What I would like fertiles (and the world at large) to know. . . part 1

As I was driving home yesterday, I got to thinking (no smoke coming out of my ears; like many of you I do some of my best thinking driving). Typically, I get very upset/angry when infertility is misrepresented and stigmatized.   If I had the privilege (and courage) to educate the general masses about infertility (particularly mine), what would I say?  I made a mental list (God, I love lists). 

1.  I did not choose this.

I did not sign up to be infertile.  I did not ask for it.  I did not go looking for it.  It happened to me.  It could have happened to you (though I would never wish it on you or anyone for that matter, even though I am turning into a bitter shrew).  Do not take your fertility for granted–ever!

which leads me to. . .

2.  Infertility is a medical condition. 

Yep, meaning it has a biological and physiological basis.  Since it is a medical condition,  relaxing on a vacation will not cure it.  Instead, I have to take endless and expensive rounds of medication in hopes that I will become reproductively normal like you are.   

which also leads me to. . .

3.  No, I cannot “just get IVF”.

IVF is an expensive, time-consuming and involved process.  Even if I qualified, I would probably have to take out a second mortgage on my home, even though I have good medical insurance.   I never saved up for infertility, because like you, I assumed I would be able to reproduce with relative ease.  Don’t even talk to me about savings or a “nest-egg” (ironic use of words you’re using, huh)!  Any savings I once had are long gone to cover medications and treatments.  At this stage in the game, I chastise myself for merely splurging on a $5 tube of lipstick.

so naturally. . .

4.  No, I cannot “just adopt”.

Nope, I can’t run down to the grocery store and just pick up a baby or child.  Yes, I’m aware that there are thousands of children “out there” who need a good home.  Would it surprise you to know that adoption isn’t easy as it sounds?  I take anti-depressants (sorry to make you uncomfortable).  An adoption agency could turn me down for this reason alone.  What did you say?  Oh, your cousin’s mother sister’s aunt adopted and she got pregnant the next month?  Great–but what does this have to do with me?  Are you suffering from ADHD or something?  Stay focused.

5.  Your Facebook ultrasound photos make me want to cry, so I just get angry instead.

Did you know that when I see your image, I am once again reminded of the giant hole I have in my life?  Even though I’ve seen numerous posts like these (sometimes in the course of a week) I can’t just get over it or blow it off.  I know it is natural to want to share your good news with the world, but don’t you think some things are meant to be kept to yourself?  I mean, this is a picture of your uterus after all!    How would you feel if I showed you the xrays from my HSG?  Trust me, that was not a pretty experience.

6.  No thank you, but I do not want your eggs, reproductive parts, or your husband’s sperm.

So, you’re getting a hysterectomy?  Er, that’s good. . .I guess.  Not trying to be mean, but I’ve only met you twice and it’s awkward enough being at this baby shower, so can we, um, just talk about something else?  Better yet, would you mind go standing on the other side of the room?

7. Yes, I will be missing work, sometimes many days in a month, and you will have to pick up my slack and start to do your own job as well.

I dread telling you that I will not be in–again.  No, I cannot always give you advance notice.  We are dealing with my menstrual cycle.  Maybe I’ll start early, maybe I won’t.  Maybe I’m ovulating, maybe I’m not.  Maybe I got bad news at my appointment and I’m sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot crying my eyes out.  Please give me time to pull myself together emotionally before I return.  Oh, and please refrain from telling everyone that I “have another doctor’s appointment”.  I do not feel comfortable discussing such a personal topic with people I barely know.

8.  No, my infertility was not caused by choosing to go to graduate school and having a career.

Even I use to get fooled by this one.  Trust me, I wallowed in my own sea of guilt for a long time.  But, did you know that I only chose the education/self-improvement/career path so I could one day be a great mother for my children?  Silly me!  I was actually planning ahead.  What?  You were smart enough to have children first?  Aren’t you clever? 

9.  Yes, I know God has chosen to bless you with children (yeah, I heard you the first time you told me).

Yes, your children are a blessing, but don’t go spouting that stuff that God gave you children because you are a wonderful person, have awesome virtues, or because you are superior to 99% of the population.  God chooses who he wants to bless, pure and simple.  And, he loves me just as much as he loves you, even if I do not have the children to show for it.

10.  Infertility is not contagious.

Did you know that when I tell you I’m infertile you get a slight look of disgust and bewilderment on your face?  No, I didn’t think you did, but just wanted to let you know.  Dont worry,  you won’t catch it from me!  In reality, I’m not the only person in the world who has this condition.  Did you know that as many as 7 million couples have trouble conceiving?  No, of course you didn’t.  See?  I’m not just purposely witholding children from the world.  In fact, I bet you have other friends who are in the same boat as I am.  They probably don’t share this information with you because of the reaction you just gave me.     

In my head, the list goes on, but I believe I have made a start.  Stay tuned for part 2.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. I loooooove your list.. Don’t think I could have said it better myself!! My favs are #’s 4,5, and 8. Thanks for making me smile 🙂

    Reply

  2. Oy vey. You hit the nail on the head. I HATE “just get IVF” and “just adopt” comments. They irritate me to no end. “Just relax and it’ll happen” is another personal favorite. Look, if the parts aren’t working, relaxing isn’t going to make one BIT of difference. Ugh.

    Reply

  3. Love the list!
    How about #11 Asking if you’re pregnant yet?
    Dont you hate when every so often coworkers or friends ask if there’s “any news”? dont they think that if there were news, you’d eventually tell them?

    Reply

  4. Thank you for this — on multiple levels.

    1) I have several close friends who are dealing with infertility and I truly want to say the right thing…which is sometimes hard in the moment. This is a great reminder.

    2) I’ve just started TTC myself, and am on month #4. It feels like it’s been forever, and I get impatient and cranky. I need to remember that people all around me have been dealing with much worse for much longer. So it’s great perspective for me.

    Reply

  5. I especially LOVE when people tell you that it will happen when you least expect it. How can it possibly catch me off guard when it consumes my every thought? Or just relax???? That is probably the worst offender, in my opinion. Can’t wait for part 2 of the list.

    Reply

  6. Awesome, awesome, awesome post! You summed it all up so well.

    Reply

  7. […] navigation ← What I would like fertiles (and the world at large) to know. . . part 1 Dec 26 […]

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  8. Here from Creme de la Creme

    OMG this is fabulous! IFers struggle so much and if I could just put this on a card for my fertile friends who just don’t get it I’d love it. While I was struggling before my IVF, it seemed like I was constantly explaining myself or treatments or whatever. Then of course there was the judgement of why would I do something so silly as to inject myself over and over. Kids aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

    We were successful with IVF treatment, but I waited until I was in the hospital to have her before I posted on FB. I never posted an ultrasound or belly pic on my IF blog. I wanted to be sensitive to my fellow strugglers, those in the open and those not.

    Thank you for this…I’ll have to look up part 2 and see the rest of the list!

    Reply

    • You are welcome. It sounds like you are the kind of a friend an IF’er would like to have. When I get pregnant, and I do say when I will not post an ultrasound photo. In fact, I’d keep the pregnancy off Facebook. Those who are paying attention will figure it out.

      Reply

  9. […] only one. There are a few other great blogs that address this very thing, including Theresa and the Stork Whisperer‘s blogs (Both of those posts). But what struck the deepest chord with me was reading the […]

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