hidden in plain sight

**warning, possible trigger post**

It amazes me how many couples struggle with infertility.  Not just “wow, look at the stats”, but how many of the couples I know and love quietly struggle or struggled.

I found out a week or so ago that the one childless man in my lab, who says things like “a post-doc is a terrible time to have a baby”* and “why would you want to have more than one kid?” underwent fertility treatments with his wife, up to and including IVF.

I just had lunch with the one childless non-grad student woman in my lab, who is a close friend, and who is slightly older than myself.  With her husband of many many years, and their two dogs, I think I had just assumed they didn’t want kids.  She asked why I’ve given up caffeine, and I explained it was 90% to avoid being addicted to things and 10% to be a plushy interior for a potential fetus, and tossed in that we were struggling and I figured every little bit might help.  She told me she underwent an IVF four years ago that was the heartbreak kind: a positive pregnancy test and enough time to dream, but no happy ending.  She has five frozen embryos in Hawaii, and has just started looking into the process to bring them closer to home (to my clinic, actually!).

My one very good and currently-pregnant friend, who was my infertility buddy here all through the past year, has an odd blob on her ultrasound scans.  Her baby looks fine and healthy, but the blob refuses to vanish, despite specialists scratching their heads.  She is worried, instead of being happy and hopeful.

I have had four dear friends suffer miscarriages in the past year.  My facebook feed assures me that babies do in fact get born, seemingly often, but there is so much heartbreak and strife around this process among my closest, dearest people.  

I think it will mean that trusting in a positive outcome after a positive test will be hard for me, if not impossible, should I ever be in that situation.

* – it’s not.  It’s probably the best time, if there is such a thing in academia.

One thought on “hidden in plain sight

  1. Turia

    I think we are getting better about talking about it. Not great, but better. It is less hidden than it was. I think academia is also interesting because you get the usual percentage of couples who would struggle no matter when they started trying, PLUS the couples where they waited to finish their PhDs/get a job/pay off student debt/etc. until age was suddenly a factor, and that compounds things.

    I love love love the ALI blogosphere, and it has been my lifeline for years, but I do remember Q. saying to me once that it’s impossible for me to envision the positive outcomes because I know too much about loss. Most people don’t even have to consider that babies can die. They can post their positive pee sticks on f/b because they will get to stay oblivious. They will never sit and think about the fact that 1% of births are stillbirths, and how that is actually, when you really look at it, quite a large number.

    I think when you struggle with infertility, if you are remotely open about it, that paves the way for others to open up about their own stories. Whereas when you show everyone your positive pee sticks, those with losses keep their grief to themselves. So it seems like it’s suddenly everywhere, but in reality it’s just that you’ve become someone safe to tell.


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