There’s a terrible silence about it

So, 300 people and counting have looked at this blog since I posted the last post, and a good third of those came from various feed readers/rss feed aggregators/whatever the hell you like to call yours, so really meant to look at this blog. And the 7 people (so far) who have commented are all stalwart regulars, none of whom, no, not one of whom, bounced idyllicly into pregnancy and baby-wrangling with nary a pang or tremor.

It took me two hours to write that post, trying to work out how to say what I felt without vapouring, incoherence, ranting or uncalled-for snark. I did really want to know, for example, whether Fertile People do read this blog, and whether it has changed their minds or attitudes (for better or worse) about us Infertiles. Or do they read it in the cheerfully idling manner of someone enjoying a good ol’ car-crash dust-up on F*ckB**k?

I mean, hell, I read ‘Mummy’ blogs all the time (usually because the writer makes me laugh like Brian Blessed on helium). And it helps me remember parents are human and complicated and Baby does not equal Future of Nothing But Dancing Unicorns And Rainbows. It – ahh, naturally – both defuses the Envy and increases it. It seems kids, by and large, are worth it even when they are lying on the floor in Sainsburys, pulling glass jars on top of themselves and making a noise like a dentist’s drill in a steel plate.

There are even (!) points of comparison. Take the judging thing – many parent bloggers have at least a few little vents about feeling and indeed being judged over the parenting. It hurts, to be doing your best and damndest, and yet still have family/friends/random passers-by carp and snit at you, or dismiss your concerns and difficulties. Especially when your beloved tot is behaving like a psychotic bull elephant and everyone thinks it’s YOU and you know it’s actually A REAL PROBLEM. Especially when you’ve just got your child to eat something other than strawberry yoghurt and Auntie Whatsit gives you a lecture on feeding the child a variety of foods and not being a lazy mother who can’t be bothered to cook. And so on.

Similarly, we infertile people are all doing our own best and damndest to build our families, and it really hurts to have family/friends/random passers-by carp and snit at us. Or dismiss our pain and struggles. Especially when we’ve just lost another baby/failed another IVF/been given a horrible diagnosis.

Sometimes, when I am mellow and feeling particularly fond of all the human race, I don’t blame fertile people for not really knowing what to say or what to think or how to deal with it all. Culture, media, films, books, magazine articles, TV programmes, insist on showing infertile women or women who have lost babies as neurotic, unpleasant to be around, horrible tetchy wives, too tense and uptight to be able to get or stay pregnant, self-sabotaging, self-defeating, undeserving, impatient, hypochondriac. We’ve done something dangerous, had ‘too much fun’ as young women, been career-women ball-breakers and neglected our biological clocks, unable to get a man, ‘resorting’ to ART when shagging strangers in cars fails, driving our husbands into the arms of other, younger, more fertile women, or trying to steal younger, more fertile women’s husbands. When we feature in a film or novel it’s usually as an insane and broken baby-stealer or as so delusional we’re pretending that a doll, a cat, a puppy is really our child. And infertile/bereaved men? Either don’t exist at all, or only exist as the reason why their partner has lost her mind. Their stories and feelings pretty much never get a look in.

Given all that, how is a fertile person supposed to deal with their sister, brother, daughter, son, cousin, friend, especially when she or he suddenly acts weird about holding newborns and bursts into tears when a pregnancy is announced?

Compassion, a simple ‘I’m sorry,’ can seem, to some, inadequate, and therefore the Wrong Thing To Say (it’s almost never the wrong thing to say, really). To others, compassion is too risky, because admitting this IS a shitty situation can seem too like opening the floodgates to a full-on Attack of the Psycho Infertile. (I hereby promise we none of us will steal your baby or your spouse just because you acknowledged that infertility and loss are very painful). However, if we are calm, mostly, and haven’t chased a pram down the street screaming ‘Gimme!’ lately, fertile people can lose track of just how much we’re struggling, and assume everything is OK and we don’t want a baby that badly, and act accordingly. Which can hurt us very much too. And then, there’s the infamous pregnancy announcement or Christening or nosy question at Easter dinner, and an outburst of pain, and people think we ARE psycho all over again.

And the advice! The ‘just relaxes’ and ‘go on holiday!’ and ‘forget about it, and then you’ll get pregnant’ (I did that one Christmas. It… ended badly) and ‘eat pineapple/cough medicine/raw fish’ and ‘are you doing it right?’ and ‘maybe you’re just not meant to be parents’. All things that seem to be based on this image of Infertile as Too Neurotic To Get Pregnant. Which hurts, the assumption hurts, the ignorance hurts, the facile dismissal of real pain and grief hurts.

