How to Talk About Infertility

A few months ago, I was interacting with a mother and her little girl. I made a comment about how I adore children and the mom asked me, “If you love kids so much, why don’t you have any?” I could not have been more surprised. Dumbfounded, I thought, Wait a minute! Someone can just ask you that? I panicked and didn’t know what to say. I wanted to give an appropriate response but I honestly couldn’t answer why I didn’t have any kids. My husband and I weren't using birth control, we were making an effort, and we wanted to get pregnantit just wasn’t happening.

How do you casually share the struggles of your fragile heart with an acquaintance? I didn’t want to make the situation awkward, and yet, it was an awkward question! In the end, I blurted out something about waiting for the “right timing”.

For nearly a year, I only talked about infertility with my husband and my best friend. On several occasions, I was asked by acquaintances and coworkers when Jk and I would start a family. With my walls high and my ego low, I would quickly and dismissively tell half-truths. I carried a dark, heavy secret because I was embarrassed and didn’t want to inconvenience to anyone. I was ashamed of my body and my inability to do something that seemed to come so easily for so many. I didn’t know how to talk about what I was going through without feeling like a burden to others.

Fast forward to February 2017. I am waiting in the longest passport line, talking on the phone with my best friend. We are talking about infertility, the possibility of adoption, and my upcoming appointment at a fertility clinic. I’m not talking loud enough to be obnoxious, but I’m not whispering. I am surrounded by strangers who can clearly hear my conversation. Shortly after I’ve hung up, a man standing in front of me turns and says, “I think I heard you talking about pregnancy... Are you expecting?” My heart swells. I smile and tell him, “We actually haven’t been able to get pregnant for a while now. But we are seeing a fertility doctor and we are really excited about it!” I’m not embarrassed. In fact, I feel self-confident!
One year ago, I wasn’t ready to have an open conversation with a stranger about infertility. Heck, I wasn’t even ready to have an open conversation with my mother. So what has changed? 

I’ve learned few things since then. 1) Infertility and pregnancy loss are much more common that I ever thought. 2) You can't change the questions you are asked, but you can change how you answer them. 3) The moment you open up, you are exposed to a community of other people who previously thought that they were suffering alone. If only we would share our experiences, these topics wouldn’t be so taboo. Lately I’ve been realizing that infertility is just another part of my life, rather than a tragic curse. Just as I would talk about my uncle breaking his leg on Christmas morning, I can share the fact that on Monday morning, my doctor inflated a balloon inside my belly!

Believe me, there are still hard days when the darkness comes and knocks me down. That doesn’t mean that I am obligated to blog about my every woe. I just think that if we are more open with our insecurities, we will see that our problems aren’t so unique. If we talk about the hard things, maybe they won't be so hard.

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