I found out pretty quickly that having a baby the old fashion way was not going to happen to me. My body doesn’t ovulate so instead of wasting too much time, we opted to try IVF . I was one of the lucky ones. The process took around 12 months for me to fall pregnant and although gruelling, my outcome was a good one. Her name is Edie and she is the bloody bestest.
I had some bad days during the process where I was sick of being poked and prodded like a pin cushion and had the occasional hissy fit or snapped at my poor husband when he couldn’t read my mind and know I needed ice-cream ASAP. But mostly, I felt assured that things would work out. I had hope.
At the same time we were going through the IVF ride, Monty and her partner were trying for their second baby.
I vividly remember the Saturday morning Monty invited us over to her house for brunch and while devouring her eggs at a ridiculously speedy pace, she looked me in the eyes and told me she was pregnant with baby number two. I was truly thrilled for her. And I wasn’t just putting it on for her either, I really was over the moon for her and her growing belly. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a twinge of jealously that it wasn’t me, but I really did feel that my time would come. And until it did, I was going to revel in all the excitement that she was going through and buy all the cute little boy outfits I could get my hands on.
But for many women who have been on the IVF train for years, this isn’t so easy. They are faced with this situation time after time, year after year and it can be enough to strain friendships and create a distance within friendship circles. They start building new social groups with people who are in the same situation as them and understand what they are going through.
According to Sydney-based counsellor and co-author of Empowered Fertility: A Practical Twelve-Step Guide, Claire Hall, IVF can often be the ‘silent killer’ amongst female friendships.
“A lot of people going through the IVF cycle can find relationships tend to dwindle. (The recipients) might withdraw because they don’t want to go to another baby shower or face the family at Christmas when they’re trying to avoid everyone knowing about it,” she said.
She added that news of friends, colleagues and family members who have got pregnant can also add to the stress and frustration for those struggling with infertility while trying to conceive.
“One (of my clients undergoing IVF) had a baby announcement nearly every day in the office at work recently and found it incredibly hard. She worked in a nice office environment then suddenly it’s a pregnant environment that she’s not a part of — all of a sudden she’s out of the club.”
For what it’s worth, I think the best thing you can do if you find yourself in the situation where you have kids or are going through a pregnancy and have a friend going through IVF, is to be aware and mindful. Don’t not be you and don’t hold back your happiness for a second. She does not want that. But be mindful. And if you have lunch and spend the whole time complaining about your swollen feet or the weight you’ve put on she may just want you to choke a little on your noodles…just a little.
I knew Monty was nervous to tell me that was pregnant when she knew it was something that I was struggling to make a reality. In the same way my sister found it hard to break the same news to me. Of course they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but even though there were times that it did bring a little tear to my eye when I had to buy more mini socks for mini feet that weren’t growing in my belly, I wanted to be there for my friends and my sister, and celebrate those mini feet with the hope that one day I would have my own mini feet. And now I do.
Have you been through IVF, and if so what advice would you give to the friends of someone going through this experience?