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Monday, June 26, 2006

Question Two

What was the best advice you received on your IF journey? Kindest thing someone has done for you that made a difference (either given you the energy to continue or made you feel like you were not alone). Or...gulp...if you don't have stories to tell...let us know that as well.

The ideal answer to this question (for our book's purposes) would have the advice coming from someone who is not a Stirrup Queen or Sperm Palace Jester. In other words, a non-infertile. But I think it would also be telling if many people had their words/actions coming from an insider. It would then beg the question--is it possible for people to bridge the chasm and know the right thing to say?

I'm going to wait until later in the day to answer this question myself.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to break it to you... but after fresh cycles, 4 frozen, using donor sperm for both IUI and IVF, I can't say that I ever had a moment of profound comfort with a 'fertile' person. I've since started my family through adoption. I went to great lengths to explain to one of my new mom friends what it was like for an IF person. Gave her all the ugly details Weeks later she made comment about how she was really put off by a friend at church because the woman was isolating herself everyone since the beginning of her IF treatments. They just don't get it.


Anonymous said...

I remember back in my early twenties my mother would 'blame' infertility on women for 'waiting too long' to have children. (She married at 19.) I started 'trying' at 26 and 4 yrs later there was still no baby...I'll just always remember how stupid those comments were then and still are now...

Anonymous said...

I never got an great words of wisdom or advice from a fertile friend, but I did have two isolated moments of support in places that I did not expect it. One was a very fertile friend, who dumped the news on me that she was pregnant after the first month "trying". She wasn't a very close friend and so she didn't know what she was going through, but she saw how her news affected me, and after I gave her a little bit of my story, she put her arms around me and said, "I'm sure this is really hard for you." Simple, but touching. The other moment came when I was talking to a close friend about her cancer treatments. She was fertile before ovarian cancer, and got pregnant with her two kids pretty quickly. She's only 33, and I can't even imagine what she's going through fighting for her life, and so sometimes I feel humbled around her and don't like to talk about what I'm dealing with. Well, she was asking me a lot of questions one day about my treatment, and I finally told her that I felt silly talking to her about my problems with what she is going through. She said something to the effect of, "oh no, you're the one that I feel awful for. Whatever I'm dealing with, at least I have my two children, at least I know that part. What you're going through is much worse, to not even know if you'll ever be able to get pregnant and have biological kids." I was amazed and so touched that she thought of it that way -- here we both were diminishing what we were going through because of the other's pain and troubles.

Again, not advice necessarily, but great support from wonderful well-meaning friends when I least expected it.

~ Lisa

Anonymous said...

When people say that they can't imagine what I'm going through or the pain of IF, that always makes me feel good. I appreciate it when people acknowledge the fact that they just don't get it.

Kiki said...

I can't remember any specific comments that really helped me during my struggle to conceive, but I will be forever grateful to my sister for her never-ending support and encouragement. My sister is younger than me, and one of the most fertile women I know. Both times she decided to start trying for a baby, she went off the pill, and BAM--pregnant that first cycle.

When dh and I found out about our IF issues, my sister was not only there to hold my hand--she went a step further and started casting a net to find dh and I the best fertility doctor in town. She encouraged me to make an appt., which I didn't want to do. You see, we were given our IF diagnosis before we even started ttc--on a whim, I had told my ob/gyn that we were going to start trying and I wanted some basic tests run. Never in a million years did I really think the tests would reveal any sort of problem.

My sister really educated herself on all aspects of our ttc journey--from our diagnosis to the methodologies of ART. She asked questions, and truly was interested in knowing the answers. She knew what days I was going in for bloodwork and ultrasounds, and she would often call me before those appointments had ended. She cried tears of joy when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant (right before our first scheduled meeting w/the RE), and wrapped me in her arms when that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. When my due date later rolled around, she was the only one (besides dh) to acknowledge my loss and gave me one of the most touching cards I have ever received.

To say that she was with me every step of the way is an understatement. She paid attention to every single detail, listened to me cry and freak out, gave me my PIO shots when dh was out of town--her acts of kindness and selflessness are truly too long to even list.

