Sunday, December 24, 2006

The last woman standing

When I started trying to conceive, I didn't make any public service announcements, but over a glass of wine with friends one day not long into this fun adventure (yes, I drink wine while "trying"--clearly I deserve everything that I get), the topic came up, and I admitted that we were indeed "trying". Another friend then immediately fessed up that she was "trying" too, and the other two sat there looking stunned at the mere concept of feeling ready to become parents. I suppose that I don't need to tell you that all of those friends now have beautiful babies, and are trying for their second. That's just a given.

In fact, since I have been trying, most of my friends have had at least one child, and several have had two. For a while, there were some exceptions. One dear friend had a bit of a hard time. It took her about a year to get pregnant, and then she had a miscarriage at 10 weeks. It was awful. Several months later, she still hadn't become pregnant again, so we ended up doing our first clomid cycle together. We discussed ovulation pains, cervical mucus, the joys of transvaginal ultrasound, and annoyance of scheduling sex according to our ovaries' whims on a daily basis. It wasn't FUN exactly, but it was kind of nice having that special bond, and having someone who knew how I was feeling. Luckily, that first clomid cycle worked for her, and she now has a gorgeous daughter.

Then there was my friend H. H is a year older than I am, and has been talking about having children for years, but various things just kept getting in the way. Then right around the time they were really ready to start, she had a cancer scare. It ended up being a false alarm, but it took about six months to be sure of this, so by the time she was able to actually start trying again, she was already rather frantic. Well, when things didn't work out quickly, they went in for testing and got devastating news--her husband produces no normal sperm. 100% of his sperm have abnormal morphology, and they were to a man incapable of fertilizing an egg. So, IVF/ICSI was their only hope. There were a lot of tears, and a lot of soul-searching, but they decided to give it a try. Last week, I was thrilled to get the great news that their first cycle was successful, and that H is now pregnant.

Today it struck me that I am now completely alone. While I have received overwhelming support from my friends in the computer (bless you all!), nobody among the people that I knew BI (Before Infertility) is still trying to conceive their first. Of course I wouldn't wish this hell on my worst enemy, so I'm happy that my friends have been spared. However, I can't even kid myself this time about what will happen if this cycle doesn't work out. H, like all of my other friends, will not be emailing me every day to ask how my cycle is going any more. She'll try, for a while, but then she'll get caught up in her own pregnancy (and perhaps the survivor's guilt), and the messages will slow to a trickle. I do understand that after a while there's just not much left for the fertile to say to the infertile on the subject of "so how's that no baby thing going for you?". I'm glad that my friends don't have to wallow in my grief. However, the fact that they're not here with me makes the whole thing a bit lonelier too.

I told one of my best friends three weeks ago that I was starting IVF. I haven't heard from her since. If she was like most people, there would be a lot of logical explanations for this seemingly unsupportive behavior. Her line of work is very seasonal, and she gets totally slammed around the holidays, so it could be that she simply doesn't have a moment to breathe. However, this is the same friend who phoned me after my lap to see how I was doing even though she was IN LABOR, having contractions 3 minutes apart. She's never let being busy get in the way of being a good friend before, and I really don't see her doing so now in my hour of greatest need. You know what I think? I think that she's pregnant with #2, and just doesn't know how to tell me.

God infertility can be lonely.


Rose said...

I'm right there with you, Sara.

JJ said...

Oh Sara. Even though I gave birth to one, as you know it was a rocky road to get there, I can relate. On a slightly different note, I am struggle with the fact that it is so easy for some woman to have children period. I just talked with a friend recently, who I haven't heard from in about 5 years. Just to learn she has produced 3 children, 3 different births in that short time period. Ouch! I wish I could get back on the fertility train to try for #2, but I don't know if I can handle the pain of trying.

I think even though you are "the last woman standing" I am glad you are still standing and standing strong. You have taken a stand against infertility and soon you will be standing with your baby in your arms in the near future. (Secretly, I hope it is more than 1.)

Anonymous said...

So very true.

We're very private about our infertility, and that makes it much harder. The longer we go through this however, the more I want to tell people why it's taking so long for us to have kids. My husband would rather nobody know, and it leaves me feeling like I'm doing it all by myself.

I have great sympathy for where you're at, and hope that in a week and a half you'll be able to start the journey out of that lonely place.

Marie-Baguette said...

Oh Sara. The problem is most people don’t know what to say and just disappear from your life. I heard very painful things from those who stick around, like “even for normal people, it takes a year to get pregnant”, or “why don’t adopt?”, or (from a friend who is single) “at least you have found a husband”. The only person I could talk freely with was my one friend who had gone through infertility treatments. After 5 years, she took a break and got naturally pregnant. When I told her that I was pregnant, she said “I am glad that IVF worked for YOU”. Yep. I have received more support from perfect strangers than from most of my girlfriends, because only people who have gone through it know the pain of it.
I am very optimistic about your cycle. I wish you all the best. Bonne chance!

nishkanu said...

I can relate - I am the "second to last woman standing" among my friends (for a while I was last, but my poor friend miscarried, now I actually hope to be last again soon since her chances are much better than mine and at this point I'm rooting for everyone to make it off the infertility island). The good thing though is that through some weird twist of fate somehow every one of my good friends has been through infertility hell (some of them before I even started thinking about reproducing). They still get where I am at even though all but one now have kids. And they all offer me eggs even though theirs are crap too. Now that's love :).

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