Friday, May 30, 2003

did I feel something tickling the inside of my skin when I woke up from my nap this afternoon? I'm not sure ...

it's good that I waited ages to tell people about this. because those who aren't that close to me naturally say "congratulations" and get on with conversations about stuff that really matters (in their opinion). and if that had happened in the early days when it was the most amazing, overwhelming thing in my life (it still is, but you know what I mean), I think I'd have been miffed. now I can at least pretend to be casual about it. I suppose I'll be a boring proud mother, too.

leaving the pool today, I looked at all the mothers and kids in the toddler pool. and they looked for all the world like the females of a monkey troupe, just hanging out with the kids. mothering - parenting, I suppose - seems to involve an awful lot of just hanging about with the offspring, teaching them to be human sort of in passing.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

told the work nurse who did all my shots. she's very pleased, and interested. and offered to let me nap on the couches. bonus!

stupid headaches are lasting 3 days, once a week now. must relax. MUST RELAX!

so, what's a month?
16 weeks is clearly not four months.
if a month is 4 1/2 weeks I have to wait to 18 weeks - next Monday - to be "four months".
if I date it from the official LMP (which is wrong, of course, but fits their calculations), each month falls due on the 27th. so I'd already be 4 months. but then there's another week left hanging at the end, between October 27 and November 3.
nup, I guess I have to wait for Monday. bummer.

bike riding is getting a bit uncomfortable; the bumps seem bigger every time. my balance is fine though. on the comfort front, the giant woolly trousers I bought five weeks ago now fit fairly well. with a white shirt over the top and a distracting velvet scarf, I can get away with this for work. in fact, I can't believe how much comfier I feel than in my regular work trousers. though non-pregnant people would also say that if they came to work in what amounts to an expensive black tracksuit.

yesterday was my 37th birthday.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

after being awake for an hour from 3-4 stressing about the house, I woke up with a headache and took the dog for a walk before work.
in the lake in the park across the road from our house, there's a small island.
on the reedy bank of the island, a pair of swans (black here in Australia of course) have started to build their nest.
the female swan was firmly ensconsed (sp?) in the middle of what looked like a basket woven by a madwoman, while the male worked his long swanny neck off, ripping up reeds and passing them to her, or just generally chucking them on the nest.
I watched them for a few minutes, and I could feel my back and neck relaxing with the sight of someone, at least, getting their nest built.

the thing is that the flat is fine. we're safe, warm and have everything we need (except maybe the blender to make smoothies with - it's in a box somewhere). I should just shut up and be patient. but there's something else in me that really can't do without my own nest. and preferably before I'm six months!

Monday, May 26, 2003

yeah, so now everyone knows.
my boss - who took it well and went on to chat about other stuff - the builder, who asked why we would do such a thing when we have such a great lifestyle - the architect, the site foreman.
and tonight my boss will tell his wife, who works here, and tomorrow that will be it; the whole damn office will know.

but none of it seems to make any difference to the progress on our house, which seems to be going backwards rather than forwards. I cannot imagine staying out a day longer than we have been planning - already twice delayed. husband didn't seem to understand how concerned I am about being completely unable to DO anything when I'm back; I am going to be a virtual cripple in a few months, unable to move or lift or dig, and the sooner we get in the more I can do for myself.

not to mention my intense desire to get the house sorted so I can focus properly on being pregnant. at present progess I'll be nearly six months before we're home. aargh! &*%$%^$^&!! etc.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

17 weeks tomorrow.
still no real movement
but at 4am last night I was wide awake, so focussed on the idea of a baby inside me, and I was sure it was awake. there's a connection there, chemical or something. still need a nap every afternoon, but I'm definitely picking up that second-trimester energy and strength.

and totally hanging out to get our house back so I can start decorating a baby room, maybe even buying stuff for it. I'll be 23 weeks by then; it will nearly seem real. I am still nervous about my cervix etc, but not much I can do about that except hassle drs.