If I could nominate my sister for sainthood, I would--she is my guardian angel.

Piccinigirl said...

my best advice came from the least likely source. My mom(whom I am very close with) is a nurse by trade, and now a Pharmacuetical Rep. I was 33 when I married and eager to get PG, the first year of TTC my mom was angry with me since she thought I was "trying too hard, and I should relax, enjoy being married" , the 2nd year of trying she got annoyed, embarressed and frustrated with me. I was always in a bad mood, I was moving away from friends who were having babies, I never had "good days" and I started seeing a counselor. For me it hurt that my mom didn't understand , couldn't understand that I wanted this and not having it was making me feel like a failure. I would try to explain things and she would glaze over and remind me to just keep trying and that if there were no kids in our future I had a great husband and if I didn't stop this behavior I was going to lose him. UGH.
SO when it got to Jan this year and were looking at the 3rd year of trying, my mom did a 360. She got me appts with endocronolgists, she asked everyone (dr's, nurses, other reps, people in Walmart lines) how they got PG, who they went to, what they believed worked for them and now every time I talk to her she is quick to tell me about someone who was trying forever and is now PG. I know it doesn't sound like much, but for the 2years of this my mom was convinced that it was ME that was wrong, now that she knows that I just want to have a baby , give her a grandchild, she has turned a corner with me and has given me that best advice.."don't give dr has said you can't have a baby and so WE will, a little pook for our family"

It has made all the difference

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been ttc for almost 2 years and over those 2 years I haven't shared our experiences with many people. In the beginning I attempted to share them but after getting very little support from a couple of friends who just 'didn't get it,' I have been even less willing to share with others.
I've basically broken people into two groups - those who 'get it' and those who 'don't get it.'
One of the first people that I shared my experiences/fears with was my best friend from high school. I thought that this girl who I had thought of as a sister for years would have been a great source of support to me. Instead she was the opposite. We are no longer close friends because this situation has really shown me what kind of friend I have. After about 8 months of TTC when I had first started treatments she asked me how long I would keep trying before we would give up. Frankly, it had nothing to do with what she said but more with how she said it. Asking me when I would stop trying and try to adopt was not something I needed and I felt like a true friend would have known that.
My biggest source of support through all of this has been a friend of mine who I probably wouldn't have made it through this without. She is not in the same situation as I am and I am sure can't relate but I probably would not have survived these past couple of years without her. My husband is fabulous but I have to think that he is also going through this and to have someone not connected directly to the situation has been great. Also, I sometimes don't want to burden him with everything (or, there are other times when I need to vent about him!) All those times when I have needed to vent she has been there and has always been supportive. And, even when she doesn't know what to say she just sits there and listens or just lets me cry.
One really touching thing has been that when I tell her about dr's appointments that I have to go to, she calls me or emails me to see how they went. It's nice to know that someone else is thinking about me.
Then there is another friend of mine who knows about our struggles TTC - though not in such detail. Her sister started TTC months after us and already has a daughter. I probably received emails about 3 times a week with baby pictures when her neice was born and for months later.... you would think that if she ad 'gotten it' she would have maybe sent them like once a month. Or, she could have gently asked how I felt about receiving all these pictures from her.

Anonymous said...

I've had best and worst comments, both hinting at my stepson. Most people tell me that I got a child when I got married, that I don't need another one. (hey, people, I got somebody else's child, every other weekend, I didn't feel him kick, I didn't get to tell my family the happy news, he didn't make me throw up daily for 3 months) But my stepson has also been the source of some wonderful comments. I will admit, though, that depending on the source the comment of "you are such a wonderful mother" can go either way. My best friend (who's wife has PCOS but had no trouble conceiving) always makes me feel better. My favorite comment from him: "talk about your nephews or stepson, I love hearing your voice smile when you talk about children." I don't know why it makes me feel good, because it's just another "you'd be great at it if you weren't infertile" comment, but with who it came from I knew it was more of a "you bring joy to my life by just talking about children" comment. It's pretty seldom that I get and even half-way sensitive comments, but when I manage to get one that doesn't seriously offend me I lock on it and cherish it forever.

