We Need To Talk About InfertilityTuesday, 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.