Expecting as a member of the infertility community

While my ‘infertility story’ officially began 15 years ago with a childhood diagnosis, it wasn’t until about two years ago that my husband and I began the process of trying to have a baby. Those years felt like decades. There were a lot of tears, sleepless nights, and blaming myself. We burned through a considerable chunk of our savings and had no idea if any of our efforts would work. Infertility consumed us. Not a single day of those two years went by without lengthy discussions about embryos, IVF statistics, surrogacy matching, and more. The only solace we found during this time was the infertility community.

Our friends and family are supportive, but save for a few people couldn’t really relate to our experiences. Building friendships with people who were also in the trenches of infertility and surrogacy truly got me through the worst moments. It’s funny, these friends came from all over the world and every walk of life, but the shared experience of longing for a baby and dealing with uncertainty and continued disappointments bonded us in a way I can’t describe.

Flashback to one year ago. I had a conversation with someone on Instagram who had been through secondary infertility and all of the hardships that came with it. She was finally pregnant, expecting her rainbow baby, and expressed a sentiment I had never heard before: the feeling of being shut out of the infertility community. Her pregnancy was a miraculous thing, and her infertility friends were obviously happy for her, but understandably it must have become difficult for them to watch her achieve what they were dreaming of. She said she understood, but that she hadn’t expected it to hit her so hard.

I watched a number of friends in the community reach milestones and have babies ahead of me. It took a ton of patience and reflection not to compare myself to them. There were days I did a great job of it, reaching out and congratulating people on positive pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and more. There were also days where I would see a post and quietly think “Why can’t that be me?” and close my Instagram app and call my dog over for some therapeutic puppy snuggles. Both experiences were valid – infertility, and the infertility community, is complex. I learned that you can be incredibly happy for your infertility friends, but simultaneously not have the strength to show up for them to celebrate all of their wins.

Fast forward to this fall when we found out we were expecting. Celebrating our experience openly was a no-brainer. After all, we’ve been through so much. I’ve been vocal in sharing every aspect of our journey, including very low points, and so sharing our excitement is also part of that. What I did notice though, is that for the first time in my blogging journey there were a handful of treasured infertility friends who found it just a little bit harder to show up for me.

At first, that stung. Haven’t I been close to these people for years? Haven’t we been weathering this storm together? It wasn’t until I reflected on the conversation from a year ago that I had that lightbulb moment. It isn’t for lack of them caring or lack of excitement for me that I’m hearing from them less. It’s the same feelings I had before we were expecting. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, it hurts to watch other people hit milestones ahead of us. This community is about supporting one another, sure, but it’s also about just doing your best every day.

Baden

4 thoughts on “Expecting as a member of the infertility community

  1. I experienced this as well. I felt my closest friends pull away and one of them actually told me we weren’t good support for each other in that time. I didn’t see it, nothing had changed, it still took us several years and countless tests to get pregnant, but somehow my positive pregnancy test made me too hard to talk to. Of course I get it now, but my entire community was ripped from me and I felt so alone in something that should have been joyous. Maybe the mistake was making infertility my life, I don’t know. But it has been 4 years since my baby was born and I still haven’t been able to reconnect with those women.

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  2. I didn’t hang out with the infertility community too closely for this very reason. I never felt too comfortable around them and I was getting tired of some of the toxic positivity they spouted or the so-called “gentle reminders” about not posting too much about family/having kids. It got too overwhelming for me and I had to stay away for my mental well-being. One topic I think needs addressing is how some more traditional cultures view surrogacy, especially IPs who use donors. My mom kept on talking about my son’s “real mom” (ie my son’s egg donor) while our GS was pregnant and up until shortly after his birth. My dad also didn’t (and I think, still doesn’t) think I should disclose to him about either. I guess it has to do with some old. Chinese belief on family harmony (same reason why some families don’t tell elderly people about illnesses they (or other family members) have). It’s very weird to me, and frankly, makes me uncomfortable.

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