We Need To Talk About Infertility

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This ended up being longer than originally intended, so if you stick it out, you rock!

Why do we feel like infertility is something to be seen and not heard? Why do we think it's okay to just sweep it under the rug and act like it's not there? Because it is there. And since 1 in 8 couples deals suffers from infertility, the odds are pretty high that it's affecting someone you know. Maybe it affects you, but you keep it to yourself. I just want to tell you IT'S OKAY TO TALK ABOUT INFERTILITY.

We have no problem discussing breast cancer, so why do we not talk about infertility? Granted, some people may not discuss cancer with someone who has it (because even though it's common, a lot of people don't know what to say and don't bring it up -- I've never had cancer, but I imagine if I did, I wouldn't want to pretend it wasn't there), but most people are okay with having a general discussion about it. Why can't we do this with infertility? Why is it such a taboo subject?

I kind of think it's because we let it be.

I know that I talk about my infertility from time to time on the blog, but I don't talk about it as often as I probably should, because I don't want to seem annoying or whiny or like I want to be pitied. Because I don't. But it's feelings like this that keep me and others struggling with infertility from talking about it with others.

I know for me personally, it's a lot easier to blog about it. As personal as this is, it's more impersonal, if that makes sense. I have a very close friend that I go out with from time to time (it's been a few weeks, actually, but we went EVERYWHERE in January, lol), and we sometimes talk about it, and I tend to get a bit choked up when I do. She has never struggled with infertility (in fact, she got pregnant with her son the first month of trying), but that doesn't keep us from having deep, meaningful discussions about it. She's always genuinely interested in how I'm doing, and sincerely hopes that I'll get to experience motherhood myself someday, and I appreciate that. She's actually one of the only people who DOES talk to me about it.

Most people just ignore the fact that we've been trying almost two years to no avail. Nobody asks when we're going to have kids. Nobody asks how we're doing. It's just not talked about (even my own family members don't ask me about it, though I sometimes bring it up with a couple of them). I imagine some of them don't know what to say, and some of them probably just don't care.

There was a time that I didn't want to talk about it. At all. It was too painful. If you're struggling with infertility and don't want to talk about it, I completely understand; it's a personal choice, and you shouldn't talk about it until you're ready. But I'm at a point now where I feel comfortable talking about it. And honestly, sometimes I want to. It's not because I want attention, but just because I can't keep everything inside all the time; it just gets to be too much.

I came across an article on Squidoo about how some people find infertile people annoying. The thought was shocking to me. I want to address a few of the things that were mentioned, just from a personal standpoint.

-Infertile people should just adopt. This is probably the most common thing that someone with infertility hears, "You can always adopt."  Yes, I could "always adopt". And one day, I hope to. Tom and I have both discussed adoption, and I decided in high school that I one day wanted to adopt older children after I'd had a few of my own. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first, of course, is that there are SO many older children in the system, because a lot of couples want to adopt babies; I'd like to give some of those older kids who are often left unadopted a forever home. The second is that a lot of children in the system have special needs. Some have medical issues, some have emotional issues, and some have both. I figure I'll be better equipped to handle these unique challenges if I've already had some experience actually raising children.

There are people who purport that couples with infertility should adopt to help keep the world from being over-populated. And to an extent, it makes sense. But my issue with this is that they're not saying the same thing to fertile people; if it's selfish of me to want my own child, why is it not just as selfish of them?

-Infertile people hate fertile people and want to make them feel guilty for being able to have children. Trust me, that's really not the case. I have several friends who have (multiple, even) children or are pregnant (in fact, I saw 5 pregnancy announcements on Facebook last week alone). And I'm truly happy for them. Am I a little sad for me? Yeah. It's only natural to feel a bit jealous. Do I want to feel that way? No. Do I want my friends to feel like they can't talk about their kids/pregnancies with me? Of course not. I'm happy to talk with them. I make a living being around kids, and I love it, so it's not like I'm still in a place where I can't handle it. Do I want to hear about how much you hate being pregnant? Admittedly, no. It makes me a little stabby. But I'm more than happy to discuss gender scans, nursery plans, baby showers, morning sickness remedies, etc.

