An Open Letter to My Friends and Family About My Struggle With Infertility
Sorry: an adjective synonymous with feeling regret, compunction, sympathy, or pity.
We all know what sorry means. We’ve used it often. It’s the main word used when offering an apology. I could argue it’s one of the most powerful words in the human language. It’s often the only thing you want to hear and the only thing you can say.
As we get older, our apologies get deeper. We go from saying I’m sorry on the playground for taking the last swing. And then we may apologize for not inviting someone to a party in middle school. In high school, one might apologize for dating someone’s ex. In college, we might apologize to our friends that have to suddenly take us home early from the bar because we had too much to drink.
This next apology that I have found myself thinking about often is an apology I never thought I’d be giving. I never thought I would be in this situation, but does anyone?
Here I am 32 years old and married to my husband for 6 years along our journey to become a family. After 2.5 years of doctor’s appointments, tests, blood work, failed medicated cycles, failed IUIs, and one surgery, we are now getting ready for our first IVF cycle.
So, to my husband, friends, and family who have been there for me, I have wanted to try to put into words how I feel, and frankly, apologize. While I know most will say an apology isn’t necessary, it’s something I need to do.
An Open Letter About Infertility to My Family & Friends
I’m sorry that some days I’m extra sad. I’m normally such a positive and optimistic person, but this journey has beaten me down a little bit. Disappointment after disappointment, year after year, it gets tiring and I just can’t hold it all in sometimes. I really can’t help it. I try to be strong and sometimes I try to hide it, but we all know that doesn’t help anyone because it’s just going to come out later, probably at a more inappropriate time.
I’m sorry that some days certain things upset me more than others. I’m sorry that I can’t predict my triggers. There are days I can see a pregnancy announcement on Facebook or flip through baby shower pictures and be fine. And then some days I cry at Sex and the City and have a meltdown after seeing a pregnant woman at the grocery store. I’m aware that I’m not predictable and my healing isn’t linear.
I’m sorry that some days I’m quiet about my infertility. I’m sorry that some days it’s all I want to talk about. Infertility is such a roller coaster—there are highs and lows. The thing to know is that the highs are pretty high, and the lows are pretty low. Sometimes I want to talk about my lows, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I want to talk about my highs, and sometimes I don’t.
I want to tell you about my good news, but I don’t want to jinx it. I want to tell you my lows but I’m too sad. I fear it will make you uncomfortable because you won’t understand or know what to say, and I don’t want to come across as needy or a Debbie Downer.
I’m sorry that some days I seem stone-cold. There are times that I’m just so weak and beat up that I feel numb. I’m sorry that some days I cry a lot. The older I get the more I realize that crying is not a weakness—it’s sometimes what our body needs. Bottling up emotions doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s best for everyone that when I need a good cry, I let it out.
I’m sorry that I can’t go to your baby shower. I’m beyond happy for you, and I need you to know that. It’s not you, it’s me (really). It’s a trigger, and it’s just too hard. Please know it doesn’t mean that I am not thrilled for you. I just know, for my sake, I need to mail a gift and skip the party.
I’m sorry that some days I can’t talk about your pregnancy. I’m sorry that some days I don’t want to hear about your birth story. Some days I’m hopeful and picture myself pregnant and I want to know about it, and I want to hear all the things you can tell me. Other days, it seems like something that’s so far away or possibly never in my cards, and that’s when it’s hard for me to keep a smile on my face and listen. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just something I have always wanted and after years of disappointment, the uncertainty is hard.
In conclusion, I need you to know that I really am sorry. I also need you to know that I’m doing the best I can to be a good wife, daughter, family member, and friend. Bear with me, please. This phase will pass. I need you to know that I will never forget your support.
Are You on a Roller Coaster Trying to Conceive?
Never be afraid to be yourself and feel your feelings. Your feelings are valid, and all true friends will understand that. I’ve learned that not everyone will understand what you’re going through. When it comes to infertility, people can be supportive, but only those who have gone through it themselves will truly understand. You should never feel like your feelings need to be muted or suppressed.
Put yourself first. If you don’t make yourself your #1 priority, who will? I know that sounds cliché, but it’s so true. If you don’t feel like going to a baby shower, send the card and gift with a friend. If you need to cancel plans because you’re feeling down, do it. If you need to call up friends and say, “I need some support please come over and bring ice cream/wine” then you call up your friends and have a night in.
Make your peace and don’t dwell on it. It’s normal to feel bad about skipping out on something, especially major life events for your friends like baby showers or gender reveal parties. But if it’s emotionally too hard for you, then you have to make that decision on your own and you can’t beat yourself up about it. All true friends will understand.
Jaimie Selwa and her husband Andrew live in Columbus, Ohio with their two rescue pups. They’ve been together for 12 years and married for 6. They enjoy traveling, exploring new restaurants, craft cocktails, trying to keep indoor plants alive, and spending time with friends and family. After 2 years of unexplained infertility, failed medicated cycles and IUI’s, laparoscopy surgery revealed that Jaimie’s tubes were blocked. Jaimie and Andrew are currently getting ready to start their first round of IVF. After keeping their infertility to themselves or close friends for a year, they felt isolated and lonely. Jaimie took to social media and quickly realized how common infertility is and how it can be freeing to open up. You can follow along with Jaimie and Andrew’s journey as Jaimie tries to add humor to infertility at @infertilechronicles.