13 November 2012

What I wish you knew about infertility

I was reading a post about what women who have experienced miscarriages want to share and wanted to share about infertility. It seems like everyone feels it is always easily corrected or that you are doing something wrong. 
Here are the statistics:
Number of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity (impaired ability to have children): 7.3 million
Percent of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity: 11.8%
Number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant for at least 12 consecutive months): 2.1 million
Percent of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile: 7.4%
Number of women ages 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 7.3 million
Number of couples eventually successful with fertility treatments: Estimated at between 10% and 20%

I want to share my feelings about infertility
with you, because I want you to understand
my struggle. I know that understanding
infertility is difficult; there are times when it
seems even I don’t understand. This struggle
has provoked intense and unfamiliar feelings
in me and I fear that my reactions to these
feelings might be misunderstood. I hope my
ability to cope and your ability to understand
will improve as I share my feelings with you.
I want you to understand.

You may describe me this way: obsessed,
moody, helpless, depressed, envious, too
serious, obnoxious, aggressive, antagonistic,
and cynical. These aren't very admirable
traits; no wonder your understanding of my
infertility is difficult. I prefer to describe me
this way: confused, rushed and impatient,
afraid, isolated and alone, guilty and
ashamed, angry, sad and hopeless, and

My Infertility makes me feel confused. I
always assumed I was fertile. I spent years
avoiding pregnancy and now it seems ironic
that I can’t conceive. Surely if I try harder, try longer, try
better and smarter, I will have another baby.
My infertility makes me feel rushed and
impatient. I learned of my infertility only
after I’d been trying to become pregnant for
some time. My life-plan suddenly is behind
schedule. I waited to become a parent and
now I must wait again.
I wait for medical appointments, wait for
tests, wait for treatments, wait for other
treatments, wait for my period not to
come, wait for my partner not to be out of
town and wait for pregnancy. At best, I
have only twelve opportunities each year.
How old will I be when I finish having my

My infertility makes me feel afraid.
Infertility is full of unknowns, and I’m
frightened because I need some definite
answers. How long will this last? What if
I’m never able to have another? What humiliation 
must I endure? What pain must I suffer? Why do
drugs I take to help me, make me feel
worse? Why can’t my body do the things
that my mind wants it to do? Why do I
hurt so much? I’m afraid of my feelings,
afraid of my undependable body and afraid
of my future.

My infertility makes me feel isolated and
alone. Reminders of babies are
everywhere. I must be the only one
enduring this invisible curse. I stay away
from others, because everything makes me
hurt. No one knows how horrible my pain
is. Even though I’m usually a clear thinker,
I find myself being lured by superstitions
and promises, I think I’m losing
perspective. I feel so alone and I wonder if
I’ll survive this, even though I know I'm not, 
and that I will.

My infertility makes me feel guilty and
ashamed. Frequently I forget that infertility
is a medical problem and should be treated
as one. Infertility destroys my self esteem
and I feel like a failure.

Why am I being punished? What did I do
to deserve this? Am I not worthy of another baby?
Am I not a good sexual partner? Will my
partner want to remain with me? Is this the
end of my family lineage? Will my family
be ashamed of me? It is easy to lose 
self-confidence and feel ashamed.

My infertility makes me feel angry.
Everything makes me angry, and I know
much of my anger is misdirected. I’m angry
at my body because it has betrayed me even
thought I've tried to takecare of it. I’m
angry at my partner because we can’t seem
to feel the same about infertility at the same
time. I want and need an advocate to help
I’m angry at my family because though 
they try, they just don't get it.
I’m angry at my medicalcaregivers, 
because it seems that they control
my future. They humiliate me, inflict pain
on me, pry into my privacy, patronize me,
and sometimes forget who I am. How can I
impress on them how important this is
to me?

 Finally, I’m angry at everyone
else. Everyone has opinions about my
inability to become pregnant. Everyone has
easy solutions. Everyone seems to know
too little and say too much.

My Infertility makes me feel sad and
hopeless. Infertility feels like I've lost a part of
my future, and no one knows of my sadness. I
feel hopeless; infertility robs me of my
energy. I’ve never cried so much nor so
easily. I’m sad that my infertility places my
marriage under so much strain. I’m sad
that my infertility requires me to be so self-centered.
I’m sad that I've ignored any
friendships because this struggle hurts so
much and demands so much energy.
I’m surrounded by babies, pregnant women,
playgrounds, baby showers, birth stories,
and much more. I feel so sad and hopeless.

My infertility makes me feel unsettled. My
life is on hold. Making decisions about my
immediate and my long-term future seems
impossible. I can’t decide about education,
career, purchasing a home, pursuing a
hobby, getting a pet, vacations, 
or house-guests. 

The more I struggle with my infertility, 
the less control I have.
This struggle has no timetable; the
treatments have no guarantees. The only
sure things are that I need to be near my
partner at fertile times and near my doctor
at treatment times. Should I pursue
adoption? Should I continue to take the drugs?
Should I pursue more specialized and costly
medical intervention? It feels unsettling to
have no clear, easy answers or guarantees.

Occasionally I feel my panic subside. I’m
learning some helpful ways to cope; I’m
now convinced I’m not crazy, and I believe
I’ll survive. I’m learning to listen to my
body and be assertive, not aggressive, about
my needs. I'm learning once again to 
not let this journey run my life.
I’m trying to be more than an infertile person.
I'm gaining enthusiasm, joyfulness, and zest for life.

And PS: I wish that I was able to adequately explain that just because I have a child already, doesn't make the desire for more children go away, just like the desire for more children doesn't go away from someone who does not struggle with infertility. Secondary infertility adds in all these feelings, plus the feelings of the child you do have asking for a sibling and worrying about them being socially "normal" as an only child. You also worry that God is keeping you from having more children because you aren't a good mom to the one you have. That's the one that will rip your heart in two and runs through primary infertility and secondary infertility, the thought that you can't get pregnant because God doesn't want you to have a baby. That goes to your very core.