We had been trying to have a baby for a year before my husband and I encountered the medical diagnosis “infertility.” The first time I saw that scribbled on the bottom of a fee sheet, I just about crumpled in tears. I was 35 years old and saw it as a prediction of my future (“you will never have children”) rather than a commentary on my past (“you haven’t been able to get pregnant in a year”).
Nine years, seven pregnancies, two living children, and lots of conversations later, I have a much better idea of what infertility (IF) is. While not all of these apply to me, they all resonate with me and my own experience. If you have ever struggled with IF, or if you know someone who does, maybe some of this will resonate with you.
- It is being being told as a teenager that you may have trouble having children someday.
- It is both “primary” (no living biological children) and “secondary” (after having a living child).
- It is buying ovulation predictor kits and pregnancy tests online, in bulk, because you are going to be doing this for a while.
- It is looking like an average family with two or three children, but the world not realizing what it took to get your miracles here and what it will take to have any more.
- It is timing what should be simply an act of love.
- It is bringing babymaking from the privacy of the bedroom into the doctor’s office and the laboratory.
- It is dealing with the question, for the thousandth time, “When are you two going to start a family?” or “About time you give your child a sibling, don’t you think?”
- It is deflecting all of the not-so-helpful advice to relax, or stop trying, or “just adopt.”
- It is getting a baby shower invitation and doing mental gymnastics to figure out how to get out of this one.
- It is planning your route through Walmart and Target to avoid the baby aisles.
- It is having secondary infertility and people not understanding the pain that comes with wanting one more because you just don’t feel done.
- It is a couple problem, not just a male problem or a female problem.
- It is wincing at pregnancy announcements not because you aren’t happy for them, but because it just stings.
- It is planning something else to do on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
- It is seeing your spouse hold someone else’s baby, and wishing, again, that things were different.
- It is one in eight couples.
- It is people in their twenties, thirties, and forties and beyond.
- It is mourning the absence of someone who never was.
- It is leaning hard on God for wisdom and direction and comfort.
- It is having more babies in heaven than on earth.
- It is tossing around acronyms such as IVF, IUI, AF, BD, BFN, SI, PI, IF, TTC, CD, DPO, POAS, and PCOS without a second thought.
- It is laughing after your miracle is born and your doctor asks about your plans for birth control.
- It is hearing friends talk about planning their pregnancies and wishing you had it so easy.
- It is finding contentment in the family that you have, but still wondering what might have been.
- It is growing in compassion for others because you realize anew that everyone is struggling with something, and most of us bear invisible burdens and scars.
What is infertility in your experience? Add your definition below…