But lately I have learned this the hard way. Yesterday was one of the worst days I have had, and now I understand why.
When you’re pregnant, you get a lot of support from your friends. At dinner last night I’d say 25% of the conversation focused around my pregnant friend. People know the kinds of things you’re supposed to say and do.
People don’t know what to say or do around infertile people. I’d argue that my upcoming IVF cycle is just as big of an event to me as my friend’s pregnancy is to her. I think it carries just as many feelings of excitement, apprehension, anxiety and stress. There is just as much to talk about.
But do I get to speak about it at a group dinner? No. No one knows how to talk about it. It makes people uncomfortable.
People know to ask at 20 weeks about the gender. They know to tell you that you look great even if you look enormously fat. They know to ask about names, nursery colors, registries, birth plans, daycare arrangements.
They don’t know what to ask you if you’re infertile. They don’t want to debate the merits of IUI over IVF. The pros and cons of transferring one embryo vs. two. How your husband feels about his role in the process. How to administer injections. How badly the egg retrieval hurts. How to approach your boss about time off for treatments.
They don’t know how to celebrate with you on the day of your embryo transfer. They don’t know how to commiserate with you as you suffer through the two week wait. They don’t know how to mourn with you if it doesn’t work.
How many times do we hear “pregnancy brain” thrown around as an excuse for messing up at work? How many of you get cut some slack because everyone knows you’re waiting for the call about your fertilization report? I can’t speak for you, but I’d guess zero.
I don’t want special treatment. I don’t think the world should revolve around me. I just wish that I could be on the receiving end of some compassion and concern from someone other than my husband. I hate that the only people I know who get it are computer friends. I love you all, but you’re not there in person during the horrible moments when I just want to make eye contact with someone who understands.
If a friend ever goes through something that I know is hard but I don’t know the details of, I vow to research it. If a friend is diagnosed with breast cancer, I vow to read about it and educate myself. I vow to never let my ignorance get in the way of my ability to support someone.
That is, if I have any friends at all left after all of this.