Almost worse, the kind souls who, while juggling their newborn and their toddler on their knees and keeping an eye on the six-year-old on the swings, tell us, so earnestly, that everything will be fine, and we’ll be pregnant by Christmas, they just KNOW it. Whose pain does this platitude ease? Theirs? No doubt. It’s so nice and easy to wish good things for those you care about. Especially when making the good things happen is none of your business and not your problem. I do it all the time, myself, in the privacy of my own head. Does it ease the pain of us infertiles to hear it? Actually, it stings. It angers us. It’s a denial of the horrible truth we’re living, that there may never be a child. That we could be going through this for nothing. That nothing we or anyone could do would help in the end. And no one will acknowledge this horror, and no one will sit with us while we deal with it. Just empty promises they have no way of keeping and no intention of doing anything about, and we’re supposed to be comforted and gladdened.

So really, are any fertile people reading this? Who have read this far?

Have I really pissed people off now?


78 responses to “There’s a terrible silence about it

  • QoB

    well, I’m neither category…
    so I’ll shut up for the moment:)

  • Rachel

    Still reading (and loving your writing) but not exactly in the ‘fertile’ category. However, definitely in the category of ‘exceedingly lucky when given the right combination of drugs’ and hey, I’ll take it.

  • a

    Now that, that was a vent. I’m proud of you – your words are incredibly true and moving. I started to comment on the last post, but thought that you were addressing a different audience. Like you, I’m fertile enough (as in egg meets sperm and they join). Like you I have a uterus of death (5 pregnancies! 4 miscarriages!) Unlike you, I have made it to the holy grail. So I get what you have to say, and I’m cheering you on to success.

    But, as someone who frequently says exactly the wrong thing, I have some sympathy for the fertile people. In fact, it makes me slightly amused to hear someone else (i.e. other than me) bungle things so badly for a change. And, sometimes, I use my tactlessness and tendency towards brutal honesty to make people feel bad for saying obnoxious things. I almost did it yesterday to one very nice parent at the daycare who was commenting on how my daughter should get a sibling. But I restrained myself, because I don’t want to inflict my bitterness on some poor young guy who is just naive.

    I don’t understand this mellow feeling of fondness for the human race though. You lost me there.

    • May

      Thank you. (Uterus of death! Exactly! So glad yours forgot about that for a few months…)

      (Ooh, yeah, how I FANTASIZE about ‘straightforwardly’ downloading a metric ton of bitterness on the next naive dillweed to accidentally press the wrong sore spot…)

  • Allison

    Not a fertile, but stopping by anyway to say I think I’ve completely and utterly fallen for you. I mean, I had done so anyway, but after these particular lines, it is official: “It’s a denial of the horrible truth we’re living, that there may never be a child. That we could be going through this for nothing.”

  • Heather

    Not fertile. Just lucky here.

    And often I want to say more than, “I’m sorry.” but I feel if I go on I will end up inserting my foot directly into my mouth and I would hate to cause some one even more pain than what they are going through…but I feel like an ass for just saying “sorry” too.

    • May

      I always used to feel that saying ‘I’m sorry’ was a bit inadequate. But now that I need people to say it to me, I wonder why people feel ‘sorry’ is inadequate. What else CAN anyone say without foot-mouth issues?

      I’m glad you were lucky. I hope you get lucky again. I’m sorry you didn’t get lucky the easy way.

  • Bionic Baby Mama

    I don’t know anymore whether I count as fertile. Just did IVF, but maybe we didn’t try hard enough first? On the other hand, we’re not likely to knock ourselves up the old fashioned way, given a distinct lack of Y-chromosomes in the household…. And the IVF seems (at least for now, knock wood, spit, spit) to have worked, but (and?) I do have a genuine infertility diagnosis beyond simple sperm deficiency….

    Anyway, I do love reading your blog. You’re funny. You write well. You seem like a real person when I read.

    As one of the 300, I thought I should say so, even if I don’t know what category to answer as.

    • May

      Congratulations and best wishes! Hurrah!

      (Damn those pesky Y-chromosomes! What is it with them and sperm?)

      Thank you for saying I’m funny and real. *blush*

      I must go and read your entire blog from day one.

  • May

    Amen, sister. This is why I babble on to anyone and everyone about my issues. We can’t expect the general population to get it if no one is talking about it.

    • May

      You tell it like it is, sister! Or, alternately, and more Britishly (is that a word?), Speak on, oh brave and noble soldier.

  • Carrie (lurker)

    For the record, I may or may not be infertile, I haven’t landed a man yet so I haven’t been able to find out. I do have PCOS, so I could end up in an infertility hell of my own. I found you via HFF.

    Honestly, May, you’re not giving yourself enough credit. I read your blog because you are a kick ass writer. Somehow even *during a miscarriage* you still manage to be clever, funny, poignant and beautiful. I read your blog because I find what you have to say interesting. You rock my socks.

    I don’t comment because I can only imagine what it must be like for you and H. The only thing I could possibly say is ‘I’m sorry’. And I am. I’m so sorry for what you and H are having to go through.

    • May

      What a lovely, lovely comment, Carrie. I am honoured. If I get any pinker or more flustered you could use me as a Belisha Beacon.

      PCOS is an arse. I very much hope that yours lets you do as you wish when you wish when it comes to family-building. And good luck with the man-landing, should you want to land one.

