By 6:30 am I had commuted from my home in New Jersey to Manhattan by bus and then by subway. When the office doors opened I sat in the waiting room with others, each of us avoiding eye contact. When my name was finally called the second part of the routine began. The nurse drew blood, the doctor ran the usual test, we discussed my progress (or lack thereof) and I was at my desk by 8:30 hoping that none of my coworkers would suspect where I had been that morning.
I tried not to let it enter my every thought. Really, I did. Yet it was always there; every morning when I woke up and every night when I went to sleep. It was there when I turned on the TV and each time I answered the phone.
It was unavoidable. Every time I turned around, someone else was pregnant. Every day that went by felt like another day missed. Every time the phone rang a friend was calling with her pregnancy news. Every time I checked the mail there was an invitation to a baby shower or first birthday party. Every time I turned on the TV an actress was announcing a pregnancy or giving birth.
Infertility affects up to one in eight couples. It is a silent disease, yet it can leave deep emotional wounds. Infertility affects people from all socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and religious lines. There is a strong chance that you have a friend or relative who is dealing with infertility right now. And if you do indeed have a friend or loved one who may be struggling, be there for her. Understand that she may need your support even if she does not want to talk about her pain. She needs your friendship now. Trust me.
My husband and I had reached the point when were just beginning to explore using a surrogate to carry our baby. Even with broken hearts we understood that there are many ways to start a family and using a surrogate was our next step. To our surprise, I then held a pregnancy past the first trimester and it looked like we might actually be on our way.
Seven miscarriages, several hundred intramuscular shots, two D&C’s, two hysterosalpingograms, one surgery, three IVF procedures, ten weeks in the hospital and two incredible miracle babies. That is my infertility story, the very brief version at least. I was one of the lucky ones, not only because I now have two children but also because I was fortunate to work for a company with excellent health benefits. Yet even with a great insurance policy we still spent thousands upon thousands of dollars. It breaks my heart to think of those who have to pay out of their pockets for standard tests, procedures and medicines.
Don’t ignore infertility. This silent disease is too commonly overlooked and too commonly misunderstood. People experiencing infertility tend to suffer in silence. Don’t ignore the strength and determination of those who are struggling to create a life, who are hurting physically, financially, emotionally and silently. Don’t ignore your own ability to be a support system to a friend who may need you. Who do you know that is suffering in silence?