• Thu, Aug 22 2013

Anonymous Mom: My Straight Friends Don’t Care About My Fertility Struggles

frozen spermAnonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

I’ve wanted children since I was 12 years old. I came out as a lesbian two weeks after my 15th birthday. I’ve dated 10 women, and I’ve been married to one for two years. I have never questioned my want for children, nor have I ever questioned whether I would have them in a lesbian relationship. It has always been a given that there would be a way for me to get pregnant, that I would carry at least one child in my lifetime if I was physically able to do so, and I would raise at least two or three, hopefully within the confines of a monogamous committed relationship.

My wife and I have talked about children since our third date. We knew we were going to marry each other the first time we saw each other, so our relationship moved relatively swiftly, and by the time we were married (less than two years after we’d met), we had a general plan laid out of when we would have children.

And now that we are very seriously trying to have children (our first insemination will be this month), I’m finding out that the issue with being a lesbian and having children isn’t with the religious right. Or money. Or what your family thinks.

It’s your friends.

Between the two of us, my wife and I, both introverts, have been lucky enough to create and sustain two very close and very strong friendships with two different and married heterosexual women. One of them started what I call “casually” trying in June – essentially the “Let’s throw the birth control out the window and see what happens” approach. The other one became pregnant in June after three months of somewhat focused trying – attempting to have intercourse on/around the days she was predicted to ovulate, according to her iPhone app. We are exceedingly happy for both of them and wish both of them happy, healthy babies. We have been cheering them on, supporting them, discussing babies with them, etc. And they try to do the same for us.

The issue comes when one or both of us tries to tell them how hard our situation is. Because neither of them has run into infertility issues (God forbid), neither of them have been as involved and clinical as we are about getting pregnant. They haven’t peed on ovulation sticks. They haven’t had their partner shove a plastic speculum up their hoo-ha and check their cervical position. They haven’t stressed over the date of ovulation and whether the dry ice in the rented cooler would last that long – and then tried to not stress, because that can delay the very ovulation they’re waiting on. They haven’t spent money they don’t really have to drive two hours away to pick up frozen sperm and drive it back home. They don’t know the fear of thawing it incorrectly and wasting $700 on absolutely nothing.

We try to tell them the difficulties we face, and will face. I tried, a few months ago, to talk about how frustrated I was with the second parent adoption process we would have to go through, and the friend I was talking to brushed it off as something akin to her difficulties getting her husband to paint the nursery.

Things like that absolutely blow my mind, especially since both of our friends have made it very clear that they support gay marriage and find it incomprehensible that we have to spend so much time, money, and effort to get the same rights everyone else has in every single state in the nation.

I know they say to not compare anyone’s difficulties to your own, that everyone has their own mountain to climb and everyone’s hardships are just as hard for them as yours are for you. But when my friend, who gets free sperm each month with a man she loves, who has hundreds of rights that I couldn’t even think to have, who gets multiple chances to impregnate herself, brushes off my concerns about the thousands of dollars I will spend just to have the chance at a child because she thinks her husband not painting the nursery is just as big an issue, I want to scream.

Becoming a mom can be hard. And being a mom is hard. But trying to become a lesbian mom with straight friends – that’s pretty tough, too.

Send us your own Anonymous Mom submission.

(photo: des Letemps)

Share This Post:
  • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

    Dude, I’ll be your friends. Trying to get pregnant the way you and your wife are deserves a free-pass at all the bitching and shoulder-leaning you need!!! I applause you for making difficult (and expensive) decisions in order to follow your biological right. I have straight friends and gay friends who are having a hard time with insemination, I have single friends who are trying to get pregnant, and each situation is just as complicated as the other.

    Painting a nursery? Fuck them.

    I wish you both good luck, and lots and lots of romantical nights with the speculum.

    • Koa_Beck

      We need to get the “Painting a nursery? Fuck them” pasted over an image STAT.

  • Givemeabreak

    Infertility is hard, no matter who your relationship is with. I don’t know you, but I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers for a happy healthy baby, and less stress until then!

  • historychick79

    The reality is, when pregnancy is an easy, innocent road, “they” just won’t get it. Even as a heterosexual woman, I got sympathy from my friends with my two missed miscarriages, but there were no endlessly listening ears once the first few days in shock passed by. “They” don’t know what it is like to lose that entitled miracle of parenthood by learning the heartbeat had stopped inexplicably weeks ago, going through a d&c (passing a departing mother and newborn as you enter the hospital for the procedure), seeing the due date pass by and no one has a clue; and the fear of getting pregnant again and daring to hope in absolute, daily fear. My husband and I went on a cruise to get out of dodge and cope with our second loss, only to return and hear my closest friend was cluelessly several weeks pregnant with her very first month trying, and naturally/thankfully she had a healthy child a few months later; and you’re thrilled and heartbroken at the same time. But mother nature can simply be a bitch. There may not be a choice with being hetero versus lesbian, or keeping a pregnancy beyond the first 12 weeks. If there’s any consolation, the journey in advocating yourself through the medical world, gaining patience, and breathing through worry and uncertainty may help prepare you to be a parent; but “they” simply won’t have the same journey as you. I hope they will celebrate with you in absolute joy and solidarity once your time comes.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      This is so very true. Those who don’t struggle to conceive don’t appreciate the pain. Those who haven’t struggled to keep a pregnancy don’t understand the fear behind each positive test. Those who have never had a traumatizing labour and delivery don’t truly get the lingering effects it leaves. Those who’ve never failed at breastfeeding don’t know how deep the feelings of failure go. Those who’ve never had PPD don’t fully comprehend the debilitating nature of it. Moms of easy babies can’t know the agony of the colicky baby.