  • L.

    Well, I answered to the previous post but maybe I should elaborate. I had that one early miscarriage, and a more cautious attitude toward the certainty of pregnancy/delivery than others, but there’s no question I should be marked in the “fertile” column. I would never compare myself to someone who had to go on a drug regimen, much less through IVF. But then again, now that I think about my mostly-fertile friends, several have had uncertainties. They would be considered minor to many IFers–trying for a year without success, in one’s mid-30s, or not ovulating for years after having one’s first child, or scary difficulties in the birth itself–but this makes me think that, even for many of us who fall in that “fertile with children” column, we’ve had a taste here and there that makes empathy with IFers easier.

    So, significant infertility is hugely different from these minor bumps, I know, but many of your readership may have had those experiences that make empathy and sympathy all too easy, even if we cannot *really* know what it’s like. Your grief, anger, frustration, and confusion have never struck me as strange or alien. And, heck, everyone on this planet (as far as I can tell) fights struggles of one sort of another, so when it comes down to it, only a rare few of us are strangers to grief, frustration, anger, and confusion.

    Aside from that, you do write beautifully, and of course I’m rooting for you and thinking of you and wanting to know what you’re thinking and feeling. And I want to think that maybe I can help by listening and being there as you move through this journey.

    I do worry a lot about whether I say the right thing. I know the important things to NOT say (just relax, go on vacation, adopt a baby, then you’ll get pregnant!) and I feel like it’s hard to go wrong with saying “I’m sorry and I’m thinking of you and wishing you feel better.” But sometimes other things come to mind–like the first half of this post–and I bite my nails a little writing them up.

    • May

      I hug you.

      Given that so many woman have had ugly/scary brushes with Uncertainties in Baby-Making, I do wonder why or how the media gets away with portraying it and us so unkindly and hysterically. I mean, SO many woman have had a scare or a Bad Sad Thing. It makes divisions between women that DON’T ACTUALLY EXIST. We’re all on a continuum, really.

      And your comments are always thoughtful and kind and always welcome.

  • manapan

    I don’t really have anything supportive to say, so instead I’ll share what’s been making me giggle and hope you get a laugh out of it too.

    All of this has gotten me stuck on the idea of an infertile superheroine. She blogs by day and steals the spouses and babies of insensitive anonymous commenters by night.

    • May

      Heh heh.

      Only problem, insensitive anonymous commentator’s babies and spouses are not likely to be worth stealing, given who they’re parented by/married to… (Miaow).

  • Jane G

    *Round of applause*

    I just wish I could write about it all as eloquently as you do.

  • Illanare

    You have this knack of putting what so many of us are thinking and feeling into coherent, witty, sapient words. I am certainly not fertile, and appear to have a womb of death too. And I also know that I will never reach that holy grail. So I won’t say that I “know motherhood will happen” for you, but just that I really, really hope that it does.

  • Betty M

    I didn’t comment on the last post as I dont think of myself as in the fertlile category. I am in the “yes I have children but I also know both successful and unsuccesful Ivf and also loss as well as the mystery of only succeeding on our own post 39” category. This may well be a category of 1.

    Given the weird category I am in I do know some of the issues fertiles (bizarrely corrected to ferrules by my phone) have with commenting on loss and IF blogs. The feeling that you will either say an obviously wrong thing or alternatively get the tone all wrong. I know that happens to me and I know that when I was firmly in IF category that what I could take in support varied from one day to the next.

    I do wish that life wasn’t panning out like this for you and H. I want you to get lucky like I did and I know that there was nothing I did that I can point to which made the difference. I can only say that there were moments when I thought it would never get better. I can pass on what I have learnt through bitter experience on blood tests, difficult pregnancies,miscarriage , ivf etc but whether ithelps or is relevant at all I don’t know. I do try though to only say stuff that might help.

    But I read cos you are funny and moving and angry and you come across as a good and erudite egg.

    • May

      ‘Ferrules’! Hah! I like it!

      I hope the Cute Ute and Satsuma are taking you as a Good Example, to be honest. The fact that after all that your insides came good and made a lovely baby solo cheers me up (apart from the appendicitis bit. That was uncalled for).

      I value your comments. So. Thank you for taking the time to make them.

      (‘Good and erudite egg’! I’m tickled pink!)

  • Lou

    I read because I came across from HFF and loved your writing so much I actually have you filed in my favourites folder. You are one of a very small number blogs that I actually follow religiously! I am not in either category yet since we have not tried, but I’ve followed your story avidly and hope so much that there will be a happy ending for you. xxx

  • carole

    Ditto: I read your blog because I think you are a good writer and I find it interesting, not because you fit into a category. I’m another half and half: “infertile” for 5 years and then suddenly I wasn’t and am now out on the other side. But in some ways that makes more difficult to comment, because I know what it is to feel resentful to the fertiles of the world and now I suppose I am one. It’s disconcerting at times, like David Mitchell turning to Robert Webb and saying ” Are we the baddies?”

