Infertility: 16 Things You Should Never Say To A Woman Who Is Childless But Not By Choice (Tracey Cleantis – Huffington Post)



“Dear Belly Buddy” Volume Two

After much procrastination I did it.  I wrote back to my friend. No turning back now.  I really hope I said all of the right things.  I didn’t edit myself because I really just wanted to get down what I was feeling.  I just went with the flow.

Thanks to “K” for reminding me that it was ok to start with “It’s so hard to explain how I feel without coming across as an awful human being.”

I’ve omitted the names but that’s it.

Dear Belly Buddy,

It’s so hard to explain how I feel without coming across as an awful human being.  But here goes…


This last chapter of my life has been really hard.  Harder then anything that life has ever dealt me. There have been some ups (like the wedding) but even that has been tainted because I was pregnant at the wedding.


I’ve been in a lot of pain for such a long time now.   I cry almost every day.  I hate feeling like this.  Sometimes I feel ok and then out of the blue, some trigger sets me off and I go several steps back. 


Having friends who shared due dates (you, my other belly buddies , half the staff at work – all within a month of my due date) has made things even harder for me.  It’s like I have access to watch some alternate universe where everything turned out ok.  It’s really hard for me to see and think about.  


At this point it’s hard for me to be around anyone who is pregnant or has a young family.  I just feel so ripped off.  I feel like I’m a mom with no kids.

I found out about a month a go that my little brother is having a baby.  This kills me.  I’m having a really hard time with it.   I haven’t seen them and I don’t want to.  It hurts too much.   I’m starting to feel like I’ve missed my turn.  I feel left behind.

I’ve been ready to have a family for so long.  At the beginning, I was able to find some peace with it and be positive.  I thought then that I just had to wait for my turn. Now that I have been so close to it so many times it has become intolerable.  It consumes me.  I think about it all the time.  Almost everything I do revolves around it.

I spend so much time at doctors’ offices. Just trying to find out what went wrong and how we can make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

Going into a clinic several mornings a month for diagnostic blood and ultrasound makes it really difficult to “get it off my mind”.  


Moving forward with the adoption process has been positive and exciting. But what’s hard now is that the wait will be so long (some people I have spoken to have been waiting over three years).  There’s also always the chance that it won’t work.  Laws are constantly changing. There’s no guarantee that this is going to happen.

I’m coping with the wait by writing for the newsletter and trying to connect with other waiting moms.  This is a way that makes me at least feel like I’m being proactive, but it’s not really making the hurt go away.

I’ve also been writing a blog about all of this (thanks for the inspiration – I loved your dating blog), which has proved to be a good release when there’s something I need to let out.  It’s also, to my surprise, connected me with other people who are going through the same thing.


The thought of another 3 years without a child kills me. I wish I could explain better how it feels.   I just feel empty.  I feel stupid living in this big family home without a family.  I hate looking at the spare rooms and I don’t like going in them.


The desperation to have a child has and added pressure as I really feel that that’s what it’s going to take to start picking up the pieces of my life.  I’m never going to be “over it”, but I’m hoping I’ll be “ok”.  


I miss you so much.  We really got each other and we have had so much fun and made it though some tough times. But right now the pain of seeing you and your family trumps the pain of staying away. 

I just need to cocoon and stay in a place that limits triggers and makes me feel safe.  It’s the only way at this point that I can function.  This is why I’m staying away from some social events and parties.  It’s hard for me to be there and public bursts of sobbing are getting embarrassing.  I just don’t feel like my regular, fun self.


I’ve talked to some other people who have gone through similar things and some of them have been able to get their lives back with time, even before they have kids.  I really hope that I get there but I’m not there yet.


Please don’t give up on me.  Please do keep checking up on me.  Please do accept me as a friend again when I’m ready to come back.


Thanks for being so understanding all this time. I had no idea; I never could have predicted how long the sadness would go on for. I never could have predicted that it would happen again and again.


I don’t expect you to understand.  I don’t think I would have really understood if I wasn’t going through it.   I just really don’t want you to think I’m awful.  I don’t want you to think it’s because of anything you’ve done.  I just want you to keep caring.

Due Date

Yesterday was my due date. My third due date. My last due date.

My doctor, who had been cautious about giving out dates, was so sure about this one.  She offered up the date without hesitation.  She was genuinely surprised when things went wrong this time.

I was feeling proud of myself, even a little smug, for getting through the day without tears. I was even able to console a friend through her own grief without losing my beans.

I told myself, “It’s ok that you’re not upset. It’s just a day, just a number. People rarely even have their babies on their actual due date.”