      And straight couples will never truly know the struggles of gay couples. Motherhood is a world of varied journeys, and it can be lonely when your friends with differing journeys don’t understand or have empathy for yours. It’s also par for the course, I think, and we all should work on that. We get wrapped up in our own worries and issues so much sometimes that we don’t make the time to mentally walk in the shoes of another mom.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    I’m sorry you and your wife are not receiving the support you need right now. Unfortunately, milestones like having a baby and getting married really prove who your friends are and who will stick and around and who will not. In the meantime, I am glad to know you and your wife have each other to rely on and support one another and I hope you have the family you have been trying so hard to have.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    Oh I hear you. My wife and I did reciprocal IVF – so basically, ridiculously expensive and invasive and just HARD. We didn’t tell a lot of people when we were trying, but even now, when we talk about it, some well-meaning but clueless folks will say things like “in some ways” we’re “actually kind of lucky” to have to go through it, because we “get to” plan it all, not have surprises, to be able to pick out our child’s donor with such precision while they’re just “stuck” with their husband’s genes…..
    I don’t need anyone’s sympathy – we WERE lucky that it worked on the first try – but am I lucky that I can’t get pregnant via sexy sex and have a kid that shares both of our genes? Um, no.

    • Andrea

      But I am not sure that not getting pregnant by sexy sex or having a child that doesn’t share both of your genes is a struggle that only gay couples face? Help me understand.

    • Hibbie

      It’s not a struggle that only gay couples face, but 100% of same-sex couples will never have a child via sex that contains genes from both parents. Even if allisonjayne and her wife (or any other same-sex couple) are uber Fertile Myrtles, biology cannot be overcome in this case. Generally speaking, options for gay men and women who want to have children are more limited than for straight men and women. That doesn’t enhance or diminish what either type of couple goes through, of course.

    • Rachel Sea

      Don’t say never. Lab gene splicing is making this happen. When it does pass review, it will only be available to couples with giants fistfuls of sweaty money, but it will happen.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I didn’t say it was. I think Hibbie put it well. It’s just that it’s never an option for same-sex couples. There is one privilege here though – as a woman with a woman, we didn’t have to wait a year of trying before we could get a referral to a clinic. So there’s that.
      It’s not that I don’t understand that lots of (straight) couples have to go through the same thing. It’s the whole ‘you’re lucky’ thing that really irks me. I’m lucky I got pregnant on my first try. I’m lucky to have the resources to be able to afford it. I’m lucky to live in a big city where it’s easy for me to access not only fertility clinics, but ones that have experience with same sex couples.
      But no, I’m not “lucky” to have to go through this in the first place. It’s not “kind of neat” that I had to pay a lot of money to obtain the genetic materials of someone I’ve never met in order to create my kid. It’s not “really interesting” that my wife and I had to choose between a downpayment on a home or starting a family.

    • chickadee

      I can’t believe (but sadly, yes I can) that anyone would say that you’re ‘lucky’ to ‘get’ to pick out your child’s father and thus buy expensive frozen sperm and hope that you get pregnant on however many tries one batch of frozen sperm allows you. That’s horribly insensitive and those people need to become better informed or just shut it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      As I said, I really do think people mean well. Like they’re trying to show me the ‘bright side’ or whatever.
      Part of the problem I think is that I (trying to make light of it) will talk about how picking the donor was sort of like online dating, because there are all these weird essay questions and whatnot. So then I think people have this idea that there are thousands of perfect donors that we had to pick from. But by the time we narrowed the list down to those whose sperm can be brought into Canada, and those who consent to their offspring learning their name and last contact information when they turn 18 (this was really important to us), the list was narrowed down to a robust….11. I mean, imagine if you had to pick your husband from a pool of 11 people???

    • chickadee

      They may be trying to use dark humor, which I can understand because we thrive on that sort of stuff at our house. But reproduction is such a sensitive issue….and 11? 11 sperm options? That’s rough. But at least you know they have good motility, or they wouldn’t be allowed to donate.

      And it leaves you very little room for choosing a donor who has your coloring or your wife’s….

    • Blueathena623

      Thank you for sharing. I was still under the stupid impression that people had thousands of people to pick from.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Not a stupid impression really…it also depends on the bank I guess. The main problem is that it’s illegal to pay someone for sperm donation (or blood or anything like that) in Canada. So there’s only one bank left in Canada and it’s pretty small. And the regulations for sperm are different, so when importing from an American bank, you’ve got to pick ‘Canadian-compliant’ sperm that has been tested in a way that meets Canadian regulations. So that was the main thing that narrowed it down a lot for us.
      Also, we’re white and were pretty flexible on the ethnicity/race of the donor. Out of the 11, most were white or mostly white dudes. If we’d wanted a specific ethnicity, background or race, we’d have been even more limited.

  • Katie L.

    I’m sorry your friends are not being supportive. I don’t know how you can call yourself a friend and not care about your friend’s struggles. They should be thanking their lucky stars it happened so easily for them, not dismissing your experience. Best of luck to you and your wife as you start your family.

  • Tea

    I’m sorry to hear your friends are being such a nuisance on this. It’s always a pain to explain or try to get support for things on the other side of what people are used to or were privileged to have go well. I know a trans-straight couple who are struggling with fertility right now, and are sick of being told to “try harder” by those who don’t know the medical history of the husband, or have been told to try XYZ that they can’t afford. Spouse-guy and I try to be supportive, we’ve been looking into adoption recently, and think that we’re finally just going to embrace being childfree, I have too many strikes against the screening process. It’s all hard to explain to those who haven’t struggled.

    But, enough whining from me. I sincerely wish the best of luck to you and your wife!

  • Ellie

    I’m sorry that you have such self-involved friends. I don’t think it’s about being straight, it’s about being selfish.

  • whiteroses

    I think that nobody really understands someone else’s struggles. No matter how hard we try, even if we go through something similar we’d never “get it”. It’s not about being straight. And I don’t know that it’s about being selfish either. I think it’s that we all go through times in our lives when we’re so wrapped up in ourselves we can’t see the pine trees for the lumberjacks, if that makes any sense.

