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'After years of infertility struggles, I finally have my family. But I'm still not fine.'

This post discusses infertility and may be triggering for some readers. 

I am not good at getting pregnant.

Contrary to every sex-ed class I’d ever awkwardly sat through, I did not get pregnant the first time I had unprotected sex.

Or the 365th.

In fact, after years of trying it took four rounds of ovulation tracking, eight months of ovulation induction, one IUI and finally a round of IVF to build our family. Our eldest daughter is here thanks to ovulation tracking, and we fell pregnant with our second daughter in the first (and final) round of IVF.

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We now have two beautiful, wild girls who have completely changed our world.

On the outside, I have it all: the family that I always hoped for. Infertility struggles and early mornings at the IVF clinic behind me.

I never forget how lucky I am. I got exactly what I wanted, twice, while lots of people won’t because they’re stuck in a constant two-week-wait loop. Or carried children but never got to bring them home. Or because treatment was too expensive or parenthood was never an option.

So I feel the deepest shame for saying this…

But honestly, I’m still not fine.

No one talks about the isolation of successful IVF.

There’s a space that exists between the natural conceivers and the infertility warriors. And it’s quiet here.

Camp fertile: AKA the cool kids.

I don’t belong in that first camp. With their non-medical conception stories (“It happened on our honeymoon”) or happy accident pregnancies.

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I’m ashamed to say - but fully aware - that it’s jealousy. Years of negative tests have robbed me of my ability to hear a pregnancy announcement and not be reminded of my own biological shortcomings.

And don’t even get me started on the conversations about vasectomies. “If my husband/partner even looks at me, I’ll get pregnant”. How I’d LOVE to be able to give a knowing nod and a wry smile.

Being effortless has always been cool. Effortless fashion, effortless fertility.

Unfortunately, I’m a try-hard.

The infertility warriors.

This used to be my crew. Our lack of success bonded us.

We had Facebook groups and lurked on terrible forums. I knew intimate details about my internet friends’ diagnoses and cycles, when I didn’t even know their surnames.

It’s not just online. The knowing looks and sad-but-supportive smiles across the clinic waiting room are one of the most beautiful parts of IVF. So many hopeful women, spending so many early mornings waiting for a blood test or scan - you get to know the 'characters' and there’s genuine goodwill when someone makes it to transfer day and then doesn’t come back because it worked.

But that’s the thing about the infertility community, those groups, those forums, even that waiting room: when you achieve your goal and get pregnant… you leave. You have no need for medication chat, symptom speculation or early mornings on the clinic couch.

And it feels wrong to use the infertility label anymore.

'Infertility survivor' is just… no.

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So I’d lost my label and my club membership. But more than that, I instantly felt guilty talking to my still-trying-to-conceive friends about my pregnancy, and then my birth, recovery, breastfeeding, mastitis, sleep-dramas, oh and my baby. When I was in their position, those conversations were really tough and I didn’t want to put them in the same situation.

Side note: I know that EVERYONE’S infertility experience is different, and I have seen plenty of posts from people struggling to conceive saying they still want to be included in those conversations. They are genuinely happy to hear good news, attend baby showers etc despite their own issues. 

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I’m so happy for them. They are the BEST type of people. But for every one of those people, there is one of me. 

I’m sorry. I’m the worst. I know.

In my reality, it feels completely inappropriate to ever complain to these friends about anything to do with the children I am so lucky to have. But the thing about real friendships is, they don’t work if one person only ever shares their positives. You’re pretending, it’s effort. 

Over the years I’ve felt some of those friendships start to slip away, and I’ve let them, selfishly choosing distance over guilt.

The space between.

There’s no middle group.

At some point, we forgot to create it. Too busy living out our happily ever after.

'Infertility lingers' is such an accurate quote. I am different because of everything I went through to get everything I always wanted.

Then there’s the double-sided shame. About the ugly jealousy, I have for those parents who didn’t struggle and the guilt for my former allies still fighting so hard to get just a fraction of what I now have.

And I want to talk about it. All the time. But with who?

Is there a secret club?

When do we meet?

I’d love to know.

Send me the details, I’ll bring snacks.

Pineapple cores and Maccas fries anyone?

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24-hour support line on 1300 072 637. 

You can download Never Forgotten: Stories of love, loss and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death for free here.

Join the community of women, men and families who have lost a child in our private Facebook group.

Feature Image: Getty.