Friday, May 23, 2003

In the park around sunset (5pm as we approach the solstice), a group of dog owners often gather.
Tonight, a tall, handsome 40ish woman was complaining that David Williamson had stolen her idea.
I asked if she'd seen his play on infertility. I said the whole thing sounded very contrived (a woman who carried a baby for her sister years before is now infertile, etc). She had seen it. She knew it was no good from the first scene, where the woman stands and says "I'm barren."
No one talks like that anymore, she said. I said "no, they say 'I'm infertile". She said "or I can't have a baby". I was going to ask if she was a writer, but her phone rang.
But before she went home, another woman asked her what the news was on her baby.
She said the terrorism travel advisories against going to Ethiopia meant their file was still in Australia. She's been waiting 20 months now.
The other woman said she seemed very patient. She said she had her meltdowns and, trying to sympathise, I said she wouldn't be normal if she didn't. She said I should tell her partner that. It was like glimpsing the tip of an emotional and dramatic iceberg. I told her she should do her play about that now. Then she had to go.
I know it's wrong - indecent is how it feels - but i was overcome with a desire to know her story. Did she do IVF? When did she start trying? How did she decide to adopt? Will she get her little Ethiopian AIDS orphan baby (because those are the ones up for adoption - babies with no parents who need a woman like her, who are languishing in poverty while bureacracy grinds on).
But what could I say? I'm pregnant. I've crossed over to the other side.
I know my curiosity is a mix of train-crash rubbernecking ("that nearly happened to ME") and wondering what I'd have done if it hadn't worked.

I'll be 17 weeks on Monday. I'm not there yet. I haven't crossed over - just been allowed onto the bridge.

I'm noticing the heightened sense of smell thing. It seems to apply mostly to chemical smells: I could barely walk into Myer yesterday - the perfume counters are like a barricade across the entrance. and the antibacterial handwash we got to help me not get infections is useless; I need to use plain soap. Fortunately the meat and fish sections of the market don't really bother me - though I'm even more careful than usual not to look at the whole bodies of dead animals on my way to the (hopefully) less cruel free-range organic butcher and chicken shop.

to my husband, who will probably never read this: I look at you in the shower and sometimes when you lie next to me in bed in the morning. I look at the lean shape of your body, your cheekbones and nose, and I wonder: will my son look like that?

driving down the Nepean Hwy this afternoon, I found myself talking aloud to my grandmother. She died not long after I met my husband. She always told me not to let men hurt me; when I'd break up with one she was always concerned for me, but philosophical: plenty more. find the right one. I think she was quite beautiful in her day.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

maybe Madonna is pregnant, after all: someone came to my site on a search for "having a baby at 44"

hmm. have just handed over, on an impulse, a rewritten 2,000 word draft of my brain-dump on IVF and what it means to me to an editor here.
have told him I would need complete control over how it was run. I sort of trust him; we'll see. I suspect it also needs a bit of work to make it either more or less emotional, and correspondingly more or less factual/proper reportage. it's a bit of a mishmash right now.
shall talk to him Monday and see what he says.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

well, she says it was there. she only has a regular metal listening horn thing. but it was good news anyway. I was starting to get myself a bit worked up about the lower temps (just under 98 for three days running now).
so all I have to obsess about is my cervix; we'll see what the u/s says, then I might make the ob/gyn check at visits after that.

really must fess up at work soon.
talking to a person today who checks my work and is married to my boss, I noticed she kept flicking her eyes down to my belly. I kept it well tucked in, but I suspect speculation is underway.
off to see gp for a) referral and b) hopefully to hear a heartbeat. husband says I shouldn't let her try if she doesn't have the right tool - it would freak me out if she couldn't hear it.

Monday, May 19, 2003

yay. and Junegirl is pregnant too; she has even posted a pic of her bean to prove it!

must update my babies-in-progress blogroll soon.

another blog links to me. ooh, the love!

had to move boxes at the house yesterday; even small lifts make my abdomen ache. felt so useless. it was still aching a bit this morning, which I don't like.
during last night's mandatory insomnia (sometimes 2 hours starting at 2am! is it the baby's wakefulness? who knows), it occurred to me that I don't want much these days. I want my house back. I want lots of food and sleep. but otherwise, my desire for things like travel, clothes, stuff in general seems to have faded away. oh, I'll be sorry to sell my car. but I feel a bit detached. it doesn't matter, does it?

hormones are interesting creatures.

