I've been a bit hopeless at posting over the past week - I begin composing posts in my head, but then never get round actually to writing them. Instead, I've been mulling over all the assvice I received last week from our friends and family - and this in turn has got me thinking about my best friend, Stella.
Stella and I met on our very first day at university. We lived in the same halls of residence, and were doing the same degree course. Our friendship really cemented itself, however, after we left university. We saw each other through shitty jobs and broken hearts. We went out dancing, and stayed up all night talking.
After dating a number of inappropriate men, and crying on each others' shoulders when it all went wrong, we both settled down with our respective partners. Eventually, the inevitable happened - Stella invited us round for lunch, and told us that she and her husband were expecting a baby. I held it together all the way through the meal, but then fell apart in the car on the way home. 'Don't you understand that that's the way it's supposed to happen?' I shouted at Mr H. 'You come off the Pill and then you get pregnant a few months later. It's not supposed to take eighteen fucking months.' Up until then, we'd been doing a pretty good job of pretending that we didn't have a problem - Stella's pregnancy was actually the catalyst that led us to make that first appointment with the doctor.
Eventually, Stella had her baby - a boy. Eighteen months later, she had a little girl. In the meantime, we underwent the standard battery of tests, and were placed on an NHS waiting list for IVF. As time went by, my weekly telephone conversations with Stella became more and more one-sided: she talked about her children, while I listened.
And then I had a miscarriage. We hadn't told anyone about the pregnancy - we'd agreed to wait until we were safely into the second trimester - but Stella was one of the first people I had planned on sharing my news with. After I lost the baby, I couldn't face picking up the phone to let her know what had happened, and so I sent her an email instead. Over a week later, she sent me a text message: 'I hope you're feeling better now'. When she did eventually ring me, I explained that I was a little hurt that she hadn't got in touch sooner. She then proceeded to tell me about an article she'd just read in a magazine, which suggested that a miscarriage was a bit like having a particularly heavy period. After that, I didn't really feel like phoning her again.
That was just over two and a half years ago. Stella has not made any effort to contact me since that last phone call. I've sent her Christmas and birthday cards, but she hasn't responded. I really thought that we would be friends for life, but it turns out that our friendship wasn't strong enough to survive me losing a baby.
As I fell further and further down the rabbit hole of infertility, I felt increasingly isolated. And then one day, I stumbled across the infertility blogosphere. I couldn't believe it - here was a group of articulate, angry, witty, sarcastic women who were just as pissed off as I was! For a long time, I lurked, silently and nervously - it seemed such a tight-knit community, would they let me in?
Eventually, I took a deep breath and started writing. It felt a bit like throwing a message in a bottle into the ocean - I had no idea whether anybody out there was actually reading. But then Melissa actually mentioned something I'd written in one of her Friday roundups! Gradually, the comments started to come and I began to realise that I was in fact part of an extraordinary grass-roots movement. When my first IVF cycle was cancelled and I put out a plea for help on Lost & Found, so many people whose blogs I'd never even visited before rallied round to offer their support and advice. After I'd been away for a few days last week, several people stopped by to say 'welcome home' - and at the moment, this does feel like home. I know that, here in the blogosphere, I will meet with more support and understanding than I have received from the majority of my 'real life' friends. I'm sorry that I haven't been around over the past week - I've been lax at commenting, as well as posting - but just wanted to say thank you, all of you, for being there.