    • Skye

      I think sometimes people don’t know how to be supportive about what they don’t know. I think maybe in this case the friend was trying to find a way to relate to it (albeit the wrong one). It has taken me a long time (and therapy) to really understand and process that people don’t always react the way we want them to but does not mean they don’t care.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Of course you can’t ever completely understand what someone else is going through. But I think the author’s point is…I mean, if my best friend was telling me about how hard chemotherapy has been on her, I’m not going to say, “oh I know how you feel, yesterday the waiter fucked up my order and now I have a gluten headache!” or something, y’know?

    • whiteroses

      Probably not. I think that most people just do their best to try to empathize, even if they can’t. So they say stupid stuff to fill the space. It’s hard to hold that against them.

  • HYM

    I don’t think this is a straight/gay thing. I got minimal support from my friends too. Many if us turn to support groups. Check out http://www.resolve.org/resources/online-support-communities.html

    There are many members there who are very aware of and supportive of all the different ways to grow a family. My straight friend who I met through the community is still very active there and has been lobbying to get an LGBT subsection set up on the forum.

  • JLH1986

    Yuck. This sounds awful. It sounds like your friends aren’t even trying to understand your situation. We all have our own struggles that is true. But I’d never compare my “tight money” situation to that of someone who is homeless. They simply aren’t the same. Struggling financially, emotionally and physically to conceive and not getting someone to paint a nursery simply aren’t the same thing. Your struggle may not be her priority but empathy and support should be. I hope things turn out well and you can write an anonymous mom about how your pregnancy journey ended in a beautiful baby!

  • Rachel Sea

    This is why I don’t talk about it. My wife and I have been trying to get me pregnant for three years. I’ve had 9 failed IUIs, which means about $5400 worth of donor sperm has gone completely to waste. Even when I explain (when asked for the hojillionth time when we’re going to have kids) that I can’t just get knocked up with any old sperm, lest parental rights become an issue, or that we can’t just pick up an unwanted child from social services as though they were a puppy, people don’t get it. Unless they’ve been through it, it is incomprehensible that it could cost up to $50,000 to have a baby – and if you don’t have many thousands in ready cash, you are SOL, and are just going to have to learn how to be happy without.

    I wish I could just get pregnant, and I wish I could “just adopt” a baby. I wish that life were remotely fair, and that only people who really want babies would get knocked up, never meth addicts or abusers. I wish the system we had made any sense, so that all of this were explicable to friends and family, but it just isn’t.

    • Cee

      Sigh. Rachel, I would seriously carry your baby in my childfree baby womb if I could.

  • Momma425

    I think it has less to do with the friends being straight, and more to do with your friends not understanding the real struggles that people with fertility issues go through- whether that is infirtility and having to do IVF treatments, or artificial insemination because you are homosexual (or a single parent wanting children or whatever).
    I remember when my aunt was going through infertility issues. My mom, having never faced that struggle before, made some pretty harsh comments: “I never had a problem getting pregnant. We were only trying for a month and there I was, pregnant.” It was so callous and insensitive. Mom wasn’t meaning to undermine or be disrespectful to my aunt. She just didn’t know what to say because she had never been through it herself. As someone who has a stillborn, a miscarriage, and struggled with a high risk pregnancy, I know that people OFTEN say the wrong thing. They aren’t meaning to- they just don’t know any better.
    Wishing you and your wife luck and a happy, healthy baby. :)

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Wow, your friends sound way too caught up in their own sprogs. I don’t think it’s possible to truly “know” unless you’ve been through a certain experience, but it certainly is possible to be a lot nicer. Hopefully when you all have bouncing babies it will even itself out?

  • Cee

    I had issues similar to yours when I contemplated conceiving. It happens at times and friends reveal their true nature or obliviousness to certain struggles in LGBT people’s lives. I would often get “I just don’t GET you, they’re not like OUR problems”. Shit, I even get it now when I want to discuss relationship issues “its just your issues are so different from ours” or just the zoning out if it the subject sounds “too foreign” (too gay) a concept and fuck sex talk with certain heteros. I can hear all day about their adventures with dicks that are too big, too small, too thick, too hairy..so on, but bring in something about your issues and forget it.
    If your friends have reacted this way to your problems in general or gotten a glazed gaze as you discuss your problems, I would wager to say that, yes, they are jerks about you being gay. This sounds more to me as an issue of just pure selfishness. Do you guys have friends in your social circle that have had problems conceiving? If so, how were they treated?

    I am curious as to how your process goes. I do hope you update us as this can be a very educational discussion of not only the complexities in conceiving outside the easy peasy natural way (we miss you Lindsay Cross!) and the things lgbt people trying to conceive go through.

  • Beagle321

    Well, I support her right to have whatever song she chooses at her wedding, but I have the corresponding right to have an opinon about it. I would keep it to myself normally, but since this is a public discussion, here goes: that song is totally inappropriate for a wedding. It is a song about a man who hates this woman and uses her simply for sex. She is using that as she walks down the aisle to her husband-to-be? It seems that her intent is for us to presume that theirs is the relationship of the sort described in the song: he thinks she’s a “crazy bitch,” but will marry her because she’s good in bed. Nice. I think that’s a trashy way to celebrate a marriage. It’s not slut shaming at all. There you have it.

    Woops, somehow posted on wrong article. Sorry!

  • noelle 02

    This was an interesting, eye-opening article. I feel bad about it, but I had never really thought about all that lesbians have to go through just to get pregnant. I can imagine how stressful that must be and wish Anon Mom much success in the process.

  • That_Darn_Kat

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. I, like many other commenters, don’t think it’s because they’re straight, so much as they just don’t understand the struggle. I wish you and your wife luck in the baby department, and just in general.

