What you don’t know about infertility is that it feels like you are living a double life. You have the “self” that you present to the world and you have the “self” that is slowly fading away in the shadows, enduring what feels like endless obstacles. Infertility is a 24/7 minefield of triggers that seem to shift and move with the wind. It is impossible to explain, and there is so much that you don’t know.
What you don’t know about infertility is that there is a woman standing on her front lawn at 9 pm waiting for a shipment of medication with a flashlight because she knows her house number is hard to see, and the next steps in her IVF protocol depend on making sure the medication is delivered. There is a woman spending HOURS on the phone working through issues with insurance companies, scheduling appointments, deciphering diagnosis codes, and following-up on unanswered questions. She jumps every single time the phone rings because it could be a result or a critical callback. There is a woman waking up at 5:30 am in the dead of winter to go get bloodwork done that she knows won’t have a good outcome. That same woman also has to go to work that day, present at a huge meeting, and is thinking of what shirt or blazer she can wear that will cover her bruises from having been stuck with a needle so many times.
What you don’t know about infertility is that while there are many wonderful clinicians, healthcare, and office staff, you will endure a barrage of insensitivity and gaslighting by those that are supposed to help you. There is a woman who goes into an appointment with so much hope and trust, is asked if she wants to hear the heartbeat of her baby only to be told in the next breath, “Good thing we couldn’t hear it – doesn’t seem to be doing so well anyway.” There is also a woman who has to go into the hospital for yet another D&C and has to state what she would like done with the fetal tissue once her uterus has been emptied. She didn’t know that her baby was fetal tissue to be disposed of.
What you don’t know about infertility is that people will say things to you like “Keep your feet up the first 12 weeks next time – you need to rest.” Did her walking around cause her miscarriage? Another fun one: surprise bills that range anywhere from a $50 co-pay to $5,000 and if you don’t pay within a certain time frame, it will delay your cycle or you’ll be told you cannot get the results until everything is “squared away.” She didn’t know steps in her family-building process could be held hostage.
What you don’t know about infertility is that there is a woman that silently wishes for a healthy baby every time the clock hits 11:11. This woman wants nothing more than to go back to her old life – her life where she could trust her body and not feel like a stranger in her own skin.
That woman is me. And now that you have met me, keep me in mind when you are trying to support someone just like me. I just want to live free, outside of the shadows, and #WeCanAll do things to help me, and other women like me, get there.
Elizabeth U., NY
These personal stories have been vetted by RESOLVE to ensure that specific products or service providers are not mentioned. RESOLVE does not edit any details provided by the author in regards to their personal choices or belief.