A rant about insensitivity

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned previously that I recently joined a new gym. As part of the joining fee, I was given three free sessions with a personal trainer.

I already see a personal trainer. Not one of those gym bunny trainers, the kind of trainer that has his own private studio and has a more thorough understanding of the needs of clients. I find the personal trainers at gyms are usually time poor and stressed, because they are paid on commission, and often just go through the same stock standard programs with all their clients. They’re the kind of trainers that seem to think a workout isn’t a workout unless you’ve vomited. My trainer actively avoids his clients vomiting because he understands it’s actually counterproductive to what we’re trying to do. If you vomit, you’ve wasted your whole workout. Gym bunny trainers like to shout a lot. They seem to think they’re stars on The Biggest Loser. They also don’t know what they’re talking about when they give out nutritional advice. I find the whole thing really off-putting.

Anyway, I decided to take up my new gym on the offer and booked in my first session with the only female trainer on the gym’s staff. I figured while I’m on this month’s wait in the dreaded between-cycle gulag I may as well find interesting ways to distract myself. My regular trainer is a male but also incredibly understanding of my IVF journey, given he himself is an IVF baby. He modifies all my workouts to suit my personal needs on any given day (based on where I am in my cycles and what medications I’m on) and also works regularly with Doug and my cousin Phoeobe. We’re great mates. But I chose a female trainer this time because I knew I’d have to give a spiel about IVF to explain why I’m limited in which exercise machines I can use and didn’t feel comfortable telling all that to some strange man.

My trainer introduced herself as Mandy. A tall, thin woman in her early forties. She seemed nice enough and we settled down in the gym’s “assessment room” to take my weight (still 74kg) and measurements. We then got onto my medical history and I explained I’m going through IVF.

“May I ask why?” she said, tapping her pencil on the desk.

“Sure…” I replied, unsure exactly why she needed to know but not unwilling to share. “I have severe endometriosis, adenomyosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, blocked fallopian tubes, hyperprolactinema, and I am anovulatory.”

“Oh that’s terrible!” she said. “I understand completely how you must feel. I have endemetrolosis myself.”

Endometriosis I thought, but said nothing.

“Don’t worry you’ll be fine love,” she continued cheerily. “Endometrolosis didn’t stop me from having kids. I have four!’

I smiled politely and still said nothing. I often find people say these types of things to me when they find out I’m infertile. They want to tell me some sort of uplifting story about how their friend or their friend’s sister or their friend’s sister’s hairdresser got pregnant and how I’ll be just as lucky. They don’t understand that these stories actually hurt me and rub in my face the fact I’m unable to accomplish what I was basically designed to do. Something billions of other women have managed.

“Then again, of course I have four kids,” the trainer went on. “My husband is so fertile he could get a dead stick pregnant!”

Then she started to laugh and laugh as if she’d said the funniest thing she’d ever heard. I didn’t laugh. In fact, it took everything I had not to get up and storm out of the gym. Here’s what I wanted to say to her:

First of all, it is not my husband’s fault that I can’t get pregnant. He is not in any way inferior to your husband.

Second of all, there is no possible way for you to tell whether your husband is super fertile. It does not take one to make a baby. It takes two.

Thirdly, your husband could not get me pregnant. I don’t care if he has the most fertile sperm on the planet. His junk isn’t getting to my eggs because a) my fallopian tubes are blocked and b) I don’t ovulate.

So screw you, gym trainer. Your nutritional advice was stupid and wrong, your jokes were insulting and your workout was too hard. Your aim should never be to “wipe the floor” with your clients until they can’t move anymore. That’s just bloody dangerous.

People have no idea just how hard and debilitating it is to be infertile. To understand that you may never have children. Just because I am young doesn’t mean I have a lot of time left to “sort myself out”. Just because I am going through IVF does not mean I will have children. IVF is not some magical bullet to pregnancy – it is hard, traumatic and exhausting. And only half of women who go through IVF end up having children. I am sick of people thinking they can say whatever they like to me. And I won’t be swallowing my feelings with a smile and accepting that shit anymore. I’m done.

I cancelled my other two free sessions.


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