At the weekend, I had coffee with a friend who is 20 weeks pregnant after her third round of IVF. She said that one of the things she has insisted on as her friends and family have found out about this pregnancy is telling them how it happened. She has felt very alone in her IF journey, and felt that she and her husband were the only people in her circle of friends who were struggling. Since she has started being open about her IVF pregnancy, she said it's amazing how many stories have come out of the woodwork about people having similar struggles.
I have found the same thing. There are a couple of people I will never tell about our struggles, either because they would be judgemental about us as Catholics going through IVF or because they would use my pain as a source of cheap gossip. Mostly, though, I've been very open about it throughout the whole process - everyone knew how much I wanted children, so it seemed pointless to try to hide the sadness I experienced about it not happening.
This week, we had visitors - a friend from my university days with her husband and baby. I hadn't seen her for several years, although we had been in touch by e-mail and Facebook. I must confess I was a little disgruntled when I heard that she was pregnant, especially as she had never seemed particularly interested in children and had made a comment on Facebook about how unexpected and unplanned her pregnancy was.
While we were catching up over a cup of tea, we talked about travel, and I said that it had been a bit difficult to make any plans over the last couple of years because of TTC and then the inability to plan around our IVF treatments.
That was when she told me that she totally understood the inability to plan, because she and her husband had tried for two years without success. Eventually, they gave up and when an opportunity came up for her husband to take a two year posting overseas with his employer, they decided to go for it. Within a couple of months of arriving in a new country, she was pregnant.
Apart from the fact that she told me the best cure for infertility is being in a cold environment with no heating so that you and your husband need to spend lots of time in bed keeping each other warm, it was a very enlightening conversation.
I know many people choose to keep their struggles to themselves for all sorts of reasons. It's also a bit of a double-edged sword having so many people know about our situation, because they regularly ask for updates and it's harder to keep private any bits of information that we don't feel ready to share. But I love to hear the stories of struggles and eventual successes, and every story I hear makes me feel a little bit less alone in this journey.