Friday, May 16, 2003

the benefits of online girlfriends: a list of Melbourne maternity stockists, courtesy a woman on my board:

Shop 340 High St,
Northcote, Victoria.
Phone: 9489 3219

Shop 875 Burke Rd,
Camberwell, Victoria.
Phone: 9882 1787

And here's a list of the Ripe Maternity Wear stockists in Victoria:-

Ann's Maternity Shepparton (03) 5831 3287
Baby Target Hampton Park (03) 9704 0603
Baby Target Werribee (03) 9216 7450
Baby Target Northland (03) 9479 9000
Glow Mornington (03) 5973 5655
Forty Weeks Bendigo (03) 5442 4499
Kluckee Balwyn (03) 9817 1747
Maternity Direct Frankston (03) 9785 6316
Maternal Instinct Geelong (03) 5229 2293
Maternal Instinct Ballarat (03) 5331 7845
Maternity On Grattan Carlton (03) 9348 0000
Maternity Matters Glen Waverley (03) 9802 1416
Maternity Mode Reservoir (03) 9478 5735
Maternity Mode Moonee Ponds (03) 9370 1500
Maternity Mode Vermont (03) 9874 0555
Mother 2B Richmond (03) 9428 3988
Mumma Mia Maternity Lifestyle Elsternwick (03) 9528 1375
Myer Selected Stores (03) 9661 1111
Out'n Front Maternity Malvern (03) 9509 4397
One Plus One Essendon (03) 9331 3630
Pitter Patter Williamstown

a blog written to a baby.

(has linked to me, too)

some maternity shops online: ripe, belly button and an online directory which is probably just Sydney
haven't checked out any of them yet.

have been starting to tell people. one friend put her hand over her mouth and looked shocked; another yelled to her husband "she's up the duff". it's all rather fun.
but noticing a pattern; they all ask "are you going to find out what sex it is?". I suspect this is code for "what is it?" or even "do you want a girl or a boy?".
and I am, despite my pre-pregnancy preference for a girl, blissfully indifferent to what it is. it's a baby. it's my baby.

still feeling edgy after the disturbing news on the boards; another one today, who lost hers a few weeks back. wish it would start kicking. but I'm not even 16 weeks till Monday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I hate this stuff. it's so scary.
a girl on my boards has just lost her little boy at 16 weeks; incompetent cervix.
and even though the ob/gyn tells me the amount taken 5 years ago was tiny, and it was fine at 12 weeks, I don't see him again for nearly 3 weeks and I'm now freaking out. what sort of rotten condition has no symptoms except an actual miscarriage? I have to stop thinking about it, it's scaring me too much.

temp 98 this am. but that's probably because I was awake from 2 am to 4.30, worrying about renovations and being angry with husband for not doing enough about them. I feel like there's so much to organise on that front, I won't have enough time to rest/see friends/maternity shop. grrr. snuck home for nap, but now have to stay late to catch up. and there is a big move to do at the house TONIGHT before the plasterer starts. and I can't do it. won't. no big heavy boxes for me.

when I hear babies cry, I feel it in my abdomen. waiting for a kick. will take more temps now, until I get a few high ones in a row. if it goes down again, think I'll ring and demand a stethescope. what the hell, I'm sure they're used to it, especially with IVF women.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

oh weird.
you can get a model of a miscarried baby made up. and wear it as a lapel pin.
via metafilter.
I did not go looking for that one!

p-i-l update: husband proposed the toast on Friday night to "nearly being grandparents".
they appeared pleased, but not as excited as I'd hoped. I guess they're just not that demonstrative. over the weekend, it transpired that mil is interested in some of the details of my diet and our nursery plans; fil was at pains to point out that he changed just one nappy for each of his two children. troglodyte.
mil is a full-on housewife, does everything for him. I'm trying to teach husband the difference between being a mother and a housewife. he's pretty good, considering that background. of course most of it will fall to me, but he does try; and at the worst, I'll make him pay for the cleaners and the childcare so I can go back to work.

last night, very glad to be back in my own space after 3 days of p-i-l, I drew up a six-year plan of projected work hours and baby-having. I think I can manage up to 3 days a week, especially if I do it over 4 days, maybe with one at home. and if I make husband take them to care in the mornings a bit late, so I can pick them up midafternoon, and he can work late. no, we don't desperately need the money. but I will require a life outside nappies, I think. and dependency doesn't appeal.
of course all this could change.

