Dear loved one, I know you want to be helpful and infertility is hard to understand. If you can forgive my sometimes cynical tone, I think you'll find this helpful.
1) I am as relaxed as I can possibly be. Infertility is a full-time job all it's own. I miss work at least 4 times a month for last minute appointments that are based on my dysfunctional body's cues. I am using nearly my entire salary to pay for medications that my Cadillac Insurance plan (read super expensive) doesn't cover (while they quite happily pay for abortions and birth control). I don't have the option to "not think about" my infertility because I have to constantly monitor my body for "signs" to determine when to take a given medication and to write up charts for my doctors to read at the end of the month (When I skip this step because I just can't bear to focus that much on infertility the doctors refuse to adjust my treatment plan without that information). I've had to leave work in the middle of the day on more than one occasion because my doctor's office called and said I needed to give myself a shot an hour ago.
When you tell me to relax you imply that my infertility is somehow my own doing. Telling me to relax only stresses me out more. I am already spending more than I can afford to "relax." I have a detailed self-care plan developed with the help of a mental health professional. Your advice to relax makes me question myself more. It makes me bewildered and frustrated that the extensive steps I've already taken to "relax" apparently aren't working. It highlights another thing I'm not doing right.
If you think I need to relax then help me relax. Send me a gift card for a massage. Call me and ask me to go for a walk. Take me to get my nails done. Pray with me. Make us dinner. Better yet take me to a comedy club. I could use a good laugh. Whatever you do, don't tell me to relax. I'm doing the best I can given very un-relaxing circumstances.
2) I need to talk. Infertility is so isolating. People don't want to ask about it because they don't know how to handle the answer. They don't want to "pry." Please don't avoid asking me how I'm doing because you're afraid I'm not doing well. If I'm not doing well that's even more of a reason I need to talk. Talking helps me process things. It helps me connect with you. I don't expect you to have the answers. In fact, I really don't want you to try to give me answers. There are none. Infertility isn't fair. There's no good reason I've been dealt this hand. Infertility is now a part of who I am and I need to be able to share that with you. I need to give voice to my pain. Being able to share my story reminds me that people do care. It reminds me that even though I may feel a crushing sense of sorrow and isolation that I am still alive. That other people want to know me. That I am worth knowing. That I am worth something. That I am still bearable to be with.
When you don't ask- no matter how I try to rationalize it- I'm left feeling like you don't care. Oh and if you really don't care, then don't ask. I'll know by the way you listen or don't.
3) I am in a constant state of limbo. I had an awful headache the other night. I knew an Ibuprofen would help but I couldn't take an Ibuprofen because Ibuprofen can inhibit ovulation. Well, I never ovulate anyway so I might as well just fix my headache, right? Well, no because what if this is the month where all the expensive medication is finally going to work and I mess it up because I took an Ibuprofen?
I am tempted to throw myself totally into my career. It seems like a good way to distract myself from the pain of my shattered dreams for my family and future. If I can't have the life I dreamed, at least I can accomplish other great things in the world. Right? Well, if I accept the career building opportunities that come my way then I won't be able to miss all the work I normally miss. I won't be able to attend all the doctor's appointments and ultrasounds. I won't be able to scurry off in the middle of the day because I forgot the injection I need right now.
If I accept all those career building opportunities, I'll be taking time away from relaxing which I'm told is pretty important (see #1). So go for balance you say? Well, that's what I'm doing. But balance leaves me feeling pretty mediocre. My body has failed me and I want to feel like I'm worth something. Career success seems like a healthy enough Plan B, but I don't want to sacrifice my dream for a family for my career. So I don't. But then again there's no guarantee that all this balance will result in the family I so desperately long for. How will I know when to give up on balance and focus more fully on my career? How will I know when I have no other choice than to make my career my consolation prize?
I can't go all in. I'm constantly hovering above two worlds- one I'd quite happily leave in an instant if I could but as things stand, it offers my only chance at feeling somewhat competent and worthwhile- the other I desperately long for but can do little more to attain. I stay- an unwilling visitor- in the first world- not knowing if I should make my home here or not. All the while, my efforts to earn my place in the second world take away from my worth in the first.