Posted by: katarinajellybeana | October 4, 2007

Tea and empathy

I find myself wondering if there is anything like infertility. Is there any kind of personal pain that is so little understood by those not experiencing it?  

They have a vague notion that it’s causing you pain or depression or making you edgy.  They know it causes you to be snippy, sensitive, unpleasant, sad and angry.  They feel helpless around you.  They make suggestion after suggestion that indicates they only have a 4th grade understanding of the reproductive systems of men and women spiced up with some snippets they heard on CNN once and laced with old wives tales and myth.  They don’t realize the research we do and exactly how much information we have accumulated.  They don’t understand that not all Assistive Reproductive Technologies are IVF, but they don’t want to be educated about it, even if they ask.  They think they know best, despite not really knowing anything.     

They don’t understand that each child lost after conception is still a child that you had hopes and dreams for.  They don’t understand that each child dreamed about that never arrives is a cause for grief as well.  They don’t understand that every time  a single line comes up you are crushed again.  And again.  And again. And again.  They don’t know what a beta number is and why it dropping is cause for wine, a darkened room and sad music for days.  They don’t know how alone, isolated, solitary, we feel in this, even if we are going through it with someone we love.  They don’t get that our partner doesn’t know how to relate to us.  They don’t understand that relationships can fall apart under the constant, repetitive, strain.

They think there are things you haven’t tried yet.  They think you are being stubborn.  They think you should have given up three cycles ago.  They think you should never give up.  They think adoption is easy.  They think adoption is weird.  They think if you adopt you will conceive.  They think that if you just gave up it would happen.  They think you are ridiculous for trying all the old wives tales.  They think you are ridiculous for not trying all the old wives tales.  They think they would never give themselves shots unless their lives depended on it.  They think it shouldn’t be such a big deal, it’s just kids. They think you’re too old.  They think you’re too young.  They think you’re too poor.  They think that worrying about how to pay for it is the only problem you’re having.  They think you shouldn’t be so sad about it.  They think you should be thankful for what you have (and by implication, that you aren’t). They think you wouldn’t be a great parent anyway.  They think that maybe God IS punishing you.  They think it’s because you slept around in college.  They think its because you drink too much. They think it’s because you had an abortion. They think it’s for the best.

They think all the horrible and awful things we think about ourselves at our weak moments.  

 (I know there are rare people who get it, or at least get it enough to be sorry, but not feel sorry for you.  I appreciate those people a great deal.  But at the moment I am feeling that they are greatly outnumbered.)


  1. Girlfriend, you hit the nail on the head with this one. I don’t think there is anything that compares to the heartbreak, pain, isolation, and depression of infertility. People really cannot relate and do a good deal of putting their foots in their mouths trying. This is exactly why I started my blog. I read blogs. I write one. I get to feel like I’m part of a support group and community that DOES understand me. I don’t really know why I didn’t do this sooner because it has really helped me feel less alone. And the fact that everyone looks like a Muppet to me is comforting.

    You can always count on me! 🙂 I’ve been there, done that, and understand.

  2. Wow. This was a great, great, great post. Do you mind if I link to it?

  3. Nancy–you are totally welcome to! I’m flattered.

  4. My dear Muppet,

    Blogging started out as a solitary thing for me and has expanded like a marshmallow in the microwave to be much more of a communal experience than I ever thought it would be. Y’all get “it” more than anyone on the message boards I’ve been to, more than anyone in my real life, more that that twit of a therapist I saw. I found smart, literate, funny, women with deep capacity for love and caring and a good twist of cynicism and bitterness. No random cheering and “I’m sure this will be your month!” No flitting through the board on their first round of Clomid before they’re off to the expecting groups.

    So yes, my dear Muppet. You can count on me, too. So can the rest of you out there in Muppetland–ah, I mean the blogosphere. I get it. I really do. And if I don’t, I won’t pretend to. I’ll just sit there quietly and be with you as I read your story.

    Ms. KJB

  5. Wow.

    Your post….OMG. It made me cry.

    It’s also a huge relief for me to know I’m not the only one who thinks this stuff. Thank God for your courage and clarity to put it in writing.

    I’ll be thinking about this one all day.

  6. Wow Ms. JellyBeana,

    I love how you summed up the complexity of IF’s suckiness. I wish I could force everyone I have ever told about my attempts to read this, it would maybe, just maybe help them understand what it’s all about. Keep up the good work!

  7. Hil and Stephanie,

    I’m glad I was able to say something that you both connected wtih. It feels much less lonely when other people are nodding vigorously about something I wrote. Thanks.

  8. Fantastic post! You so eloquently say what so many of us feel. The pain of infertility is so isolating. It’s not something many (or any people) outside if IF understand. The pain, the torture, the longing, the questioning.