took my temperature this morning, and didn't like it. I've only been doing it weekly, and it was 36.5, or 97.7. It should be above 98. wish I had a stethescope so I could hear its little heartbeat. too soon for reassuring movements, of course. sure it's fine. but it's bugging me.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

secret indeed.
I asked a girl at work, whom I've known for maybe 17 years, went to uni with etc, though we're not best mates as such, to come to lunch with me.
as we walked through the park she basically said "are you pregnant?". I assumed the one person who knows at work had spilled the beans. when I realised she hadn't, I just said "why do you think I'm pregnant?". she said she just thought I was. then the penny dropped: she is too. 11 1/2 weeks. so we both have secrets. it's very exciting for us both. she's going to be moving to a place nearer to our house soon too.

so when I was talking to other people here this afternoon, I was doing it with my stomach sucked in. just in case. I'm not showing, but she could tell somehow. maybe all my eating, paleness and grumpiness was strangely familiar to her...

hell, I have to go. have been annoyed by useless PR people and my boss. it's 5.40 and getting dark outside. I need a swim. I need to clean the house. I need to PACK. may not be online until we return from seeing inlaws in Sydney.

yay work. I get in and I'm fine for 2 hours, then I just need a nap. but there is much to do and I'm keeping off the bulletin boards until it's done. this is just a quick sanity blog.

two hospital visits yesterday: Frances Perry's liaison woman told me I could do whatever I liked in labour and that I had the right ob/gyn for that. apparently all decisions are up to him. still not getting a warm vibe from the place, though, her aside.

and introduction last night at Freemason's; much more comprehensive, including another tour. there was even a rather amusing little physio, who got us all to stand up and do deep stomach muscle and pelvic floor exercises! in public! 30 of us at once! men included! she did tell us that the pelvic floor was not attached to our eyebrows so there was no need to go ''like this''. if I hadn't been v. tired I'd have enjoyed it more.

they have a no eating in "established labor" rule. which sucks. the midwife giving the talk tried to gloss over it: "you can't order in some Macca's", but I want to munch on nuts and fruit. she claims you don't digest during labor. if she'd ever seen me with a blood sugar exhaustion low, she'd understand. we're going to have to get lots of fruit juice and jellybeans. I don't even care that I might throw it all up during transition - I NEED to eat or I collapse. sometimes I wonder if I'm hypoglycemic, but no test has ever suggested it.

at least I don't have the 24hour morning sickness one girl there, also 14 weeks, had.

wish I could write more, but no time.

and this morning I took the fluffy dog for a walk (he needs 3 a day being in the flat, and yesterday was a very late night for him), and got chatting to the owner of a friendly Rottweiler. you never know the people's names, just the dogs. she said "I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm having a baby in five months..." and I said "mine's due in November," and we played belly show and tell - I really am not showing yet, not pregnant-like - it's a pity we'll be moving back home when the house is finished in 6-8 weeks in a way, because she'd be my first fellow new mum type friend otherwise. but I do want my nest back, with the baby's room already painted!

anyway, if I keep doing the deep muscle exercises and pelvic floors, I might get this body back one day. apparently the p.f. goes from carrying 50 grams to 5 kg! or was it 500g to 5 kg? I think it was 50g.

flex, tighten, release, flex, tighten, release...

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

a countdown to November 3. clunky, but it works. I've permalinked this over on the left.

(179 days is SUCH a long time!)

truly excellent 3rd anniversary dinner last night. had a shocking headache at work, so struggled home on the tram and slept. that pretty much knocked the headache off, although I still have a residual bruised feeling in my neck.
then got very dressed up and off to the legendary Flower Drum, which I have been begging to go to for ages. it's Chinese, full formal service, incredibly expensive and very yummy. the genuine Chinese antiques and prints, the attentive but not intrusive service and the really good quality food (though the fish wasn't up my alley as such) added up to one of those Occasion nights. we told the waiter I was pregnant and just let them suggest a menu. husband got a crab thingy that looked great, but I'm off shellfish of course.

funny getting-dressed moment: looking in the mirror at my low-cut clingy dress, increasingly rounded hips and HUGE (for me) breasts spilling out of the top of the dress b/c of the pushup bra that goes with that dress, and deciding I really couldn't go out looking like that. whipped off the bra and the whole thing looked a bit less Venus of Willendorf. not really a big-tits girl at heart, me.

Monday, May 05, 2003

when I sneeze now, I do it with one hand over my face and the other on my abdomen, to stop the muscles lurching and pulling sharply.

afternoon naps should be compulsory for all pregnant women.
saw the ob/gyn today. heard a heartbeat. came home and read a short story about motherhood and redemption and cried and had to ring husband for no reason.
feel 1/2 drunk with sleep. must swim.

