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Learning about infertility

a blog by Katie Landry, April 23, 2014

I'm not sure how infertility never made it on society's radar, but I'm guessing that lots of women out there, myself included, who wish it had.

You never really hear about infertility issues - until you have them.

This is upsetting. In my case, knowledge might not have necessarily helped me, but it certainly could have prepared me. And yes, that would have helped.

I work very hard at not becoming an embittered 'infertile' - you know, despising every pregnant woman I see, blocking every pregnant friend on Facebook, cursing every teenage girl with an 'oops' pregnancy. It's not easy.

Our society doesn't make it any easier. Let me use TV as an example: The other night, I was watching a show with my husband, and the main character - a career woman in her mid 30's I guess - maybe older - got a surprise positive pregnancy test. Trying to filter the cynicism out of my voice, I said to him, 'Yeah. Like it's that easy.'

I get it. TV isn't reality. But so many shows use their programs as soap-boxes, drawing attention to their agendas, raising social awareness. Why doesn't infertility ever show up? TV only shows someone trying to get pregnant - and does - or someone not trying to get pregnant - and does.

I'm not a huge TV watcher, so maybe I missed the flood of shows dealing with infertility, but I can only recall one show (which is no longer on) where the main character was struggling with infertility. One.

Here is what would have been some helpful information prior to this infertility journey:

(By the way, the Reader's Digest version of my story is that I got married at 36, started trying at 37, had my 1st miscarriage at 38, my 2nd at 39, and my 1st failed IUI at 40. We are on to IUI #2 this month).

  • Getting pregnant is not as easy as we think. When we are taught sex-ed in school, teachers make it sound like just about anything beyond making out will land you pregnant. All it takes is one time, we are told. Yes, I understand that teenagers are young and fertile, and accidental pregnancies can happen easily. But it doesn't stay that easy to get pregnant.

    I had an idea that it gets harder to get pregnant as you get older, but I kind of blew that off. I never had real, hard facts. Not until it happened to me. Girls should know this ahead of time.

  • Our choices have consequences. Many women want to have the female version of the American Dream - a career, a marriage, children. To have it all, career often comes first - then a family. But that career path comes with consequences in regard to a woman's fertility. I'm not saying that women shouldn't try to have both, but that should be an informed decision a woman makes. A woman should know ahead of time that the longer she waits to start her family, the harder it becomes. That infertility issues are more common than we think.

    For me, I didn't choose to get married so late in life; that's just how it worked out for me. I wanted to be a young mom. But many women are waiting to start families. That's fine. They should just know the ramifications of that decision.

  • Doctors can't fix everything. Our society has become so dependent on science and technology to fix everything. We see celebrities who are close to age 50 getting pregnant almost at will. Believe me, I am grateful to live in a time when the medical field can do SO much to help us have families. But in reality, a doctor can't MAKE a sperm find the egg. A doctor can't CREATE healthy eggs or sperms. A doctor can't MAKE an embryo attach itself to the uterus. A doctor can't MAKE an embryo develop into a healthy baby.

    Because doctors can do so much to help, society doesn't recognize the gravity of infertility issues. It's not given the notice and attention it deserves.

  • TTC (trying-to-conceive) affects EVERY area of your life. It affects your marriage. Your emotions. Your mental health. Your job performance. Your finances. Your friendships. Your social life. Your ability to make plans for the future. Your self-esteem. Your husband's self-esteem. Everything.

    We think of TTC just on a physical level - charting ovulation, timing sex correctly, IUIs, IVFs. But TTC is an enormous investment of every part of your existence. I, for one, am a huge advocate of not letting our TTC efforts grow into a monster that swallows up our lives. But it can, if we let it. Nobody told me that going in. It wouldn't have changed any choices I've made, but it would have let me pro-actively prepare for those investments.

    Raising awareness about infertility increases society's sensibilities. One in eight women struggle. Chances are that there is at least one woman in every person's circle that is struggling with this, even if her struggle is unknown.

    Everyone has a struggle. A cross to bear. Right now, infertility is mine. But with the right information and a lot of support, our crosses don't have to feel so heavy.


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