  • StephC12

    I am so sorry that you are struggling with infertility. It’s already hard enough that you have to jump through more hoops than heterosexual couples in order to conceive, but to add IF to the mix is terrible. People who can get pregnant easily do not understand, and it’s unfortunately something that we have to deal with on top of not just being able to have sex and get pregnant. You have my thoughts and support.

  • Anon

    Our straight friends don’t understand why we have a “get *my name* knocked up” saving account (yes, that’s what we call it) when we are only in our early 20s. They don’t listen when we explain that, unlike them, I can never just become pregnant. It’s going to cost money. And it has the potential to be expensive. They don’t understand why I’m concerned now, when I have plenty time to be a parent. Or why, there is more money in our “get knocked up” account than there is in our wedding savings account.

    I just wish they could understand that we lack the unlimited supply to free sperm that they do.

    • Psych Student

      I *love* the name of the account!

    • Gangle

      I have the exact same name for my fertility account! I am straight, but I totally get why you would start saving as soon as possible.. it always baffled me why anyone would question it, assuming they have all had some sort of basic sex ed, and therefore must know how the baby-making process works..

  • http://www.ripit.com/fastpitch-bats/ Heather Henderson

    Yeah Its not easy for many heterosexual moms to have babies as well, some have to try for years until it comes.

    • Blueathena623

      Yeah, here is the thing though — her final point was talking about stress over secondary adoption, and her friend talked about painting rooms.

      She and her wife are married, yet they are going to have to pay a good chunk of money and do stupid legal paperwork so that her wife can adopt their kids. And it was compared to room painting.

  • SDA

    It also may be that your friends are not understanding right now because you have not started the process. From my understanding you are scheduled for your first insemination and have not actually been trying yet. Not that it makes a lot of difference b/c friends should be there to listen to our worries and stresses regardless, but they might just be thinking that you are worrying about nothing and assuming it is going to work out fine for you.

    I doubt it is a ‘straight v gay thing’….I am straight, I peed on an ovulation stick, I was terrified about not being able to get pregnant after having a miscarriage and several months of no pregnancies after trying again. I also knew that if I couldn’t get pregnant the ‘natural way’….we really would be very late to the game to save up the amount we needed for expensive fertility treatments or even adoption if that was the case, so there was a good chance that if it didn’t work the ‘natural’ way, there were no other options for me. Fortunately that wasn’t how it turned out, but friends wouldn’t have understood my worries, they would have brushed me off and told me it would be ok, not unless they had gone through it.

  • Good Luck

    A married women who had no trouble conceiving is not going to understand the way you expect her to, and I think that is part of the issue, your expectation of how she should act and the things she should be saying. Additionally, you indicated that you and your wife are both introverts, so I understand confrontation will not be comfortable for you, but the mature thing to do is confront about your feelings so she can be more sensitive and if she can not be, then she is not a friend.

    You indicated that its basically not fair your friend gets free sperm from the man she loves each month, you aren’t upset with her, not really, your frustration is the system and the difficulties in trying to have a baby as a gay couple. I get that, there should be better, more financially available options to gay couples who deserve children. Why not write about that instead of making it about these other women or use that energy to make your dreams come true.

    I wish you luck and hope you can find peace in this situation.

    • Psych Student

      Sometimes people direct their anger/distress towards people who are *available*, rather than the correct people (in this case, the system). It may not make much sense, but it happens. She’ll move past it. In the interim, she’s writing about it because the situation distresses her and she’s looking for empathy and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • Colinda

      “Use that energy to make your dreams come true” is the least valuable advice ever. Precisely what expendable energy do you think the author has that is NOT currently being used for just that purpose? If you’ve never struggled with infertility, let me clue you in: it’s all-consuming the way every other medical condition is.

      Your answer was great except for that middle paragraph. Duplicity of emotions is possible. It’s not impossible to be both happy for your uber-fertile friend and jealous that she is.

    • Katia

      Nothing to do with this issue, but I find it annoying when people complain about their friends reactions. (I have a friend like this- cool chick but this gets old fast!) like “I told her about x problem and she didn’t seem to care that much. I asked her if she wanted to go to x and she didn’t seem interested,” etc, getting critical of friends because you were hoping for a different reaction than what you got. You got a meh reaction instead of them reacting EXACTLY how you wanted. your friend is not your puppy. So sometimes “using that energy..” Could be great advice for people over reacting to their friends reactions. Like this anon mom

  • Bailey

    I generally found other women to be unsympathetic at my 18 month attempt to conceive. I got to a point where I could tell everyone just didn’t want to hear about it anymore. So I got a therapist and paid her to listen to me :-) I did finally conceive naturally after having surgery to remove endometriosis.

    I find I still get irritated even now when my friends talk about “trying” and just assume they will conceive the first month and pop out a baby 9 months later. The truth is, most of them do. I would never wish infertility on anyone- it was the worst time of my life- but it is a very hard to thing to comprehend when you’ve never gone through it.

    I hope that things work out for you and your wife and that you find the empathy and support you need from the people around you!

  • kirsten

    I sympathize with your struggles, but as soon as I got into the paragraph about checking cervical position, etc… I thought “whoa yeah I wouldn’t want to hear about that either”. It has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with the fact that different people have different tolerances for what they consider private. I would listen patiently if my best friend told me stuff like that, but 1.) I’d be inwardly squirming at the intimate info, and 2.) this conversation wouldn’t happen because that’s beyond her privacy tolerance too.

    There’s nothing wrong with being open about these things, but there’s also nothing wrong with other people having an “intimate info” level that’s not as open. I wouldn’t take it personally, and I would look for wider support from other sources – IF groups for example.

    • kirsten

      I should add that I’m assuming one possible explanation. If they share this type of info with you though, and don’t want to hear yours in return, then they’re just being poor friends.