    • May

      I do like being uncategorizable, all the best people are.

      I love that Mitchell and Webb sketch! Yes! Excellent!

      Do you think, ‘once an infertile, always an infertile’? Some people with a kid, even several kids, do say they still feel infertile because their experience in getting said kids was so, well, traumatic sounds depressing… So unforgettable? So life-changing? So mind-blowing? (That last, hah! Fodder for unsuitable jokes, I fear).

      • Anonymous

        “Do you think, ‘once an infertile, always an infertile’ ”

        Yes, because it’s an experience you never forget. So you’ll always know far more about cervical muccous: the consistancy of than can be discussed in mixed company, soap-opera pregnancy storylines will always make you want to write furious letters to ‘Points of View’ and you’ll grind your teeth every time someone says that IVF involves “implanting” the embryos. You have eaten the pre-pregnancy vitamin pills of knowledge and there’s no going back….

        BUT, there is an upside if you make it through. You really know how precious something is if you’ve gone through hell to get it. On top of my years of not getting pregnant, I then had a hideously fraught pregnancy that had to be ended at 28 weeks as bucket-kicking was getting rather too likely. I look at my now healthy 3 year old and genuinely thank my lucky stars every day. I wonder if trouble-free fertiles can ever feel that in quite the same way?

        But I’d still have rather had their path, the lucky bitches!

  • bumbling

    Can I speak out as a fertile? And if I say anything insensitve feel free to delete the comment. Because I just *can’t* know the pain. I can try to imagine, but I can’t know.

    I started reading you before I started trying for a baby. I had ovarian cysts removed at 8 and 25, and an ovary snatched too at the first cyst, half at the second. So when I even started thinking about babies, I was looking for info on what the probabilites were. And I found you.

    And I stayed here. But I can’t pretend that even with that medical starting point I’m an “infertile” that came good in the end.

    We tried, we succeeded, quickly, we were really bloody lucky. I know you don’t really want to know that.

    But I stayed. Your writing struck a note. Your story was the one I could have lived.

    (and I just kinda liked you! I thought we might get on 😉 )

    Us fertiles have to be reminded of what it’s like. When we’re moaning about kids that won’t sleep, of kids that scream, of kids that don’t let us have careers, or have a drink, or see adults, we need to be reminded. Of how much it hurts not to have them when you want them.

    Or maybe not even reminded. To be told. Because many have never even considered the possibility of failure.

    I rarely comment, because I don’t want to say the wrong thing. And I probably have now. But I’m staying. You’re still in my RSS feed. I’m gonna keep checking in. Your writing doesn’t offend me. It inspires me.

    • May

      You lost an ovary AND A HALF to cysts? They hurt like the bloody blue blazes, don’t they, cysts, ghastly horrible things. I’m sorry you went through that, and very glad the left over bits worked beautifully.

      (Hear that, Satsuma? Half an ovary and still doing a damn fine job. I always knew you were lazy).

      Anyway, your comment was very moving, so please keep commenting should you feel the urge, and I’m still blushing and getting a little weepy every time someone says nice things about my writing, so now I need another tissue. Excuse me.

  • red79

    I am a Fertile…I have 3 healthy kids..I lost 2 babies along the way as well though. And I am one of those horrible annoying people who got pregnant without wanting to be. Pregnant at 20! Not what I wanted for my life…but grateful now that I was. I read your blog because it reminds me to be be grateful for what I have when I am sitting here thinking how the hell did I end up a single mother of a 10 year old, a 5 year old and a 4 year old at the age of 30. It is really hard to just say “sorry”..but that is what I am…Sorry. So, so sorry that you are going through this shit and that you are so helpless against your own body. Sorry doesn’t sound right when you have written about agonising pain and the loss of babies, and the fear that you may never have a baby. And almost feeling like an intruder in your pain when you write about it. I admire that you have kept writing and that you haven’t given up hope.

    • May

      I’m so sorry for your lost babies.

      Pregnant at 20, and three kids by 30 without a partner to share… that’s hard. You are a brave strong woman. Thank you for commenting and for your kind words.

  • Melissia

    I started to comment the last time as well but deleted mine as I am the master of mumbled words. I consider myself “formerly fertile”, having has 5 children in 6 years during my 20’s. It was all part of our plan to have a large family while we were young. The one thing that we did not plan on was that our middle daughter would be stillborn and that all of our children would inherit a genetic disorder that would not be diagnosed until the youngest was 3. We are now both sterilized after the diagnosis.
    As a result I became a nurse and lastly a labor and delivery nurse specializing in women with difficult deliveries, those babies with a fatal illness, those that are stillborn, those that are just too soon. And I never stopped being so very grateful for the children that I do have. So people are listening May, and paying attention to what you have to say.

    • May

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your daughter. I’m so sorry your plan for a large family led to such hard discoveries and choices. Best wishes to you all.

      Your choice of career is very inspiring and moving. I’m so glad those poor women get to have someone who ‘gets it’ to help them deliver. It must make a vast difference to them.

