There is a sisterhood or brotherhood that happens in suffering. Think of WWII vets – meeting one another years later…. there’s a part of them that feels like they’ve known one another all along. They can trade stories, talk location, rank… and even more – the knowing, hurting smile of the hardship that they have both walked. There’s a part of it that doesn’t need to be said. Even though they just met, there’s a part of them that they uniquely share because of that experience.
I’m sure it’s the same for many hardships in life: cancer, divorce, people who have been in accidents, etc. There’s just something amazing that happens when there are people who have been in such a similar place as you and know – actually know – what it’s like.
I’ve seen so much of that in the world of infertility. There’s a part of that I have seen with a broader scope – people who have tried to get pregnant for a while and then it happened naturally, people who have had miscarriages or other losses, etc. But there’s obvious differences there. Even though someone who has had a miscarriage and I can both resonate with the loss of dreams and disappointment, there’s an actual child they’ve lost, whereas my mourning is more the loss of the child we may never have or not getting to have a child the way God originally designed it. So while some of the emotions are similar there’s some differences too. The same way with someone who took a while to get pregnant. Obviously a LOT of similarities in the hope/despair cycle, the “is this ever going to happen for me,” fighting the despair when our cycle comes. But – the heartbreak of realizing a real problem and needing medical intervention… or going through crazy treatment after treatment with not getting pregnant ups the ante a little.
For me – there’s just been something about knowing women who are in or have been in treatment for infertility. I’m not saying that people who haven’t done treatment can’t be there for you. I have INCREDIBLE, supportive and loving friends that ask me how I’m doing and care for me well. They point me to the cross and speak into the depths of my heart. But there’s just something different about people who are going through things with you or before you. I had an experience the other week that reminded of this. A woman I know professionally was saying she was going to be out the next week for a procedure. Something in my head said “hm” and I – not trying to pry, but if it was what I thought it was, wanting to be there – said “is everything okay?”
She said “we’re trying to have a baby and are doing a procedure.”
“Oh an HSG?!?”
“Wait… we’ll we’ve had one of those, but this is something different. Have you?”
“yeah we’ve been going through infertility treatment since January.”
And then BAM. All of a sudden you feel as if you know this person 1000 times better. It’s this freedom of being able to talk in infertility goobity gook language that is crazy without having to explain yourself.
“Well we did Clomid but now we’re on to something else.”
“Yeah! Did you do that?”
“Yes – it was SO much better than Clomid.”
“I know weren’t those side effects awful?”
“Are you doing IUI?”
“Yeah we’ve done a couple. If this doesn’t work we’ll move on to injectables.”
“Maybe – have you done that?”
“Yep… it is not as bad as you’d think. I was super nervous at first. And I mean it was kind of annoying to go to the bathroom and take a shot when you were in public places, but at least it didn’t hurt as much as the Ovidrel”
“I know that makes me feel awful!”
“Well I have PCOS and that affects things”
and so on. And more than trading stories and diagnoses and treatments, there’s that knowing down in your heart. That care that grows for them out of your sadness that you know they share. I have a friend that has been through treatment and had multiple heartbreaking losses. When we started treatment I sought her out to talk with someone who’s been there. Our friendship grew 400 times during that hour long phone call. She has been a huge support for me and a life giving friend. Her and her husband too! Rarely do Bryan and I get to talk to another couple about things without it being completely awkward. With them we can go from talking about the Reds to infertility treatment to the backyardigans with no breaks in between. So nice:)
I often say I’m an expert in something I never wanted to know about to begin with. But at least if I’ve gotta be here, I can be here with others. And like my friend above was/is to me, hopefully my experience can allow others to know they’re not alone either.