As an IF blogger, it's inevitable that some of my wonderful bloggy friends will eventually have success in their treatment cycles, or the odd spontaneous natural conception. I won't go too far into the range of emotions those BFPs can bring up for those of us still in the trenches, as others have put it much more eloquently than I can. Suffice it to say that after I feel the normal happiness/jealousy mix (we should name this. Haplousy? Jealiness?), I often settle into one pervasive thought. I call it the Infertility Probability Theorem, which states that the pregnancy of other infertiles has a direct and inverse effect on my own fertility. In simpler terms, the fact that other infertiles are getting pregnant means that it's less likely that I'm ever going to. Someone has to be the statistic.
This was further reinforced for me today. Remember Jill, the now-parenting infertile kindred spirit at my office? Today at lunch when our male colleagues were all out, she had a phone call that I couldn't help but overhear since we sit right next to each other. I started hearing bits and pieces about "your numbers" and "the transfer" and I pretty quickly clicked in that she was talking to someone who had just had their first positive beta after their second round of IVF. After a few more minutes I realized that I knew who it was that she was talking to. It was a colleague at another office out west. I know this other woman casually, as she is married to a good friend of mine I'll call Derek.
I was initially kind of hurt after this realization. Derek and I have been through a lot of heavy stuff together that I won't get into now, and even though he moved out west a few years ago and we don't keep in touch as much as we should, I still count him as one of my closest friends. I actually told him about our infertility in a phone chat only a month or so ago, and while he was appropriately consoling to me he said absolutely nothing about what he and his wife were going through. It stings that he didn't think he could trust me with it, but as M quite rightly pointed out later I don't really know their story so I can't judge his choice to keep things to himself. Not everyone has to be "out and proud" about their infertility.
Once I processed the fact that he hadn't told me, I experienced the inevitable haplousy (yeah, that works) and then the Infertility Probability Theorem took effect. But this hit me harder than when a fellow IF blogger declares a BFP. Because, as my oh-so-illogical brain pointed out, the interwebs is a big big place and it's a really large sample size. But I now had two women in my small-ish social circle at work who had IVF successes, which meant that I never would. I was doomed to be the statistic.
Now, I'm just a lowly arts major, but even I know that this is absolute mathematical bullshit. To prove it, I did a little research. We've all heard about the Law of Averages, which people trot out to explain why one event is bound to happen since the opposite has already happened a bunch of times. For instance, you flip a coin and it lands on heads three times. Therefore, the next time you think it has to be tails because LAW OF AVERAGES! It's horse pooey. Every single time you flip a coin, it has the exact same 50/50 chance of being either heads or tails. No matter how many times you flip it and it comes up heads, the next time you flip it there's still only a 50% chance that you'll get tails. Now, if you do it enough times, the results do tend to even out. It's called the Law of Large Numbers. But even that doesn't change the fact that for each single coin flip, your chances are 50/50.
Apply that to infertility. Over a large enough sample size (I'm guessing thousands of women...again, NOT a math major!) the statistical odds of success tend to even out. But each individual woman still has her own individual chance of success based on her own personal history and infertility issues. Just like that coin, whether another blogger or my next door neighbour or thirty-eight women in my office have successful IVF cycles, that does absolutely nothing to change my individual chances of success. They're the same as they ever were. Which admittedly aren't great, but they're no less than they were yesterday or will be tomorrow.