A Thank-You Letter to the Friends Who Stuck Around During My Infertility
by Risa Kerslake
Photograph by Twenty20
My dearest friends,
You know who you are. During all those years of infertility, of my struggles to have a baby, you stuck by my side—even when I didn’t make it easy for you. Some of you have kids and some of you plan on never having one. Regardless, I’m grateful for every single one of you.
Infertility was the hardest thing I ever experienced. And while I surrounded myself with all of you whenever I could, there were times when I wanted to be alone, sometimes for weeks at a time. Because it can be hard to relate to someone who plans her entire life around ovulation, doctor’s visits and medication injection schedules.
To my single friends: I know how hard it was to plan dinners out. And I probably talked way too much about my vagina. I understand that infertility can be so awkward to talk about. You weren’t even in the same life stage as me, yet you still put up with the sperm talk and the latest bruise I got from puncturing my skin for the 400th time.
Thank you for remembering what IVF stood for. And for not saying ridiculous things like, “Are you sure your husband knows what he’s doing?” Thank you for still inviting me out shopping even though we were budgeting for IVF and had nothing extra to spend. Thank you for refraining from telling me how much better life without kids is (even though I could see the perks.) Thank you for giving up those nights at the bars and coming to hang out with me at home when I was on bed rest.
Thank you for not complaining to me about your pregnancy symptoms or how awful your kids were behaving.
To my friends who have children: Perhaps you think I was the hardest friendship to maintain. After all, you had the one thing I wanted most in this world and that couldn’t have been easy for you to bear when I was around. Thank you for inviting me to your baby showers or kids’ birthday parties even when I declined the invitations. What most people don’t realize is that when you’re going through infertility, you still want to be included. I still wanted that invite, even though I knew I would RSVP no because it was too painful to come. Thank you for understanding that and sticking with me anyway.
Thank you for not complaining to me about your pregnancy symptoms or how awful your kids were behaving. Thank you for always giving me a hug when I needed it most and telling me, “I want this for you, so bad.” Most of all, thank you for not disappearing into the background because you were too busy with your new family.
You all made those years of infertility easier to go through. You all made it less lonely.
I wasn’t a good friend to you at times, whether it was out of jealousy or distraction or just emotional stress. I struggled to cope with your happiness of becoming a mom. I struggled to relate to you and even had to swallow back feelings of bitterness, whether from your life free of the desire for a baby or the bundle you held in your arms.
Luckily, I developed friendships with other women also struggling to have a baby and found a tribe I belonged to, but I still needed you too.
Please know that even though I may never have said it, I'm so lucky to have you in my life.