An unlucky sisterhood

I’ve found at times that it can be difficult to talk to other women about infertility who have never experienced it. They got pregnant quickly or easily. Perhaps accidentally. If you watch their faces as you tell your story of waiting, loss, pain and aching, you might see a small flash of relief that they didn’t have to experience what you do. I’d probably have it, too. It’s not hurtful to me because I completely get it.

Just as often their faces show compassion and genuine sadness for your story. They shake their heads in empathy. A lot of women I’ve spoken to choose their next words carefully, which I appreciate. If you haven’t been through this, please don’t tell me that everything happens for a reason or that we’re not given more than we can handle. You may believe those things, and that’s fine. But I don’t. Not now. Maybe I never did. It doesn’t mean I’ve lost faith; it just means that those words have little comfort for me, and many other women experiencing infertility.

Those of us in this unlucky sisterhood have been burned. I choose the word unlucky here merely to illustrate that there’s often no rhyme or reason for our infertility. I check out fine, as does my husband. I don’t necessarily think “luck” in the traditional sense of the word has anything to do with it; but here we are, together, maybe huddled in the corner of impending parenthood, trying to make sense of what we have to deal with.

In this sisterhood many of us are guarded and know the value of choosing our words carefully. We know that a positive pregnancy test can mean hold our breath during the entire first trimester. Our “I’m pregnant” is often followed by “I hope this sticks.” Unless you’ve said aloud or thought that phrase in context, you can’t really understand the gravity of it. Many couples will never know what it feels like to be both happy and completely unsure if that joy will change on a dime. What placing a bet of thousands of hard-earned dollars down of hormones and ultrasounds will get us. Going all-in to nurse an infant at 3am. To be a human pin cushion and relying on science to see our eyes or our spouses looking back at us from the safety of our cradling arms.

I recently had conversation with a fellow sister who told me of another who’d been rejected as a prenatal patient by an OB because she “wasn’t excited enough about her pregnancy.” In hearing this story, I was shocked that a doctor — an obstetrician, no less — could be so unfeeling toward a woman who’d had a tumultuous time even getting to the point of needing an OB. Clearly that would not have been a good patient-provider fit, but it hurts my heart that a fellow unlucky sister had to hear that from a professional.

The women that I know who are experiencing this with me are so strong, so fierce and so very deserving. I feel connected to this vast network of women that are every shape, size, color… I never wanted to join this unlucky sisterhood, but I’m here now, and sending support from the very bottom of my heart. We can do this.

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