Why do I persist in writing about infertility? Some argue that dwelling on it only holds me back. My answer: I feel an obligation. For me infertility is a special cause. It’s special because there are too many myths and (pardon the pun) misconceptions about it. The fact that many cases are assigned “unexplained” — a black hole in every sense of the term — tells me there’s more work that needs to be done in discussing, diagnosing and treating this condition.
To those who ask if we really need another cause, I respond: would you ask the same question to parents of, for example, autistic children or those advocating on behalf of people who suffer from MS or depression? Each of those causes has greatly benefitted from moving out of the shadows and into the light.
Sure there are days when I want to forget that I ever had a medicine cabinet full of ovulation kits, basal thermometer charts and syringes as well as a refrigerator full of synthetic hormones. I have reveled in the distraction that comes from work projects or pure self-indulgence. I have even tried to focus on all of the downsides of having children.
Then I start thinking about the young women out there who are just beginning to doubt their body’s ability to do what other women’s bodies do so effortlessly. I imagine the hopeful couple sitting in a doctor’s office who hear for the first time that there are “irregularities.” I recall the lonely isolation I once felt — the sense of personal failure and societal alienation. And that’s when forgetting or burying my experience seems oddly selfish.
The Internet, let alone blogs, didn’t exist when I first started pursuing infertility treatment. I was convinced I was an oddity among oddities. Given that clinical textbooks were my only solace, I suffered mostly in silence. How could I not with no one to talk or relate to who knew exactly what I was experiencing or feeling? My journal became the only place where I could attempt to untangle the emotions and thoughts crowding my head. It was at times excruciating to feel so at odds with the world.
Society more often than not marginalizes, ignores, or wose yet, sensationalizes infertility. And we let it because infertility is a painful or embarassing subject. So we hesitate to step forward to open and change the nature of the dialogue. There are millions of us (one in eight couples in the U.S. alone) with some form of infertility walking the planet, and yet myths and misconceptions are the norm. That’s wrong.
I have benefitted from “meeting” people online from around the world who are stepping out of the shadows. We share information, draw comfort and simply feel less alienated by acknowledging each other. Wouldn’t it be great if we could feel this way in our first life, too? Must this only be a second-life phenomenon?
Infertility is a life-altering condition. I write not only for those who are or will face infertility, but for those who don’t or won’t. It’s rewarding to me to hear from readers who tell me that I’ve helped open their eyes or changed their understanding of what it’s like for those among them who can’t have children. And that’s why I continue writing about it.