The Stigma of Infertility – Part II


The other day, I wrote about the stigma of infertility.  I wondered why we are ashamed of infertility and I think also miscarriage.  What is there to be ashamed of about infertility?  Or miscarriage?  I don’t understand why it’s not OK to talk about this with our friends, our family, our co-workers, etc.  Why do we only feel comfortable talking about it with people who have experienced it or our doctors?  Or, maybe it is just me?

I get that it is uncomfortable.  Sad.  Depressing.  Scary.  But it shouldn’t be embarrassing or shameful. I feel that way when I talk about it sometimes (if I talk about it).  I get embarrassed.  I say things like it was just an early miscarriage.  To me a miscarriage, is a miscarriage.  I lost my baby less than two weeks after I found out I was pregnant. My baby was my baby – even though it was just a few weeks inside of me.  Some women who lost their baby at 25 weeks might beg to differ and I agree.  The pain and suffering emotional and physical of a loss at 25 weeks is much more painful than at 6 weeks.  But for someone who suffers early miscarriages repeatedly they might disagree.  I can go on and on with different scenarios because like cancer, which has hundreds of different types, infertility too has different diagnoses.

Either way, an early loss or a late loss or never, ever having gotten a positive pregnancy test.  No one should feel ashamed or embarrassed by infertility.

Is it like cancer was 30 years ago?  No one wanted to talk about it for fear that they might get it?  Is it like mental illness?  Like cancer and mental illness, infertility is a disease.  A disease that no one deserves to have.

We didn’t ask for this disease.  We didn’t ever dream of it.  For years, we went out of our way to prevent pregnancy and spoke about birth control openly with our friends, sisters, mothers, boyfriends, husbands, etc.  We saw birth control as a liberation of sorts and cheered about it and praised it.  Now, as someone facing infertility, I shrink back and hide behind the anonymity of silence.  And, I’m not the only one.

I worry about my clients finding out.  I worry about my colleagues.  I worry about family members who don’t know and friends who have no clue but might be wondering why I’ve withdrawn.  But, I don’t want to be judged or pitied or told once again that if I “stop trying than it will happen” – in my case, it might with a miracle but it more than likely won’t given my diagnosis.  I don’t want to be alone.  But, in my silence, I am alone.

I only have myself to blame.  I respect and love my husband too much to break his request to keep this private but I could push him.  I could tell him how much I could help and support others who might be going through the same challenges, same fears, same losses, same disappointment.  I could tell him how important it is for me to speak out loud about this.

I’ll have to work on it.

In the meantime, I came across the opportunity to send a letter to my Congressperson and Senator asking them to co-sponsor a bill to help build families.  I sent my letters in and I encourage you to see what you can do and send your letter in.  Just click here for more information.

Maybe one of these days, I’ll come out of the shadows of this blog and reveal myself – a normal, 30-something girl who is living with infertility who is just trying to build a family and make a difference.

And, in the meantime, I’m grateful for those of you who stop by and support me in the comments and silently by reading.

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9 thoughts on “The Stigma of Infertility – Part II

  1. Infertility and it’s stigma sucks. I’m sorry that you feel so alone, but glad that you have this blog and the online community to support you. It took me awhile to be comfortable “coming out” about our infertility, but it has been so good for me to have the support of those around me. I hope that your husband will come around soon. Hugs and prayers.

    • Thanks, Heather. I hope MH comes around too. I don’t want to push him though as he is the other half of this story! We’re a team and we deal with things differently…

      Thanks for being one of the supporters!

  2. What a great post.. The stigma has been on my mind a lot. I feel pretty comfortable talking about miscarriages, but I don’t, because it makes so many others clearly uncomfortable. And I feel that I’ve been a pretty sensitive, caring friend to people in my life who have struggled with infertility, but now that I myself am dealing with it, I feel ashamed. Who knows…Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I really liked and agreed with your post. I am very open about my infertilty with close friends and family but no acquaintances. The one thing that I hate when talking about it is being pitied. And at this point, I have been going through it so long, I now feel like I annoy everyone with it. It sucks and know that I know EXACTLY how you feel.

  4. I don’t know why IF remains so “in the closet”, but I am doing my part to help make it more open! I antagonize people, I’m sure, who would rather ignore the problem — but I do feel that all of us have an obligation of sorts to educate others, to fight for equal insurance coverage, etc.

    That being said, I totally respect each person’s right to privacy and the different decisions each couple makes in regards to their own level of openness when discussing IF.

  5. I’m always amazed at the doors that open when I start talking about my own infertility journey. So often I think that I’m in this on my own, and that no one understands, and that I should be ashamed of the pain it has caused me. But when I start talking about it, more often then not I find that the people I’m talking to have some personal connection to infertility. If not through their own struggles, then through the struggles of someone they know. I do think we should be talking about it more, if for no other reason than so that we can all start to realize how not alone we are in this.

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