(This post was submitted anonymously.)
I heard her mention it in passing, long before we began making plans to start a family. It was an offhanded comment about her infertility, made during a company dinner, something everyone around her seemed to take in stride.
I don’t remember how it struck me at the time. Did I pity her? Did I think it was strange? Uncomfortable?
For whatever reason, that slight comment stuck with me. And then, a year or so later, when we began to realize that infertility was going to be part of our journey, I thought about it a lot.
I wondered if I should call her. Would she mind talking to me? Was I ready to open up with where we were?
I found myself traveling with her on a few business calls, the first time the two of us had ever spent any time alone together. Over dinner one night, I told her I wanted to ask her a question.
“…see, we’ve been trying for a while now, and things haven’t happened for us yet.”
She was so compassionate, so supportive. She told me all about her experience, and gave me a general sense for what I might be able to expect.
I was very grateful for the opportunity to talk about our situation. Little did I know at the time how deeply she would support our journey.
Following our time together, it was she who initially reached out to me. She lived 2500 miles away, so I very rarely saw her, but she inserted herself into my life on a very regular basis.
Especially as we delved into the more aggressive treatments, she kept track of my every appointment. “Message me with your numbers!” she’d say. If I didn’t call her on my way home from the clinic, she’d call me. “How did it go?” In the depths of shots and prods and pokes, I looked forward to hearing her voice…she was my cheerleader, my confidante.
Of course my husband was supportive, accompanying me to appointments as often as he could, but her having experienced the trials before me provided an entirely different dimension to my support system.
When I look back on that time in my life, particularly with us having made the decision to keep our journey mostly to ourselves, I see her face. I hear her voice. From halfway across the country, she walked that road with me.
I send her a card on Mother’s Day. Not only is she a beautiful mother herself, but I can’t think of my journey to becoming a mother without thinking about her.
I can never repay her for what she did for me, but I can try to pay it forward.
Not talking publicly about our infertility makes it difficult, but I have served as a resource for a former colleague who approached me very sheepishly, asking if we’d had “help” with our girls. By the incredibly respectful way he asked, I knew he had a reason. I was so thankful to be able to cheer him and his wife on as they trekked to appointment after appointment. And every time I see pictures of his children, I feel a special sense of joy.
I share this part of my story to underscore the importance of a support system when you’re going through infertility. Whether that support comes from your partner, your friend or family member…or from someone you rarely see or know only online…reach out. You don’t have to travel this journey alone.
And for those of us who’ve been there, may we remember the things that helped us along our way. May we look for opportunities to pay them forward.
This post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.