  • Amber

    It’s really getting to the point where I feel like saying, “I don’t give a fuck.” whenever someone starts complaining about their fertility problems.

    Seriously, nothing those of us with children do is right. There’s nothing we can say, nothing we can do. If we avoid the subject, we’re assholes. If we ask how you’re doing we’re ignorant, insensitive bastards reminding you of your pain.

    Part of me wonders why some (not all) infertile people feel entitled to so much damn attention from others. Yeah, you have struggles. That fucking blows. I agree. I have a serious medical condition that interferes with my life on a daily basis yet I’m able to talk about other things and I don’t expect my friends to constantly coo and fuss at me over it.

    Like your example, for instance. I never roll my eyes at someone for telling me they’re having painting problems even though I do have medical issues. Friendship doesn’t mean my friends never mention their problems unless they can prove their worse than mine.

    If your friends are changing the subject to painting when you’re talking about your infertile, they’re sending you a message as politely and subtly as they can. I suggest taking it if you want to preserve the friendship.

    • whiteroses

      I’m not sure if you’re trolling or if you’re just really lacking in compassion.
      You don’t give a fuck? Fine. Go ahead and be open about it. But then don’t expect others to care if you decide to be open about issues that you face.
      Infertility’s rough, and there’s still a stigma attached to it- like you’re less of a person if you can’t have a kid. And it’s common. Ten percent of women in America below the age of 44 have infertility issues. If you have infertility issues and someone else does or did, there’s a reasonable expectation that they will understand what you’re going through. If you’re friends with someone, you also have a reasonable expectation that they want to hear the actual answer when they ask, “How’s it going”? For example- a friend’s daughter died of SIDS. I have absolutely no way of knowing the hell that my friend goes through every day, but every time I see her, I ask how she’s doing. Because I love her. And if she needs to talk about her daughter, then that’s what we do.
      Having a kid doesn’t make you a saint, any more than not having one makes you less of a person.

    • Andrea

      While Amber may have been a bit brusque, I think I kinda understand her point. The problem is that having a friend that is going through infertility (specially when you never did and have a passel of children you had zero hard time conceiving) is an emotional mine field.

      It is EXTREMELY difficult to know what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and when to STFU. Sometimes you feel like your mere existence as a parent is an insult to the person. I am not saying it doesn’t blow for them (because like Amber said, it really fucking does), but it’s difficult to know how to be supportive.

    • whiteroses

      I’m not disagreeing with you. At all. But responding, “I don’t give a fuck” to someone’s genuine pain isn’t supportive by any stretch and doesn’t do anything to nurture a friendship. I think the best way to be supportive differs from person to person. And if you don’t know what to say, not saying anything is generally a pretty good option.

      People have told my friend to get over her daughter’s death. She can’t. I don’t know how anyone could. She also has never met my son. Her daughter and my son would be about the same age, and I understand why she can’t. I don’t talk about him unless she asks, because it’s too painful for her. The way I am with my friend who has suffered this loss is very different than the way I am around my friends who are parents of toddlers- because it has to be. I let her talk. I let her rage. And yes, I would say that we’re not as close as we used to be, because she does resent me a bit. She resents my son as well. But she needs someone to listen, and hopefully someday we’ll get back to the way we were. I hope that she will be able to see past the pain someday or at least get out of the blind fury she feels. But if she can’t- I’ll always be her friend, no matter what.

      (And before people jump down my throat, yes, I know its not the same thing. But losing a child- or the possibility of a child- is equally as painful when the child is wanted, imho).

    • Colinda

      whiteroses, you are a great friend and an uncommonly empathic person. As much as she may resent you and your child (and I say this as an infertile via recurrent pregnancy loss – different from your friend but similar and holy hell do I know that resentment), she is lucky to have you. They are exceedingly few and far between, these friends that can accept that someone can love and resent another person at the same time.

      And to Andrea, yes, it can be hard to know what to say and when to say it. But you are not the one suffering here. A little empathy goes a long way. “This is too difficult for me because your pain confuses me” is a lame stance for a friend to take.

    • whiteroses

      Thank you. I don’t look at it as being “empathetic”- I look at it as being human. My friend is hurting- and just like she did for me for a particularly hard adolescence, I am here for her. The resentment? Yeah, I get it, as much as it sucks (and believe me, it does). But love- and I do love her- doesn’t alter when you’re having a rough time, though that’s not what I’d call this. But I think that it’s a relief for my friend that, two years on, someone besides her daughter’s family can say, “I remember her. She existed. She was and is loved.”

    • Rachel Sea

      People don’t come with scripts. Sometimes there is nothing that can be said to make a situation any better, and sometimes there is no constructive way to offer support. What comforts one person will cut another (I fantasize about throat punching the people who have told me this is all god’s plan, but some people are comforted by that). All you can ever do is your best, and hope your friends understand (and just because they are sad, angry, resentful, or bitter doesn’t mean they don’t understand).

      Infertility is life changing, and sometimes that unfortunately means losing friendships. I have had to distance myself from some friends once they had children, not because I don’t love them, but because I am literally incapable of being enthusiastic about someone thinking their life without children was meaningless, and my lack of enthusiasm was as hurtful to them as their obsession over their infant was to me.

    • Andrea

      I think that’s the whole point. It’s difficult. And I guess maybe everyone ought to understand that (most of the times) your friends are trying. And I think that’s why the types of articles that go “10 things to never say to [insert person dealing with difficult/life changing situation here] really piss me off. What works for someone may not work for others. Case in point IS your example of “God’s will”. I would never say it because I know it pisses off a lot of people (in all kinds of situations), but I also know (because I live in the South) that it actually IS a HUGE comfort to a lot of others.

      The point is not everyone is being an insensitive asshole just because they don’t know what the right thing to say (or not) is.

    • Cee

      You are a kind person of the world.

