Infertility – suffering alone, together

Photography: Kantha Bae

By Sara Laharnar

A journey is the act of travelling somewhere, but the fertility journey is a trip you’d rather not have to take.  

Infertility is different for everyone and can be caused by a number of factors including age, genetic issues, sperm abnormalities, hormonal imbalances and fallopian tube blockages to name a few.  

What isn’t different for most women, is the unshakeable feeling of going through this alone. 

Of course, the partners are on this journey too, but they aren’t the ones injecting themselves with harsh IVF drugs, living life in two week intervals, symptom checking every ache and twinge or peeing on sticks praying for that double line every month. 

As a fertility acupuncturist, I hear harsh realities from patients every week: 

Women being congratulated by strangers on their ‘pregnancy,’ because of the severe visible bloating caused by a failed IVF cycle.  

Women who have been trying for over four years, attending yet another baby shower and dodging questions like, “So when are you going to have a baby?”  

Sometimes, these women give in to their vulnerability and are honest, only to be faced with a myriad of advice or blanket statements like, “Have mine for a week and then see if you still want kids” or, “It will happen when it happens, don’t stress.”  

This ignorance only deepens the isolation these women feel, and unfortunately, these are not one-off events. 

These women sit in front of me, often in tears, exhausted and broken.

Their words and their stories may be different, but they all have the same message – no one understands how they feel, those close to them don’t tend to ask how they’re doing, and they don’t have anyone to really talk to. They are alone.

I often wish I could introduce them to one another as they pass each other in the waiting room and say, “Hey – she knows what you’re going through, you should exchange numbers.” I know they would appreciate it, but I don’t because of, well – patient confidentiality. 

So instead, I have written this blog to arm you with practical things you can do to survive this journey and hopefully find some comfort in knowing you are not alone.  

#1. Feel your emotions  

You’re a human being going through a really crappy time – you’re allowed to be sad, angry and feel ripped off by the world. Feel those emotions and take the day off when you need to, from people, work, your socials! Take the time to check out, but make sure you get back up and not let the grief consume you.  

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