      OK, I need yet another tissue now.

  • Bryony

    Hi – I am fertile(or was – age has caught up with me)- I have 3 kids. It took a year to have the first at 30, but the next one came along on cue and the third was unplanned. Like Melissia, I never stop being grateful for my children or stop paying attention to what you have to say (nicely put Melissia!) because although your story isn’t mine, you write intelligently and movingly about the human condition and there may well be part of my life – loss or grief – that is the same as yours. When I meet old friends now, I know differently than to blithely ask if they have children or to rabbitt on about mine and that is thanks to posts like yours. I think of you May, I do. B,

    • May

      I’m (smugly? Please smack me if it’s smugly) pleased that my blog has given some (good kind) people some knowledge or insight. I feel all purposeful now. Thank you for commenting, and for thinking of me.

  • Amy P

    We’ve known each other a while, from elsewhere on the web, and you know I’m almost obnoxiously fertile and don’t exactly have a hard time of it at the other end of pregnancy, either. (I seem to remember once saying that, a century ago, I’d likely be worn out by having over a dozen kids by now… That was an interesting conversation…) You also should know by now that I’m carp at putting words together. Or at least feel I am, most times. Anyway, I read because you’re a friend. I keep silent because “I’m sorry” doesn’t seem like enough, and anything else I can think to say, I can see hurting, or just being extremely stupid. Silence seems safer, for both of us. Yes, I admit to being a coward.

    • May

      Hey, fret not. I know you care, and I care about you and yours.

      (I’m a coward too, you know. I can’t face talking about all this Elsewhere on the web. It makes me feel too skinned raw and vulnerable both to others’ indifference and to others’ pity, in a place where I was used to being (mostly) amusing and clever. So I’ve gone very quiet until this stops taking up so much of my time, mind, heart and life. My own silly fault for putting on my wit like armour for years in the first place).

      Thank you for commenting, brave lady.

  • Martin

    I just dunno what to say which or whether these days. I really don’t.

    • thalia

      Obviously not fertile, but people think I am. I hear all the time “you didn’t wait around” whenI tell them the age gap between Pob and Junior. And I think, “if only you knew….” It’s very very very hard where you are, sweetie. We’re all here with you.

      • May

        Were I Queen of Europe, I’d make it illegal (or at least, as obviously a faux pas as wiping one’s bottom on the curtains) to pass remarks on a person’s quantities or spacing of children.

        Hugs, my dear. Thank you.

    • May

      Martin, thanks for dropping by, though, and caring enough to let me know you’re still dropping by from time to time.

      What I never get around to coming over and saying to you: Your daughter is one of the loveliest creatures ever made by a loquacious Irishman, you lucky sod. I’m very happy for you, even if I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself to stop by and say so very often.

  • Naomi

    I’m a former “fertile”. Like many, I don’t categorize you and I read because of your writing. Like many others, I didn’t comment on your last post, though I tried. I’ve no way of knowing how any of this feels. Nothing I can say can make it all better for you. All I can do is hope, wish, and pray that the doctors figure it all out and you have your own little “angel” someday. Until then (and after), I’ll continue to lurk, to read, to hope for you. That’s all I can do. I’m sorry it’s not more.

  • The cheerleader

    From the looks of it the answer is ‘no’ – there’s nobody reading this who has not had a single trip or misstep on the road to maternity; hence the lack of replies to your initial post.

    Me? Not infertile but my first baby died in a miscarriage at 9.5 weeks and that’s how I found your blog. I still grieve that loss 16 months ago despite currently being 5.5 months pregnant.

    I feel bad if I say ‘yes it’s my first’ to friendly old ladies in shops. I inwardly seethe at the people who said ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ or ‘it was for the best’ and wait to use those lines on them next time they are bereaved. I don’t dare to buy baby things while others have fully kitted out nurseries already and only just bought my first elastic waisted jeans (no need to wait for pregnancy for these, they are fantastic and I’m never going back).

    Breath holding caution, ludicrous superstition, ill advised forays into obstetric statistics with Dr Google, if I am like this after one miscarriage what on earth can it be like for you? I don’t comment often because I am such a lightweight in the pain Olympics, people have said such stupid things to me and I have utterly failed to forgive them but instead tenderly nurse a grudge and I’m not sure feedback from a pregnant lady is what you need, but yes, I do have an inkling.

    • May

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I still mourn my first and that was over two years ago now – I don’t think it’s the sort of thing you stop grieving over. It just becomes less raw. And I’m sorry for both of us because after that destruction of innocence, there’s no way to cheerfully enjoy pregnancy again, even if it does make us very glad. Congratulations and best wishes.

      And ‘it was for the best’ drives me batshit. No it fucking wasn’t. Even if there WAS something wrong with the embryo, it absolutely wasn’t for the best that something was THAT wrong with it, was it now? Gah. Dumb-ass thing to say. Grr. I’m sorry people said it to you.

