Going through infertility was one of the hardest experiences of my life. I cried more than I cared to admit, and I often felt very alone. I also routinely deflected the situation with humor. Let’s be honest: A lot of the infertility treatment process feels unnatural, scary, and at times, a little ridiculous.
So I tried to laugh as often as I could. Here are 15 things that I think most moms who’ve been through fertility treatments can probably understand. I hope they provide some comfort — and maybe even some much-needed laughter.
1. The supreme control it takes to not tackle someone W.W.E. style when they ask when you’ll be having a baby. (And while you may not act on this urge, you still imagine it in vivid detail.)
2. The moment you wonder whether or not selling your kidney on the black market would make getting pregnant harder. You need the money for treatments, but it kind of defeats the purpose if being one kidney down keeps you from getting pregnant. Decisions, decisions . . .
3. Just how bizarre “shopping” for a sperm or egg donor can be. It’s like browsing online profiles for internet dating, deciding whether you care more about height or I.Q.
4. Receiving a treatment protocol schedule that’s slightly more complicated than your college physics homework. Just looking at that thing makes you want to get a drink. (But oh yeah, you can’t.)
5. Listening to friends talk about how much fun they’re having “trying” for a baby. Meanwhile, you have to make sure you get home in time to give yourself a shot.
6. Secretly feeling superior to those same friends, because yeah, they get to have sex with their partners, but you? You want a baby so badly you’ve actually learned how to stick yourself with needles to get one.
7. The need to drink (and spit out a few expletives) any time anyone mentions someone getting “knocked up” when they weren’t even trying.
8. The sarcastic comments you learn to swallow whenever well-meaning people give advice that is completely and totally foolish. Then there are the comments that manage to slip out anyway, leading certain people to not talk to you anymore. (Which, as far as you’re concerned, really isn’t the end of the world.)
9. Crying in the bathroom at work because the hormones from the injections are legitimately making you crazy.
10. The moment when you realize you’ve had so many ultrasounds that you can actually do your own follicle check, no doctor needed. Perhaps the clinic is hiring? You could use a side job to help pay them what you owe.
11. The insanity that is the two-week wait. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat. You can’t stop talking to your belly. You’re already following all the pregnancy rules. And you’re analyzing each and every twinge and symptom you have, convincing yourself every 30 seconds that you’re pregnant. Or you’re not pregnant. Back and forth just like that, for two whole weeks, until your eye is twitching and you’re pretty sure you’ve developed a stutter.
12. The games you play with yourself. If the clock shows an even number, you must be pregnant. A certain song on the radio is clearly a sign. A butterfly by your window means you have a bun in the oven. You know it’s not based on anything real, but still, you’ve become a master at finding reasons to believe.
13. The need to wear panty liners for weeks on end, because progesterone suppositories.
14. The trouble you manage to get into when a cycle fails. You’re heartbroken, which means you might have a little too much to drink. Or tell an annoying co-worker off. Or use your old syringes as darts. Whatever. You just worked your butt off to get pregnant, and it didn’t work. You’re allowed to do whatever you want for a few days.
15. The first time your child sasses you, years down the line, and you have a split second when you’re almost driven to snap back, “Do you have any idea how hard I worked to have you? Watch your mouth!” Seriously, have a little gratitude, kid.
Now that I’m a mom, I can look back on those infertility years as being bittersweet. Mostly, it sucked. But I can’t help but feel like those years actually prepared me for motherhood in a lot of ways. If nothing else, I learned patience and how to bite my tongue. Which has got to count for something when you’re dealing with a preschooler! The point is, hang in there. And do your best to find humor along the way. It helps, I promise.