    Thank you for opening up your soul, XXOO

  9. Excellent post.

  10. You got me crying here! That was beautifully written and really spoke to my heart.

  11. This absolutely brilliant post hit the nail head-on. I would add that, well-meaning though it is meant to be, they don’t understand why asking every other day “How on things on the fertility front?” is like a knife in the heart.

  12. Thanks everyone!

    I’m really just happy that I could find a way to articulate things that resonate wtih all of you. Makes me feel less isolated in my struggles.

  13. Thanks … I’m going to make put it into my next blog. Thank you!

  14. Sadly that is so very true.

  15. Wow! New reader here….unfortunately not new to infertility. But anyway, I’m so glad I’ve found your blog and others within your “network” of bloggers. I had no idea this support and wisdom was available to me and after a year and a half of dealing with this on my own, I’m thrilled that I can now look foward to keeping up with all you ladies. Fabulous post!

  16. Welcome Ellie!

    Do you have a blog of your own yet? They get to be addictive.

  17. Best so far that I have read on creme de la creme.

    You got it just right.

  18. yes yes yes. dead on. nailed it. popped over from la creme of 07 to say thanks, so true. ~luna

  19. Just linked over to this from the Creme de la Creme. FANTASTIC post! I’ve wanted to just scream at people “you just don’t get it”. thanks for summing everything up so nicely

  20. I agree – this is a well written, insightful post that really nails how difficult it is to cope out in the non-infertile world when we go through infertility. People just don’t get it.

    I’m grateful for the blogosphere and writers like you – glad I found you from la Creme.

  21. I just clicked over from Creme de la Creme and wanted to say thanks SO MUCH for writing this, Katarinajellybeana. It’s so completely on the money. Not that I’m glad any of us are here, but it makes it a tiny millimeter easier to know that none of us are here alone.

  22. So terribly true. I’m here via Creme de la Creme and glad I came.

  23. Was brought to this amazing post by Creme de la Creme. Beautiful words so true to the heart. Thank you.

  24. thanks

  25. So true on all accounts. Thank you for writing this.

  26. Thank you so much for putting this into words, and for including it in the Creme de la Creme, so that I (and certainly many others) have the opportunity to see it.

  27. Found you via CDLC (and your comment on my entry, thank you). Beautifully said. I have a long list of “theys” who need to see this.

    I’m sorry about your recent m/c, and I hope that you can find some peace somehow. I know it is difficult.

  28. I think we should get this published in little booklets that we could hand out to our family and friends.

  29. Well said, so true.

  30. This is a fantastic post. I love the fact that all the assvice contradicts all the other assvice, and the way you point out this second-guessing is what we already to do ourselves in our darkest moments.


  31. Thank you so much everyone!!

    Mel rocks my world in so many ways. Creme de la Creme is one of the greatest things ever. I’m so glad so many of you stopped by because of it. You’re welcome to stick around if you like!

  32. I came here because of the Creme. I know for sure that I will be back. I think this post was awesome. I read through it and I just agreed. I think you put into words what I feel but couldn’t always say about others. I agree with what Bea said about all the assvice contradicting itself. That part made me chuckle. I liked the part about the wivestales. It so eloquently describes why the fertiles of the world just don’t get it. Thank you! for putting this into words and posting on the creme so that we might all discover this.

  33. Popping over from the Creme, well written, it really hit home for me. And even if they don’t get it, know that someone does, a lot of someone’s.

  34. Wow. This should be on every coffee table, in every newspaper, in every magazine, and perhaps, pasted to our foreheads for all to see. What an amazing post.

  35. I’m another one from creme de la creme. This is an awesome post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  36. Amen, sister.

  37. I found your post on creme de la creme. Amazing. This brought me to tears b/c it describes almost every conversation I’ve attempted about ttc unsuccessfully with PCOS. And it made me smile b/c there’s such a wonderful group of people out there who “get it.” It’s so unfortunate that all of the amazing people who “get it” have to experience it. Thank you for this.

  38. Couldnt have said it better!

    I would like to link it from my blog please let me know if this is not okay.

  39. Ahhh. I needed that like a cold Coke on a hot day.

    I once had to agonize thru a bunch of maternity/delivery stories with a bunch of ladies. Of course I got asked if I had kids. Then this just-barely-acquainted person siad, “Oh, I hope you’re not one of those desperatly-trying at 40 women. Because that’s just pathetic.”
    Felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. And it may be the closest I’ve ever come to assault.
    Who can put to words the way people make you feel about this? Well, I couldn’t come any closer than this post…

  40. Went to this post via Creme de la Creme. F*** Brilliant post! And every time I hear someone, friend or not, make any of those comments, I just tell them the truth and I keep telling them until they get it. Or stop filling the air with the assumptions.

  41. Just found C de la C, thank you, well said!

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