This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and every year Bloggers Unite invites bloggers to write on a theme. This year’s theme, “Join the Movement…” got me thinking about how my vocabulary around infertility has changed over the past years and how this community has facilitated that change.
Before I discovered my own infertility, I knew very little about the topic. I’d heard of people who “had problems” and new about some of the medical advances that were being made. I didn’t know anyone who was infertile, so I made assumptions about what infertility was like. Some words that might have been in my vocabulary back then are:
I was sure that infertility was something that happened to other people and would never happen to me, but life has a funny way of proving you wrong, and I soon expanded my vocabulary. My new words included:
I had no one to talk to. Infertility doesn’t make for polite dinner table conversation and even the most open-minded people find themselves at a loss for what to say, when the “I” word comes up. And we all know that oftentimes people say the most insensitive and unhelpful things just for the sake of saying something.
I think the most unexpected part of infertility was the complete and utter isolation I felt. I didn’t know were to turn, what questions to ask, and I certainly didn’t have a female peer who’d been through the experience and could share advice or support. I hung around for a while on some online forums, but anytime someone “graduated” and announced a pregnancy success, instead of feeling hopeful for my future, I felt like a big, fat loser. I added new words:
If I was an outcast while I was trying and failing to get pregnant, I felt like a total pariah when I decided it was time to stop treatments and make peace with a life without children. Even though I knew it was right for my husband and me, I felt like I was giving up, that maybe I couldn’t have wanted it enough in the first place, that maybe the next time could be the time it worked, and that I was walking away when I’d been so close to success. And I felt as if I would have to defend that decision because no one would understand.
Then I started writing about my experience. I put aside my shame and silence, ignored the fact that I’m ordinarily a very private person and even something of an introvert. I started blogging and wrote a book and now I’ve found myself new vocabulary about infertility:
I’ve even added:
And that last one’s a biggie. Because of the wonderful women I’ve met through this site, I feel normal. I don’t feel ashamed; I’m not a loser, I’m not a quitter, and my life isn’t meaningless because I don’t have children. I’m just a woman who went through a bad experience and found a way to get through it intact.
So, if there’s a difference I’d like to make, it’s that we change the vocabulary around infertility, that we stop pointing fingers (especially at ourselves), and that the conversation about infertility outcomes openly includes the option of a life without children.
If you’re new this site, thanks for stopping by. The Bloggers Unite challenge for this year is to “talk about how you are making a difference in ways large and small in the lives of people with infertility.” So, here’s what we’re doing at Life Without Baby:
- We are a community of beautiful and compassionate women from all over the world and we are childfree-not-by-choice.
- We talk openly about coming-to-terms with not having children and share with one another support and advice.
- We have a members-only forum where we can talk to one other securely and in privacy (and we’re over 1000 members-strong now, so there’s always something going on.)
- We have a small but growing library of free resources, including books, guides, and videos.
- We offer workshops and programs to deal with grief, healing, and the what’s next?.
- We even get together in-person sometimes with our newfound friends.
If you’re trying to conceive right now, we’re probably the last people you want to hang out with, but should you decide to explore the childfree option, we’ll be here and you’re always welcome.
Join us for a free event:
Tuesday, May 7, 6:00pm PST
How do you know when it’s time to let go of the dream of motherhood? How do you know if you’re ready to walk away and start coming-to-terms with a life without children.
In this free one-hour video discussion, I’ll talk about the desires and fears that keep us on the baby-making crazy train, and the desires and fears that can help us to step off.
You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions as well as talk to one another through a simultaneous chat function.
The group will be private and only open to registered participants, making it a safe place to talk about this difficult topic.
If you’d like to join me, please register here to receive access details and the follow-up recording, in case you can’t make it live.
I look forward to meeting you then.