For Our Fertile Friends Out There Who Really Want to Be Sensitive
A Look at Our Demons for Fertile Friends
You who are easily fertile may not understand what it takes to say congratulations on your pregnancy or the birth of your child. You may not understand how much is needed to be put aside to attend an event where your friend is the only one without a child yet. You may not understand why coming to visit you and your growing family is not something that is treated with delight.
Here are a few insights on what it’s like, from someone who was just a pretty average normally infertile woman. While I’d like to think that I was crazier than every other woman who struggled with understanding infertility, I probably was just pretty much average.
So here goes a fairly simple explanation, maybe it will help you understand better how your friend who has no children yet may be feeling.
On an average day, almost everything reminded me of my infertility.
“It’s where the demons hide,” keeps playing over and over in my head. It’s part of the chorus of a popular and overplayed song and so it has gotten stuck, for the time being, in my thought waves.
Struggling With Infertility - The Usual Demons
While struggling with infertility, jealousy, envy, resentment were my most usual demons. They were my constant companions while I was trying to conceive. Not my only demon companions, but most loyal demon companions.
And they weren’t so hidden really.
They always seemed to be waiting right around the corner. Always pretty eager to rejoin me. I would feel balanced, normal, ok, just ok, finally, finally ok and then I would get a birth announcement or there would be a baby shower and there were my unwelcome companions, my not so secret demons.
They were very false friends. They held my hand and kept my company. They made me feel less alone and more isolated at the very same time. They were companions that stole joy and laughed while they were doing it.
They hid around the corners because they couldn’t survive easily in the unrelenting light of day.
They didn’t make sense.
They didn’t allow hope.
As much as I felt bereft and just plain sad at not being able to enjoy my friends' and families' good news, my demons hurt me the most deeply, not my loved ones. Carrying them around made me feel much heavier than I was physiologically. My joints hurt and it was difficult to sit upright, they sat so solidly on top of my shoulders. I felt crumpled inside and tugged incessantly by that decompression.
They weren’t there every moment. As I said, they were content to lay in wait for me, biding their time. Did they simply wait to see that I was lighthearted, bright, and more hopeful? And then whack me over the head with yet another mommy pushing a stroller, lovingly adjusting the sun visor to protect her little one’s eyes?
Among my infertility feelings, I felt bombarded by the fertile population. Saw babies and pregnant women absolutely everywhere. My demons created blinders so that was all I saw; not the glorious spring trees blooming, but the pregnant woman walking under them. I didn’t see the way the sun was streaming through the clouds because I was so busy looking down so that I wouldn’t see anything at all.
I am not the only one with these demons. Your friend who is silent while you talk about your second pregnancy may be kept company by them as well. Your sister-in-law who made excuses not to attend your baby shower may have one or two or a lot more of them holding her hand. Your brother who couldn’t make eye contact with you when you announced your happy news may be wrestling with his demons also, unwilling to diminish the joy in your eyes with his pain.
So please be tender. Please be generous with those of us who are not celebrating good news and are worried we never will. Please consider that demons are mighty foes and we are battling the best we can, even if you can’t see them. We can. We see them. We feel them.
And your good news can be exactly what brings them out in force.
Thank you for understanding.
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About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.