  • geohde


    I am clearly anything but fertile, aiming as I am to hit my 4th IVf transfer one of these bleeping days.

    But I DO always read you.

    Moslty because my transplanted soul finds your take on the world much more akin to my own that these zinc-faced bbq beachgoers I now live with 🙂


    PS, fwiw I tend to think screw the NHS, they’re largely delaying your treatment because of red tape and insitutional reasons and they really should pull their proverbial finger out because it’s bad enough here but the situation in the UK is a crying shame, really it is.

    • May

      ‘Zinc-faced bbq beachgoers’ made me laugh. You always make me laugh. I’m a bad commentator, I know, sorry. Hoping all the immense tangle of paperwork and faff sorts itself out and you can get on with creating Indian Takeaway III, Now With Kulfi, asap.

  • lizvelrene

    I am basically childfree – have never tried to get pregnant, have no idea if I would be fertile or not. My partner and I use birth control. I like other people’s kids fine, but the mothering instinct seems to have passed me by. I’m 30, maybe in a few years I will panic and realize I should have been working on this, or maybe I’ll realize I dodged a bullet, I really don’t know.

    Regardless, I check your blog all the time hoping for some good news for you, May. I was really unaware of what people go through when they struggle with infertility until I came across blogs like yours. My heart aches for you even if I don’t share this struggle. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    • May

      I’m touched that you read this and hope for me. Thank you.

      I know I want kids (obviously, eh, why are we here again?), but I spent most of my 20s NOT wanting kids, and if anyone even now said anything to me about ‘see? You just needed to wait until your biological clock kicked in’ I’d smack them. That’s not how it works. Some people are scared of having kids in case they mess it up (me, in my youth). Some want to wait until they are financially secure and can provide a decent home (H, bless him). And some people just don’t want kids. And I think that these latter people are wise and cool, because knowing what you want and what you can do is a great gift. I know alas too many people who didn’t want kids and accidentally had them or got talked into it by an enthusiastic partner and while they do love the kids now they’re here, they aren’t happy and their marriages have taken the brunt and they’ve missed out on doing things they really DID want to do.

      I hope that if you never do want kids, that all works out for you (and that if you do change your mind, that also works out).

  • nh

    I feel your pain – as one of those who is childless not by any choice of mine… but I am trying to move on. However I do read you, because I understand your pain, anger and frustation. But I’m not always the best at leaving comments…. I promise I’ll try harder!

    • May

      I’m crap at leaving comments too – you may have noticed. I’ll try harder myself.

      Good luck and best wishes for the moving on. Hugs.

  • Laura

    May – no matter what the topic, your writing is incredible (I’m reading from the U.S. so love the whole british thing!) and out of all the blogs I read, yours is one of the first I click on to find out what’s going on with you. I’ve suffered with unexplained infertility but we got pregnant through an IUI – so not sure exactly where that put us.

    • May

      Thank you (OK, breaking out fresh box of tissues now. Ridiculously weepy at all the kind things people are saying).

      ‘Unexplained’ must be one of the arsiest diagnoses to deal with. How do you deal with something when there is no actual SOMETHING to deal with?

      And congratulations on your pregnancy. So glad things worked in the end.

  • Hairy Farmer Wifey

    I think I’m a bit too dazed and confused tonight to make much sense here, but I’m all the way down at 28th on one of the best posts you’ve ever written, and I just wanted to wave an affectionate paw before I’m in the 30s!

    It occurs to me that a search and replace of ‘infertility & miscarriage’ with ‘major bereavement’ would make a good deal of sense here. People tread on eggshells then, too – and often get it wrong, when a simple ‘I’m so sorry’ would do.

    And infertility, of course, IS grief, with all the inevitable rage it brings. Everyday: you grieve. But unlike a death, the loss just keeps on and on fucking HAPPENING.

    • May

      Hey there, busy lady! Is anyone making you coffee? They ought to be.

      This: ‘But unlike a death, the loss just keeps on and on fucking HAPPENING.’ This is so true. The difference between being hit once with an axe and hit every day with a small paring knife.

      And blogging is so amazing! I met you! Which is wonderful!

  • 500 « Nuts in May

    […] comments on my last (huge, venting) post moved me to tears. You all deserve a bouquet of flowers and a gift certificate. What you’re […]

  • Aphra Behn

    I read your blog because I care about you, May, and it’s a way to keep in touch. I miss you in Other Places. I miss your writing too. As Carrie says, you are a kick ass writer.

    I’ve no idea now whether I was fertile or not back in the day. But it has become an issue for us now because Mr Behn wants children and I don’t. It’s Too Late in all sorts of ways for me, only some of them physical. And I get enraged by people who say to him It’s Not Too Late. It is. Oh it is. It’s not their 49 year old body, or his, which would carry (or fail to carry) the child. It’s not their 50 year old menaupausal body, or his, that would be assaulted by toddler-taming and sleep deprivation. Or their pre-schooler who’d have a menaupausal mother. Or their teenager taking the bus with a mother using her bus pass. Or their newly adult child organising its mother’s funeral. How Fucking Dare They? And colour me a Bad Woman but I cannot feel confident about a good outcome for any of the sanctioned alternatives because of Bad Stories that aren’t mine to tell here.

