The Lonely Journeys of Infertility and Quarantine

By: Stephanie Dunlap

Infertility at any time can be a long, lonely journey.

Being under quarantine can be a long, lonely journey.

For many of us, at the beginning of the quarantine, there was a lot of unknown. Unknown about what all of this will look like, what our days will be like, how our lives will change from this.

It was mid-March and I was frustrated with my journey of infertility. After 2.5 years of trying, 5 IUIs, 1 round of IVF and no successes, we had been put on hold for a month to start another round of IVF, because my facility was at capacity the month prior. I tried not to stress about it and to enjoy the break from the physical and emotional challenges that infertility brings.  

I called my doctor, ready to get started on our next round of IVF. I was so excited. It was finally our turn! Instead, she told me that our clinic was closed for an unknown amount of time and to check in with them later. More waiting. More heartbreak. I have diminished ovarian reserve and my egg quality and quantity only gets worse with time. I don’t have time to wait.

Social media has been one of the ways that I’ve been able to feel a little more connected to others throughout this time.  I love getting to see what my friends and family are doing. It makes everything feel a little more normal. But, there has been times I have debated staying off of everything right now. There have been many jokes about how many babies will be born in 9 months. I’ve seen several people say how lucky those without kids are right now. It’s also hard not to be jealous when I see parents getting to do all kinds of activities with their kids as they homeschool them. And seeing all of those adorable Easter egg hunts… Those are tough pills to swallow.

I don’t expect people to understand how hard infertility is. That wouldn’t be fair. I don’t expect people to not share their pictures or stories of their kids. That also wouldn’t be fair. Sometimes I just have to hide people on Facebook temporarily to protect myself. It’s my problem, not theirs.

One of the biggest things that I have learned throughout this virus is that we are all struggling, for many different reasons. It’s hard on everyone. I’m trying to focus on being more mindful of the things that I say, how I can support others and to not play the victim. We all have a story. We all have struggles.

I’ve also learned that suffering in silence is one of the worst things for me. The more I talk about it, the more I realize that I’m not alone. Since I’ve started talking about it, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and tell me the fertility struggles that they have had and it becomes a sisterhood, where we can support each other through this.

The hard part about being open about everything is that people give a lot of unsolicited advice. Have you tried x, y, z? You just need to relax, go on a trip and get drunk. At least your loss was early on. People’s intentions are good. I do believe that. And I appreciate that, also. I find it to be helpful if people ask me if I want suggestions. Sometimes I do. Other times it’s just painful. But more than anything, I just want to hear things like: I’m sorry you are going through this. It must be really hard. Is there any way that I can support you? And just letting me know that you care, letting me cry without trying to fix me and letting me know that you’re thinking about me during this process.

Everyone is going through hard times right now. I’m doing my best to be a little more compassionate, listen a little more and lift others up. And for myself, I’m learning how to be still and accept things for what they are.

One piece of unsolicited advice that has been given to me over and over is to slow down and relax. It will happen! And who knows! Maybe they’re right…

Stephanie Dunlap

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