Thursday, 3 March 2011

I'll get by with a little help from my (infertile) friends.

As previously mentioned, I've been lucky enough to find friends here in China that are also going through fertility treatment. In fact, the word 'lucky' doesn't really go anywhere close to expressing how thankful I am to have found these women.

When my bloke and I found out that he had male factor problems and my status was still up in the air, I was not in a good place emotionally (did that really need saying?!). I had no idea what to do. After one disastrous clinic visit, I was close to breaking point. There is no real English-language information about fertility clinics here and my Western Dr was not very helpful. I couldn't call up the local clinics and get information because none of the nurses speak English. I found a thread on an expat forum discussing where to go for fertility treatment, but the last post was months old. I posted a message anyway.

Within a couple of weeks, I'd heard from 2 expat women considering or having treatment who were happy to meet me and share their stories, knowledge and experience. One of them literally talked me through the entire experience of registering at my local clinic... actually step by step - 'At the main entrance turn left and walk to the desk. Then turn right and take the 2nd elevator on the left...'  Without this information and help, I'm not sure how I would've moved forward.

But that's not really what this post was going to be about. Through these initial 2 contacts and the expat website, I've met a few other women going through this experience. Some have left China, some have drifted away, but the rest are now good friends. Two are now 5 months pregnant - one through IVF, one through a miraculous natural conception. This week, I had lunch with some of these friends and felt such relief at being able to talk openly and frankly about our infertility. How nice it is not to have to worry about embarrassing a fertile friend by 'oversharing' or scaring a ttc friend by talking about the pain, expense and emotional rollercoaster that is fertility treatment.

Yes, it should have been weird to meet a complete stranger and be talking about our husbands' poor motility or our weirdly-shaped uteri (?!) within 5 minutes, but it wasn't. And strangely, I've never cried on these friends, though I've sobbed on just about all the other people I've told and I know they would understand if I did. There's no logic to it and it hasn't been a conscious decision but for some reason, the tears don't come and that makes a pleasant change for me!

Of course, these 'real-life' friends are not my only support. There are the friends I have met online and who I feel just as grateful to have found. There is something so freeing about sharing feelings and experiences with those who you may never meet, but you know can empathise just as much as if you saw them every day.

So thank you to all my friends! Thank you for understanding when I'm an green-eyed, bump-envying bitch. Thank you for empathising when I'm complaining about my age. Thank you for being there in the dark moments when the path ahead is so scary and unclear. Thank you xx


  1. Awwww :-)

    I think it might be a 'we're all in this together infertile thing' coupled with the 'expat' thing. The feeling that even though you don't really know each other you are somehow kindred spirits because you've washed up in this weird, scary place that your upbringing didn't prepare you for and that people who haven't lived there can't understand.

    Odd how the two things are so similar...

  2. It certainly makes for interesting and varied friendships.. the combo of infertility and expat! We're quite a multi-cultural group!

  3. So glad you have a group of friends there and can all support on another through a hard time. Going through the strange world of fertility treatment while living in a foreign country must be daunting. It's interesting to hear what fertility treatment is like in a country that is well-known for killing babies, not creating them.

  4. It's amazing how this community can work for comfort and for not-feeling-alone-in-this-world. Internet is a powerful thing.

    I have also thought about meeting up with others in real life here in England. I came across a group of women that does that but haven't made the move yet.

    Sounds like you have found some great friends over there. =)

  5. i admire you going through this in a foreign country - it's hard enough in a familiar place. Thank you for being there to share this journey with and great that you know people around you in China :) xoxo

  6. Thanks ladies :) I am very lucky.

    Annie - your comment made me stop and think because I tend to forget what makes the news outside of China. Being here in a big city (one that particularly values girls), seeing that family is so important and children so beloved (and spoilt due to the 1 child policy), I forget about the other side of the culture and the awful things that no doubt still go on in order to get that son and heir.