Doubt & Fear

Infertility. The word isn't straightforward. Infertility is not so much a diagnosis as a retrospective description of circumstance. One in eight are affected by infertility. A person is diagnosed as infertile if they haven't conceived after one year of trying. This allows for categorization; it triggers progression through the medical system. It is, however, a situation-based diagnosis. Despite trying to conceive, we have no baby and, therefore, we are infertile. A "normal" couple has a 15-25% of conceiving in any given month. That hope, that dream, ties us to the possibility that I could be pregnant at any moment.

But I am not. Again and again. And we try to grieve our loss. But what is our loss? There was no pregnancy, no child, and, by simple logic, we should feel no real grief. And when there is no publicly known event to create an expectation in others that we might be grieving, it becomes a private pain, something that some might call invalid. It seems to be over nothing more that trying and hoping and hoping and trying. The grief and stress over a death or a divorce or diagnosis of an illness is understandable. Once revealed, all sympathy, empathy and understanding is given to those afflicted. 

Deciding to start a family is an exciting part of your life. The first few months of trying are spontaneous and exciting. But then, at a certain point it becomes almost comical. The smiley face on a plastic stick begins to dictate your life. Most couples get to surprise the world with a pregnancy whenever they see fit to share. The joy of conceiving a child is ripped out of our hands and put into the cold, sterile ones of multiple doctors and nurses. This is not where you expect to end up. And we don't get definitive results; we have percentages of success based on age and a whole host of other factors beyond our control.

As weeks turn into months which melt into years, you begin to question whether you will ever have a baby, wonder why life is unfair. Doubt slowly creeps into your life. There is no one word or way to express in what way infertility encapsulates all aspects of our lives: home, marriage, sex, food, future, friends, family. I struggle to put my feelings into words as I write this; I've hidden the worst of this from my nearest and dearest. But, I feel myself weakening behind the facade. Is it embarrassment for how much pain we feel? It's almost a feeling of shame to have this diagnosis. We are stuck in an endless circle of emotion. Will our parents be disappointed we can't give them a grandchild? Will we ever experience pregnancy? Will I ever be a mother? Most importantly, will our relationship hold strong?

But we hope, and we see our friends getting pregnant, and we get a little sad. But then I get mad at myself because I want to feel happy for them, and it's not fair to them. And then someone else gets pregnant and we get a little sadder. I see people screaming at their kids at the store, and just die inside a bit because we'd do anything to have a toddler to scream at. We don't want to hate people, truly we don't, but the jealousy still creeps in.

Many of us, myself and F included, have known grief before. We've lost dear family members or friends. These losses are terrible events; yet that grief can progress. It passes through it's various stages and, eventually, one day, you will be okay. But this grief has no event and no end. This grief has me in unpredictable tears. This is the pain of infertility. We want to tell you our pain. Our suffering. But people don't talk about it. We spend all day thinking about it. Managing it. Trying not to burst into tears. And then, one day, doctors start to talk about Next Steps. And Next Steps are very expensive. 

We all have fears. And I am fearful of our Next Steps.



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