      Think about things you share with the world, particularly about your kids. It comes off the tongue so easily for a parent to talk about what they are doing with their children. That funny thing they did yesterday, the weird face they made when they tried something for the first time, even the first time they tell you they hate you is a story that takes up half an hour with gestures and emotions. Then there always comes that sense of fulfillment from that unique life experience you so easily drop when it comes to conversations about your kids.

      Infertile people do not have that and those stories probably make them ache even more. It is not that they may not like to hear them, since, it probably gives them a mixture of living vicariously through this story yet, it reminds them of something they do not have. Much like whiteroses said about her friend who lost her child. She will never get over losing a child, and, infertile people who really want children will never get over not being able to have a child. It is also probably therapeutic for them to talk about it.

      Anon mom wants compassionate friends who will let her vent about the difficulties she is facing conceiving, the paperwork, the heartache and the process that costs so much money and doesn’t often take on the first time. If you don’t like to talk about your issues, that’s okay, surround yourself by people who ignore your frustrations and rather talk about lipstick, but she wants something more. And that’s okay too.

    • Blueathena623

      I think the title of this article is misleading.
      The author is not, as of right now, facing infertility. They/she hasn’t even tried to conceive yet. Its all been prep work to prepare for potential pregnancy. Its just that they have to go through this since they are gay.

      And I don’t really understand your talk about not rolling your eyes if your friends bring up painting just because you have medical issues. Do you mean that you don’t mind if when you are talking about medical issues if your friends change the subject?

      And, I know I’m being not picky, but the example she used was talking about secondary adoption and her friend changing it to painting. If you were having a conversation about, I dunno, all the hassles of getting your kid therapy for something, and your friend said “totally. I had to talk to two salespeople the other day to return a bra.” Would you feel compassion for her, or be pissed she minimalized your struggle?

    • chickadee

      Yes, my reading comprehension skills were compromised by the headline….so maybe no infertility issues, but conception for them requires some of the same discipline that infertile couples have to practice.

    • Blueathena623

      No, no, its all good. I’m just super zoned in on the secondary adoption thing because, as I said in a previous comment, I just kinda learned about it, and it was the main example she gave.

    • Gangle

      Really? Ok then, if thats how you feel. I am infertile, and I have no children, and at this point, most probably never will. When pals with children need to let off steam, or are worried about their children and need a shoulder to cry on, I am most definitely there. Even if I don’t ‘get’ it because I don’t have kids. I don’t feel like telling them I don’t give a fuck. It is called empathy. Hell, if they need to complain about that trivial room that their husband won’t paint, I am right there for them.
      But I would hope, that in return, when I need to talk about my infertility, they would listen, and not need to change the subject onto how their house is so messy or the garden needs weeding. I hope they would have a little compassion and empathy.

    • h

      This. So often people diminish friendships and relationships due to another person not having specifically gone through that thing, but really, it is about the relationship and being there for each other. Example… last year, my boyfriend’s mom passed away. My bf was 24. My mom is still alive and well, so I have no first-hand experience with what it is like to lose a mother, or even a parent, as my dad is also alive and well. I don’t know what it is like to go through what he has gone through in the past year, and won’t until one of my parents’ time comes (and maybe not even then, because every situation is different). But I love him, I am here for him, I listen to him. I talk about it with him when he wants to talk, and when he doesn’t, try to help him in other ways. Some people are talkers and some are “never speak of this again” people, but most fall somewhere in between. It is more about the relationship and being there for what the other person needs. For example, my boyfriend is happy to be there for me if, say, I have a rough day at work. Just because he has lost his mom, clearly a tragedy and bigger deal, does not mean that I can never vent about a run of the mill bad day. He does it too. If we all put away our resentment over another person not knowing EXACTLY what we are going through, we can all just be there for each other and find strength in our relationships.

    • Rachel Sea

      Cut the hyperbole. Not all infertile people are going through the exact same thing at the exact same time. Yeah, some people can’t stand to talk about it, and other people never shut up, and with some people nothing you ever say will be the right thing, but it’s different with every individual, and every couple. Not all medical conditions are created equal, so just because you have one doesn’t mean you understand. No one walks up to an amputee, and tells them that if they would just relax, and think positively, and stop trying, that their leg would grow back. No one tells an epileptic that if they would just go on vacation that the seizures would stop. No one tells a person with cancer that they should just let nature take it’s course. I don’t imagine anyone tells you that your condition is because of your moral failing, or your affiliation with the wrong religion.

      When it looks like kids will never be an option, there is a lot of grieving to be done, and it doesn’t matter that those babies never existed. When hope dies, just as when a person dies, there are times and stages where you grieve different aspects of your loss. Maybe today I learn to be fine with the fact that I will probably never teach the geneology that is generations in the writing, and 10 years of charting. Maybe next month I finally decide to get rid of all of my childhood books, and games. Maybe in 6 months I give the onezies I bought in a fit of hopefulness, that one time I was SURE that an insemination worked, to a friend who just had a baby. Maybe eventually I’ll be okay with the fact that I am going to grow old without children or grandchildren to help me, and when my wife and I die there will be no family to comfort the one who dies second.

      Somedays being reminded of what I am unlikely to have requires me to absent myself to the bathroom so I can cry in private lest I out myself as one of those selfish infertiles who can’t just be happy you’re pregnant! again!, and some days I’m thrilled to hear about your pregnancy, but the one thing I never am is a bloody representative of the 1 in 8 couples suffering from infertility.

    • Gangle

      Thank you! This is everything I wanted to say. I am that 1 in 8. But I am not a number.

