I really do not think any woman ever looks at their life path, at any point of their life, and thinks, “Yay! One day, I’m gonna do fertility treatments/IUI/IVF! I CAN’T WAIT!” It’s not a decision that any woman would make with a light heart, and it’s one that requires a massive emotional, mental, and in almost all cases, some financial burden and stress. Unfortunately, I’m currently in that boat right now, and it… is disheartening, to say the very least.
Over the years, I’ve met and am friends with many women who have had many types of fertility treatments, whether it was surgeries with their Fallopian tubes or uterus, IUI, IVF, and everything in between. I follow bloggers who openly talk about their fertility struggles and journeys. I also have a good friend who recently went through IVF and gave birth via the IVF process. But I guess what I never really thought much about before I was actually in this situation was how lonely it can feel. You have to go to all these appointments on your own. You have to keep track of schedules and medications and insurance and pharmacies. You have to do all these things all by yourself even when multiple doctors have told you after many (costly) tests that nothing is “wrong” with you, and that you’re in “optimal health.” In their eyes, I am “young and healthy.” It is infuriating, lonely, terrifying, and deeply unnerving.
I’m not really the kind of person who gets jealous easily. When I see other women with babies or hear of other people getting pregnant, I don’t really feel anything. For my own friends and colleagues, I am genuinely happy for them because I logically know that their situation has zero to do with mine. Everyone should have all the happiness in their life that they deserve. But what bothers me is when I try to share my own experiences with some close friends, particularly ones who have gone through their own fertility struggles, with the hope of seeking empathy and support, and instead, I am turned away, reminded of my privileges from a health insurance standpoint or that I “am so lucky” to be in the situation that I am in now.
I told this to one of my friends recently who gave birth last year to her first and only child, and she said to me, “Geez, Yvonne, this isn’t the privilege Olympics. You’re allowed to be scared and confused and upset and stressed.” For some people, she said, it doesn’t matter how much hardship they go through, even if it’s the same kind of hardship you are currently going through, but they just “lack an empathy chip.”
Joining infertility support groups was supposed to help, but that, while it has given me some more insight into issues like side effects and emotions, has also possibly increased the level of worry because a lot of the people posting have “worst case scenarios” that I do not necessarily want to be bombarded by. I am aware of all these worst case scenarios, as nothing in life is guaranteed, but I do not want to read these stories over and over in my feed because then, on some subconscious level, I may think that may end up happening to ME.
It’s unfair and infuriating to me that women and women alone have to go through this burden, that the most men will never have to do in this journey, even when male factor fertility is the supposed cause, is masturbate into a cup and make sure their semen sample doesn’t miss the cup. The world of infertility is only a further reminder to me how much more women have to bear the brunt of in this sexist world, and how we will continue to do so until there actually is some real, tangible change in society… and SCIENCE.