Infertility and Punching Friends in the Face

“If any one says, ‘My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant’, walk up to them, punch them in the face and tell them your doctor told you to do it.”

I was talking to a new patient who was dealing with infertility. She and her husband had been trying to conceive for over a year and she was feeling the strain. It seemed her life consisted entirely of ovulation kits and menstrual cycles. The spontaneity of romantic intimacy had given way to planned intercourse on designated days, their sex life governed more by hormonal cycles than love.

As Lisa and I had also struggled with infertility I was able to empathize. I said, “What makes it really hard…” and she finished my sentence for me, “It seems like everyone around you is pregnant!”

I gave her a second face-punching instruction, telling her she could also smack anyone who said, “Just relax, it will happen.”

We talked about how no one who has not dealt with infertility can fully understand how hard it is, and how we tend to suffer in silent loneliness for fear of being a “downer” to our friends. We talked about the fear of never having children and the rollercoaster ride of emotions and the tense days each month as the day a period was due approached, the hope and fear that build up simultaneously.

At the end of the visit I asked her if I could say a prayer for her. I put my arm around her shoulder and asked God for peace and hope, and asked Him to bless them with a child. I also asked that He help her trust Him regardless of the outcome.

When she left, nothing about her circumstances had changed, but it is my hope that she left encouraged with the knowledge that she was not alone, that someone understood, that someone cared. Sometimes that is the most important medicine.

-          Bart

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