    • Momma425

      While I can relate to how difficult it can be to know what to say (if anything- which is better, saying nothing or saying the wrong thing, I don’t know) AND how draining it can be to have a friend who is constantly talking about the huge giant struggle they are having and NOTHING ELSE…I feel that you are being completely insensitive.
      I have medical issues as well, that will never ever go away and I struggle with them. Do I go on and on about those problems to my friends? No. I don’t need to.
      But some people do need to. I have friends in both camps. Friends who aren’t quite as needy as others. Friends who get together with and talk about a whole variety of subjects, and friends with whom we seem to talk about the same thing every single time we get together. Both types of friends are valuable to me.
      I would hope that if I were the type of person who needed more attention while going through something perticularly difficult, my friends would step up and be there for me the way that I am there for them.
      Perhaps you don’t expect your friends to constantly “coo” and “fuss” over your medical problems is because you know that like you, they wouldn’t.

    • ali

      I agree with Amber. I can only try to imagine how horrible it must be to be infertile and want a child so badly, not to mention hearing insensitive comments about “why don’t you just adopt”, etc from rude people. But…there comes a time when you can only hear so much about any topic (infertility or otherwise ) from a friend.
      I am a parent and had no experience with infertility. I had a few women acquaintances that had fertility issues, and boy did they shower me with unsolicited and critical parenting advice whenever they saw me and my son. Never once did I ask them when they were going to start having kids, or any other comment b/c I was trying to be sensitive to them. So it seemed very rude of them to critique my parenting. Eventually I avoided them.
      Sensitivity and respect goes both ways. You don’t get a free pass to be rude b/c you are experiencing infertility.

  • Blueathena623

    I’m straight and married, so take this comment as you will, but I do think being straight plays into this, at least a little.
    Two of my college classmates (E and K) have a fundraiser going because E is pregnant and K will have to do a secondary adoption. They are legally married. Yet they have to pay money and do all sorts of legal things so that K can “officially” be the kid’s mom as well.
    Until I saw this, I will admit I didn’t realize gay parents had to jump through this hoop. I know what adoption is, and I know that sometimes step-parents do adoptions, but I thought it was like with straight people in that the person you are married to is automatically considered a parent if they are married to the person who is genetically linked to the kid. I think it would have been uber stressful if right after my kid was born my husband and I had to do and pay all of this stuff so the state would acknowledge him as a dad.

    • Psych Student

      Thank you for acknowledging your (former) gap in knowledge. It means a lot to me (not that I can speak for all same-sex people) that straight people can acknowledge when they’ve missed considering something and later come to recognize it. I’ve never had a step-parent and when I *finally* considered how hard it is to deal with things like: signing permission slips, taking children across state lines, trips to the doctor/hospital, etc., I realized that step-parents are often pretty screwed over by laws that don’t account for them.

    • Blueathena623

      thanks :) There are still, I’m sure, tons of gaps, but I’ve filled more just reading this posts and comments.

  • chickadee

    As a fertile person, I try to be as sympathetic and sensitive as I possibly can regarding infertility, because I can imagine how horrible it would be not to be able to conceive…but I think that specific issues with which the fertile are
    unfamiliar are not necessarily going to be understood by those who do not experience them. Or may go way outside the comfort zone for some people. I can imagine
    having this type of conversation with a very close friend or with one of
    my sisters, but I know that blogs and online communities that are
    specifically geared to these issues may end up being more rewarding as
    far as feeling that people are listening to you and understanding the
    severity of your problems.

    Obviously having to rely on expensive frozen sperm and worry about its becoming useless is a stressful situation that many infertile women do not have to worry about, but there are also straight women who do have to rely on donor sperm or donor eggs in order to conceive. You definitely aren’t alone, so it might be helpful to search for a community that understands what you are going through. I am sure that your friends do care about your struggles, but they may feel uncomfortable that they cannot do anything to help.

  • Pingback: Mommyish Article | Making Sweet Pea

  • Carolynn Varner

    They are jealous.

  • Charlotte H

    I’ve only been reading articles on Mommyish for a few weeks, and this is the first article on same-sex conception/parenthood I’ve come across – THANK YOU! My partner and I desperately want children but are currently looking at all of the legal ramifications etc. of this. We’re in the UK and in many ways have it a LOT easier than you clearly do (in the UK, if you are gay and civilly partnered (or married, once they’ve actually got that off the ground here), you can both be recognised on the birth certificate as the child’s legal parents, without having to go through the adoption thing). However, that’s ONLY if you’re in a civil partnership/married….and we’re currently not, and can’t afford both a wedding (even a simple one) and the costs that conceiving will incur…in the meantime, we’re working on getting as fit and healthy as possible to maximise our chances of conception, but most of our straight friends don’t get it at all, and it often feels as though everyone’s going to think “oh man, the moany lesbians and their ‘hard lives’ are taking over the conversation again”, so we just don’t talk about our hopes/worries/fears to our friends at all anymore.

    The best of luck to you, and thank you for highlighting that lots of lesbians want to be mommies too :)

  • nikki753

    I kind of think that maybe this is the kind of situation where people really don’t know what to say. So they end up blurting out some idiotic thing and going home that night thinking, “Shit. I’m such an a-hole.”

    Just be up front with them and tell them what you need from them. “I’m happy as hell for you guys and I’m going to love those babies like crazy. But I’m really struggling here and I need X and Y from you guys.” Such as, I just need to bitch and have you say, “That’s really messed up that Sally has to adopt her own damn child and that you guys have to prove she’s a good person and pay all of that money while shitty people are having kids they don’t care about left and right, NBD.”

    Putting myself in their shoes, I think I’d get totally awkward and stuff me foot in up to my knee. “Oh, that’s alright, if you were pregnant, you might be barfing every morning and fighting over nursery decor. You get to still have tequila and soft cheese!” With my fool mouth just running while my brain tried to stop me.

    I wish you all the best of luck for many happy babies and a continued friendship.

  • Stephen

    Highlighting the fact they are straight is an issue here. That has nothing to do with the story. They just have not been where you are so do not understand it. And they sound a bit like idiots. Don’t single people out by using sexual orientation as a factor. It is not. You should understand this.

