Infertility can make you feel straight-up crazy. The roller coaster of emotions is hard on even the toughest of cookies. But we get through it, right? That’s what we do as fertility warriors. And make no mistake about it: We are warriors. Reflecting on my most recent failed cycle, I got to thinking about some of the things we all do on this journey — and how we need to just stop.
I don’t write this as an instructional post for fertility-challenged women. I’m as tired as you are with the constant unsolicited advice about what we should and shouldn’t be doing to get pregnant. That’s not what this is. I write this for all of us, from one infertile lady to another. This won’t help you get pregnant, but it might just lift some of the weight we all carry on this journey.
1. We need to stop not asking our doctor questions.
As hard as I try to remember my questions for the doctor, I always seem to be overwhelmed during our appointments that I inevitably forget. I’ve even gotten to the point where I write my questions down beforehand and then forget to take the list out of my bag when I get there.
And since it’s near impossible to get my doctor on the phone right away, I find myself relying on Google. This is a nightmare. I mean, Google is a great resource in general, but when it comes to our very individualized treatment plans, it just doesn’t have the answers. There is no substitute for the knowledge of your doctor.
2. We need to stop comparing our journeys to the fertile.
Who are these beasts who pop out kid after kid with zero effort? We all know these women. And yes, we might secretly hate them from time to time, but we need to stop comparing our situations to theirs. Look, these fertile women aren’t us. They might look like us. They might share similar thoughts, feelings, and worldly worries as us. But don’t ever forget: They are not us. And one of the greatest disservices we do to ourselves is compare our lives with theirs.
3. We need to stop blaming ourselves.
How many times do we say or think something like, “What did I do to deserve this?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought I must have the worst karma in the world to have to suffer through the losses and challenges I’ve experienced over the past four years.
I know women who worry that recreational drug use in college must be the cause of their struggles. Others who think this must be payback for a past abortion. For me, I know I hurt people I used to date — one before I came out as gay, and another I had no business dating yet because I was still suffering from a broken heart. I know I hurt my family when I was a teenager. I know I also ended life-long friendships when I began the long struggle of recognizing my sexuality — it was easier to end those relationships than to continue to lie to people I claimed to care about while I stayed in the closet.
So there’s all this stuff, right? And maybe — likely — it’s a good idea to work through all this emotional baggage. But ladies, it’s not why we can’t get or stay pregnant. Let go of the blame.
4. We need to stop taking pregnancy tests too early.
When we’re in the thick of it (and nothing is thicker than that 2-week wait), we’re also at our least sane time. We know at-home pregnancy tests can’t always detect a positive before the blood work, but we pee on stick after stick after stick. I’d put money on it that every one of you reading this have purchased the “internet cheapies” and have a stash of pregnancy tests in your home.
At the time of this post (I started bleeding today after a failed FET), I have 17 unused pregnancy tests in my bathroom. Each cycle I say I’m not going to test early, and each cycle I do. I know these tests can be unreliable; I know I could still be pregnant even if the test is negative. But logic rarely has a place at the table on this journey.
5. We need to stop feeling like the victim.
I know this is a tough one. We ARE victims of infertility. But we are also warriors, ladies. We are some of the strongest women I know. We deal with a huge pile of emotional and physical crap during these, often long, battles — and we do it all while maintaining our jobs, maintaining our homes, and maintaining our relationships.
I saw a quote some months back that has really stuck with me when I start feeling like I can’t maintain any of it anymore: “So far, you’ve survived 100 percent of your worst days. You’re doing great.” And just like that, I’m no longer the victim; just like that, I’m back into warrior mode. It can be hard not to feel victimized by how unfair this journey is. So the next time you feel beaten up, remember that you are part of an army of warriors.
And if you can’t find the strength inside of you, pull some from the rest of us. We’ve got your back.