If you didn’t already know, my husband and I struggled to conceive our now beautiful baby girl Millie Valentine. During the time I was trying (desperately) to conceive I was challenged often by people who told me to prepare for a life without children and that that life wouldn’t be so bad because kids are not all they’re cracked up to be.
Look, I get that infertility is an uncomfortable topic. In fact I discovered that being infertile and having depression are very similar – none make you the life of the party. But with depression no-one at the party would dare tell you how to get over it or deal with it; they leave that to the professionals. With infertility everyone is an expert.
It starts with, ‘So when are you going to have kids?’’ and ‘Have you started trying yet?’’
I answer with, “Um yes, as soon as possible”’
That’s generally not enough so it moves onto ‘Ooooh exciting…when, how, how long?’’
When I told them the answer the conversation immediately moved onto
Have you tried…..
Acupuncture? Temperature taking? Having sex? Naturopaths? Diets? Relaxing? Reading this book? Getting massages? Doing handstands? Going into big debt? Trying another partner or having sex with me going on a holiday and drinking cranberry juice?
The answer was mostly YES I HAVE. And taken a holiday and drunk cranberry juice? Are you serious? I’m infertile not suffering a bladder infection! I would eat an elephant’s eye if you told me someone’s mother’s, sister’s, aunt’s, cousin’s, daughter got pregnant doing the same. In fact I’d have eaten TWO!
But once I openly shared my struggle (via my blog) – and I would advise any other couple going through the same to do the same — I stopped getting the awkward annoying questions and suggestions because people already knew. Instead people began to ask the only thing you can ask to support a couple who can’t have what their heart deeply desires and that is this.
How is it going? Where are you up too?
And then, they’d actually wait for our answer. Because as uncomfortable as the topic is, inconceivable folk listen to you talk about your pregnancy gas, stretchmarks, sleepless nights, cravings and bloating. We also listen to you moan about 2 am wakeup calls, supermarket tantrums, lack of sleep, lack of time, lack of intimacy and we love it, because we can’t wait to experience the same.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up and here’s why.
When I was a kid all I wanted was a pair of roller-skates but my parents didn’t have a lot of money and by the time I got my fancy white pair with the rainbows stitched on the side that craze had passed. On Christmas morning while I was opening my skates, all my other girl cousins got Cabbage Patch dolls. Hours later while my cousins stayed inside with their new Cabbage Patch dolls dressing them and re-dressing them, pushing them around in their strollers, feeding them bottles and pretending to burp them I was skating around all on my own, with no-one to race down the hills with, or practice figure eights, or hold my hand over a bumpy footpath. It was still kind of fun, but lonely, and I felt like I was missing out on something special.
Twenty-five years later I felt the same when my friends were all burping their living breathing Cabbage patch dolls and I was back to skating around the edges on my own.
But there was a happy ending. The next year for my birthday my Nana bought me a blonde haired blue eyed Cabbage patch doll and I named her Lucy-Claire and although I was a little late to the craze I was welcomed with open arms to the make-believe dolly tea parties and it was as fun and as magical as I had hoped it would be.
And 27 years later, the feeling is exactly the same with the real deal.
Have you struggled with infertility? What has your experience been like?