-- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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.