The Shame of Infertility

I’m usually an open book. I don’t shy away from talking about my depression, anxiety, eating disorder, and such. But this is different. I want to address something that is so often pushed under the rug. Something that I was so ashamed of.

Infertility

What is infertility? The definition of infertility is

 

“the inability to conceive children.” It also means “inability of land to sustain crops.”

 

OK I had to add the last part in because it made me laugh. And we need to be lighthearted when it comes to this subject.  I really debated whether I should post about this or not. I have been thinking about it since February. I was nervous about talking about this at all.  Then the thought hit me “isn’t that the whole point?” The whole reason I’m even writing this is because I was so frustrated at the shame, secrecy, and insecurities that come with infertility. So here I am jumping out of my comfort zone and talking about what so many women are embarrassed to talk about. My struggle with infertility.

I want to make a disclaimer before I begin.  My husband and I have not been trying since the day we got married. We haven’t been through rounds and rounds of treatment. But that doesn’t make my journey anymore painful or hard to talk about. Again, the whole reason behind this post.

How it all began….

Without getting into too much detail, I have always had issues with my cycle. Back in high school and through college I was having issues and was constantly visiting the doctor. Because I was a good little mormon girl and wasn’t sexually active, my doctors didn’t prescribe me any medications. They said that when I was ready to take birth control, my cycle would work itself out. Fast forward to 2012. My cycles started to REALLY get out of wack. To the point where I would go months without a sign of a period. I was pretty nervous and finally demanded birth control. The next year I got married and didn’t give my cycles a second thought. I took my pill every day and was perfectly fine and “normal.”

It’s no secret that Josh and I were very young when we got married. I was 21 and he was 24. We had no plans on having children for a very long time.  We wanted to wait AT LEAST 5 years. At the beginning of this year, we went out to dinner to discuss our goals for the New Year. We have done this since we first got married and I absolutely love this tradition. This year I was very nervous because I wanted to tell Josh that I felt like it was the right time to start a family. And it was only year 4 anyway.  To my utter surprise, he agreed. So you guessed it, I threw my pills and (and caution) to the wind!  I started reading EVERY book I could find on conceiving, what to eat when trying to conceive, literally every book. Seriously…come look at my bookshelf. I was reading “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting” *FANTASTIC book, I highly recommend it if you are actively trying to have a baby.* and I came across the section about fertility issues. I was reading about PCOS and out of nowhere had a strong sense of urgency to go see a doctor and have a “preconception” exam. My friends told me it wasn’t necessary, but something inside me felt sick. Call it God, call it the Universe, call it whatever but looking back I’m so glad I did. I went to my doctor and happily told her I was ready to “make a baby.” She laughed and asked me my history. IN GREAT DETAIL. As I started describing more and more of my medical history, she looked more and more concerned. She asked if I had ever been diagnosed with any reproductive issues. I said no. Long story short I did a ton of blood work. And went to see her again the next month. Mind you…by this time, it was February and aunt flo had not come to visit. I knew I was pregnant. I just knew it. I happily went and bought a pregnancy test and within two minutes it said “NOT PREGNANT” “Ok, there’s always next time.” I thought.

 

 

Wrong.

 

I went to see my doctor again and we chatted about my blood work. I don’t remember much from that appointment. All I really remember is words like “pcos, anovulatory, infertility drugs, too much testosterone, viable pregnancies.” I was so overwhelmed. I remember going home that day, shutting my door, and sobbing. Here I was, ready to have a baby and I was told it was going to be a challenge and that I would need help. WHAT?! I couldn’t even do what my body was made to do. I felt like a failure.  All I could think about for weeks was my doctor’s words ‘it’s not going to be easy. But I have a positive outlook.” What the hell was the supposed to mean? I over analyzed of course. I felt like I was just given the worst news of my life and my doctor had a “positive outlook”??? I didn’t understand, but more than anything I felt shame.

 

My family was so looking forward to us having a baby, but I knew it was going to take more time than I had anticipated. And that was crushing.

 

Here it is into June and I’m still going to the doctor and on different medications. I’m still not functioning the way I should be and it’s still a long road before things will start to look up but I knew that would be the case. My point in sharing this is that it isn’t shared enough. Women are so ashamed to talk about this. When I was diagnosed with Pcos, and finally decided to talk about it, I had countless friends and family members that came out of the woodworks with the same struggles. People confided in me about their fertility treatments, IVF, adoption, etc.  It was comforting to me to know I was not alone. I think what hurt the most was when people would ask me when I was going to start a family and I felt like I couldn’t talk about this issue. I would just say “When the time is right.” But I wanted to talk about my PCOS. I wanted to ask questions, I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone. I wanted to not feel like a failure.

 

Many of you may read this post and think “Geez she’s sharing a lot.” Or “I couldn’t make a post like that.” Well friends, that’s the problem. That’s the whole point! It isn’t talked about enough and there are women all over the world wondering what is wrong with them.  Did you know that 1 in 8 women have fertility issues? This is the reason I am talking about it. Because I didn’t know that it was so common. I had no idea what to think or do about my pcos. I felt like I had no support or community to turn to. But I was wrong.

 

If any of you are struggling, do not feel ashamed. You are not the problem.  Your disease is the problem. If you feel that you have an issue, listen to your gut. Go to the doctor. There is no shame in having the help of science. In fact, it’s a miracle in itself that women all around the world can now have science help them conceive a child. Or that there is even the option to adopt a child.

 

Sadly, the end of this post is not me announcing I’m pregnant. It’s me announcing that I am okay with the fact that it might take forever, or that I may never be able to bear my own biological child.  I’m announcing that I am 1 in 8 and that I am here for anyone that may be going through the same thing. Whether it be slight, worse, or just as bad…we as women should be there to support each other through the struggles of infertility. No, I haven’t been on my journey as long as a lot of women…but I am still on the journey and I am here for you. Let’s talk about it and let’s not be ashamed.



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