(written last night)

as I said to Dawn: Whoa.

Milenka reposted the article below, and got some comments to the effect of "why should we walk on eggshells around our infertile friends?"

this was my reply in her comments:

as Milenka hasn't pointed it out, I will: she didn't write this. like me, she reposted it with the full copyright attribution.

what I find interesting is the resentment from people who know infertile women that they are expected to be careful of their friend's feelings. I suppose it comes down to how much you care about your friendship.

if you choose to insist on talking about pregnancy and babies when your friend is grieving yet another failed cycle, the consequences are up to you. I personally didn't have much of a problem with my close friends; I found it harder with people who didn't know I was - was, I'm now pregnant - infertile. when they carried on and on and on about their new babies, which can be boring for non-parents anyway, I felt it badly. it was not their "fault", but it hurt me anyway, to think I might never have that experience.

it only takes a quick visit to an infertility discussion board to find out that all the things mentioned in the article do happen. women offer to lend others their husbands, relatives tell women who have scarred fallopian tubes to "relax", friends imply that the woman is, as it says above, divinely singled out for sterilisation because she'd be such a bad mother. you might think you can imagine how it feels, you might believe the woman in question has to just learn to deal with it so she can share your joy at your motherhood (and Dana, this is something you seem to believe), but you have no right. it's sad but true that some friendships don't survive this. sometimes they don't survive different decisions about having kids, as people grow apart. that's life. and often closer friends deal with things better. I didn't tell many "friends" about our IVF because I don't feel comfortable trying to explain myself to people who don't know my heart and soul.
but to effectively blame the infertile woman or couple and tell them how they should deal with it is just plain arrogant.

I read the article as a guide to tact for those who care to exercise it. As a formerly infertile woman, it said a lot of things I'd have liked the people around me to know. If you choose to ignore that, it's up to you.

this post is about the angriest I've posted on the Web, and it's not meant as a flame. but this isn't a topic I feel very tactful about.

in other news: I am eating, eating, eating but have only put on 2kg in 10 weeks. for the last two days poor husband has really copped grumpiness when I don't get fed STRAIGHT AWAY at lunchtime. every cell in my body cries out for food. it's weird. the baby is clearly in charge. yesterday in the pool I was thinking about breathing, and could feel how the air was coming in and going to the baby, and how my exhalations contained its un-needed extras (I won't say "wastes"). it's not just extra bulk on me I'm having to run, it's a whole extra body with all the organs.. so, so strange.

darn, blogger's down. will need to save this for later. second ob. appt at 12.15 tomorrow. not much to talk about; maybe I'll show him my baby video (as if!). will ask more about hospitals, though.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

just had to tell a female supervisor type here that I wouldn't take up a very kind internal job offer, and because I know her reasonably well, I told her why; that I want to diversify across the company a bit so I have a mix of things to do when I come back p/t, or work as a freelancer, rather than concentrating on one new area.
she was very pleased for me and had no problem with my reasons. turns out she - with a teenage child - is thinking of doing it again herself, at just past 40. I wasn't going to mention how I got pg, but she said "and IVF is difficult" and I just had to say that we'd just done it.
etc. I can see that when I do "come out" (literally and figuratively), I will spend many hours explaining myself, which is my least favourite thing to do. oh well. it's for the nicest of reasons.

this is very long, and obviously borrowed from my bulletin board, with a (C) notice at the bottom. but it's probably the best advice-for-friends-and-family thing I've read. we were lucky in that we got few comments - even my friend with kids stopped saying "don't do it" once she knew I was having treatment. but knowing that a lot of people come here searching on general IVF info, I thought it was worth posting:

"Infertility Etiquette
By Vita Alligood

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than five million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn't coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. Most infertility treatments involve using hormones, which alter the user's moods. (That statement is like calling a lion a cat-my husband would tell you that the side effect is insanity!) The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money. Infertility treatments are expensive, and most insurance companies do not cover the costs. So, in addition to the pain of not conceiving a baby each month, the couple pays out anywhere from $300 to five figures, depending upon the treatment used.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

They will eventually conceive a baby.
They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.
Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don't know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don't Tell Them to Relax
Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she "relaxed." Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of "relaxing" are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, "If you just relaxed on a cruise . . ." Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don't Minimize the Problem
Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone's life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen
Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the "worst" thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the "worst" thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the "worst" thing that could happen.

