The Side of Infertility That’s Still Very Much Taboo
Infertility isn’t glamorous. It isn’t always inspirational quotes and images of the ocean on tumblr. It isn’t always holding hands in waiting rooms and wishing the people you’ve met along the way, “Good luck.”
There’s a side of infertility that’s becoming more widely acknowledged in our society, but is still very much taboo. It’s the anger. The sadness. The grief. Nobody talks about these things because we’re supposed to remain positive. And while a positive attitude is important, we’re all only human. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do is find a balance between remaining positive and being human.
The day my wife told me we’re going to be aunts again is a day I’ll never forget. I cried the type of gut-wrenching sobs I’ve only cried two times before in my life: When my mother was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, and when my brother died. I spent the entire day on the couch eating peanut butter out of the jar while watching “Roseanne” reruns. I remember something Aunt Jackie said to Darlene in one particular episode: “Life is unfair. Life is this big unfair thing.”
Life sure is this big unfair thing, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Here we are, months out of our news with thousands of dollars less in the bank, and no baby. Procedure after procedure followed by surgery, and no baby. While it seems like the rest of the world tries once, twice, or not at all, we have to remain positive.
I cried so hard and so long that day because I hadn’t let myself cry before. I would shed a few tears here and there, and then go about my day. I never actually took the time to sit with myself and my feelings. I believed that if I let myself feel them, I was admitting that this would never work. I also let people make me believe that my feelings are somehow unimportant. After all, all I have is a combination of fertility problems. I don’t have a terminal illness… However, the truth is I have every right to feel my feelings, as unpleasant as they are sometimes. I’m grieving something that never existed while trying to balance my feelings towards everyone else’s happiness.
Because infertility often gets swept under the rug, those who experience it are left feeling alone. And feeling alone when you already feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders isn’t a good combination.
My advice to anyone currently walking this journey is simply be kind to yourself. In addition to giving myself permission to feel, I’ve learned to give myself more “me” time and not feel guilty for treating myself every now and then. If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of anything else. If I can’t take care of anything at all, how will I ever find the light at the end of this tunnel?
Though some days I can see it more than others, I know that there is a way out. There is a bright light at the end of this journey, even if it isn’t what I’ve envisioned.