I can’t definitively say when Alysha and I became friends because it happened so naturally. We technically met via our significant others, but we really got to know each other when we started instant messaging while we were bored at work. She and I hold similar beliefs and have the same sarcastic sense of humor. I can always count on her to ground me, give me perspective, cheer me up, make me feel good about myself, grammar check me, tell me when I am wrong, comfort me, forgive me, advise me, laugh with me, and love me. She is an amazing human being, and I am so lucky to have her in my life.
I found out I was pregnant about a week before Alysha’s wedding. I had to tell her immediately, but I was in Arizona visiting my parents at the time and couldn’t call, so I sent her a text message. Even through the impersonal nature of text messaging, I knew how excited and happy she was. Even on her own wedding day, she supported me by helping me fake drink and avoid nosy questions. She understood when I left her reception early because I was starting to freak out.
On her wedding day, Alysha told me that she wanted to start trying for a baby right away and that we might end up pregnant at the same time. It was such an exciting time – being pregnant at the same time as one of my best friends would be perfect. Our babies would be best friends, too!
How Infertility Changes Plans...
Not long after her wedding, however, Alysha’s conception plans were indefinitely put on hold. My heart hurt for her.
Despite this, Alysha fully embraced my pregnancy. She was my advocate and my shoulder to lean on during those difficult first weeks and beyond. She made me a “morning sickness survival” basket when I felt like I was going to die. She celebrated when I finally got a prescription to help with the nausea and vomiting. She laughed with me/sympathized for me when I discovered just how that prescription had to be administered (I had to put it where!?!). She helped me find answers to calm my anxieties and worries. She brought me thoughtful gifts. She co-hosted my baby shower. She visited me in the hospital while I was laboring (thank goodness for that epidural), and she stayed at the hospital until Lucy was born. I will never forget her support.
Many months passed, and just when it seemed like things were going to start moving on Alysha’s baby-making agenda, her plans were again put on hold. My heart ached for her.
About a year passed before Operation Baby started, but it did finally start, and I was so excited for her. A month passed, but it was fine. She knew that getting pregnant the first month was rare. Then two months passed and turned into four months, which turned into six months, and then eight months. A year passed, but there was no baby. My heart broke for her every month.
Though she never directly said it, I could see that Alysha blamed herself. She saw different doctors. She tried different medications. She talked with her insurance company about what treatments were covered. She was constantly searching for a reason…the reason…ANY reason for her infertility, but nothing definitive ever presented itself. I think this is what was hardest for her. Something was wrong, but no one knew what. She was powerless to control a situation that had gotten completely out of control. She finally took some time off to regroup. She made many decisions and in doing so empowered herself. Despite this, she was still sad, and my heart continued to break for her.
Over those months, I learned to stop talking about baby stuff, including my own baby. Only when she asked about Lucy did I talk about her. Alysha was still very interested in Lucy, but I let her dictate the relationship. I never took it personally when she didn’t ask. She had good days and bad days, and I understood that she was just trying to survive. I learned to let her lead the conversation about conception without prying. I learned to offer my advice only when asked. I learned how to give her just enough space without that space becoming a chasm. I knew she needed me, but she needed me on her terms during that period in her life. It was hard to accept at first, and I know I made many mistakes. I know I inadvertently made her sad on numerous occasions. It was a learning process for both of us – I was learning what she needed at the same time she was learning what she needed. She helped me better help her. She never gave up on me.
She needed my love and friendship, my advocacy, and my empathy. I learned that this was really all you can do for your friends. She promised me that it was enough. I hope it was.
Taking Control Of Her Infertility
Alysha started IVF in January 2014. For the first time in a long time, I saw the sparkle come back in her eyes. She was finally about to take charge of her infertility. She had closed herself off to protect herself – from many people – but when she started IVF, she really opened up. She talked to me about the IVF process and how it worked. More importantly, however, she started talking about what she was going through and how she was feeling. I anxiously awaited news after her retrieval, and I cried when she sent me photos of her embryos. Those little round blobs of cells were so incredibly beautiful.
Her husband couldn’t attend the transfer because of his work schedule, and so I offered to go with her. She accepted. I can vividly remember the flash of light that appeared on the monitor when the embryo transferred. It was a moment filled with so much love and hope that words would hardly do it justice. I am so grateful that she allowed me to be a part of it.
When she told me two weeks later that she was going to miscarry, my heart shattered. She was devastated and I was devastated for her. I knew that the emotions I was feeling were nothing compared to what she was feeling. My heartache was for Alysha. Alysha’s heartache was for the pregnancy and baby that wouldn’t be. I wanted so much to help her, tell her something that would make it hurt less. I wanted to do something, anything…
It’s never easy to watch the people you love suffer. I think that most human beings have a natural instinct to attempt to fix whatever it is that is causing someone pain. I’ve discovered that in most cases, though, this isn’t what the person needs most. Alysha knew I couldn’t fix her or find her the answers she desperately wanted. She didn’t need distractions or advice. She needed someone who would listen. She needed someone who would, even if only briefly, help her shoulder the heavy grief that she carried with her every day of her life.
All I could do for Alysha was remind her that I love her and will always be here for her. It was during this time that I truly understood my role in Alysha’s struggle with infertility. She needed my love and friendship, my advocacy, and my empathy. I learned that this was really all you can do for your friends. She promised me that it was enough. I hope it was.
Five months after her miscarriage, Alysha sent me a text message with just a number: “100!”.
Embryo transfer # 3 had been a success. Nine months later, beautiful Baby June came into the world.
Junie celebrated her first birthday this past April and she has the world wrapped around her little fingers. Alysha is an amazing mother and Junie is so incredibly loved.
If you have a friend who is struggling to conceive or is going through treatment, please remember that however she is acting, it’s not about you. Even if it feels like she is pushing you away, I promise that she isn’t. She is just trying to survive, and sometimes that survival means she needs space. Give her that space while also giving her your support and your unending patience. She has already lost so much – she doesn’t want to lose your friendship too.`
If you would like to learn more about how you can help support a loved one through their infertility, The National Infertility Association’s Resolve website is a fantastic place to find resources. (http://www.resolve.org/support/for-family--friends/)
Contributing Sister Site and Author
Caroline is an Arizona native who moved to Iowa in 2007 ‘for love’ and never looked back. She and her husband currently live in Coralville with their 5-year-old daughter Lucy, who, much to her mama’s sorrow, will be starting Kindergarten this year. Caroline currently works full-time in the Office of the Registrar at the University of Iowa. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business and justice studies at Arizona State University and will earn her master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration at the University of Iowa in May 2017. When she has spare time, Caroline loves to read, do small projects around her house, pretend to be a baseball fan (go Cards!), and make pretty things (though she dislikes the term “crafter”). She has a decent amount of ability when it comes to crocheting and making invitations, but her true talent is sewing. She lvoes making clothes for her daughter and is counting down the days until Lucy is old enough for her own sewing machine. Caroline is also slightly obsessed with coffee, and doesn’t know who she would be without it.