Breaking the Silence: My Experience with Infertility
Even as a little girl, I knew without a doubt that I wanted two things in life: to be a teacher and a mother. Becoming a teacher ended up being the easy part. From the day we got married, I wanted to talk about a timeline for trying to get pregnant. I began making lists of names for a boy or a girl, and after few years we agreed to start trying. I knew it could take a few months; I figure two or three was reasonable. Then it was four. Five. Six. What was taking so long?
Soon the comments from family members began. “Should be about time, right?” “I can’t wait forever to be a grandpa, ya know.” I couldn’t really blame them; we had been married four years and were in our late twenties. But I wanted to keep private that we were trying. I had always imagined the surprise announcement we would make to our family and friends. The joy and hugs and congratulations! Now I had to pretend we weren’t trying. It was hard to skirt the issue without being angry and resentful.
For months I tracked my cycles. The instant I woke up I would roll over to take my temperature and pray that my period wouldn’t start. I began wondering if God was punishing me for something. What felt like should have been a natural and joyous process was filled with doubt and extreme sadness. Instead of decorating a nursery and choosing a name, it was filled with needles, medicine, surgery, self-injections, and most of all, the most intense longing I had ever experienced.
Some of the most dreaded times included Mother’s Day sermons at church. Watching each mother stand with pride as preschoolers wove through the pews, handing each blessed woman a carnation was a stab in the heart. Another was attending my friend’s baby shower. I felt so guilty that I wasn’t happier for her than I thought I should be. I also remember being so angry with my much younger sister-in-law announcing she was pregnant “on accident” with the first grandchild and then having them use the name we had planned for our first boy. We were supposed to have the first grandchild. We were supposed to pass on the family name.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the comments. Most people say things without realizing how it hurts. And honestly, how could they know how deep it cuts if they have never been there. Comments like, “You just need to relax. It will happen eventually.” Or “There’s plenty of time.” But if we are being real, how do any of us know it will happen for us? It’s a process that is mostly taken for granted.
I know now that I wasn’t alone. About one in eight women in the United States are diagnosed with infertility; having yet to conceive after one year of trying1. Not everyone decides to see a physician, but of those who do, 65% give birth and only 3% resort to IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).
Even if it hasn’t been a year, if you have had more than one miscarriage, are over 35 years of age, or have painful or irregular periods, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor.
Some of you may already have a diagnosis. It might be a severe case of endometriosis. Or PCOS. Maybe you have an abortion in your past and you are wondering if that is a factor in your infertility journey. You may have irregular periods or maybe your partner has been diagnosed with a low sperm count. I want to tell you as a friend. You are experiencing so much sadness. Don’t add loneliness to it. I would encourage you to reach out to someone. Find your person. Find that one sweet soul, or even online community of others, going through this same journey. Someone you can confide in. Cry to. Ask rhetorical questions. Someone who doesn’t give advice; someone who just listens. They may not have answers but mourning together is a healing balm.
If it is approaching a year of trying, talk with your partner about seeing your family doctor or specialist. They will go over your medical history, likely take some blood samples, and start you on a road to answers, and hopefully, the family you are dreaming of.
If you don’t feel you have anyone to speak with, we would love to listen to your story and walk through this time with you.
1 Infertility Facts, Diagnosis and Risk Factors. (2021, August 27). https://resolve.org/learn/infertility-101/facts-diagnosis-and-risk-factors/
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