esterday the ice cream truck made me cry. No, they weren’t out of ice cream sandwiches (although that sounds amazing right now) but their songs. Parked outside our house a neverending onslaught of what felt like every classic childhood song ever produced being played. As it moved from ‘twinkle, twinkle little star’ to ‘Mary had a little lamb’ I became completely unglued. Tears poured out of eyes at an uncontrollable pace until I was in the thick of it, this unrelenting weight of shit we carry around known as infertility.
Maybe it’s the writer in me but my mind was flooded of images from my childhood when the ice cream truck made its rounds. Honestly, I didn’t even know ice cream trucks were still a thing. I had put them in the same category as Blockbuster Video – a distant memory. As I thought about my childhood, I thought about childhood in general and what it’s like for kids these days. What would it be like for our kids growing up? And that’s when it happened. The cold realization that physically having a baby may never happen. See, everything is connected when it comes to grief.
Do you want to know the crazy part? This is normal! And this is where the disconnect comes into play. I get it; there’s a lot of moving parts when you start to talk about growing families, or not for that matter. As time continues to move on, categories begin to be formed. There are the people who have kids, the people who don’t want kids and then the other guys. The guys’ nobody seems to talk about outwardly, but you can see the questions in their eyes; ‘why don’t they have children yet?’. I know this because these guys are my guys – hell, they’re me.
Anyone who has ever battled, or will ever battle, infertility has their own unique story. We’re like snowflakes in a lot of ways except for us all having the same denominator: having a successful pregnancy is not easy or guaranteed. Often it is perceived that we’re fine because we’re going about our lives as if we were. But what’s the alternative? Stay in bed all day on social media? Stop working or going to school? I think not. Beyond our households and families, bridging the gap between the fertile and infertile needs to happen. It’s a harsh world out there with this topic and this is what I wish people knew about infertility:
- Some days are easy; some days are hard. There’s not a magic formula to this; it just is what it is. Some days begin great until you find yourself surrounded by children running errands. Or, as in my case, the ice cream truck rears its face.
Please don’t expect me to attend your baby shower or hold your newborn baby.
Skipping out on milestones for the people in our lives we love doesn’t mean we love you any less or resent where you’re at in your life. It says that we are practicing self-care and protection. Don’t try to be the hero and do either of these things as I have – it took me weeks to bounce back.
Grief takes time. Sometimes more than you think.
The idea of grieving something you’ve never met is lost on people. Once they wrap their head around the concept, people still attach an expiration date. The “how can she still be sad?” phenomenon as I like to call it. This doesn’t make you an insensitive jerk but understand that it’s part of the process that goes on a lifetime depending on your baby outcome. If you’re still lost, pick up a book about grief and recovery.
IVF is not easy, quick or cheap.
If you’ve ever done a cycle of IVF you know the drill. If you haven’t, essentially we become walking science experiments for weeks and months at a time. More of this, less of that with nobody knowing how your body will respond. It’s a bit of an overpriced shit show with the added bonus of injections.
IVF does not equal success.
The insanity around the fact that we spent over $15,000 on something without the guarantee of success is not lost on me. But here’s the thing about IVF – they never know how it will go until it happens. You are in a constant marathon state; once you clear one mile, you still have 25 others in front of you. We began our IVF journey over 2 months ago, and we still don’t know if it will be a success or a failure.
Triggers come out of nowhere.
Everyone is different. I have cried in the middle of Sprouts while looking at a gingerbread house decorating kit for families. I have cried walking past the pool to get to my car because of kids at the pool. You know how well I did with the ice cream truck. Know that it’s a thing. We don’t want you to do anything, just be there.
We want to talk about more than fertility.
Well-wishers mean well and want to know what’s going on so they can help. And this is great (honestly, that wasn’t sarcasm). But understand that this weight is carried all day every day, and moving away from it feels fantastic. Also because of all the boxes we need to check, everything can be great and then awful in a New York minute. Talk to us the way you did before we were trying to start a family.
We may virtually vanish but we’re still here.
A few months ago, I limited myself to going on Facebook once a day for no more than 10 minutes. I check my memories, my notifications, do a quick scroll, and I’m out. A newsfeed full of babies does not set me up for success. Even though you may not see us virtually, we’re still around, and people who need interaction.
The moral of the story? Babies or no babies, we’re still us!