Sunday, September 22, 2013

Judgey Wudgey was a bear (or, alternatively, Being a Better Friend)

"But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend.  There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."
-- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

So, I am in the process of making a new friend.  In real life.  This is the first new IRL friend I have made solely based on the fact that we are both infertile.  A few years ago I worked at a terrible job, but I had wonderful co-workers, and one of those co-workers was Penney.  Penney is awesome.  We have so much in common, and even though I had no intention of telling her about my infertility, I had lunch with her one day while I was in the middle of ultrasound roller coaster hell, and I wound up spilling my guts to her.  Penney has absolutely no fertility issues - she has two beautiful munchkins.  Definitely not the kind of person I would usually open up to about this stuff, but she has been nothing but wonderful and supportive.  Anyway, a couple of months ago, Penney mentioned to me that she has a friend who is dealing with infertility, and would I mind giving her some information about my RE?  So Penney played matchmaker and I have been e-mailing with A ever since.  We're meeting for the first time next week.  But we have been e-mailing a lot about what is going on with our respective treatments.

And this got me thinking about passing judgment.  A and I have some similar approaches to infertility (we both go to acupuncture, we both get annoyed when we see pregnant strangers).  But we have different diagnoses, and A is definitely uncomfortable with ovarian stimulation.  On the other hand, she's also newer to treatment than I am.  Many times when we have been e-mailing, I have had to pause with what I am writing because I can feel myself wanting to say "you should do this!" or "that's a mistake, don't do that!"  I don't write those things.  But sometimes I want to.

About a year before my dad was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, his best friend at work, Brenda, died from stomach cancer.  It was 11 months from when she was diagnosed to when she died, she had done a bunch of chemo in that time, and the side effects were brutal for her.  She was in a lot of pain.  But she was only 49 and she had three kids in their late teens, early 20s, and she wanted to be around for them.  When she died, my dad told me that if he was ever diagnosed with metastatic cancer, he would not undergo any treatment.  He wanted me to know that, it was very important to him.  He didn't want to suffer like Brenda.  The day Dad's surgeon told me that his liver was "riddled" with tumors, I was terrified for many reasons, but particularly because I remembered Dad's words about refusing treatment.  Ultimately, refusing chemotherapy wasn't even discussed.  We went to see Dr. T, he walked us through what he thought Dad should do, and that was that.  

The truth is, you really don't know what you would do or how you would choose to handle something until you're in it.  And that's a good thing.  I try to remember it now in all things and I think it has made me less judgmental of others' choices.  Dad's cancer is not the same as Brenda's.  His experience with chemo has been completely different from Brenda's.  And while it's understandable that seeing her suffer would impact my dad, Brenda kept doing chemo because she wanted to be around her kids for as long as possible.  In the end, Dad made a similar choice.... he's just had a better outcome.  

Years ago, I thought that if I couldn't have children due to infertility, I would not do IVF.  A close friend was dealing with infertility and going through IVF and it just seemed so difficult and hard.  Funny how fast my tune changed once it became a reality that we couldn't have kids the conventional way.  

So back to A.  She's made some choices regarding her treatment that are different from the choices I am making (or will make, if the IUIs don't work out).  Part of me worries for her.  I worry about the efficacy of unmedicated IUIs, of mini-IVF, when you're dealing with a potential diminished ovarian reserve diagnosis.  But I have not said this to her, and I don't think I should.  We're all doing the best we can, making choices based on our own experiences.  I know that A feels her very long stint on the birth control pill caused her problems.  As a result, she is scared of putting more hormones into her body.  Her situation is different from mine and it would be wrong for me to put my experiences onto her.  

In the end, I think the reason A and I are becoming friends is because we each need support.  Support from someone who knows what it's like.  I've been fortunate to have a couple of IRL friends who have been through this.  But A doesn't have a fellow infertile in her life.  So I think what I can do to be a better friend to her is give her a hug, glare at the giant pregnant woman who will inevitably sit next to us, listen to her, and support her.  And if, if, she asks my opinion, I will tell her what I would do if I were in her shoes.  After all, we're all just a bunch of Hermiones, Rons, and Harrys, running around doing battle with a 12-foot mountain troll called infertility.  It's best if we all stick together to knock it out.

