Yesterday, I had a mini-meltdown after my husband’s Aunt asked me how things were going and then proceeded to give me her opinion (or observations as she put it) about our fertility situation.
I defended myself over and over again until I broke down into tears and my husband told his Aunt to drop the conversation.
As I went over the conversation in my head later on, I found myself having to remind myself of the following (in)fertility facts.
1. Relaxation may help the process, but it’s not the main reason why you haven’t conceived or carried a baby to term.
“Just relax”. Those are fighting words. Straight up.
Resolve.org has the best response to this statement: Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of “relaxing” are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as “infertile” until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren’t infertile but just need to “relax.” Those that remain are truly infertile.
2. A vacation may help to ease your mind and give you some time to reconnect with your spouse, but you are not guaranteed to come home pregnant.
Fertility treatments eat away at finances and vacation time. Each month, we require time off for appointments and extra cash to pay for treatment and drugs.
If any fertile would like to speak to my boss about paid time off and donate a nice all expenses paid trip to us, I’d be more than willing to test our their ridiculous theory that vacations = babies.
We’ve taken many vacations throughout our journey, but that hasn’t changed where we are at today: still (in)fertile.
Since my husband and I are going out of province for our upcoming IVF cycle, we are actually considering it a vacation of sorts.
3. Minimizing the situation or offering your fertile (meaning unsubstantiated) advice is not supporting us on our journey.
I can handle when a fertile shares a hopeful story of a friend who conceived via fertility treatment.
I can’t handle when someone offers advice that doesn’t make any sense at all!
Example: “Maybe you should stop acupuncture? Going to all of those appointments must just cause you more stress”.
Couples going through fertility treatments have a ton of appointments and a very strict schedule: follicle scans, pills, needles, egg retrievals, transfers, blood work, etc.
You may think that adding an extra appointment for acupuncture or yoga here and there may create more stress, but these activities are known to reduce stress and compliment fertility treatments.
I do my best to follow our doctor’s recommendations. I wouldn’t be doing anything that decreased my chances of conceiving. I know myself, my body and my limitations. If something is too much for me, I’ll make the decision to cut it. Thanks for your opinion, but that decision is not yours to make.
4. (In)fertility is not anyone’s fault.
Throughout our journey, I’ve felt like both side of the family have tried to pin our unexplained diagnosis on the other half of the couple (meaning my parents thought it was my husband’s fault and his family thought it was mine).
Statistics from Resolve.org show that (in)fertility cases are divided into:
- 35% female factor
- 35% male factor
- 20% a combination of male/female factors
- 10% unexplained
It doesn’t matter what factor defines your diagnosis. You chose to pursue the path to parenthood. As a couple, you are on this journey together.
I truly believe that anyone who faces (in)fertility ends up being a stronger person in the end. We learn to communicate better with our spouses, our friends, our family and our doctors. We become advocates for our health and wellness. We recognize our limitations, but continue to push ourselves further than we ever thought would be possible.
None of us asked to be (in)fertile. We were diagnosed with a medical condition that is beyond our control.
If you are faced with nagging, insensitive comments, or ignorance from your friends or family, just remember that you don’t have to tolerate it. Your emotional well being should always be top of mind. Excuse yourself from the situation, leave the premise, tell them you don’t want to discuss it, or defend yourself and shed a few tears – like I did. Whatever you choose, just remember that there is no reason to be ashamed.
(In)fertility doesn’t define you. It’s just a part of your journey, your story, your life at this moment.
And when the going gets tough, always remember: us (in)fertiles are in this together.