    • kait

      This didn’t occur to me as I read the article, but now that I see your comment you are absolutely right. It doesn’t have anything to do with the story, and they should know better. Thanks for pointing this out.

  • Evelyn

    Good luck to you both with trying to conceive. I hope you have a comfortable pregnancy and a healthy baby soon.

    I am sorry that you have had so little sympathy and understanding from your friends. This must be a tense and emotional time for you and to go through it feeling that you and your wife are alone, rather than supported by the friends who matter most to you, must make it even harder.

    I also wonder if this is a division between those who take their fertility for granted and those who face more uncertainty with fertility. I know that with my own friends no matter how much I sympathize with their difficulties conceiving I don’t really have the same understanding of what they are going through. Sometimes when a person has found it so easy to get pregnant they can feel awkward talking about trouble conceiving because they can be a little worried about making the other person feel worse by rubbing the other persons nose in it with their own unspoken but obvious fertility. However that doesn’t excuse brushing off something that is very important and difficult for you.

  • polly pocket

    i wonder if what you’re experiencing is a gay/straight issue or a fiscally incomparable issue. i am in a low income bracket, and luckily i got pregnant (when i could finally afford it) fairly easily. i have a friend (who is very very well off) who is extremely obsessive by nature and after two months of trying, got pregnant. she then had a miscarriage six weeks in. (i didn’t even know i was pregnant until i was 7 weeks, because i never took a test until i was way late and i wanted to be sure. pregnancy tests are expensive.) anyhow, after the miscarriage, she began obsessively charting her cycle, getting weekly pelvic massages, having her husband get therapies for his scrotum (post $10K vasectomy reversal) all to the tune of mucho, mucho dinero. she was always complaining to me about how expensive everything was, but she still managed to do it, even though it had only been maybe six or seven months of trying to conceive total. In the meantime, another dear friend of mine (more in the same financial situation i was in) was trying unsuccessfully the old fashioned way for three years to conceive with her husband but unable to afford any kind of fertility treatment.

    The reason i write this is because the context of this story has me wondering what type of friend you have been to your straight friends. Have you been feeling sorry for yourself because as two women, you can’t naturally conceive? it may be difficult, but so is trying to have a sex life for 15 years with a partner and NOT getting pregnant when you’re straight.

    This is a difficult time, i get it, but you get to trade these challenging and expensive few months in for a lifetime of casual and uninhibited sex, whereas i only got 10 months in the past 20 years of having sex without a condom. As far as the adoption piece goes, that is awful and i would totally support your feelings of how unjust it is when a married woman has to adopt the baby she and her partner brought into the world. But conception, if you aren’t having “fertility problems”?

    low income lesbians in domestic partnerships have been screwing straight dudes just to get pregnant since the beginning of time. That is a real hardship, but for many the only means to an end that they could hope to afford, since buying sperm at $700 a pop is not an option.

    Start counting your blessings, and consider this a “first world problem” you’re lucky to have. if you feel more blessed and satisfied with what you already have, a loving partner and enough money to make a family happen, you may be surprised at how your friends in turn react to you. Good luck. everyone deserves to be a parent if that is what they want, and i hope that no matter how you get there, your journey is a sweet and blessed one.

  • kimberly

    Even people in heterosexual relationships battling with infertility experience that. Not to diminish the situation you are in. Just know that you are not alone in struggling with that. Husband and I just decided after 7 IUI’s that it’s just not going to happen for us, at least not now, not this way. We cannot afford the 15k-23k for IVF, and adoption is expensive too. So for now, I am trying to be ok with it. I wish you all the millions of hugs and love that you two need during this stressful time. May baby dust sprinkle all over you.

  • Erin S

    I just want to hug this mom. I am bi and had a long road to have my son, who was conceived the old-fashioned way. Now my wife and I would like a second child and the process is so overwhelming! I hope this anonymous mom gets pregnant soon and is able have a health pregnancy and healthy child.

  • Rik

    Has it occurred to you that you keep doing the same stuff over and over again and it doesn’t work that you need to try something else? Like find Jesus and get married in a traditional marriage and have kids the right way?

  • Cindy

    I have 4 children. I was married very young and have no regrets about my children. However now at 33 and married to the right man (who has no children) we have been trying to have a baby. I recently discovered that both my tubes are blocked. I hate talking about it because i get a lot of “well maybe you’ve had enough children” or “do you really think you need to have another baby ?”. Its hurtful and hateful and it breaks my heart that anyone feels they have the right to say those things to me. My husband has a good job, we raise and support and feed and clothe and more importantly love our children. My infertility is personal and tragic for me, for us and i sympathize with anyone who’s struggling. Its also easy for some people to dismiss others concerns because they’re already pregnant. It’s selfish, but sadly totally normal. I am so sorry that anyone would make you feel as if your struggles are not only not as important, but not important in general. Be kind to everyone you meet, for you know not their struggles.

  • Cals

    $700 for sperm? That is crazy! There is so much greed in the baby-making business it’s not even funny. I don’t get the title though, you are not infertile. You are undergoing reproductive assistance but unless you have tried for 12 unsuccessfully cycles…you are not infertile. Also I think that you wanted your friend to react one way “oh that is horrible, I’m sorry you have to go through all those hoops while I don’t have to” and she didn’t. You don’t get to choose how people react though. And it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a bad friend either. She really may not have “got” that it was a serious thing you were talking about. She’s also probably pre-occupied with herself (i am pregnant right now and I will admit that I am way more pre-occupied with my own life/prepping for baby than I ever was before).

  • Snim

    Go on an infertility board online! This isn’t a lesbian-straight issue, it’s a fertile-infertile without assistance issue. Fertile people don’t care about your opks, cm, cycle day, sperm motility, etc. but infertiles eat that up!!