When it came to fertility, my husband Davy and I had no problems conceiving Noah. We’d worried, because I’d been on birth control pills for so long and I was about to turn 36 years old. People kept telling me I should hurry. We’d worried, because Davy had partied long and hard for years experimenting with all kinds of highs and lows and substances shadier than tobacco. We’d both lived like there was no tomorrow before we met each other until we married, and decided to build tomorrow together and start a family. For the first time in our adult lives we wanted to be fertile for a good reason.
Thankfully, Davy and I did nothing different once I went off birth control. We didn’t have any more sex or less sex than usual, but I followed my What To Expect iPhone app and tracked my ovulation. So this is what it’s like I’d thought every month as I waited for my period to never come so I’d be pregnant.
We got pregnant pretty fast, and almost overnight I connected with thousands of mothers and expectant mothers and also those struggling to conceive. I connected with women with hearts of gold but who’d yet to conceive naturally after trying for some time. The ability to have children and the ability to raise children are separate matters legally and biologically, but emotionally they are one in the same if you so choose to become a parent. Life then becomes unfair sometimes, and your choice to have a child is a struggle.
I have girlfriends in all stages of their lives and some of them started families right away and some adopted children because conception was not possible. Some of them lost babies trying, and those stories remain in the past. The details are personal and some never to be shared, and because of the sensitivity I have never probed when friends struggled to start families. I always did what I thought a good friend should do and made time to listen, when listening was all that was needed of me.
There are some things we can tell our online friends that we won’t always say to the faces of our real life friends. And vice versa, of course. It’s not about who the better friend is because all friendships are different, but some topics are nearly impossible to tackle in-person because they are so personal or rooted in deep suffering. Nobody wants to be a downer anymore, and people run to therapists and prescription drugs faster than they’ll run to a friend nowadays.
It’s no wonder people don’t speak openly in social circles about their infertility because there are so many words associated with different emotions, and it’s difficult to talk about without inadvertently hurting someone. On either side. Even the word infertility is defined differently in different parts of the world let alone in our own families and circles of friends. Hard conversations more often now are convenient excuses to change the subject. When everything in your life is going great you’re blessed to be having easier conversations in your everyday, as opposed to someone who’s life’s got some hiccups. We all do at some point.
Perhaps it’s because of the veiled anonymity of the internet that some people share so much with me about their private life, through email or private messages. I bring this up today because I had a private message chat this morning with a friend. A friend with whom I’ve had brutally honest conversations, over just about everything, for a long time now. Shay, and she’s been trying for a baby for some time.
“It is possible for us to grieve the babies we can’t have while simultaneously loving to death the ones you do. it’s not mutually exclusive.”
I know exactly what Shay means. I admit sometimes I feel bad complaining about lack of sleep and overall stickiness and ickiness of new parenthood. I’m aware that my friends like Shay who want children, but can’t have them, would love to experience it all all. The good and the bad. All my friends celebrated with me the day Noah was born, and my friends don’t love Noah any less or more because they can or can’t have babies themselves. It doesn’t work like that.
Shay’s struggles in life have been many but her successes have been greater, and all of it is what’s made her the fierce force of woman she is today. She’s got a pretty kick-ass husband and today was a big day because he had an appointment to squirt his man-juice into a cup, for testing. They’ve been trying to have a baby, and seeking answers to some tough questions about their reproductive health. I can’t imagine what that must be like, for a couple to head into a phase where fertility is tested and the possibility of adoption is a real-life decision and discussion.
Like I said, Davy and I were lucky to have conceived so quickly and to have a most active and energetic toddler to call our own today. I’m more aware of those around me who have the strength to work through infertility, and be able to laugh about everything still along the way. Well, Shay’s husband got to the clinic only to discover there was NO PORN in the room where he was expected to do his semen-business. Shay sent me this message:
“I told (hubs) going in oh, they will have porn it will be no big deal, and then he told me NO PORN.”
No porn?! In the movies and sitcoms there’s always porn! What else was there that I didn’t know?! Endless possibilities. I love learning something new, and today I learned that Shay spent a small part of her day on FaceTime with her husband in lieu of porn. She helped him get to where he needed to go to get his sample in a cup. FaceTime sex-time.
You go Shay.