Recently someone straight out asked me if they could talk to me about infertility or if them bringing up the topic will ‘trigger’ me. It caught me a little of guard because well what do you say to that? I personally believe there is such a fine balance when it comes to triggers and trigger warnings. For starters, you can’t expect the entire world to be sensitive to your triggers and go out of their way to avoid triggering you. Humans aren’t that nice. Secondly, at one point you have to address the ‘trigger’ and deal with it. What I mean with that is: you can’t hide from the bad thing (the cause of your trigger) forever as this, in the long run, can cause more damage. You need to face the shit storm and somehow make peace with the bad situation. It’s not easy. I’ve been there. Even I’m rolling my eyes at this bullshit. You know exactly what I’m talking about. When bad shit is going down and someone shoots the ‘you need to stay positive’ spiel. You just want to punt them in the face and tell them to shove that stay positive shit where the sun doesn’t shine. I get it. I’ve been there but it’s fucking true? Like, you don’t want to hear it and hearing it does little to make you feel better, but when bad shit is happening, you need to cling onto any warmth you can get. Any goodness, any happiness, and any hope. It’s that drive you need when you have to force yourself to get out of bed and face the world. It really all comes down to staying optimistic that eventually – things will get better. In all honesty, I think the key is to find those special things that make all the bad shit worth it. Anyway, I digress.
I told them that it really depends. How are you going to talk to me about it? A ‘family friend’ (read: I have no idea to explain the relation of this person to me) went about it all wrong. For starters, she behind my back said if I do this and that I will get pregnant immediately. When asked why the hell she wouldn’t just say this to me, her response was that I wouldn’t listen to her advice. The entire ordeal rubbed me up the wrong way. I’m using this exchange as an example because she literally did everything wrong. Let’s start with bullet point number one. Yes, it has that many layers.
- Do this and that…
Okay, first of all, it’s completely sound to say that if you try this or that and your chances might improve (this family friend is in the health profession) BUT FIRST TAKE THE FUCKING TIME TO ASK ME WHAT THE FUCK I DO AT HOME. Oops, my anger slipped out. What bothered me about her listing a bunch of lifestyle changes I could do to improve my chances was that she didn’t ask or bother to take the time to actually ask me what I do at home. She just assumed that 1) I’m not conscious about my lifestyle choices and 2) I’m doing everything wrong. When she brought this up (behind my back), she hasn’t nearly spent enough time with me to gage my lifestyle habits and quite frankly – me fresh from a 28-hour trip and sick to my stomach isn’t a good gage of my eating habits.
- … and you will get pregnant immediately.
My problem with these types of statements is the false hope they can install. Oh, if you do this you will get pregnant like tomorrow. When you’re struggling with infertility and you’re so desperate to get pregnant, you will try and believe everything. You bet your sweet ass I will drink that fucking African tea under the moonlight and somehow believe that I will magically conceive even though I haven’t fucking ovulated in months. And then, my period starts and my heart shatters because I was stupid enough to cling onto this false hope. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s important to carry around hope. I believe with everything inside of me that my time will come (I have too or I won’t ever be okay) but I need to protect myself a little. I can’t go through that same soul-crushing heartbreak every time my period starts and ignore that logical part of my brain (How the fuck can you get pregnant if you don’t ovulate?) that desperately tries to protect me even if by only a little. It still hurts but if you manage to convince yourself that this month will be different, seeing those stained panties can just twist that knife a little deeper.
- I won’t listen to her.
That’s not true. I’m quite open to those who have struggled with infertility or have come into contact with those who have, to share their tips and advice. BUT YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO ME FIRST. You need to hear me out and who knows, maybe I’m already doing everything your friend did. It might’ve helped her but it clearly didn’t work for me so please save me that pain? It really all just comes down to this: DON’T DISMISS MY PAIN AND STRUGGLES. DON’T DISMISS MY EFFORTS. Hear me out, listen to my story and if there is still something you want to add, please feel free to do so. Let’s give you another prime example. A good one this time. My cousin who also struggled with infertility brought up the test that changed the game for them AFTER she asked me what I’ve done. She asked me if I’ve done Clomid, IUI, and IVF before she even brought up this test her doctor ran that was ultimately the driving force that made her conceive her beautiful baby girl three months later. That’s how you give your two cents. Hear me out and if you hear I haven’t tried this, bring it up and mention why you believe in it.
So yes, you can talk to me about infertility but please choose your words wisely. Don’t tell me to just relax. Or it will happen in God’s time. Or my personal favorite: Maybe it’s not your purpose to have biological children and it’s your purpose in life to adopt (this is an actual real response I got when I told someone about my struggles with infertility). I know I’m basically saying to be sensitive to my feelings but I mean a decent human will be? Especially if they know me well enough to know that infertility is my trigger.
“BUT WAIT, didn’t you just say like one minute ago that you can’t expect the world to be sensitive to your triggers and you need to face the source of your trigger head on? Like, uhmm hello? It’s right there in the introduction? You’re saying the exact opposite a 1000 words later? I’m so confused.”
- I’m not expecting the world to walk around me on tippytoes and cover my eyes every time someone speaks of infertility. I’m just quite frankly expecting people who care about me (and knows that my infertility is a sensitive subject) to be conscious of their words and the impact they might have. THAT’S IT. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for. I know that x subject is sensitive to my friend, so I choose my words carefully if the subject is brought up. In my eyes, that’s the decent thing to do. I care about my friend. I know this subject is sensitive to her, so I’m going to try my best not to rub salt in the wound. Saying that, maybe the person in my bad example didn’t know any of this. She had no idea the impact of her words and what effect it could have on those struggling with infertility. That’s quite honestly okay too. I can’t expect you to know everything, but that’s why I’m writing this blog. Hopefully, this can be a source of education so that next time this person happens to talk to someone struggling with infertility, they would be a little more careful with their words.
- In my eyes, I see the fact that I’m actively talking about infertility and sharing my true feelings on the matter as ‘facing the source of my trigger head on’. Yes, at the moment, I’m not entirely allowing myself to give it too much thought, but I’m taking small steps everyday. Acknowledging that I have a long way to go, is a baby step.
My advice to anyone who knows someone who is struggling with infertility is quite simple. Just hear us out. Sometimes just having someone listen is all we need. You might not have profound advice (which is completely okay), but let us rant and cry. Don’t tell us everything will get better and our day will come. Instead just say this: “I can’t imagine how hard this is for you. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m always here for you if you need to cry and vent. I love you.” Someone has said this to me before and I promise you, it actually made an impact.
My infertility is a sensitive subject for me. That’s no fucking secret. It is a source behind some of my worst soul-crushing heartbreak I’ve ever experienced. I wish I could say it’s getting better but, in all honesty, I haven’t really allowed myself to think about it too much. Onno and I have been on a break (it was needed for our sanity) for a while now… I’m scared to start trying again. I know what type of pain is waiting for me once I allow myself to think about it or once I actively try for a baby again. I’m not ready yet, but I’m hoping I will get there. Some days I feel mentally strong enough to handle infertility treatment again but most days, the thought of that crushing heartbreak month in and month out again, makes me want to crawl into a little ball and suck my thumb like a child. I just need time to process everything and heal. And that’s okay too. I will get there.
That’s everything I wanted to say. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about these types of sensitive subjects. I never really know what to say when it comes to ‘triggers’ and ‘trigger warnings’. Sigh. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this blog. Keep an eye out for Friday’s blog. It’s an interview/collab with a special someone. I can’t wait.
Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!