    And breathe, Aphra. Breathe.

    So I avoid the issue as best I can and pretend it’s not a problem. But the bitch of it is that I am doing to him what the first Mr Behn did to me. Great Big Suckeroonies, eh? And your blog warns me that what I’m doing to Mr Behn is Not OK.

    When I’m in happy-land I read your blog because it’s a parallel universe of might-have-beens: it gives me an insight into a world that could have been mine with a different first husband. And it’s given me insight and compassion and a far, far greater understanding of the silent weeping sisterhood of the infertile. It’s an invisible unwitnessed world (I’m telling YOU this?) and that’s not ok. So I feel humble and bear witness by reading your blog.

    And finally, it’s enabled me to deal with news of infertility better, to express the compassion I feel and avoid making bad situations worse. I gave thanks to you yesterday when I spoke very briefly with my cousin about her stillborn babe and two miscarriages without (goddess I hope, please heaven) making it worse or opening wounds.

    Miss you, honey.


    • May

      I ache for both of you, you know. I think we were ALL utterly delighted you’d got together, because you were both wonderful and you both loved each other so. But love is no respecter of longings and ambitions.

      I think what the first Mr Behn did to you sucked, because he DID want kids, COULD have them, and DID screw you over on that one. You, on the other hand, never pretended or prevaricated or messed the Second Mr Behn around like that. You both knew kids was not on the cards, at least, not babies and not biologically yours. It’s sad, it hurts, but Second Mr Behn chose you anyway, because he loves you, rather than chosing you in false hope.

      Wishing you both peace and plenty and joy in each other. You are both such Good People and I’m honoured to call you friends.

      (Also, your poor cousin. Knowing you, I’m sure she felt supported and cared for when you spoke to her, because, did I mention? You are Good People, with or without my ranty example).

  • heather

    Fertile here….at least I think I am. I have one daughter. Trying for a second child which has been much more difficult than the last time (going on a year, not ovulating regularly).
    I have read your blog off and on and I can’t recall being offended by you specifically. My ex-SIL is infertile and I am sure without knowing better I have said things that I now know from reading blogs might have stung her, but it wasn’t me trying to solve her problems or me thinking I know better…it was just someone that loves her trying to offer her a tiny bit of hope.
    I pop in on several blogs in the LFCA roll and sometimes I do get a little twinge of offended-ness when people post about those of us with kids not really valuing them or that fertile women can’t possibly love or appreciate their children as much. There is not a person on this earth with the capacity to love my daughter as much as I love her. There is no heart big enough to carry her the way my heart carries her, so ya I get irritated when blogs insinuate those types of things especially when there is this double standard at times that fertile women should not complain about pregnancy or their children, but once an infertile woman gets pregnant or has a child they can complain because they had it harder….I don’t understand that.
    By no means do all the blogs have that tone and I hold no grudges towards the women that do in anger, sadness, or whatever emotion they might be feeling vent in that way, but sometimes it hurts to think that I (or women like me) are disliked or unfriended for something out of our control.
    I have often read blog posts on the LFCA from women that are dealing with freinds or family members that seems to go out of their way to hurt them.

  • Teuchter

    As someone who does read every single post you write but who doesn’t always comment, I’m wondering myself what inhibits me from doing so.

    Part of it is the fear of saying something inappropriate and causing you even more pain.
    Part of it is genuine forgetfulness. I read and inwardly digest and think about what you’ve written – but then I’m at that stage in life where hormones, or specifically the lack of them, often turns my brain to mince and I forget to go back – or if I do, I find someone else has said exactly what I’d concluded and feel my meagre offering would be superfluous and redundant.
    Part of it is a feeling of guilt that I had it so easy when it came to the whole breeding thing. Ok, I did once nearly bleed to death post-partum and I once retained a placenta – but these are mere molehills compared to the alps and himalayas you are having to scale.
    And another part is that for me, the breeding days were so long ago and my experience is just plain outdated and irrelevant.

    I think of myself as being one of your cheerleaders, not always at the match but sometimes just sitting at home stuffing envelopes with good karma on your behalf.
    I do fervently wish that this will work out for you and H.
    Much love.

    • May

      Oh, I don’t know, nearly bleeding to death and/or retaining great big pieces of now-useless-and-unwanted organs are not really molehills. The Mendips? The Pennines? With granite cliffy bits? Glad you scrambled over in one piece, avec offspring. We can do with more of your sort.

      Moved and pleased that you are reading and stuffing envelopes on my behalf. Hugs.

