painful topic. Sometimes the best thing to say is, “That really sucks and I’m sorry that you have to go through that.”