When you’re giving yourself a shot of estrogen in a Starbucks restroom or couch-bound for two days straight after being put under anesthesia to have 20 eggs harvested, it’s hard not to feel like you are the only woman alive living through the pain of infertility.
To make it worse, sometimes it feels like each and every woman you pass by has the most perfect baby bump and everyone is pregnant. There are pregnant women standing under street lights and perched near lamp posts, pregnant women hailing a cab on the corner, pregnant woman strolling into and out of every baby shop on the street; hell, even the stop sign seems to be telling you, “STOP trying and it will happen.”
It’s such a 21st century cliché to cry, “Everyone else is pregnant except me!” But in the thick of treatment, there is no persuading yourself otherwise. I remember at one point in our own infertility journey texting my husband a list of about 14 girls I knew on a very close basis who were all pregnant, punctuating the message with a self-pitying “WHY NOT ME?” (I’m sure my plummeting self confidence and a deep sense of despair were incredible turn-ons.)
But once you allow yourself to open up, you find that you’re not at all as alone as you felt. For me, the moment I begin speaking about our struggle, women leap out of the woodwork, revealing their own battles to me. Perhaps it’s an age thing: More of us are waiting to have children, or maybe it’s a result of chronic environmental insults: Crop-enhancing pesticides, air and water teeming with pollution, canned tomato sauce brimming with fertility-sapping BPA. As one of my acupuncturists once opined, “You think hick girls living on the family farm in Arkansas are having trouble getting pregnant? Of course not.”
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Whether you are in the midst of a #CLOMIDFAIL, en route to @injectable_drugs or about to post a pic of your IVF baby’s 12-week ultrasound to Facebook, please know that you are not alone. For every woman who conceives on her honeymoon, another needs gobs of help to make it to her babymoon or is hunkered down on an adoption waiting list, eager to meet her beautiful child.
Despite the fact that you have received three baby shower invites in the past week and the cover of People features a 64-year-old actress and her newborn twins, remember that there are hundreds of thousands of other women lurk in the shadows, quietly chugging FertiliTea while en route to their morning ultrasound to see how thick their uterine lining has bloomed overnight.
Don’t be afraid to talk about it — like an HCG test, there is strength in numbers.
Did you share your journey to conceive with others?