In the past three years fertility awareness has been more prominent, but it still has a long way to go before it gets the recognition it deserves. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. In my mid twenties I never considered freezing my eggs for later in life. I lived a carefree life when it came to fertility, never considering that I would be a statistic one day. Even in my early thirties I still didn’t bat an eye when someone talked about their biological clock ticking. No one in my family ever had trouble conceiving, or even had a miscarriage. Nor had I met or heard of anyone in my life that had used assisted reproductive medicine to have a baby.
I never thought that I would be part of a sisterhood of women who have battled or are battling some form of infertility. A sisterhood that nods at each other over magazines and phones in the waiting room of their clinic. A sisterhood that has support groups all over the internet offering the best ways to do Menopur without the sting. A sisterhood that lifts you up when you don’t get the results that you wanted or expected with your embryo count, or your beta test. It’s a sisterhood where we don’t judge, criticize, or cast anyone aside. Instead we bond over mood swings, and how progesterone suppositories are the worst part of any cycle.
I am 1 in 6. If you had asked me what that meant five years ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.
I could have fostered a guess. It would have likely been breast cancer or some other disease likely to affect a large number of women. I wouldn’t have guessed infertility because even though it is 2018, it is still a topic that is swept under the rug. 1 in 6 to me these days seems slightly high. I feel more like I am 1 in 4. I have a fair amount of friends who have received at least one form of fertility treatment along the way to grow their families. The unfortunate part is that a few of my friends who have chosen to seek treatment have also chosen to hide it from their family and most of their friends.
Why in 2018 is infertility still such a taboo subject? There are cultures where you are deemed less of a person if you cannot conceive a child. In the Middle Ages you could be considered a witch if you were unable to have a child. The popularity of the Handmaid’s Tale has also brought front and centre the past use of concubines to produce a child if the wife was unable to do so. Words like barren, and selfish are thrown around when speaking about a childless woman without any thought.
The guilt, shame, sadness, and jealousy that come with infertility are bottomless. Some people will criticize you for wanting a child of your own, and not adopting. Every pregnancy announcement will weigh heavy and make you feel jealous and that you are never going to experience that joy. Then in turn you feel guilt and shame for feeling that way about a friend or family member’s happy announcement. It is not that you don’t want it for them, it is that you want it so badly for yourself and are fighting a battle to try and get there.
You avoid social engagements because you are too bloated from injections to go out, and would burst into tears if someone mistakenly took that bloat for a baby bump. You let friendships lapse as you are so focused on becoming pregnant that you lose yourself along the way. You don’t do any of your favourite things or hobbies as you just don’t feel like it.
You have one goal and that is to have a baby in one way or another.
I have scars from my battle both mentally and physically as infertility takes a toll on you on both levels. I haven’t had control of my body or my hormones for the last three and a half years. My life has revolved around cycles, appointments, injection times, pills, suppositories, ultrasounds, and blood tests. My husband and I made the decision to elope last year, as it never seemed like a good time to plan a wedding. I don’t think that people realize how much sacrifice goes into a round of fertility treatment.
You hand your body, schedule, and emotions over to a team of doctors and nurses and hope for the best, all the while second-guessing yourself if this is what is right for you. Should I change clinics? Should we try a new protocol? Should I try a fertility diet of dandelions for a week? Along with that usually comes unsolicited advice, and suggestions. It is almost like there should be Mad Libs for infertility as everyone knows someone who tried something and became pregnant after blank years of infertility.
Infertility is a disease, it primarily goes undiagnosed for the early part of someone’s life.
Some are lucky to get an explanation of what their fertility challenges and issues are, most are not. There are a large number of women that I have met along the way that have unexplained fertility that is usually attributed to egg issues, but there is no conclusive evidence or even a solution. Infertility whether it be male factor or female factor, deserves more attention, and less shame. I am 1 in 6 and I am not ashamed to say so.
by Sarah Cheltenham, sparklessarcasm.blogspot.ca