National Infertility Awareness Week

“Do you guys just not want any kids?”

“What’s taking you so long?”

The emotional response to these questions are different for everyone. Some may hear the former and give an answer like “hell no!” or, “maybe, one day.” Others…are silent.

The important thing to remember is that none of these responses are wrong. An individual has every right to feel a certain way about their own fertility prospects. What is wrong, however, despite every effort not to be malicious, are the questions.

These were real questions, made up of real words, asked of my husband recently. They were spoken out loud. Ears heard them, processed their syllables and tones, and sent their messages to the brain where real emotions were released from their holds. To some, they’re harmless questions, but for 1 in 8 couples, they’re words that hit deep inside an invisible chamber shielded from the outside.

It seems odd to live in a world where the process of childbearing is elevated to a level of simplicity. This is what we are taught. This is what we believe.

This is not true.

Not for 1 in 8 couples, at least. Sometimes there are reasons this “simple” process isn’t quite that simple. Endometriosis. PCOS. Low T. Cancer. Morphology. Blocked tubes. Hormone deficiencies, and a zoo of other diseases and issues that indirectly affect our bodies in different ways. And sometimes, there aren’t any reasons at all. They call this “unexplained infertility.”

I imagine being told you can’t have kids without a reason why is a lot like being told your two, normal looking arms will do just about everything except move. You know, pretty much all they were designed for. They look nice, contain adequate muscle, blood flows to and from the arteries and veins without issue, and you can even feel them from time to time, but try and lift a glass of water and you’re screwed.

I know people with both explained and unexplained infertility. Couples with malfunctioning ovaries and uteri, missing and misshaped sperm, and couples with both hearty swimmers and gorgeous wombs who can’t get pregnant. In all infertile couples, with all the differences in reasons, or lack thereof, one thing is the same. We all mourn.

The grief of infertility is cyclical and dependent on the individual. Just as in death, everyone grieves differently, at different times and in different ways. Many will mourn each failed cycle, some will mourn once and move on. We all handle it the best way we can, because at the end of the day that’s all we can do, handle it. It’s personal. It’s emotional. All the reasons why certain “questions” are painful.

During National Infertility Awareness Week, I hope more people come to understand this one facet of the many that make up the complexity of infertility. With so many circumstances surrounding the issue, and all the different beliefs that carve infertility into its own unique situation for each couple, the idea of simplicity is not a reality, and questions aren’t what we need. It’s hope. It’s love. It’s support and the understanding that we aren’t the only ones.

Silence is telling, but there will come a time when those dealing with infertility will need and want to share their grief and their joy. So don’t ask. Listen.

We are not alone. We are invisible warriors fighting an invisible menace.

 

– S.A. Dees

5 comments

  1. Oh Shirley, life is so, so hard and throws so many wild pitches at our tender hearts. I hate when people ask those questions, they are basically butting in to your intimate life. Seriously, what kind of answer do these people expect? It is always awkward even if there isn’t pain and grief loaded with the question. People (family, friends and strangers) can be so clueless. They think they are being funny. They never are. Every time someone says something like that it fills you with so much compassion for those currently walking a painful path. You are such a warrior and I will be praying that Jesus gives you peace. I wish I was in Iowa so I could smack all those who ask such infuriating questions!

    You are in my thoughts.

  2. Also, just because your circumstances may change in the future – the intrusive questions will not. If I had a quarter for every time I heard “well it took you two long enough!” Hey thanks!

    1. You’re so sweet!

      I fully understand that 98% of the time, these kinds of questions stem from ignorance and the people asking them usually don’t mean any harm. They simply don’t know. However, it’s not as easy as “just let them know” because this topic is hard to talk about for those suffering. One of the things I’ve learned in all of this is exactly everything you’ve said, and also the notion to just never ask anyone about their baby-making prospects, ever. It’s no one’s business but their own and God’s. If they choose to share, the best thing we can do is listen and offer them our support and prayers.

      And might I add, your little mini is sooooooooo CUTE!

Comments are closed.