  • Hannah

    May, what an amazing, beautifully articulated post! Once again, you leave me breathless. I’m part of the “in-between” category, too. Perhaps, if my body were capable of supporting and sustaining a pregnancy, we’d be allowed to try, and who knows, perhaps to our astonishment we’d find it comes together for us quite easily. But its not looking very good for us to be able to have a biological child. In this post, as in so many others you’ve previously shared, your words echoed what my heart has been trying to say. Thank you, May.

    • May

      Thank you for your kind, kind words. And many best wishes and hugs for you on your journey. Whatever works out, I hope so much it works out GOOD.

  • Sonja

    Fertile here. So fertile my doctor commented on it aloud in ALL CAPS. (Seriously, if you could type that woman’s amazement, it would have been in all caps.)

    But that’s not to be bragging. It’s just luck, and I know it.

    I found your blog via StirrupQueens – and why am I reading infertility blogs when I’m already preggo? My best friend has been trying for a year. And isn’t. And more than anything, I don’t know what to do or say to her and I don’t want to shrink away nor do I want to rub it in. So, I’ve been reading other people’s experiences to try and be as supportive as I possibly can, even if I can’t completely empathize with what she’s going through.

    None of what I’ve read on IF blogs has pissed me off – it’s actually all been really helpful to read and understand other women’s experiences with reproductive health (or the seeming lack thereof sometimes).

    • May

      Best of luck to go with your luck.

      Your best friend is lucky too, to have a friend like you who cares about getting it right and being supportive and THERE for her. Thank you for stopping by.

  • Rach

    Am I fertile? I don’t know. It’s hard to say yes or no.

    We’ve been ttc for 11 years and in that time we’ve managed 8 pregnancies. However. We’ve also managed 8 miscarriages. So yes I do appear to be fertile in that I CAN get knocked up but then because I can’t STAY knocked up, I’m classed as infertile.

    You write very well, I’m going to add you to my must read list and go and devour your blog.

  • Anon

    I’m fertile with a twist (half a uterus) and my husband is infertile. So, basically, because of who I married, I’m infertile.

    I’m so glad this is the first post I’ve read on your blog.

    In my experience, it’s been difficult for me because I have friends who fall effortlessly pregnant. Not one of the 10 pregnancies surrounding me in the last two year have been a struggle to achieve. And 4 of them happened to women who were very frank about how they didn’t want to be pregnant (Bad timing usually was the explanation). It is hard to remain friends with those 4, but I do it because I think my struggle to understand them and their responses to me might make me a better person in the long run. See, all 10 of these women, especially the 4, know I’m infertile.

    And all of them generally do not ask how I’m doing, how I’m feeling etc. The lack of acknowledgment stings, particularly from ones I thought were very close friends.

    I try very hard, every day, to not look at this as, “Here’s another fertile making it difficult for an infertile,” but rather just seeing these people for the insensitive and selfish twats they are. I really believe they just know not what they do. And because being insensitive and being selfish are things that I think come very naturally to all, regardless of fertility status, I’ve been able to maintain these friendships. Recognizing these people have shortcomings and not assigning more to them than what they are, shockingly, helps.

    • May

      I am so sorry you are surrounded by people who are not at all supportive and whose baby-making just rubs it all in. I’m impressed that you have managed to maintain good relationships – you are clearly a better person than I am. I tend to end up withdrawing from the relationship after one too many pig-headedly insensitive moments.

      Thank you for commenting.

  • Carole

    Thanks for your thought provoking posts. I am fertile but have been helping people with fertility problems conceive from the lab side for over ten years. When I started as an IVF lab director, I was 6 months pregnant, and if I could have avoided contact with our patients during that time, believe me I would have. It is so hard to know what to say, sometimes it’s safer to say nothing, especially if you feel guilty about being fertile. Blogs like yours provide the insights that help well-meaning friends and family avoid saying hurtful things when they are trying to be helpful. Best wishes. Here from ICLW#112.

    • May

      Thank YOU for doing the job you do, and helping people. Being pregnant at work under those circumstances, yes, awkward. There’s a doctor at my clinic who was noticeably pregnant, and she did not mention it and sort of tried to keep her bump out of site behind folders and desks, and I REALLY appreciated the tact.

      As for the not knowing what to say, so it’s safer to say nothing – I think I am losing friends, good, old friends, because they feel this way too. I long for them to say they’re sorry we’re going through this, and to say it more often than once every three years, and they just don’t. No doubt because they don’t feel it’s adequate and don’t know what else to say. Different people of course want different responses, so I’m not saying ‘do as I recommend’ at all. Just… the silence from well-meaning friends who are supposed to love me is breaking my heart. OK, this is less of a comment and more of a blog-post in it’s own right. Ahem.

      Thank you for commenting. I DO appreciate it, and seeing things from another side, and the best wishes.

  • minichessemouse

    Oh May *gives a giant hug*

    i have sat here for two days reading thorough your archives from most recent post right back to this one. And i will continue reading, probably right back to the start, because I had no idea that getting and staying pregnant was this hard.

    My partner and i haven’t tried yet, although we hope to soon.

    I will continue to follow your story, and i so desperately hope that it has a happy ending.

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