People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead." Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don't Say They Aren't Meant to Be Parents
One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, "Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother." How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don't you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn't he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren't religious, the "maybe it's not meant to be" comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don't Ask Why They Aren't Trying IVF
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man's sperm in a petri dish. This is the method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, "Why don't you just try IVF?" in the same casual tone they would use to ask, "Why don't you try shopping at another store?"

There are many reasons why a couple would choose not to pursue this option. Here are a few of them.
IVF is Expensive with Low Odds
One cycle of IVF is very expensive. With all of the hype in the news, many people assume that IVF is a sure thing when, in fact, the odds of success for each cycle are low. Most couples cannot afford to try for one month, much less for multiple times. Considering that it also costs a significant amount of money to adopt a baby, many couples opt for the "sure thing" rather then risking their money on much lower odds.

IVF is Physically Taxing
Undergoing IVF treatments is very rigorous. The woman must inject shots into her thigh daily to cause her ovaries to superovulate. The drugs used are very taxing on the woman, and they can cause her to be become extremely emotional.

IVF Raises Ethical Issues
Ironically, couples who undergo IVF to become parents may have to selectively abort one or more fetuses if multiple eggs are fertilized. Many couples cannot bring themselves to abort a baby when they have worked so hard to become parents. If the couple chooses not to selectively abort, they run the risk of multiple births.

Don't Offer Unsolicited Opinions If They Are Trying IVF
On the flip side of the coin, don't offer unsolicited advice to your friends who do choose to try IVF. For many couples, IVF is the only way they will ever give birth to a baby. This is a huge decision for them to make, for all of the reasons I outlined above.

If the couple has resolved any ethical issues, don't muddy the waters. IVF is a gray area in many ethical circles, and many of our moral leaders don't yet know how to answer the ethical questions that have arisen from this new technology. If the couple has resolved these issues already, you only make it harder by raising the ethical questions again. Respect their decision, and offer your support. If you can't offer your support due to ethical differences of opinion, then say nothing.

A couple who chooses the IVF route has a hard, expensive road ahead, and they need your support more than ever. The hormones are no cakewalk, and the financial cost is enormous. Your friend would not be going this route if there were an easier way, and the fact that she is willing to endure so much is further proof of how much she truly wants to parent a child. The hormones will make her more emotional, so offer her your support and keep your questions to yourself.

Don't Play Doctor
Once your infertile friends are under a doctor's care, the doctor will run them through numerous tests to determine why they aren't able to conceive. There a numerous reasons that a couple may not be able to conceive. Here are a few of them:

Blocked fallopian tubes
Low hormone levels
Low "normal form" sperm count
Low progesterone level
Low sperm count
Low sperm motility
Thin uterine walls
Infertility is a complicated problem to diagnose, and reading an article or book on infertility will not make you an "expert" on the subject. Let your friends work with their doctor to diagnose and treat the problem. Your friends probably already know more about the causes and solutions of infertility than you will ever know.

You may feel like you are being helpful by reading up on infertility, and there is nothing wrong with learning more about the subject. The problem comes when you try to "play doctor" with your friends. They already have a doctor with years of experience in diagnosing and treating the problem. They need to work with and trust their doctor to treat the problem. You only complicate the issue when you throw out other ideas that you have read about. The doctor knows more about the causes and solutions; let your friends work with their doctor to solve the problem.

Don't Be Crude
It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don't make crude jokes about your friend's vulnerable position. Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy
This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, "I'd gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby." When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, "I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes."

I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends' new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend's emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can't bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn't rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don't Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant
For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don't follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn't ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let's face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to "dream" about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don't Gossip About Your Friend's Condition
Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband's sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend's privacy, and don't share any information that your friend hasn't authorized.

Don't Push Adoption (Yet)
Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a "stranger's baby," they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, "Why do you want to adopt a baby?" Instead, the question was, "Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?" Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn't her "own," then adoption isn't the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, "Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.") However, "pushing" the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say "I am giving you this baby," there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn't your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lesson the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care
The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren't going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother's Day
With all of the activity on Mother's Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother's Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Mother's Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother's Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven't "forgotten" them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments
No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don't encourage them to try again, and don't discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don't try to open that chapter again."

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