Anonymous said...

I have many very fertile friends (at one point, 7 of my friends were pregnant at the same time, all having gotten pregnant within 2 months of "trying"). My dearest fertile friend was simply a great listener. After our 4th failed iui and just days after my son's 3rd birthday (I suffered from secondary infertility) I had a meltdown and couldn't stop crying for about 5 days. Sobbing. She sat with me and just hugged me and listened. My husband was not in a state to listen, as he was going through his own pain.

Another helpful comment for me was from my Reflexologist - I had started seeing her to calm me, and also to hopefully help with infertility. She is a Buddhist, and her whole outlook on life is very different from mine. She would tell me when I look back at my life, many years from now, I will see that this was all for the best. That maybe my son actually needed more time with us right now, or financially we weren't ready, etc. I know that actually sounds like an annoying comment, and it probably would be annoying from anyone else, but from her it was very soothing. It helped release me, somehow, from trying to control my situation.

Anonymous said...

My very best fertile friend (who conceived #1 in the first month of trying and #2 5 months later, whilst still breastfeeding #1) has been an amazing support person to me during my 6 years of IF.

Sadly, she recently lost her #2 to SIDS at 7 months. Less than six months later, I endured the termination of an IVF pregnancy at 15 weeks due to severe fetal abnormalities (incompatible with life) -- my absolute worst nightmare! I was really worried about expressing my grief to her in case she thought I was comparing our situations unfairly.

She drove 5 hours to visit me in hospital and said to me that she felt tremendously terrible for me and that she wouldn't trade places with me for anything, because at least she had known #2 for a little while.

She talked at length with me about the experience of losing a child and I felt 'included' in that conversation. Not once did she make me feel that my baby was less precious that hers was, even though my daughter had not been born alive.

Strangely enough, that really comforted me -- for the first time, I felt like it really was okay to grieve for the baby I lost and also for the healthy baby that I may never have.

When she decided to ttc again, she even asked me for advice re: charting and when to bd. I started to reel off my advice, before I remembered that she is the one who is good at this-- not me!! I may know everything there is to know about the process of conceiving (in theory), but I am certainly not getting the practical results like she has! We had a huge laugh about that one, and I felt really flattered that she valued my knowledge and opinion.

The most helpful thing she does is to be totally honest in every conversation we have about my IF-- even if she feels uncomfortable. She often says things like, "I don't know what to say", "I'm not sure how I can help you", "Are you comfortable talking about this?".

She is considerate of my feelings and I never have to apologise for the jealousy/anger/resentment/ sadness/etc that I experience every day as a result of my IF.

I know that I am truly blessed to have such a great friend to help me along this journey.

Natalie said...

The best response I've ever received was from the most unlikely couple.

I generally don't talk about infertility with people. People say hurtful things, albeit unintentionally, and the only way to protect myself is to remain quiet. I told my husband I didn't want anyone to know and he respected my wishes.

Well, that's all well and good, but sometimes, I need to talk about it. I don't always know when that's going to be and I can't pinpoint the mood that leads to my honesty. Admittedly, I usually regret it when I do discuss infertility.

That being said, we were at a festival with some acquaintances. We hang out with them on occasion, but I wouldn't call it a friendship. I was in a good mood, enjoying the music and the weather and decided to tell them all about it.

It was unsolicited, yet their responses were perfect. They listened. That's it. They laughed at some of my amusing IUI anecdotes and expressed genuine concern for (mostly through facial expressions) and interest in my experiences, past and yet to come.

I can't tell you how refreshing it was to bear my soul without judgment, advice, or indifference. I never would've guessed it would come from a couple I didn't consider friends, especially because my friends have always said the wrong things.

As for the best advice I've received, I can't think of any, other than an RE reference that came from a less-than-empathetic source.

Richard said...

"I'm sorry, I don't know what to say" is the best thing a fertile person has ever said to me. To me it shows just how awful a thing infertility is and a recognition that this is something I have to live with every day.

Sophia said...

My oldest friend who conceived after five months of trying has invited me to the shower but said the bestest thing ever: "Look, don't come if this is going to cause you pain."