The majority of the time, I reacted well to the cocktail of drugs injected into my belly and bum for up to three months a time during each IVF cycle…..but on occasion, naturally enough, I didn’t feel myself. IVF medication can make you feel like you’ve been abducted by aliens – your body is not your own.
(Some of my medication for one IVF cycle)
During IVF, you are suddenly going through a forced menopause – but all at once, unlike real menopause which builds up more slowly. I think if friends and family took the time to simply google and read some information, they might gain a little more understanding. I have read articles where people compare the stress of Infertility to the stress experienced with Cancer and Trauma patients. I wouldn’t compare the two. I would certainly choose Infertility over Cancer – as Cancer is often a matter of life and death and it is everyone’s worst nightmare. But the fact that people even compare them says something about the stress levels of Infertility.
Many people may feel like Infertility is like a half-life, trudging through mud while waiting and hoping to start the life you hoped for – but it isn’t in itself life threatening – and people can live a long and healthy life without children. This doesn’t make Infertility any less painful and it really does feel like the worst thing you can go through when you’re going through it.
I have always reminded myself that I am alive and have a great relationship, I am incredibly lucky and children aren’t everything. It can be hard when society is telling you that children are everything – they symbolise hope and are the only purpose in life! Luckily, I’ve had other interests and, although the need for a child can often be all-consuming, I could turn to my art work to feel a sense of purpose. But this is usually short-lived and the pain is always there.
My husband and I have been there for friends who have lost family to cancer and other terminal illnesses, and I thank my lucky stars every day that myself and those closest to me haven’t yet been affected by this hell.
I have dropped everything to talk to friends on the phone or visit them when they needed support after their marriage broke down, made them dinner or run a bath for them when they were heartbroken – and when they lashed out unreasonably at me, I didn’t make myself the victim and told myself that they were hurting and needed a friend.
But when we were going through our own life-changing experience: a rollercoaster of emotions every day for years, endless invasive tests, procedures and subsequent miscarriages – we soon learned who our friends were. We were shocked and upset to find some people (a very small minority thankfully) to be completely unresponsive via email when we told them that we had a miscarriage. Instead they were annoyed with us for not acting like ourselves or not having been in touch recently. It must be difficult to know what to say, but no response whatsoever is disappointing. Maybe they felt that we were being self-absorbed – there were worse things after all, right?
Many people that have children already may take this fact for granted and wish at times they had their freedom. This is only natural and they shouldn’t feel bad about it. They may even envy those that are ‘child-free.’ But, believe me, if they had no choice but to be child-free and it was forced upon them, most people would want it all the more. That’s how it usually works.
Despite being very hurt by these past broken friendships, I wouldn’t wish our journey on them. If something that’s supposedly so natural (conceiving a child), something they may have wanted and expected subconsciously, since feeding a bottle to their baby doll – didn’t happen as it was supposed to – I’m just not sure how they’d cope. But they may never know and I hope they don’t have to.