-If you're infertile, it means God thinks you wouldn't be a good parent. Uh, no. I'll go ahead and toot my own horn a little, because I know that I would be an amazing mom. In fact, many of the people I know who have dealt/are dealing with infertility are some of the most meant-to-be-a-parent people that I've ever met. God knows the desires of my heart, and I'm confident that I'll be a parent someday.

-Infertile people are lucky because they don't have to worry about birth control or the expense of kids, and their lives are their own. If anyone ever said this to me, I would punch them in the face. Not the most responsible thing to do, sure, but this is probably the most ignorant, hurtful thing that someone could say to me. Nobody is LUCKY to be infertile. It's a horrible, painful thing to deal with, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

If you ever want to talk about infertility, or have any questions about how to do so, I'm here to lend an ear. You can Facebook me, tweet me, email me, comment, anything. We need to stop being quiet about this. As Andie MacDowell said in those ovarian cancer commercials, we need to TALK. Infertility shouldn't be a shameful secret that we do our best to hide.

It's time to bring things out in the open.

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  1. I just want to say how glad I am that you posted this. My husband (Jared- you know him) and I are struggling with this as well and I have heard all of these things and more. I also get angry when people complain about being pregnant. I also get a lot of pressure from my husband's family about having kids and that hurts too.
    Anyways, I really just wanted to give props to you for writing this.

    1. I'm sorry you're dealing with this too; it's a hard, painful ordeal. If you ever need to talk, just let me know.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I have not battled with infertility but I have had two babies who were stillborn, so in many ways I understand what you are dealing with. There are many people in my life who are hesitant to talk about their pregnancies around me because they are afraid they may say the wrong thing. Thanks again for this great post.

    1. I'm very sorry to hear about your losses. It can definitely be hard for everyone involved, and I get that. It tends to be that way with any bad things/tragedies (death, sickness, etc.). We're just not taught how to deal with things, and I think that's a lot of our problem. My advice to you is to just be up front with your friends and family about what you feel comfortable discussing. I think it could help make things easier on everyone involved.

  3. I'm sorry your going through this. :( I'm always here if you need to chat...

    I kinda know where your coming from but on the other side... people are downright mean and judgmental towards me when I tell them I never want to have children. They look at me like I'm crazy.

    1. I think that's ridiculous too. There's so much judging going on between people with kids and people without kids. It's ridiculous.

      I don't think it's crazy at all; I think it's actually pretty responsible. I think that if you know you don't want to have kids, then not having kids is the right thing to do. I think having children you don't want is irresponsible; they deserve parents who want them.

  4. I'm thinking of you, friend. I think you are strong and amazing for talking about this <3

    1. Thanks :) I just figured that someone needs to be talking about it; it might as well be me.

  5. It's hard to know what's 'ok' to talk about in our culture, because we live in a world where everyone is so easily offended. I appreciate your openness, but realistically, not everyone is like you - I thought we wouldn't be able to have kids and my honest thoughts were 'then I could adopt', and 'this must be God's plan for me', but I know that a lot of people would have been offended by those same thoughts... it's just hard to know who will be 'ok' with talking about things, and who won't.

    1. Oh I know that other people aren't like me. I had actually planned to discuss how I'm not advocating that people force themselves to talk about it if they're not comfortable, but I guess I just got going and forgot. Not everyone feels comfortable discussing it, and that's okay. But I think that our culture promotes this "code of silence", if you will, by people just acting like it's not happening, or suffering in silence. If society as a whole was more open to discussing infertility, it wouldn't make those who suffer from it feel ashamed of themselves, or "broken".

      And I don't think there's wrong with thinking that God's plan for you is to not have biological children; I'm sure that is the plan for some people. I DO have a problem with people saying that God thinks those people would be bad parents, and that's why they can't get pregnant.

  6. This is such an important topic as so many women that I am close with have expressed nearly verbatim feelings. Kuddos for your honesty.

    1. Thank you. I hope eventually we'll be able to create a culture where it's okay to talk about infertility.



I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I read and respond to each and every one. Thank you so much!


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