shutterstock_87882022Dealing with infertility puts you in a lonely, helpless, frustrating place that is really hard to describe. Reading some of the comments on my colleague Lindsay Cross‘s last piece in her “Unbearable” series really jogged my memory. Infertility can turn you into a total bitch.

If you are not familiar with the series, it follows Lindsay over a year and a half on her journey to attempt to become pregnant again. She thoughtfully composed nearly two years worth of stories that women who are dealing with the frustration and pain of infertility could relate to. Myself and countless other readers were pulling for a happy ending that didn’t come. After her struggle, her doctors informed her that she wouldn’t be able to carry a child again.

Her story was read by thousands of people. The comments poured in – 170 so far – of mostly supportive well wishers and commiserators. It opened my eyes to the community that is involved in blogging. Sharing our stories really helps us all feel connected and less alone.

Of course, this is the Internet. Not every comment was supportive:

At least you were able to have a child. Why don’t you enjoy time with her and look into adoption instead of moping around?

A lot of whining by someone who already HAS a damn kid. Be thankful and quit your sob stories. When I started reading, I thought I was going to get some story about someone who NEVER got to have children. I was disgusted to find out that she already has a daughter. Suck it up, princess.

At least you have ONE child, Jesus Christ. Maybe you aren’t the best person to be commenting on the trials of infertility.

Wait. What? Your daughter will be an ONLY child? Well that’s one more than I was able to have so spare us the self pity. It’s sad about your lost pregnancy and your tube but don’t expect us to sympathize too much while you put your daughter to bed every night and we have…nothing. Quit whining and count your blessings, you greedy, insensitive (to anyone’s pain but your own) bitch.

I’m sorry for your pain but come on, you have a daughter and there are many options available to you to have more children. Crying over this seems incredibly selfish when there are people dead/dying every day, people who have never had a child or lost their children, children starving to death every day and many children in foster care needing homes, and there are 7 billion people in the world. Do we really need to make more? Like oh no, I have to re-purpose the nursery! I wish I had your problems.

I hate to break it to all of these people, but losing a child or even the dream of a child does not become easier when you already have one. I was infertile for five years and finally able to give birth to a beautiful, healthy boy. I am currently pregnant again. I’m almost 40. After struggling to become pregnant with my first, this pregnancy is something that was not planned and that I never thought would happen. I’ve spent this entire pregnancy on pins and needles because of my history of repeated pregnancy loss. If, God forbid, a loss did happen – would I be a selfish bitch for mourning it?

I don’t think so.

As another reader pointed out, this isn’t the “suffering Olympics.” Pain is pain. Whether you have a child or not, when you experience infertility – you suffer. My initial reaction to all of those negative comments was, “Wow. You are all vile individuals.” But then I remembered that we are all human. Sometimes the things you experience put you in a really dark, vile place and you say dark, vile things. I know. I’ve been there.

After my third pregnancy loss, I finally decided to turn to the Internet for some support. I had glanced over some of the miscarriage and infertility support groups that were out there, but never really engaged.  It became clear that if I was going to pull myself out of the deep depression I was in, I needed to start talking to people.

I found several groups of women online who were experiencing infertility as well. I felt like I finally found a few women who understood me. Until I realized that some of them already had children.

There was one woman in particular I remember. She had five kids and she was in one of the infertility groups. Whenever she made any comments about her “infertility” I always winced. I remember thinking, You’re not infertile lady. You have five kids. Your vagina’s a fucking clown carI’m not making a bad joke – that was something that actually went through my head. I never actually had the nerve to write it anywhere, but I never took her pain seriously.

I remember another comment a woman left in my birth group. Frankly, I had no business still being there because I had miscarried weeks earlier. Clearly anything I read was just going to make me suffer. One woman confessed that she was having a really hard time quitting smoking. She said she was down to a few a day. Yes, it still sucks that she was smoking while pregnant. But it was also a pretty brave to admit a struggle like that – hoping to connect with other women who may be in your shoes. I actually commented, It really sucks that I can’t have a child but you’re making yours smoke. What? Who the hell did that help?

For me, dealing with infertility put me in a state of constant jealously. I was jealous of the pregnant woman walking down the street. I envied the woman with a gaggle of kids, thinking, Shit – she gets four? Four? And I can’t even have ONE?

Every pregnancy, every impending announcement and every child that was born into this world that wasn’t mine seemed to pull from some imaginary pool of children that I had created in my head. Once someone else got one – there was one less chance for me. It makes no sense, but that’s how I perceived it. Every other woman’s success at childbirth chipped away at my chances. I took everything personally.

After I had a child, I was able to see that the way I was viewing other women was unfair. Frankly, I don’t know if I ever would have been able to step away from my own pain and stop judging other women who were experiencing what I so desperately wanted, had I not had a child. Some things cut too deep. They change us.

When we have so much pain inside of us that it overflows onto the Internet and we attack other women in pain – we are all in essentially the same place. It’s a place filled with disappointment, sadness, despair and sometimes anger. Whether or not you can understand that a woman who has already had a child can feel a loss as deeply as you is neither here nor there. She can. She is.

Of course, now you’re probably thinking, Easy for you to say – you have a child. 

(photo: Aleksandar Mijatovic / Shutterstock)