Infertility and Its Impact on Relationships

I’ve been very fortunate that almost all of my friends and family have been extremely supportive over the last two plus years since I received my diagnosis.  I’ve had very few insensitive comments that have upset me.  I’ve had friends step up and go out of their way to be their for me.  I know there are many people going through infertility who aren’t as lucky to have such a great support system.  I am truly grateful for the support I’ve recieved.  Though I can’t say that despite that great support that it hasn’t impacted many important relationships in my life.

Last week I spoke with a close friend of mine.  He’s a friend who reads this blog and I’m hoping that he is able to read this piece.  We have known each other for 14 years dating back to college.  We’ve had many memorable times and nights together.  We’ve also had many great nights that neither one of us can remember.  If anyone has seen the movie Old School he was “Frank the Tank”.  Though unlike in the movie, this “Frank the Tank” did die but for the better. He became a Dad almost five years ago (can’t believe his daughter is going to be 5 in May) and since then he and his wife have gone on to have their second child.  Since my infertility diagnosis though we haven’t spoken much or seen each other as much (we live six hours away) the times we have spoken he’s been very supportive of me and we’ve still had good times (though they’ve been more tame).  I hadn’t really thought much about why we hadn’t spoken other than life getting in the way.

We connected last week to catch up as it had been a while since we spoke.  It was a tough conversation as I had to let him know about something difficult I’m working through right now (it’s not something I can discuss here on this blog).  The conversation led to him apologizing for seeming distant over the last two years because he didn’t know how to interact with me and  what I have been going through.  With him being a parent his family is his main focus in life and rightfully so, it’s what makes him a great parent.  That is a big topic of conversation in his life as it is for anyone.  How to balance that became a struggle for him interacting with someone going through infertility.  

Right away I stopped him and told him that he didn’t need to apologize.  I really did mean it.  He has nothing to apologize for.  It upsets me that he even felt he had to apologize.  He did what anyone in his position would have done.  Heck if roles were reversed I would have taken the same approach.  Though I’m glad he brought the topic up because it reminded me how important his friendship is to me.  His friendship is not something I would want to lose.

In interacting with so many people going through infertility I don’t think this situation is uncommon and it highlights one of the many reasons infertility sucks.  It impacts so many things in our lives including repationships that mean so much to us.  In some cases we maybe distant to protect ourselves and in other cases others become distant to not hurt us.  I don’t think either side has to apologize to each other.  We are all doing the best we can in life with what we have to work with.

I hope for myself and others in similar situations that our relationships are able to rise above the awkwardness and tension.  I hope that the relationships we cherish survive the troubled times and grow old together.  In my situation I’m not going to let infertility be the cause of a losing a friendship that means a lot to me (even if “Frank the Tank” is dead).



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16 thoughts on “Infertility and Its Impact on Relationships

  1. andthewindscreamsmary

    I think about this topic every day. Since my losses I’ve had a tough time reaching out to my friends with children, even my best friend. I know I’m being distant (on purpose) and I miss them but I feel like I can’t open up to them anymore. I wish I was stronger in that way and able to not let it bother me. Anyway, I think this is an important topic and thank you for writing about it.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      I think you’re extremely strong for recognizing it. It’s easy to deny its an issue. None of this is easy. Sending you strength.

      Reply
  2. clwalchevill

    Nodding along while reading this as I completely agree. Infertility impacts all relationships for the people living with it. It tests them in ways that most other things do not. And that is so hard for all involved.

    I’m glad that you are fighting for this friendship. Your “Frank” sounds like an amazing friend. I’m glad you have one another.

    Reply
  3. Mali

    I don’t know – I think you’re being too kind to both sides! I think apologies – heartfelt apologies – go a long way to healing rifts and bringing people together. Whilst I agree that infertility puts pressure on relationships, so do a lot of other things. A friend’s financial success over another’s failures, the loss of parents vs another who takes their parents for granted, career happiness vs job misery, a healthy child over one with illness or other difficulties, etc. The truth is that our societies are very poor at dealing with others’ difficulties, focusing instead on their successes. The only way we can change this is to learn, and grow, and admit where we can do better – all of us.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      This is true but I think the important thing is that it’s recognized. Maybe we don’t get it right the first time but if we recognize it we can get it right eventually.

      Reply
      1. Mali

        I agree. That’s why I think there is a need to apologise. (Maybe we’re saying the same thing?) You’re making me think about this, and may post on it further.

  4. rightingme

    Such an important topic. I’ve had some very good friends all but disappear from my life as they moved into parenthood. With some friends we adjusted to a new sort of relationship that was comfortable with the change. Others were fraught with anger, resentment, frustration, and hurt from both sides. It’s hard to navigate. I’m thankful for those friends who have stuck with me through it. Even if their part in my life is less than it was, they are still there and still a steadfast piece. Those tiny bricks all lead to a solid support behind me.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      All relationships evolve and even if we have kids together that new layer lessens the time for others. Some relationships will survive and others won’t. It’s just life unfortunately.

      Reply
  5. kiftsgate

    The relations to friends and family are so complicated through infertility.. I’m glad you and your friend managed to talk openly. It helps a lot. I think this phrase in your post sums it all up perfectly: “We are all doing the best we can in life with what we have to work with”.
    I have lost some friends and occasionally I’m sad about it. But really I have done my best with the energy and strength I had. I have no regrets.
    Thank you for this reminder.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      I’m glad to hear that you have no regrets. Things happen and we can’t change the past but if we do all we can then it’s easier to have peace and move forward.

      Reply
  6. Molly @ The Modern Belly

    This is so true. Sometimes when people don’t know what to say, or are afraid that their happiness might make us feel bad, they choose to take a step back, and both friends lose. I love your approach: “I’m not going to let infertility be the cause of a losing a friendship that means a lot to me”.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: It’s not you It’s me | A Few Pieces Missing From Normalcy – An Infertile Man's Perspective

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