To my village: Don’t let my infertility struggles affect our friendships

Invite me. Please.

I might not be able to say yes. In fact there’s a good chance I may say no, but I want to be included. When I don’t get invited, I feel forgotten and left behind.

And I know that’s confusing—I know that you are trying to be thoughtful and supportive.

And I am sorry I don’t always know how I will feel day to day.

But please, invite me.

Related: It’s time to stop calling infertility a women’s health issue

When I was in the depths of infertility and pregnancy loss, I felt completely lost. I did not feel like myself, and I felt disconnected from everyone. I had a hard time asking for help and speaking up about what I needed. Sometimes I didn’t even know what that was.

I know when I’m not invited, it was not on purpose. I know that people meant well and wanted to spare my feelings. But in trying to do that, I felt invisible, forgotten and like a burden to those I loved most.

I felt like my pain was too much for other people to bear.

I felt that my infertility made other people uncomfortable.

I felt I was stealing other people’s joy by just being around.

At first, I was still invited. Sometimes I went, sometimes I didn’t. But if I did go, I couldn’t always handle it. Sometimes I needed to step away for a minute and I cried. And, in those moments, I felt mortified. The last thing I wanted to do was make someone’s joyful event about me. Honestly, I was trying my best to shove down my real feelings and just be present. But sometimes it was too much.

Related: Infertility is on the rise—and I’m not surprised

So the invitations stopped. I know it was to protect me, but it often felt like it was to protect others. I know it was to shield me, but it felt like it was to shield other people from my pain or tears. I know it was to try to keep me happy, but I felt like it was just so others could focus on the joy more.

And I felt torn and doubtful—maybe I did not deserve to be invited. Maybe it was easier for everyone if I didn’t go. In fact, perhaps, it was easier for me.

Related: The silent grief of infertility

But when it came down to it: I still wanted the option. There were so many things in my life I had no control over. So when other people started making decisions about how I wanted to cope, it felt suffocating. I wanted to decide and I wanted to choose—I wanted autonomy over my decisions.

So please, next time, please invite me. I may not be able to attend, but I still want to be included. I promise, I won’t make it about me. I desperately want to be able to be there for you. I hate that infertility has made these joyful moments awkward for other people to be around me. I know that infertility is a lot to deal with, but I promise it’s harder for me.

So please, invite me.

Related: Here’s why we need an expanded definition of infertility