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The words no woman ever wants to believe.



I'm infertile.

Ouch. Those words pack a punch. It took me nearly 10 years to actually say them aloud. And this was after I'd visited several ob/gyns completely bewildered by my lack of conception success, not to mention at least three fertility clinics complete with brag boards showcasing the babies they'd help create.

If it's a baby you're after, we're here to deliver! Just read and sign this mountain of paperwork - you do know legalese, don't you? Write out a big whopping check (no money-back guarantees) and, oh, we'll need a blood draw to prove you aren't carrying HIV or any venereal diseases. Now come on down.

What they really meant was take a number ‘cause I saw a whole lotta women in line ahead me. By the way, I asked, how much time will this take? I've got a life to live here. Me and my guy, we've been dancing between the sheets since my early 30s. We should have a starting basketball team by now! Have I mentioned this waiting thing is getting seriously annoying?

Little did I know the waiting was just beginning. Before long I grew completely comfortable disrobing and lying naked from the waist down in front of strangers in white coats who prodded, analyzed and worked over my private bits but I still couldn't think - let alone actually say the words.

I was eager to please and wanted to set the doctors and nurses at ease. Really, I'm not a difficult case, you'll see. I watch my diet. I exercise. I was raised Catholic for Pete's Sake. That's good for something, right? Aren't we supposed to be breeding machines?

While I could strip lickity split in a doctor's office I still felt awkward changing in a woman's locker room. (That must have been because there wasn't any examining table with stirrups attached anywhere in sight.)

When it came to making babies I was sure there was just some big f@#$ing misunderstanding. A pill. A few shots. Some exploratory surgery. Come on, people, I've seen your fancy degrees - we're not in the dark ages here. Let's stop horsing around here ‘cause you know I'm not really, well, you know...

I refused to believe the evidence. There just had to be a pregnancy solution. As long as I denied the "I" word there was still a chance. Perhaps we needed another diagnostic test? I never was much good at reading instructions, though I don't recall seeing any for my ovaries and uterus. They appeared to function just fine each month. Day 10 I'd get mini cramps signaling ovulation, confirmed by a pee stick. My sex drive would rev accordingly. I'd get what felt like implantation cramps a few days later. That's right. I've got this completely under control.

Well, I thought I did. Two weeks later: one pink line.

I'm infertile.

Even now it hurts more than a little to say.

by Pamela Tsigdinos (aka Pamela Jeanne), Dec. 4, 2008

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Comments (10)

Great article, Pamela Jeanne. Thanks for sharing.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in seeking medical treatment is acknowledging that our biology isn't working the way it should.

I actually never believed it would finally happen for me. I remember living from cycle to cycle (6 weeks each time) and hoping it would (with IVF, it did, but the other 10 years - nothing)...

Pamela, your writing is a pleasure to read. My heart aches for you and I thank you for being able to give infertility a voice that people can relate to.

Rachel's good to know that women who've gone on to conceive can still empathize and offer support to those who have arrived (or are arriving) at a different place. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Thank you for being "out" and open. If women and men knew how common infertility was, it would help so much! How I wish my fiance would have had a better understanding of IUIs, IVFs, and was less ashamed. It would have made the process so much easier! Infertility hurts, but the secrecy and shame cycle just makes it worse, so thanks again for talking about it!! step out of the shadows as I know from experience, but it feels so good to leave the shame behind!

Thank you for bringing your story to us. I thought that when I finally decided to "bring out the big guns", aka IVF treatment that I would get pregnant. Turns out it's much more complicated than that. While I too have gotten comfortable with the white coats, I think there is something really wrong with that. I look forward to reading more from you!

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