I was out shopping with my Mum this morning, and after a good hour or so of solid retail therapy, we needed a caffeine break. We were on an escalator and I turned to ask her where we should go for a coffee, when the elderly lady standing next to me told me how lucky I was that I could actually drink coffee. I replied that I probably shouldn't because it often upset my stomach, but as I started to speak, she cut me off, telling me that in fact it was worse for her, and not only could she not drink coffee, but there was a long list of things - at least thirty- she couldn't eat or drink, and that my problems were nowhere near as bad as hers. She stomped off in what I assume was indignation, but all I could do was laugh.
She has no idea that I have Crohn's disease and probably have a list even longer than hers of banned food, but she was 100% sure her issues and pain were worse than mine.
It's a bit like that in the land of infertility. No matter your matter, there is always someone worse off and more than willing to let you know that your brand of pain can't compare with theirs. It's a competitive sport, The Infertile Olympics, but something no one really wants to medal in, let alone claim Gold.
For instance, having only done five failed embryo transfers, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who think I have no right to complain or even compare my journey thus far with someone who has done twice as many. I have only been trying to conceive for four years, so that doesn't compare to someone who has been trying for six. I am only 34, so can't compare my pain with that of a 39 year old trying to conceive. How dare I even make myself the spokesperson for the infertile by virtue of writing this blog.
But I'm guilty of it too. I find people who complain about not being able to get pregnant without Clomid tiresome. People who get pregnant after Interuterine Insemination are lightweights. I even reserve a special bit of jealous for those who do IVF, but get pregnant first go.
As for secondary infertility, I have read so many blogs telling me that it is as bad as primary, but I cannot understand how having a child vs not having a child can compare. It's an infertility I envy.
Blocked tubes but happy eggs and sperm = jealous. Readily rectified ovulatory problems = double jealous. To my great shame, I even admit to feeling jealous of women who have had a miscarriage. Anything to know it kind of worked.
I'm not jealous of everyone though. One of my favourite infertile people whose blog I follow has a long history of recurrent miscarriage. She can get pregnant, but can't keep it. I don't envy that kind of infertility. Nor do I envy the infertility of the 45+ woman I saw at my clinic last week. Or unexplained infertility. I don't envy that -at least we know what our apparent problem is.
But in the end, our pain is our own, and it's useless comparing ourselves to others. I no longer play the "why not me" or "when is it my turn" game. Bad stuff happens to good people and whinging and complaining won't make it better.
Of course I still roll my eyes when people share their pain of trying to conceive for a whole year, poor things. And I curse loudly at the 'My IVF Journey' books now lining my bookshelf which always finish with a happy ending. It's no secret one of the reasons I agreed to write this blog was to hopefully jinx myself into getting pregnant. Obviously it hasn't worked so far, but cross your fingers because I'm going back for more next week.
Have you witnessed competitive infertility? Comment on Prue's blog.