I sat in the waiting room for my first appointment at the fertility clinic and I decided that now was the time. I started writing my "coming out" post where I told everyone on my Facebook feed about my infertility. All those comments about my husband and I being “too busy” to have a baby? Lies. The truth was we had been trying for the past three years to get pregnant and had been hopelessly unsuccessful. Along with my diagnosis, I sat in that waiting room and wrote about how much my husband and I would need the support of our friends and family in the coming months. As I hit the send button I experienced a moment of panic: How will people react to my most private confession?
I received replies to my post immediately and what I read choked me up; comment after comment coming in, from our friends and family and even acquaintances, showering both of us with love and support. They called us “brave” for coming forward and sharing something so personal. By the time our doctor came in for our appointment, I had tears streaming down my face. It was at that moment that I decided to start a blog to document our journey to become parents and I also decided to be very, very open about the experience. Here are five reasons why I choose to be open about our infertility:
1. I was Tired of Keeping our Infertility a Secret
If you’re married or in a committed relationship, you’ve likely had the question asked of you, and probably more than once. You know the one. The query that, while on the surface, seems pretty innocent, is, in reality, actually entirely inappropriate to even be asking. It goes a little like this: “So when are you two going to have kids?” No pressure, right? My husband and I always were able to field this question by simply giving a little laugh and explaining how both of us were in school right now and were “way too busy” to think about kids. This response always garnered a satisfied nod, but as graduation day started quickly approaching for both of us, we knew we needed a new explanation.
It was at this point that I realized how tired I was of hiding that the real issue wasn't when we were going to have kids, but that we actually had been trying - and had yet to be successful. I thought that perhaps if everyone knew the truth, they would stop asking when. And guess what? They did. When we opened up about our infertility, I felt like I could finally breathe again.
2. I Want Others to Understand that Infertility is a Disease
Once the secret about our defective reproductive plumbing was revealed, people replaced their when questions with well-intended, yet often terrible advice on how we could successfully become pregnant. As the months went by, I had the all of the insider tips - everything from standing on my head after sex to “just adopting and you’ll get pregnant.”
It wasn’t until we started in vitro fertilization (IVF), and then more so, when we began our donor egg IVF cycles, that people finally started realizing that maybe, just maybe, our infertility couldn't be attributed to “stress” or “thinking about it” too much. I put myself out there to show people that the cure for infertility isn’t always about finally getting away on vacation and conceiving a baby after a bottle of chardonnay. That often, infertility is caused by as a medical condition, like diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) or any number of problems with sperm.
I wanted others to know that on top of the emotional impact, that dealing with infertility is physically demanding and often requires frequent injections of medication and numerous doctor appointments. Like other medical concerns, infertility is also a financial burden that included endless fights with our insurance company. I wanted these medical aspects of the experience to be better understood.
3. So Others Dealing with Infertility Know They Aren’t Alone
Over the years, writing has become more than just sharing my story with others. After I began my blog, I started to receive emails from other women who told me that reading my blog had made them feel less isolated during the darkest time in their life. Some people are unable to come out with their struggles because they lack family and friends who are capable of understanding. So instead, they read blogs like mine. I've received messages as readers of my blog began their IVF cycles and we rejoiced together over the highs and grieved the devastating losses. I think that by sharing my own journey, I am making it clear to others that those go through the experience of infertility don’t have to go at it alone.
4. To Remind Myself I Wasn’t Battling Infertility Alone
Infertility can be so isolating. Even after putting my entire personal life out on the Internet for the last four years, I still find that those closest to me continue to not understand my struggles. It was the very act of putting myself out there that opened me up to a world of other people who also blogged about their infertility. I have met so many women who now make up my tribe.
We also found support for my husband. Soon after starting my blog, we discovered a couple’s infertility support group at our church and some of the people we have met have become some of our closest friends. It still amazes me how much brighter my life has become through sharing details of the worst thing that ever happened to me.
5. To Show Others that I'm Not Ashamed of My Infertility
Infertility is hidden by many couples because it is often viewed as something to be ashamed of or there is the idea that someone is to blame for the condition. I know many women who have successfully gone on to have a baby and still feel they can’t share the story of their baby’s conception with their family. While I respect that others are unable or unwilling to speak out, it was always important to me to put myself out there to help normalize infertility. I want to show others that some families start from ways other than passionate nights and vacations in the tropics. I want others to know that sometimes a baby comes after multiple years of effort that include many fertility procedures, a substantial financial cost, and countless tears shed. And this is nothing to be ashamed of.