So why did I wake up so sad today?

I’m sad because this was the last due date. From now on, it’s anniversaries of due dates. (March 10, June 26, January 18). I fear the possibility of adding more dates to that list.

My life riddled with painful arbitrary dates and numbers.

I’ve been pregnant for two years and I don’t have any children.

These dates should have brought me great joy. My life was supposed to change after these dates and it hasn’t. My heart and my house still feel empty.


“Dear Belly Buddy” – Volume One

I’ve struggled in a major way with the friends that shared the same due dates as me.   I continue to struggle with other friends as they all have babies and I continue to suffer and wait.

About a year ago, I wrote a letter to three of these friends.  I’m thinking I need to send the same letter to some other friends.  I need them to understand, but trying to think of what to say gets me so upset.  It’s so hard to explain how I feel without coming across as an awful human being.

Here is the template I used to write my first series of letters.  I changed the details and some of the boundaries that applied to my situation but the overall template worked really well.

I got the letter from “Creating Families” magazine.  This was from an article written by Sherry Dale in the Fall 2009 Issue.

Dear Friends and Family,

We are writing this letter to let you know how we are doing and a bit about what we’re going through. Many of you know that for three years, we have been trying to start a family. We have been seeing a fertility specialist and have had many tests and some treatments, one of which resulted in a pregnancy that we lost at eight weeks. Further treatments have not (yet!) been successful. We are continuing treatment.

Our counsellor tells us that it’s quite common for an infertile couple to need to “cocoon” sometimes, and avoid certain events. You may see us less than you’re used to at these gatherings over the next few months. If we do attend, we might leave early. Sometimes these events are just too painful, and other times we may just be exhausted from early morning trips to the clinic or the fertility medications and procedures. Please continue to invite us, but know we may decline. Please don’t take our absence personally! We love you, and we love your children, and we look forward to long, warm relationships with you and the kids. We won’t always need this kind of space…but right now, we do. We will be back!

Some of you have asked what you can do, how you can help us during this difficult time. We are so blessed to have such caring friends and family! It’s not an easy question to answer, as sometimes we’ll feel pretty OK, and other times (just after a treatment cycle has not worked, for instance), we may be devastated, and what we need at those times will be different. Sometimes we just need to feel “normal” and not talk about the infertility, and other times, we may need to share with you how upset we are. If you’re not sure, it would be fine if you just ask directly, “What do you need from me right now?”

Generally, it would be most helpful for us if you wait for us to bring up the topic. If we tell you that we’ve had more bad news, what feels the most supportive is to hear you say something like, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this,” or just say nothing and give us a hug. If you become pregnant, we will be SO happy for you – and it would be easiest to hear your joyful news via email (because Cheryl might cry!). We want to share your happiness, but it can make us feel sad for what we don’t yet have and yearn for so much.

If you are having an uncomfortable pregnancy, it’s probably best for you to share those difficulties with other pregnant friends and not us (at this point, anyway). Sometimes, the man in the infertile couple can feel left out. It would be wonderful if you sometimes ask Doug how he’s doing.

We are seeing a doctor we trust. If you have friends or relatives who have had success with certain doctors or treatments, or who have adopted, it would be best for us if you keep that information to yourselves, as we are confident that our medical team is helping us do all we can. Since nobody can know the outcome of this struggle, it would be good if you refrain from saying things like, “I just know it will happen for you!” or the dreaded, “Just relax and it will happen!” While we love a good joke, our infertility is a topic we will never find funny, so joking about it is not a good idea. There are some good articles for friends and family of infertility patients at

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask either of us, or send us an email. It won’t make us feel worse if you talk to us about our struggle. It would be best to talk to us in private, in person or by email or phone, as it will embarrass us if we get upset in a restaurant or at the mall! We are so lucky to have a support system like you, and we hope this letter explains somewhat the situation we are in and how you can help us. Your love and support are treasured more than you know.

Thank you so much for caring for us and for being the type of loved ones that we can write a letter like this to!

