I went for a jog this morning and as the music from my iPod provided something of a soundtrack I started thinking about infertility’s affect on those around me — how it has changed the relationships with my family, my friends and the lively social network I once cultivated. And then (world in shock) I started thinking about someone other than me. The term ‘collateral damage’ came to mind.
Infertility has also caused suffering for my parents. I had my first really in-depth conversation with my mother about infertility a few months ago during a visit over the holidays. That’s not to say that it was the first time we’d ever discussed it, but our conversations a few years earlier had been somewhat stilted — mostly because I couldn’t talk about the subject without getting choked up. Time and distance from the treatments and my writing has made it easier to sort out some of the inter-related issues.
In fact, the book I’ve been writing gave my mom and me a safe place to start the discussion. I provided a draft of the story to her and asked for her thoughts. A day or so later over lunch we talked, tentatively at first, about how much the whole infertility experience had changed not only my life but hers as well. Once she realized I wasn’t going to dissolve into tears or fall apart, she began to explain how painful it had been to know her daughter had been suffering such anguish. She talked about how much she had wanted to share in her daughter’s pregnancy. She talked about how she had wanted to be on hand to help provide care in the early days of a new grandchild. She talked about how hard it could be for her to have to listen to other women describe how they helped their daughters and grandchildren.
Ever since that discussion I’ve been realizing just how far and wide infertility’s reach can be. It’s also been good to think about someone other than me.