If you are trying to conceive and have watched the beautiful Disney Movie, Frozen, you probably feel as though you are Elsa, and the rest of world can be categorized as Anna. For the benefit of those who have not watched the movie; Elsa is a princess who has the Ice touch…everything she touches turns to Ice. In order not to hurt her sister, Anna, and the rest of the kingdom, Elsa locks herself faraway in an Ice Castle she built, and shuts the world out. Anna, on the other hand doesn’t understand why her sister shut her out, and assumes Elsa doesn’t like her. Can you see the parallel between Frozen and TTC women? We create a castle of our own and shut everyone else out, either as a result of the fact that we believe they do not understand our struggles, or because we are scared of the stigma that society still plays on women with fertility issues. They, on the other hand do not understand our true motive, and draw their conclusions…and then relationships start to suffer…and friends become strangers.
It is one of the biggest, soul crushing struggles with infertility…that feeling of isolation and alienation. It happens to the older woman when all her friends have kids already in school…and she is still trying, it happens to the middle-aged woman whose friends are getting pregnant and expanding their families, while she is still on yet another Clomid cycle, or saving for her first IVF. It happens to the young woman who gets married early, with friends still single and who care less about babies and pregnancies, and scientific prooves that she is young, and should get pregnant as easily as she sneezes. It is hard to fit in…it is easy to feel as though you are the one outside, and looking in, and missing all the fun at the party. To protect our hearts and sanity, we distance ourselves from our loved ones…most times, not as a result of jealousy, but simply because it hurts too much. Their baby showers, cute chubby babies or growing bumps remind us of our own shortcomings and ‘failures’ and bring everything to the fore…months/years of trying, days of holding our breathe as we waited for the pregnancy test strip to show two pink lines, the drugs we lunched on and the medicine bags that accompanied us everywhere…yet all that was yet to result in a baby.
It gets worse when your withdrawal is perceived as jealousy, and friends sit down to table your matter, talking about how you are not happy for their progress, and wondering whether it was their fault that you are yet to have a baby. Then someone from the group calls you, or hits you up on WhatsApp to give you the 411, and tell you what ‘everyone is saying about you’, so you recoil further into your shell and make the ice wall thicker, because you know you have to stay away, lest the new baby develop fever and they would say it was you, or God forbid a miscarriage happens and fingers start to point at you…after all, you were not happy for her when she announced her pregnancy. But they just don’t get it; you can’t help feeling inadequate, but it doesn’t mean that you wish anyone ill. No, far from it! You know what you are going through, and you would not wish it on anyone else…not even your worst enemy. But they don’t understand…so they judge, and you stay longer on the Island of Isolation.
But your real friends would not let up on you. First, they would be sensitive as to how they break the news of a pregnancy to you. Then, they would try to make you a part of it, putting themselves in your shoes and understanding that you would feel even worse if you were shut out. I have seen TTC women who celebrated and thoroughly enjoyed their friends’ pregnancies because they were let in, some even became Godparents of the babies. Real friends cut you some slack, and when you have bad days, they understand rather than judge. They love and pray and support us through it all, and even when they never understand what it really is like, you still feel as though they have been there themselves. That is the fire that breaks the ice. Infertility can be so isolating and we go through many varying emotional highs and lows. It helps when you have wonderful support system that understand, and give you all the love you need.
It was at the point when I was trying to conceive that I realized that my ‘bestie’ wasn’t even a friend to begin with. It was also at that point that I discovered that I had many wonderful friends. A few were married with children, some were still single and had no baby making agenda yet. But from the one who was just 23 and already pregnant for her second child, to the one who was three years older than I but yet to be married, the support was incredible. Having been on both sides of the scale, I can safely say the circle around you determines how isolated you feel through your journey. I once met a lady who told me she likes staying on her own, and she has no friends. I asked her why, and she said friends have hurt her deeply in the past, so she decided to go solo. That might be true for a lot of us, but I wonder if we would ever make progress in life if we gave up on amazing things because of past hurts and grievances. Heck, many of us won’t be married now, if we decided to judge based on past relationships.
We were created to nurture, interact, associate, connect, communicate, reach out and achieve through the power of synergy. Isolation and alienation create even more problems, and compound the existing ones. The beautiful thing is, you do not need an army of friends to battle isolation, one good ride-or-die solder is enough to win the war. Someone you can have on speed dial, who is there when AF shows, or when you miss your fertile window because of one silly out-of-nowhere fight with DH. You need that friend that when you tell her about MIL calling and wondering if you don’t want her to bless her grandchildren before she dies, she would reply “Tell her not to worry, that if she doesn’t bless them before she dies, she can bless them when she gets to heaven!” Of course you won’t tell your MIL that, but the humour does good like medicine.
Take care sisters!
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