Infertility, Sex and Relationships - Part 1by Ellie Thompson
It’s at random moments when I begin to picture how I might start writing this blog post, and how it might be done without it being a complete shower of expletives. It’s just how this topic makes me feel, I suppose. It brings back raw memories.
I think this blog post needs a bit of a disclaimer to start with, as reading this back I can picture one of my favourite aunts being completely horrified at my choice of fruitful language.
If you are following this blog post Auntie Janet, please forgive me! I always think of you as my barometer when I write and post things, as you’re the matriarch of the family and a true lady. (Hope you’re well, Auntie Janet - love to you and Uncle Bob!)
Infertility. Sex. Relationships.
If you’ve been through it and/or are going through it, then you’ll know exactly what I mean.
“I’m pregnant!” your best mate trills. “We only did it twice! This is our first month of actually trying!”
“I’m pregnant! We weren’t even trying! But isn’t it amazing?”
“Well, I think I’m going to have sex next June so I’m three months pregnant by September as we have a wedding to go to. I don’t want to be too far gone by then, I’m chief bridesmaid!”
URGH. Pregnant event planners are THE WORST!
I mean, WHAAT?! They pop it in the diary a year ahead of time and it just becomes a thing? I mean, how very dare they be able to schedule it into their calendar like a Zoom meeting!?
Add insult to injury, it probably didn’t even take them as long as a forty-minute Zoom meeting to get the job done.
40 minutes. Zoom meeting over. Mission completed. Bet there was no need to lie with legs in the air for twenty minutes post-coital.
However they tell you, or they DON’T tell you because they’re afraid of hurting your feelings (which is a completely valid point but serves only to make you feel even worse when you find out, so they really can’t win besides joining the infertility club, which you wouldn’t wish on them, OF COURSE!), you’ll sit there in receipt of the news, with a smile that could crack your face into a million pieces, while your whole entire being slumps down into your shoes, spilling like liquid all over the floor, as your heart shatters from the inside of your chest.
It takes every ounce of your strength to keep your composure, to find the words they want to hear, said in exactly the way they want to hear them. And the biggest part of you wants to do their news justice. You WANT to be happy for them. But you feel like a complete fraud.
And that’s when the rage will start to swell in the very bottom of your belly.
“For fuck’s sake!” the voice inside your head screams. “FOR. FUCK’S. SAKE!”
You feel as though you’ve just had your guts wrenched out of you.
The sudden jealously and anger you’ll feel towards those amazing, lovely people in your life will be felt completely against your will because you just. can’t. help it.
You’ll then start turning on yourself because you’ll hate the way you feel so bitter.
“I’M AN AWFUL PERSON!” you’ll wail to your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/husband.
For the large part, it’ll be mostly private dialogue confined to the four corners of your own head, and those wonderful people in your life will have little or no clue as to how you’re really feeling or what you’re going through. But the constant negativity can drive you bonkers, and the pretences you have to keep up to the outside world can be emotionally exhausting.
It goes without saying - you wouldn’t wish infertility on your worst enemy, let alone your best friend, or your sister. Nevertheless, you wonder why every other fucker on the planet is getting pregnant besides you. You’ll feel pretty damn rubbish to be fair.
“WHY THEM? Why not ME?!”
“WHY CAN’T I SEE A LITTLE BLUE LINE AT THE END OF THE MONTH IN EXCHANGE FOR ALL THE AWKWARD, PLANNED AND REGIMENTED SEX FROM DAY 6 TO DAY 21 OF MY CYCLE?”
Yes. You’re still shouting. It’s caps for a reason.
Oh – and your life is so consumed by getting pregnant it’s infiltrating your life online too.
Cue the sudden joys of targeted Internet advertising that wants to play commentary on your life, just to rub in your predicament a little more.
You’ll have to sit through those cringe-worthy ads – the ones that depict those beautiful, fertile couples lounging around on the bathroom floor, heads together, cradling a pregnancy test as if it was the god damn baby itself.
Flipping heck! All you were trying to do was watch a quick episode of Emmerdale.
And I mean, really? Is that where people find out and celebrate the news together, on the sodding bathroom floor? SMUG TOSSERS. I KNOW YOU’RE ACTORS, BUT YOU’RE TOSSERS ANYWAY!
You didn’t mean that. I know you just said it, but you didn’t mean it. It’s only an advert. “I’M SORRY!” you’ll find yourself shouting at the TV. “I’M A NICE PERSON, REALLY!”
That’s infertility for you. It sends you places that mentally, you don’t want to be.
You feel things you don’t MEAN.
Or at the very least, you feel things you don’t want to feel. It’s not you.
One day, you’ll see an Instagram ad pop up for a fertility cycle tracker, and in its bold and excessively large font size the words ‘NOT FERTILE!’ will fill your phone screen, just to make a point.
That app is mocking you.
Even though the app is probably aimed at smug twenty-somethings for contraception purposes, those words are now meant JUST for you.
“I KNOW!!” you’ll want to scream in reply as you throw your phone across the bedroom floor and weep at what infertility might mean for your relationship. What your life might mean without children.
You might find you’ve started to isolate yourself from your friends and perhaps even your family.
With Facebook feeds jam-packed full of scan photos, pregnant bumps (or worse still), staged bump photoshoots, baby announcements, news of baby milestones and smug new parents marvelling over their precious new bundles, giving your online world a miss is usually the first thing you’ll think about doing.
When every Facebook visit turns into another virtual slap in the face, and another reminder of what you can’t seem to achieve, you won’t want to see any of it, because it physically hurts.
Infertility. God, it’s such a horrible word when you think about it. And when you’re in it, you’ll be thinking about it A LOT. And after years of trying (and failing) what an absolute bore it’ll be to everybody else around you.
Sympathy fatigue, I think they call it.
Alternatively, you’ll have met your match for sure with the story topper of your group.
“Oh, I know EXACTLY how you feel! It took Mike and I three or four months to conceive Freddie!’ they’ll say, thinking they’re in the same boat and moving the conversation swiftly on.
You might meet another side of yourself when you’re struggling to conceive. A side you don’t like much. Bitter. Angry. Resentful.
“THREE OR FOUR MONTHS? YOU LUCKY BASTARDS!” your brains will scream. “WE’VE BEEN TRYING FOR YEEEEEARS!” but your mouth stays firmly shut.
Infertility is shit.
They say comparison is the thief of joy, and personally, I think comparison and infertility make a perfectly shitty couple to be honest. The pair of them
go hand in hand and only serve to make you feel like a complete and utter angry failure.
Infertility is tough.
But you’re NOT alone. Now more than ever there are little communities of women in the same situation supporting each other. Instagram is a fantastic platform to share your experiences and to seek help and advice along the way. A lot of women choose to share their journeys anonymously, so you don’t have to worry about friends and family finding out.
From personal experience, the thing you have to remember is that everybody is different. Everybody is living different lives, and living in a different story.
What you have to do is concentrate on writing your own.
And be strong. Find your way forward. Yes, you can.
Ellie Thompson, My Baba & Jellie Diary
Ps - If you need a place to talk, and meet like-minded women who are experts at all of this TTC/IVF malarky – head over to our IVF/TTC A Place to Talk group on Facebook. You can find it under GROUPS on @jelliediary.