Whenever I learn that someone I know has been going through infertility treatment, I’m always so surprised, as if it’s a rare condition that only myself and a handful of others in this world are suffering from. After all that I’ve been through, and all the blogs I’ve discovered, my automatic reaction is still usually, “Wow, but she’s so healthy!” or “Wow, but she’s so young!” or “Wow, but she just looks so fertile!”
All of this is COMPLETELY ridiculous, and I deserve to be reprimanded for continuing to harbour such thought patterns. But it also frustrates me, in a way, because there really is no surefire method of determining who, in my various social circles, is going through fertility treatment. Yeah, I can look at a couple who’ve been married for years, who have said they want children and maybe suffer a few stress-induced eye twitches at other people’s pregnancy announcements — but that’s still going out on a limb, and it’s certainly not polite to ask, “Hey, you look like you’ve had a couple full-bladder ultrasounds and back-to-back blood draws recently; anything you wanna reveal?”
A friend of mine who endured a year of IUIs and a bunch of other crap before finally getting pregnant once said to me: You can always tell a fertility patient by the needle marks in the crook of her arm. Since then, I became slightly obsessed with scanning the inner elbows of every woman who looked to be in her 30s.
There’s definitely a knowing look, too, that women give one another as they pass through the rotating doors of a certain office building in this city at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, bleary-eyed and messy-haired with cotton balls taped to their arm crooks. I used to make a point of ripping mine off right after the nurses stuck it on because I feared people asking me about it later in the day or somehow being identified as an infertile when I didn’t want to be. But one day, I tore it off and forgot to keep applying pressure. My arm ended up bleeding through my shirt and, inadvertently, I ended up wearing my infertility on my sleeve.
So now I just embrace this dumb trademark and treat it as a kind of infertility gaydar system. I actually hope other infertile women going through this shit pick up on what that piece of cotton might mean and feel bold enough to ask me about it. Because, at this point in my journey, I’m happy to share and it sure as heck will not prompt some lie about how I needed to get my Vitamin D levels checked for 10 days in a row.