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Let’s Get Talking About Infertility

a blog by Katie O'Connor, September 30, 2013

Affects 1 in 6 couples
Totaling over 7 million people
1.5 million ART cycles are performed globally each year
Creating around 350,000 babies


The numbers are impressive! Imagine the entire city of New York experiencing struggles getting pregnant!

An article in Psychology Today entitled "When You’re Not Expecting" explains it perfectly that when you are going through infertility it’s like wearing a scarlet letter “I”.
“We may remember Hester Prynne whose scarlet "A," sewn to the front of her dress, branded her as an adulteress. But, for those of us with infertility, the letter "I" can be a prominent symbol in our lives, sometime public sometimes not. And we have some choices about how to "wear" that symbol.”

Women often don’t feel comfortable opening up about something so private and personal, but keeping all that emotion bottled up isn’t healthy. So many women feel a range of emotions when they learn they aren’t going to be able to get pregnant naturally: angry, broken, sad, depressed, shame, the list goes on. You try to put on a “strong” façade, walking around like everything is fine.

Family and friends ask “when are you and (insert name of partner here) going to start trying to get pregnant”, you dodge the question, try to change the subject, everything you can do to not have to tell them “we ARE trying, it’s just not that easy”. You try anything and everything, from “just relaxing” (that’s my favorite tidbit of advice), to a new “fertility diet”, to acupuncture and herbs, you name it you’ve tried it.

When going through infertility, the WORLD feels pregnant, immediately all you focus in on is all the pregnant women filling the grocery store, all the strollers walking on the sidewalk, the baby shower invites roll in, it feels like everyone but YOU is pregnant or a parent already. The dream seems harder and harder to obtain as you suffer through another treatment. Always hopeful for a happy outcome while also bracing for the worst.

Everyone’s journey through infertility looks different but we all feel it the same way. The desire for a family more than anything, you sacrifice your body (and your bank account), all in the hopes of hearing “you are pregnant” one day. Some couple’s journeys end in giving birth to a baby through IUI or IVF, others through surrogate, adoption, or deciding to live childless.

An article in the Huffington Post women’s blog section entitled No More Whispering: Talking Openly About Infertility speaks about the emotion attached when a woman opens up about her story you feel as if they are sharing your own story.

“I was, I can tell you, a bit relieved that she [Aisha Tyler] was not literally telling my story, but her story -- though sadly, this was also my story, and the story of countless other women. At the same time, I felt relief on a grander scale -- Aisha, in talking about this on television, was taking some stigma out of this taboo topic. I could feel it. This, I thought to myself as I responded to the message from my friend, is a big moment in changing the attitude about childlessness after infertility.

There is an amazing film coming out called The CYCLE: Living A Taboo, about building care, awareness and leadership around issues of infertility.

When you’ve gone through infertility, it forever changes you, for me personally, for the good.

It’s made me a stronger woman, helped me slow down (even if just a little), and made me more ready to be a mom (not to say I don’t have my anxiety filled moments of – gosh am I doing this all right – when it comes to parenting my 2.5 yr old daughter). I am proud talk about my infertility journey and to share how my daughter came into this world. Infertility, even though in my past, will always be a part of who I am.


Comments (1)

An essential part of married life is beautifully described in this post. Katie, the way you are expressing your emotion is absolutely fantastic. Thanks for sharing your personal infertility journey and lovely thought of this.

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