Cheryl and Doug


It’s probably time for me to write a follow-up letter.  I’m struggling with that right now.  It’s hard to say that even a year later that I’m still not ready.  It’s impossible to predict how long this will go on.   I”ll post a “Volume Two” once (if I ever) I craft the letter.writing



The Life I Would Have Had

My first pregnancy I shared the exact same due date with someone who at the time was one of my best friends. The loss put a pause on our friendship. A pause that I naively thought would be temporary and, that even though it would always be hard for me to see her baby , a pause that would end when I had one of my own. Most people who have miscarriages go on to have a successful pregnancy a few months later. Anyone following my story knows that it did not turn out this way.
My losses and pain have put a huge divide in our friendship.
Shortly after losing the first baby, my friend called to ask to have some maternity clothes that a mutual friend had left at my house. I wasn’t able to return that call. I tried a few more attempts at reviving the friendship – she even came to my (child free) wedding. Losing another baby right after the wedding sent me right back into isolation.
I got an email from my friend a few days ago, she was really hoping that we could pick up again and be friends. I’m just not ready. The pain of being apart is WAY less hurt than the pain of being around her and reminded of all that was lost.
Today is my friend’s last day of maternity leave. It would have been the last day of mine too. I should be crying about leaving my baby with a babysitter or daycare. Not crying about an empty room in my too quiet house and a huge hole left in my heart.
I can’t stop comparing our lives. I can’t separate her baby from the baby I lost. I can’t stop playing the fantasy in my head of how things could/should have gone. know how to pick up the pieces.

Everything is about infertility (even missing my Grandma)

GrandmaMy Grandma has always been a big part of my life.  Time with her was the source of most of my fondest childhood memories from Christmases, to swimming in her neighbours’ pool, to greasing our bodies with baby oil and tanning together at the beach (because it was the 80s and that wouldn’t have been considered child abuse yet).  As an adult, we developed an “adult” relationship with frequent visits and dinners out.  I’ve always felt so lucky to have had the privilege of having an adult relationship with my Grandma. It allowed me to really get to know who she was (a very sassy lady) and for me to hear about parts of her life and parts of history that many people would never get to hear about first hand.

When I found out I was pregnant the first time, one of the first people I told was my Grandma.  She was 93 years old at the time.  I was so happy to be able to share this with her.  We have a small family and all of my cousins (all of whom are very close to me in age) have had children.  Their children have relationships with Great-Grandma.  Great-Grandma has knitted them blankets and sweaters and mittens. Great-Grandma sends pictures of them as her Christmas card.  Great-Grandma has their artwork on her fridge.  I wanted so desperately to be a part of this joy.

When I told her I was pregnant, she started to knit.  When I lost the baby, she stopped.  I may have mentioned this in a previous blog, but she even “announced that there was another Great-Grandkid on the way in her retirement home newsletter. The next two pregnancies I didn’t tell her about personally but my aunt let her know when I lost them.

My Grandma had her own struggles with infertility.  I don’t know the whole story because “we didn’t talk about these things”.  But I know through piecing stories together that there was “something in there the size of an orange” and that my Grandma adopted my father and my aunt.  Even though we’re not technically related by “blood”, people would always comment about how much we looked the same.  We had the same eyes and the smile (and some of the same sass).  We also have the same initials.  We had a special little bond over these things.

When I told her our plans to adopt, she was excited.  She was completely shocked by how much the process had changed and by how long we will likely have to wait.   Her experience was very quick and very different.

On Thursday, my Grandma passed away.

It took too long. She will never meet my child (if I’m lucky enough to ever have one). She will never finish that knitting. My child will never be on her Christmas card and their art will never be hung with pride on her fridge.

I feel like I failed.  I feel like I missed out.  I feel more alone than ever.  I wanted her to know that everything turned out ok.

Her funeral is today and I’m not there.  There are a few reasons for that and it was a huge struggle to come to that decision.  When her health started to go a few weeks ago, I started to panic.  Not for her.  I knew she was ok; I knew she’d had an amazing and full life.  I knew she was 95 years old. I was panicking about how I would deal with it.

One factor is my father.  My father has been out of my life (and the lives of my Aunt, Uncle and cousins) for several years for a reason that I’ll save for another blog. My father has not met my husband, and never will.  The idea of having this “reunion” at a funeral was too much for me.

Adding to this panic was the fact that my brother and his pregnant wife would be there.  Pregnancy at a funeral always provides people with comfort. It’s the perfect symbol of the cycle of life.  To me right now it represents the exact opposite.   It compounds my grief rather than bringing me relief.

Everyone else in my family would be there with their children and babies.   For me to bring my own grief to that situation wouldn’t have been healthy for me, wouldn’t have been respectful to anyone else and would have made the situation worse.

I sat this one out.  I sincerely hope they understand.  I’d like to think my Grandma would have.

I feel selfish for making the passing of my Grandma, who I loved and adored, about infertility. Why is EVERYTHING about infertility?

I’m sad, so said, and I don’t think that the people close to me really understand why.