16 comments:

  1. So true, until you are in the situation yourself it's unknown on how you will handle it. Yay for a new friend and sticking together to tackle the troll.

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    1. Having friends on the interwebs and in real life who know what it's like to go through this has really made all the difference for me.

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  2. I wish I had real-life IF friends. I was so excited that my RE's office has free weekly fertile yoga and support groups, until I realized they're at the far-away office during my work day. Sigh. I don't know how else to meet them. But you're being a great friend by respecting her so much. I know sometimes it seems impossible not to advise, but I always feel talked down to by people who insist on giving me their unsolicited two cents. She's lucky to have you, and I hope you can support one another. Though I'm still rooting for us to be BFP twins ;)

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    1. Totally agree with you that throwing in unsolicited advice can be super annoying.

      Is there a Resolve group in your area? That could be a way to meet IRL friends. I have also noticed that since I started being more open about what's happening to me, I've learned about other people I know who are going through the same thing. I think it's only a matter of time before you realize someone you already know is dealing with the same stuff.

      Anne, I would LOVE for us to be BFP twins together. Fingers crossed!

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  3. Happy ICLW!

    I too don't have many IRL friends that are dealing with IF, but you are so right that support is so important. Its what binds us all together as well.

    "We're all doing the best we can, making choices based on our own experiences."

    This is so spot on! Its no easy to remember that everyone has a reason for what they or why they are doing what they are doing. I think you are doing a wonderful job at supporting your friends, there is nothing wrong with having your own opinion on the matter as well.

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    1. Thank you, Kasey! I was so happy to read about how you connected with other IFers at your cousin's wedding. Having online friends has been huge for me, but it has been super helpful to have IRL friends that I can call up or have a coffee with and vent to.

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  4. One thing I noticed since I've been an "adult" (read: no longer in college or graduate school) is that it is way harder to make new friends. When you are in school, you have a built in cohort that kinda throws you together. And there are opportunities to make friends at work, but your colleagues may be at different life stages or something where you just don't get as close as you do in other arenas. That sense of "suffering together" or "growing up together" as we do when we go to school with someone is an intense way to build a relationship.

    Happy ICLW

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    1. Totally agree with you about how much tougher it is to make friends once you're a "grown up." The different life stages thing definitely rings true for me as I currently work with a lot of nice people, they are a lot older than me. And I notice that I spend less time with my friends who have kids for obvious reasons, even though I still love spending time with them when I can.

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  5. Oh....the "I would nevers!" How infertility, and life changes those. We had said a whole bunch of those before receiving our official diagnosis, they all went out the window.

    So wonderful that you have a new friend!

    Here via ICLW

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    1. Thanks, Jess! Yes, I definitely no longer say "I would never" after this experience!

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  6. Happy ICLW!

    You're description of yourself/hobbies in the last post and your Harry Potter analogy at the end of this post has definitely got me friend crushing on you ;p

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    1. Yay blog friend crush! That's just how I felt when I saw your The Fault in Our Stars quote! I was even wearing my "I'm on a roller coaster that only goes up!" t-shirt today. Plus, it looks like you're a Doctor Who fan - we're a nerd match made in heaven!

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    2. yay for Whovian blog friend crushes \(^_^)/ (and I totally want that t-shirt now!)

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  7. So true! You just can't predict how you will act in a specific circumstance, because you're not facing it head on and you don't have all the info.

    I love that you used HP to demonstrate! I'm always relating my life to HP, haha.

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    1. I feel like HP is applicable in all situations!

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  8. Hi from ICLW! I hope your meeting with your new friend goes well. I think it is important that you support her with her choices, but I also think, that it is important, that you can openly talk about the reasons behind the choices you have made.

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