One by one, my friends with infertility are becoming parents. Most have been so silent about their struggles that no one will know what they’ve been through. No one will know how strong they’ve had to be.
Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. That is quite a lot, yet many of us feel like we’re going through it alone.
This is a disease that most people cannot comprehend. I have had people joke about infertility, telling me that I can “have their kids” or that I am “so lucky to have freedom.” However, this would be like someone complaining about having too much money. It’s completely absurd.
The men and women struggling with infertility experience many hidden losses, including:
- Loss of the pregnancy and birth experience
- Loss of a genetic legacy
- Loss of the parenting experience
- Loss of a grandparent relationship
- Low feelings of self-worth
- Loss of stability in family and personal relationships
- Loss of work productivity
- Loss of a sense of spirituality and sense of hope for the future
Because infertility involves major personal decisions, many couples choose not to discuss publicly. The personal nature of infertility also means many people experience these losses privately.
The silent suffering has affected my family, as well as many of my friends.
However, I cannot help but wonder, is the silence contributing to a lack of resources available for infertility? And it is keeping the public from recognizing infertility as a disease?
Infertility has a strong impact on self-esteem. Suddenly your life, which may have been well-planned and successful, seems out-of-control. Not only is your physical body not responding as expected, but it feels as if your entire life is on hold. Facing the disappointment of not becoming pregnant month after month for years can lead to depression and anxiety for both you and your spouse.
If you are struggling with infertility, please know that you are not alone. And, also know that there is a solution for you. You are probably a high achiever with all of your ducks in a row and this is a huge setback in your life. At least, that’s how I felt. But, channel all of your Type B personality (she’s in there somewhere, right?) and trust that what is supposed to happen to you will happen. You just need to be open to receive the options.
There are infertility awareness organizations all over the country. I encourage you to learn about one in your area. Check out www.resolve.org, The National Infertility Awareness Association, for both local and national resources. Even if you just follow them on Facebook or Twitter, and never interact, hearing stories and anecdotes will help you feel less alone and more hopeful.
If you do not have infertility, but are reading this because you know someone who does, kudos to you. Everyone in the world needs a friend like you!
Lots of love,