A Hug Won’t Make My Infertility Disappear But It Helps Me Feel Seen

Eloise Edington  |   28 Feb 2022

Living with (in)fertility is a reality many in our Fertility Help Hub community face.  Some find support and care from loved ones, others feel more isolated.  While it’s unlikely that friends and family mean to cause upset with comments about trying for a baby or fertility difficulties, it doesn’t mean that some things people say don’t hurt.

We love sharing stories from our fertility community because we’re all going through this together.  To join a supportive, caring community of people who understand fertility struggles, click here.

Today, Victoria shares her experience of insensitive remarks and how one simple gesture validated her difficult fertility journey.

Over to Victoria

How infertility feels to me

Recently, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a post about fertility that was captioned: “Look at your baby knowing all you know, about how much you love your child, and how you would do anything for them. Now imagine them on the other side of a door. There is no key and you try everything to get to them but nothing’s working. You feel hopeless and scared. That’s how I feel every day.”

This caption resonated with me so much because this is exactly what infertility feels like. The imaginations, the fantasies, the dreams you create in your mind, holding onto the hope that someday it will become a reality and you can snuggle up to your little one.

The hidden pain of infertility

Yet one of the major pains of infertility that is not mentioned enough is people. I know, I know, you’re a little confused; what do people have to do with infertility?

People’s lack of empathy, people’s insensitivity, people’s uncensored commentary.

People simply not being kind or thoughtful. Or even people who mean well but still bring harm due to lack of knowledge.

Related article: Tips for telling a TTC friend you’re pregnant.

In a recent social media post, I wrote:

“Family, friends and peers who don’t understand how traumatic it is to constantly be questioned or offer suggestions (‘Maybe you should try this’, ‘Have you tried this position?’ or ‘Have you prayed?’ What this suggests is that [my partner and I] must have missed something. Be thankful you can’t comprehend the magnitude of how badly [these comments] hurt. You never know what people are going through, you never know the battles people face! I won’t apologize for my imperfect days and my husband won’t apologize for the days we just simply don’t have to energy to celebrate others! Imagine 5 years of congratulating others and coming home, bawling your eyes out, wondering if it would ever be us?! 

We still show up, we still push through.

Please be kind, be sensitive and be aware because you may think that person has an attitude, but they could be waging an unimaginable battle.”

Following this post, I received a massive response from women all over the world who’ve felt invalidated by hurtful comments about their fertility and had to deal with people’s insensitive remarks.

For me, this showed the importance of bringing awareness to the non-infertile community about how to speak with a friend or family member suffering from infertility.

Beyond the insensitive comments, small gestures have the power to ease the agonising pain of infertility. I would like to share the time one nurse, and one hug made an impact on the worst day of my life.

A long journey so far.

My husband and I have been on a fertility journey for five years now; three years TTC naturally and two years trying IVF fertility treatment.

Infertility is such a funny thing. You feel hopeless and hopeful at the same time; each cycle is filled with disappointment because you hoped for a better outcome. Through IVF, we had two failed transfers and after our third transfer, we thought we finally crossed the finish line to conceive.

After two failed transfers, we were hopeful about our third.

After our third transfer, we celebrated with close friends and family who knew about our journey, only to be led to the ultimate disappointment of finding out that our first pregnancy was diagnosed as blighted ovum (when a gestational sac develops without an embryo).

We found out this devastating news at our 7-week ultrasound. Within 10 seconds of the fertility doctor looking at the ultrasound screen, they gave a dry speech explaining we needed to move forward with a procedure to remove part of my cervix and lining of the uterus.

In my heart, I felt that making such a serious medical decision wasn’t right just after one ultrasound so we felt it was vital we received a second opinion. At our 8-week scan, I lay on the bed with my eyes closed and thought I heard the panic in the sonographer’s voice when she confirmed we had a blighted ovum miscarriage. Despite the heartbreaking news, it was nice to have nurses who were human and not clinical.

Leaving that appointment, I was surprisingly numb to the news and maybe even still a bit in denial because of all the articles I read and videos I watched – I was determined to think this was a misdiagnosis. Praying and waiting, we walked into our 9-week appointment for an official diagnosis of a miscarriage.

A small gesture with a huge impact

I felt so different at our 9-week scan. The shock of the news had settled within me and yet the grief hit me.

I was waiting in the waiting area for my 9-week ultrasound and I saw a picture of a mom holding her child, and I just cried; grieving for what I thought would be.

During this painful moment, a nurse asked if I wanted a hug and she cried with me for 10 minutes. I felt her feel my pain and that hug in itself was felt restorative. She was human, too, and put her expected clinical response to the side and was just simply human.

I think my takeaway from everything we have been through so far is that kindness goes a long way.

You may not understand the depth of a fertility journey and sometimes people struggling with infertility don’t need you to understand but we need you to empathize with us.

Feel us and move beyond your own experiences, advice and stories and just feel for us at that moment. That hug didn’t bring my baby back or make the circumstances change, but it reminded me that there are humans out there who are still kind and not afraid to feel.

That hug restored my hope in people and kindness. And that kindness was a step toward healing with infertility.

Struggling with infertility really can be a lonely process and the decision to share experiences with friends, family and strangers is a courageous one. Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your story and know our thoughts and kind wishes are with you and your partner every step of the way.

If you have a story of infertility you’d like to share, message our Editor, Holly, on the FHH Instagram.  Sadly, we can’t share every story but we’d still like to hear from our fertility community.

To join FHH’s supportive, free fertility community, download the app here.

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