Hello, there. I’m Jen. But if you’re reading this, chances are, you already know that, because you stumbled across this piece via a link on one of my social media dealies. That being the case, there’s also a chance that you’ve read a bit about my infertility bullshit (I refuse to use the word “journey” and have worn the velvet off “struggles”) and only a slightly smaller chance that you’ve offered me advice about it.
First of all, I want to thank you. I genuinely do. I know that everyone is busy and that you could be watching a YouTube video of a tiny goat in pajamas trying to jump over a bale of hay.
Instead, you’ve opted to give me some advice, because you sense my pain and want to do something to make it stop. I totally understand. I would also like to make it stop.
What you might not realize is that internet advice probably isn’t going to do it. The odds that you’ll come up with something my reproductive endocrinologist, regular endocrinologist, gynecologist, primary care physician, rheumatologist, therapist, nurse/husband, and nurse/mom haven’t come up with is mighty slim. By the time you give your advice, I’ve almost certainly heard it, upwards of 20 times. This is true even if you’ve been through infertility—yes, even if your decision led to a baby.
Still, I don’t mean to give you the impression that I think I’d do better. I give people advice they don’t want all the time, for the same reasons: I want to make their pain stop. Also, I think I’m pretty smart. Smarter than most people, even.
Chances are, neither of us is actually smarter than most people. The best we can hope for is that we pay attention, so I’m trying to pay attention to this, and remember it for the next time I decide I have the perfect solution to a friend’s problem. I hope you’ll do the same.
But just in case you’re not feeling me on this one, I’ve decided to compile a list. In it, you’ll find specifics about what we’re not doing, so that you don’t ever have to ask us again:
IVF worked for you, or for your friend, or for your friend’s friend. I’m really glad. We’re not doing it, however.
Our RE gave us a 15 percent chance, per cycle, of IVF succeeding. In our neck of the woods, IVF costs $20,000 per cycle. People often do two or three cycles before they succeed … if they ever succeed. We do not have $60,000. We are uninterested in borrowing $60,000, no matter what loan situation you got from your clinic.
But even if we were millionaires, we wouldn’t do IVF. Speaking of percentages, I’m 100 percent sure that my mental health would not survive the process. This is true even if you did it, even if you have your own special challenges that made it harder than normal, etc. I’ve had 40 years to figure out what I can and can’t deal with. You can trust me that I know IVF is on the other side of the line.
No, there aren’t “thousands of kids out there looking for a good home,” unless you’re talking about older kids with challenges … ones we’re not set up to meet. It’s OK for us to want a baby. It’s OK for us to want a baby that shares our DNA. Adopted kids deserve more than being a “what about…?.” (“What about adoption?”) Also, if you feel that strongly about adoption, I have wonderful news: you can adopt. You can! If the next words out of your mouth are, “But we were able to have a baby,” then there you go.
Please, and I say this with gratitude and also desperation, please stop offering me your womb, ladyfriends of mine. Every time someone does this, I feel like getting on a bus and starting my life over in a new place, where no one knows me. What do we need me for, if I can’t even carry our kid?
Before you step in and console me that I’ll have plenty to do when the baby is born, listen to what I’m actually saying: as far as we know, my uterus is fine, so we don’t need anyone else’s. And hearing about how easy it is for you to get pregnant gives me a sad.
I understand that you’re now offended, because you/your sister/your best friend used a surrogate or was a surrogate. I’m sorry about that. The last thing I want to do is pick on your choices, which seem like really good choices—for you. They’re just not our choices.
Also, if we used my eggs, I’d have to go through egg retrieval, which is one of the reasons I don’t want to do IVF. That shit is gnarly.
- Egg donation.
I’ve written before about how I’m not someone who’s longed to be pregnant, or expects to enjoy it, and I’m not going to breastfeed. What makes you think I’d want to go through the physical danger and discomfort of pregnancy, to carry a child that doesn’t share our genetic material?
I know, I know. Genes don’t make a family. But here’s another thing: if we use Adam’s sperm, and someone else’s egg, my lizard brain says that it’s like he had an affair, and I agreed to raise the child, like some sort of sad secondary character in a Regency romance novel.
- “Choosing” a child-free life.
We might well wind up there, but please stop telling me how lucky we are to have each other (we know) and how tough and expensive kids are (we know that we don’t really know) and how we can go on fabulous vacations now. It’s really not helping.
If we wind up not having kids, we’ll be very grateful to have each other and we’ll enjoy our life. But we’ll always be a little sad, even when the real gut-twisting grief fades. It’s not the same as deciding, right from the get-go, that Kids Are Not for You.
In closing, I would like to say that I understand that by titling this “A Complete List…,” I’ve set myself up for advice on options I didn’t think of this morning when I sat down to write. Do me a favor and just mentally tack on whatever you’re thinking. We don’t want to do it. Really. We don’t want to do reiki or acupuncture or guided meditation or fertility coaching or prayer or mega-vitamins or going gluten-free or working out a lot or working out never or standing on our heads and envisioning Kundalini energy while we try to create a dependent. We’ve got this. We’re good.
Image via averie woodard/Unsplash