We Need to Talk about Infertility
I write this for everyone out there struggling to conceive.Right now, that means 1 in 5 couples. That’ s a lot don’t you think?
Apparently, according to fancy studies, the impact of infertility is as great as if you are diagnosed with cancer. I only learnt that recently and I find it interesting. I find it interesting because cancer is hideous and we talk about it a lot but infertility, not so much. I wonder if it would have helped me if I had known that fact when I was struggling with infertility. Maybe it would have helped validate some of the feelings I was having. Maybe it would have encouraged me to talk more about how I was feeling and find the support I really needed. That’s a lot of maybe to put on one statistic but you get the drift of where my wonderings are heading - We need to talk about infertility more.
Recently I wrote a blog sharing some of my experience with infertility. Even though I didn’t think people would read it, posting it online was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I felt so vulnerable – people would know how I really felt! I must of edited it a dozen times and it took me a month just to push the publish button but I wanted to share in the hope that it would help someone else who was maybe going through what I did. It turned out ok. In fact the response I received from posting that blog was overwhelming and the unexpected support and loved I received was humbling. It turns out being vulnerable is a good thing.
Infertility is a crazy old thing. Not only is it difficult to go through, it seems to be difficult to talk about. Lately I’ve had the privilege of talking to many wonderful women, each with their own unique fertility story. A friend of mine shared with me recently that her child was conceived through IVF but she and her husband had chosen not to tell their family. I felt honoured that she was comfortable to tell me and didn’t need to ask why she hadn’t told her family – I understood. Another friend who has been struggling to conceive just found out that other family members had also been struggling to conceive for some time. She was pleased to know so that they could support each other but really questioned how they never knew this before.
Talking to other women has helped me gain a lot of insight into infertility and its impact. It truly is an emotional roller coaster. The range of emotions to deal with is staggering. It’s hard to see women experiencing so much pressure, confusion or guilt and often trying to contain what they are feeling. The thing I notice the most is that we can be ridiculously tough on ourselves. One intelligent, self-aware woman, who really wanted a second baby so her son wouldn’t be an only child, told me that she was just being selfish for considering stopping trying. She had experienced three miscarriages in the past year. I would say that that was pretty selfless.
We blame ourselves, we put so much pressure on, we try so hard. It is exhausting and we are exhausted. I wish I could take away the confusion, and the pain, and the disappointment and replace it with spontaneity, joy and a bit of the lost romance. I want to tell these beautiful women that everything is going to be ok, but I know that sometimes the ok we want is not the ok we get.
It’s not easy to take the struggle away and I know there is no magic answer to feeling better. But I do know that if you are struggling with infertility and you haven’t already, find someone to talk to, a support group or a community you can share and connect with. Don’t contain how you are feeling and don’t struggle alone. Find a safe space that you feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable, to open up and share how you are feeling. It is ok that you feel overwhelmed, or angry or confused or however you are feeling right now. Let’s face it - Infertility sucks but it’s not always going to feel like that and sharing what you are experiencing will help.