This is Why We Don't Talk About InfertilityAug 16, 2023
This is why we don’t talk about infertility
At my lowest point during my fertility struggles, I’d be up all night, crying on the bathroom floor at 3am. Months of being unable to sleep from chronic insomnia, I would roam around the house, trying to find something to distract me from the overwhelming thoughts of: Why? Why me? Why is this so hard?
I’d always been a “glass half full” kind of person. I looked forward to the future. I found some good in every situation. But this? This was different. Infertility had me spiraling down a dark hole and I had no idea how to pull myself out again.
How did I get there?
Because infertility isn’t just something you can manage with a few appointments and well-timed bedroom dates. It completely consumes every area of your life. It’s relentless, it’s devastating and the knock-on effects get worse the longer your journey goes on.
I found peace in privacy when I was trying to conceive. But there are some big reasons why that’s the case for so many women:
The shame. The embarrassment. The feelings of failure.
When you’re hit with an infertility diagnosis (whatever that may be), you’re left with medical referrals, tests you can order or procedures you can book in for.
But you’re not given the emotional support that you need. The reassurances of people who have been through it before.
You have no idea what questions to ask. To know whether the advice you’re being given is right for you. If you’re over 35, you’re hurried past natural options and told to consider IVF.
From a young age, we’re taught that we’ll fall pregnant the moment we fail to use contraception. We’re lead to believe that having a family will come easily, because it’s what our bodies are designed to do.
But we don’t get taught how to manage things if this isn’t the case. So we’re left hating our bodies, resenting our friends that fall pregnant so easily & worrying that we’ll always be left behind.
To avoid all the questions
I know people have good intentions when they ask “how are things going?” but every time someone asks, you have to explain (yet again) that you’re not pregnant.
You’ve already seen the negative pregnancy test. You’ve already cried over the arrival of your period. You just don’t need to re-live it again.
Eventually, I stopped reaching out to friends I hadn’t seen in a long time because I knew what their inevitable questions would be.
Receiving comments like…
“Have you tried…?”
“It could be worse…”
Any comments that start like this are the most triggering things you can day to a person struggling with fertility. The unsolicited advice is a huge part of why we don’t talk about this journey.
I had people say to me “everything happens for a reason” after I’d had a miscarriage, and “maybe you’ve gone through early menopause” when my period went missing.
It’s no wonder you’ll want to keep your experience private after hearing something like this.
You still want to have the big pregnancy announcement that everyone else gets to have
While deep down you know your fertility struggles aren’t your fault, it’s so easy to feel guilty for not “giving” your partner a child, or your parents a grandchild, or your daughter a sibling.
Infertility takes the surprise out of being able to tell these important people in your life that you’re having a baby. So wanting to keep things private as much as possible is expected. At the end of all this, it’s nice to be able to surprise our loved ones in some small way.
Because of the work & career implications
We know it’s illegal to pass someone over for a promotion because they’re pregnant, right? Of course!
But what about revealing to your employer that you’re going through fertility treatments, and you may need some time off work? That it could take months (or years) until you fall pregnant? Your employer may not consciously overlook you for a promotion because of this, but will it always be in the back of their mind knowing that’s what you’re planning?
Sometimes it’s so much easier to juggle appointments, early morning blood tests, scans & procedures without telling anyone at work.
The idea of being “pitied” is unbearable
You know how much your family and friends care about you – and that’s wonderful. But knowing that you’re struggling and feeling sorry for you is the last thing you want. The looks of pity, the apologies…when you just want to feel “normal” this is often too much to take.
It completely changes the dynamic between friendships
It might hurt to go to that baby shower, but you still want to be invited. You still want to be a part of the friendship group you’ve had for many years. But the longer this journey goes on, the more you feel disconnected from those people.
And the more you feel left behind. Sometimes it’s just easier to leave things unsaid.
Remember, you don’t owe anyone anything on this journey. It’s yours and yours alone. Privacy can bring you peace, and that’s ok.
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