With National Infertility Awareness Week approaching (April 22-28), and my husband’s and my recent decision to begin trying to expand our family, I have been thinking a lot about our first journey in trying to conceive and the women I know who have or are currently struggling with their own journey.
Infertility is much more common than we might think it is. Some sources say that 10% of women suffer from infertility, some sources say 1 in 8 couples experience infertility issues, and other sources state it is 1 out of every 6 couples. I am not a math person, so I can’t say for sure if all those statistics are the same on average, but I do know that’s a lot of people having a hard time having babies!
While I am not someone who has an issue getting pregnant, I am someone who seems to have a hard time sustaining a pregnancy. It took us 14 months to get pregnant with my son, but within that 14 months we had 3 miscarriages. Three separate heartbreaking events, that we struggled through, and couldn’t understand exactly why. It was made even more heartbreaking when over a handful of people in my life announced their (accidental) pregnancies. I know that seems bitter, but it is what it is. We wanted a baby, were actively taking steps (ovulation tracking, vitamins, doctor consults, etc.), and these lucky women seemed like they could get pregnant (and stay pregnant) by merely thinking about being pregnant. It was hard, but we kept on trying. We also recently experienced a miscarriage in January, a month after our son turned one. It was an unexpected pregnancy, but it didn’t suck any less.
Anyway, this post isn’t about my journey. This post is about the frustration I feel because people don’t talk about it. I understand that some people might feel uncomfortable about infertility and loss, or maybe the couple experiencing infertility and loss aren’t ready to talk about it, but when they are, for the love of all that is holy, listen to them. The great part about it is, they’re probably not looking for your advice or input or tips, so you don’t have to say anything at all. They just need you to listen so they can say it out lout and get it off of their chest. You’d think after Disney semi-tackled the issue, we’d feel better about discussing it by now…(Side note: UP! was one of THE BEST movies…ever.)
Over the last few months, I have seen social media posts from women feeling sad and defeated. They have hinted at their situation without fully revealing it, and my heart hurts for them. In my own situation, I have avoided talking about it to spare others the discomfort that comes with the topic. Because people didn’t want to talk about it, I started to feel that my feeling and frustration were invalid. Like I was overreacting. I turned to online forums for support, which is so great, that there are online communities to help you through hard times, but sometimes you want to talk to your ___________ (friend, brother, mom, cousin, etc.) about it.
Others’ unwillingness to talk about it might make someone feel like they shouldn’t talk about, further shoving them into the hole of loneliness and solitude that infertility and loss can be. If you know someone experiencing these things, give them time to come to you. Ask how they are. Don’t offer cliche advice. Just open your heart, open your arms, and listen. Sometimes it will be hard and there will be tears, but sometimes there will be jokes and laughter. The talking isn’t for you, it’s for them.