Some time ago, I wrote a guest blog post that was featured on Unpregnant Chicken’s website. The post was about the Pain Olympics, specifically the infertility and loss Pain Olympics.
That was before I started working as a counselor at a well known reproductive endocrinology facility.
That was before I was privy to what really goes on at this type of facility.
That was before I was truly humbled.
The majority of my job consists of consultations with patients who need to use either donor sperm, donor egg, donor embryo, or a gestational carrier. Sometimes they need to use a combination.
Sometimes they have been trying to have a baby for many years, sometimes they already have a child, sometimes they’ve had losses, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
One thing they all have in common is the need to use someone else’s genetics and/or womb.
It can be difficult for those who haven’t been through Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) to comprehend all that’s involved. It can also be extremely challenging for those who have been through ART using their own genetics and womb, to understand what it would be like to make the decision to use someone else’s.
A woman whose egg needs to be combined with another man’s sperm.
A man whose sperm needs to be combined with another woman’s egg.
A single woman or man who needs to use donor sperm, donor egg, both, donor embryo, or a gestational carrier.
A cancer survivor who needs to use donor sperm, donor egg, both, donor embryo, or a gestational carrier.
A same-sex couple who needs to use donor sperm, donor egg, both, donor embryo, or a gestational carrier.
However, I am still not on board with the Pain Olympics, and firmly believe what I stated in that blog post:
If we feel like we’re in pain, we are. End of story. And the pain is valid, no matter what we have or have not been through. Comparing our stories only guarantees hurt feelings. And why would we want to do that? Possibly because we are in pain, we are desperate to feel better, and we feel justified when we compare. However, I can guarantee that no amount of comparing is going to lift us up.
Validating, loving, and supporting one another might not take the pain away entirely, but it will allow for a little more light in our lives, and a lot less dark. I don’t know about you, but that sounds more productive to me.
At the end of the day, no one wins the Pain Olympics.