I wrote this post several months back and have debated sharing it with the world for a while now, however, talking about this has really helped and since this is a topic we don’t really talk about in our culture, I want to share it:
Some of you who know me in real life know that my husband and I have run into some problems while trying to start a family, and last February, we found out that we are not able to have biological kids. There were issues on both sides that I don’t want to get into here, but if you have questions, or are dealing with infertility yourself, feel free to message me and we can talk privately.
The thing with infertility is that it’s such an alienating experience- we hear about cancer survivors and talk about those who overcome addictions and the like, but infertility is rarely talked about. And even though it’s a medical problem, it’s not covered by most insurance, making treatment expensive.
Initially, we only told our parents what was going on. It wasn’t until later, when we had answers that I started talking about our infertility with friends and co-workers. I was surprised to learn just how many people at my work alone were also dealing with fertility issues, and how receptive most of them were to talking about their experiences. Being able to talk to someone who has been where I was has been most helpful not only in coming to terms with this whole ordeal, but has made me feel less alone.
One of the main reasons I didn’t talk about our infertility for a while was because I quickly learned that most people don’t know how to respond, don’t know what to say or do, when they learn of our problem. They say things like “You just need to relax and you’ll get pregnant” or my favorite “You can always adopt”. As time goes on, I’ve gotten better at rebuffing phrases like these, but they still hurt, so I thought I’d share both my feelings/experiences and how you can help, and while everyone deals with things differently, I’m hoping this will at least be a good starting point when talking to friends dealing with infertility.
First off, I feel alone- while I’ve found a few coworkers who are also dealing with fertility issues, there are so many factors that play into conceiving that our circumstances are quite different. And there’s always at least one person pregnant at my work- it’s hard to escape the constant reminder of my failure when there are baby shower posters and pregnant bellies everywhere. I work in the medical field and often see babies born into poor circumstances and can’t help but wonder why these women can have kids while my husband and I, with our stable income, nice home and strong desire for a family, can’t. I feel angry, wondering why us, why do I have to deal with this, why my body is such a failure. I feel lost- the future I envisioned is gone, changed, turned upside down.
Here’s how you can help: Listen to me- being able to talk things out helps me figure out where I want to go from here. Don’t try to fix things- hearing how someone else “solved” their infertility does nothing to help with my problems. Understand that my joking about infertility does not give you permission to joke about it as well- yes, I realized that’s probably a double standard, but I’m trying to cope and it doesn’t seem so funny when others joke about it. Offering me one of your kids isn’t nearly as funny as you think. Be honest with me- I know talking about infertility can be uncomfortable. If you’re worried you’ll say or do the wrong thing, tell me- I appreciate your willingness to try to help, and your concerns show me that you care. Understand that sometimes, I don’t want to talk. Be patient with me. Some days, I feel great. Other days, everything seems to remind me of my failure (I’ve cried more this year that I’ve ever cried before). Be patient with me- coming to terms with our situation and trying to figure out what to do next is not easy. There is no right answer, and as we decide what’s right for us, please don’t judge- none of our decisions in this matter are made lightly.
I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster, and while the lows are far less frequent than they were initially, I still have this hole in my heart and the wound is still quite raw. I know in time the pain I’m feeling now will lessen, I also know I won’t be the same person I was a few years ago- this will change (and has changed) my life. So celebrate the small successes with me, remind me what I am more than just infertile, and help me smile again. Also, hugs are always appreciated.