This is genuinely the hardest thing I’ve written in a very long time. I’m writing this because I know from experience that there are millions of couples out there struggling with this issue and because my blog is about helping people. For a long time I’ve been sitting on this out of fear of people knowing about our issues conceiving, and I’ve decided that it’s time to break the taboo that keeps so many people suffering in silence.
Yes, this is deeply personal, I won’t go into the hows and whys, but I’m also done talking in whispers and being ashamed of something that isn’t my fault and can’t be helped. We have a squeamish culture about our bodies, and I understand that some people may think this is an overshare – but I call it a necessity.
For whatever reason John and I are not easily able to conceive. It won’t necessarily be impossible for us but we’ve been trying a very long time and it might not happen for us.
However, I wanted to share my experience because I don’t want other women who are given this news to be crippled with devastation. I have a happy life and I wanted to share the whys and hows of that. So here are the five things that fertility problems have taught me:
Procreation is a sensitive issue
Before we started trying, I probably, thoughtlessly, asked many of my married friends about babies. Now I wouldn’t dream of asking that dreaded question, eyebrows raised suggestively, an annoying, knowing look on my face. I know better now – sometimes that question isn’t just irritating, it’s painful. Unless someone brings up children or volunteers information, I never, ever ask.
I also never, ever, ever offer unsolicited health advice. I’ll write more in-depth about that at another time, but everyone who’s ever had any kind of illness or affliction will know what I mean. If people want your advice, they will ask for it (PS, I don’t want advice). The temptation is to try and fix things for others, but sometimes they can’t be fixed, or if they can, people have already done their own research and come to their own conclusions about treatment.
I KNOW I want children
Before I knew there was any issue, I had never really confronted my feelings about having children. Yes, it’s frustrating to know now that I’m ready and would love to have a child but can’t, but at the same time it’s comforting to know that if and when it does happen for us, I’ll be ready – and that child will be so loved and wanted.
I’m so happy where I am
Having said that, despite wanting something I may not be able to have, I’m also much more satisfied in general. When I first received the news, it made me look at everything in my life.
It completely knocked me over – our whole life plan had been derailed, our dreams of being parents seemed to be shattered. I remember literally wailing-crying to a friend that I couldn’t be happy without a baby.
Then I stopped and asked myself why that was the case. I have a job I love with relatively little stress, a steady income and a great quality of life. I have a home (that I also work in) that’s beautifully decorated, I never go without the things I need. And most importantly, I have an incredibly loving relationship with my amazingly supportive husband – he would do anything to make me happy and that is more than good enough for me! I would rather live the rest of my life with him and nobody else than with the wrong person and twenty children.
Yes, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still have its awful moments – that it didn’t bring up feelings of grief, isolation, jealousy, self pity.
No matter whether we end up conceiving, adopting or not having children at all, I know that I wouldn’t trade my life, or my relationship, for anything. Unless you’re happy where you’re at, you won’t be happy when you get wherever it is you want to go.
I’m much more aware of adoption issues
Who knew adopting in the UK is so difficult? And who knew there were so many children who desperately need a home? Who knew that the very syndrome that causes infertility can rule some women out of adopting on health grounds? Who knew being overweight and healthy, but still overweight, could be a barrier to adoption? Who knew that many adoption agencies need you to put in serious childcare hours before you’ll even be considered? Who knew it was such a marathon? It was never on my radar before – it really is now. Even if we do have biological children, adoption is now something I would seriously consider for reasons other than wanting to fill a family and being so aware of what’s involved and going into the system with open eyes is invaluable.
It showed me how strong I am
On paper, the news that we had fertility issues came at the worst possible time, just as I was dusting myself off from a very difficult bereavement. Facing all of those issues head on, going through them instead of avoiding them and knowing that I can be happy through the hard times showed me exactly what I’m made of. From what I hear, parenthood is tough. I remain optimistic that at some point in my life, I will be a parent – good to know I’m strong enough to handle it!