In the last 22 months, I have developed friendships and connections with various women for whom I am forever grateful. Many of them I may never meet in real life. Some of them I never thought that I would emotionally connect with in some ways. But each of them is important to me. I feel so blessed that these women were, have been, and are in my life.
I was lurking on the Taking Charge of Your Fertility forum for quite a few months in July 2011. That was only three months after we got married. We had a plan of starting to try to conceive a year after we got married. I began charting, taking my basal body temperature, and recording all the fertility signs. I lurked and lurked but never posted. I read about people’s journeys and found myself rooting for them. I never felt an urge to start posting since I wasn’t really TTC. I secretly and selfishly hope that I would never have to post as I might just magically get pregnant the first month or two trying.
That naive, selfish way of thinking quickly changed when my OB/GYN diagnosed me with uterine fibroids in September 2011. That was the beginning of my friendships with a group a super supportive ladies who has been there for me through thick and thin. I found myself sharing with them about my struggles and emotions more often than with my real life friends. They were the ones who found out about the results of my surgery, kept me company during the six weeks of recovery, gave me tips for various problems, and cheered me on during a very difficult time with horrible lab results of high FSH, low AMH, and low antral follicle counts. They sent me personal messages with words of encouragement and their own personal experiences in regards to IVF and progesterone supplements. They were the ones who urged me to check on my progesterone level 7 days past ovulation. They generally want me to succeed and to become a mother. Connecting to these ladies was the lifeline for me when living a infertile life with uncertainty was sometimes less than bearable.
A few of us ladies have recently spun off and started our Facebook secret group. It has been so great to connect instantly with them with any news of doctor’s visits, lab results, and just general musings about life.
I became real life friends with one of the ladies who lived in my area. RR and I met up a few times before she moved down to Southern California. When I was there with Bob in April for an IVF seminar, RR came with her little girl to visit with us at the hotel. We also update each other on Whatsapp. Life is a lot more manageable with RR’s encouraging and caring messages.
Beginning of this year, I joined another bigger group of ladies on a Facebook secret group. I truly think that my life has changed forever. They really have been there for me every step of the way since I started the IVF journey. Some of these ladies are trying for the first time. Some of them have secondary infertility. Others are graduates who are still hanging around to cheer people on. We all vary in our age, background, experience, and geographic area. These differences don’t seem to matter when it comes to infertility. We celebrate someone’s BFPs. We console the ones who get stark white HPTs or get a visit from AF. We give advice and validate someone’s feelings of frustration, sadness, annoyance, or desperation sitting in an RE’s office with pregnant ladies. We send virtual hugs and real baskets of gifts for those who have miscarried. It warms my heart to have met and walk with these online friends. When I sat at my RE’s office waiting to get seen for lab results, these ladies were the ones who calmed my nerves real time on Facebook. The support that I got from them was how I could get through my first IVF cycle knowing that someone understood. Since I started joining their Friday night online chat, I have developed a deeper connection with some of these ladies, learning weekly about their lives, their families, their thoughts, their struggles, and their humor. I look forward to the weekly chat and feel bummed when I have other engagements. I truly hope that one day we can all have a get together at a place to chat face-to-face.
I never thought that I would also develop a connection at work that is based on infertility. As a speech-language pathologist serving little kids, I have many clients whose parents are in their fertile years. I never thought that I would open up and share my story and struggles with anyone of them. I keep to myself when I see some of the mothers’ growing baby bumps. I congratulate them while my heart is dying a little inside. Right before we started our IVF cycle in late June, S’s mom told me that they had to take time off for two sessions. Since it’s the summer, of course I asked her what kind of fun places she was going to head to. I was surprised to find myself listening to her story of her infertility and struggles. My client S was conceived through IVF when the mom was about my age. That was her second IVF. Since then she had done a couple of cycles for number two and has not succeeded. This would be her last try at conceiving number two since she is already 43 and each cycle in Colorado is very expensive. She was supposed to fly out to Colorado when her period came. I felt an instant connection with her because her FSH, AMH, and AFC were about similar to mine. She knows what I will go through since she has gone through something similar Since then, we update each other on the progress of our cycle weekly. When she came the following week after she shared about her journey, AF still hadn’t arrived and she could not make any travel plans. I asked if she was pregnant and she said that it was impossible. Fast forward to this past week when our therapy session resumed after a break for two weeks. I updated her on my cycle and she updated me on hers. She never went to Colorado for her monitoring and retrieval because she had gotten pregnant! However, I found it odd that she didn’t seem joyful when she shared the news with me. So this is her story. She thought that it was odd for her that AF didn’t arrive. Since I asked if she was pregnant, she took a HPT and found two lines! She was so incredibly happy because this was the first time in ten years that she had gotten pregnant naturally without any intervention. The interesting thing was that this pregnancy almost seemed impossible because she and her husband fooled around but did not have penetration during their intimate time. She was shocked that she got pregnant and at the same time was so happy for the chance of completing her family without another round of IVF. However, things don’t seem to be going her way. Her betas are not doubling and her doctor did not see a fetal pole on the ultrasound. She will go back for another blood test as well as ultrasound next week. It does not seem like the pregnancy is viable. I am almost angry that her one and only natural conception is soon going to be taken away from her. Sadness came over me. I just want to protect her from more heartaches. The story of an unlikely connection with a client’s mother will unfold in the upcoming months when I go back for more treatment cycles and she handles her emotional ups and downs for her fertility struggles.
As for my real life friends who are fertile, I share my journey with them when I can. Do I go to them when I have a question, thought, need for advice, or a hug? Probably not. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. It is just that when it comes to infertility, I draw so much strength from these other ladies who know what it means to devote many minutes and hours of your time each day to fight to start a family and the devastation of the uncertainty of the future. I still love my fertile friends. But the connection is on a very different level.