A friendly resource for women who want to lead better lives

The Hidden Emotions of Infertility

pregnant-couple-viewing-to-front_34-51631One 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,

16 Responses to “The Hidden Emotions of Infertility”

  1. Charyl

    Very very true. The feeling of being alone definitely comes from the silence but also from your friends not truly understanding what you are going through no matter how you explain it. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. abigail

    I feel alone in my infertility. Everyone around me is having babies and I can’t seem to get pregnant . Going to see the Dr. soon but really frustrated. seems adoption might be all I can do..

    • marylemonwater

      I adopted my babies. Adoption is truly a blessing and not a last resort.

  3. Fer

    Beautiful! More we share, more we find people that is going through the same (or a bit different) thing. Thank you for writing this. Xx

  4. Rachel Hoffman

    One of the hardest parts of infertility is the sense of shame and failure. Many people can’t even bring themselves to confide in their families. Somehow, we blame ourselves, in a way we would never do with another kind of illness. Our secrecy or privacy is natural, but it has a price. We are not drawing on our power as a community to press for solutions. I’d really like to see a movement of “infertility activism”. People refusing to be ashamed, talking about their issues openly and demanding that the insurance industry recognize infertility as an illness. AIDS activism was so effective that the disease went from a death sentence to a manageable condition in less than 20 years. We are 40 years into IVF and most insurance companies won’t touch it. The emotional burden of infertility is unfairly compounded by the financial stress. There are tens of millions of infertility sufferers. We can draw support from each other and change things.

  5. oliviascribe

    I cannot imagine the feelings that you and others going through infertility have. I feel fortunate to have friends that have shared their struggles, not only has it made me aware of a problem that affects many couples and helped me be more understanding of their suffering, but it also has made me so much more appreciative of the incredible miracles that conception and carrying a pregnancy to term are. I try not to complain about nausea, weight gain or stretch marks because I know many women would love to have that as part of having a biological child. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • marylemonwater

      You are a good friend for being so thoughtful! It is easy to get wrapped up in what it’s like to be pregnant, or for me, what’s it’s like to not be able to get pregnant. I am thankful that we are able to share our experiences with one another without having this problem!!

  6. Tricia

    LOVE THIS! It is a struggle that I never even imagined happening to me. I come from a big family and so does my husband, so infertility was only a word to us. I wish I could say that now! It seems to have taken over our lives. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about our struggles to get pregnant. Should we keep trying? Should we adopt? Why us? Why is it so expensive? Those are just a few of the questions that run through my mind every day. Mary you are such a sweet heart for sharing your story and I am amazed at your strength. Much love you and Matt. ❤

    • marylemonwater

      Oh, you are so sweet. I think about you guys every day. It will happen for you when the time is right! I wish I could tell you when that time was going to be. Or better yet, I wish I could make a stork drop for you right now! Lots of love. XO

  7. Shannon

    This is such a great post. Like you said, not only are you suffering, but in silence. There were times I used to wish I had something else wrong with me because then I could openly talk about it and have people rally around me or at least feel sorry/sympathetic towards me. Even to this day I still can’t blog about. Hopefully someday. Cheers

    • marylemonwater

      Thank you so much for sharing, Shannon. I am sorry to hear that you had to go through all of this. And, if you ever want to vent about it without sharing on your own blog, please let me know. I’d love to have you guest blog for us, or we could swap posts sometime!

      • Shannon

        Thanks for the offer. That is something I might actually like to do. My friends and family don’t even know and since they read my blog I never post about it, but if it aired on another blog they wouldn’t see it 🙂 as for me, I always live guest posters so you are more than welcome anytime.

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