Five things fertility problems have taught me

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.

sara

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!

27 Comments on Five things fertility problems have taught me

  1. Diana
    November 25, 2013 at 9:11 am (4 years ago)

    In my experience, this one causes the most tears, and the most happiness, but also makes you rather than breaks you. And it also brings home the astonishing miracle that creating another life is.
    I had the same issues Sara and I now have a lovely son. Never give up. You have time :)

    Reply
    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      November 25, 2013 at 9:13 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you so much Diana. It’s not in our nature to give up, I really do believe there will be children in our lives one way or another, and that it will be a miracle however it happens. :) Thank you for the lovely comment xxxxxx

      Reply
  2. Harriet Rouse
    November 25, 2013 at 9:49 am (4 years ago)

    What a brave *but incredibly important* post Sara. Pre kids I was guilty of many insensitive questions (not from being insensitive per se, but just because I had NO idea what a seemingly innocent question can do to someone who is dealing with their own issues in a quiet and dignified way). It is a long road, all of it. Lots of love (and thanks for posting this, because I think there’s an awful lot of people who will read it and get a level of insight into just what a seemingly little question like ‘are you pregnant’ can do to someone)…

    Reply
    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      November 25, 2013 at 9:52 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you so, so much Harriet for the lovely words. It’s the most frequent question I get, when are we having kids etc. It’s always made harder by the fact that the condition I have that makes it harder means that it can sometimes look as if I’m pregnant, dizzy spells, mood swings etc. so people jump to their own conclusions and ask the worst possible question!

      I have a general policy of answering the question honestly – as uncomfortable as it can be to share that about myself I find it’s the easiest way.

      Reply
  3. Amanda
    November 25, 2013 at 10:05 am (4 years ago)

    Sara, I don’t often come to comment here, but what an incredible thing to speak out on. I don’t know why there is so much secrecy associated with fertility issues, but considering how hard they can be, the silence is all the more harmful.

    As someone who married (young) two years ago, I am also tired of the baby question, because my husband and I don’t plan to have children. I have also started answering honestly to this question, and it is usually followed by either a patronising comment to me (‘oh don’t worry, you will want babies eventually’) or a rude comment to my husband (‘she says that NOW, but you just wait’).

    Until we start talking about our choices, people don’t know to stop asking. People don’t know just how personal an issue this can be, and you’ve illustrated this in a very dignified manner. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      November 25, 2013 at 10:09 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks so much for the comment, Amanda. It is a strange state of affairs when it’s considered normal and polite to ask the rudest and most invasive questions, but rude, blunt and overly familiar to reply with an honest answer.

      How dare anyone judge you for such a personal choice? If you don’t want children, don’t have them – having them to please other people isn’t fair to them and isn’t right for you.

      If you change your mind one day that’s your prerogative, but assuming that you will just because you’re a woman and the snide innuendo that goes with it must be so irritating and demoralising.

      Well done you for standing up for your choices – I wish you didn’t have to xxx

      Reply
    • Nikki @KnotsAndKisses
      November 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh I’m so with you on this one Amanda! I actually finally flipped at my ‘mother in law’ (we’re not married) the other day who had just pushed it once too many times asking when she was going to have grandchildren .. and assuming, because she changed her mind that I would be bound to do the same thing. At 36 I’m pretty damn sure now that I won’t be! As you can tell it makes me so angry that people are so patronising about peoples choices.
      Great post by the way Sara … as always xxx

      Reply
  4. Fay chandler
    November 25, 2013 at 10:58 am (4 years ago)

    Hi Sara. Reading this post was very touching. My John and I are going through the same thing at the moment. 3 years of trying with regular disappointment. Test after test too.

    Reply
    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      November 25, 2013 at 11:05 am (4 years ago)

      So sorry to hear that Fay. I know how hard it is to get your hopes up every month against your better judgement and to face disappointment, it’s been almost 18 months for us. Sending lots of love to you guys xxx

      Reply
  5. Karen - SmashingTheGlass.com
    November 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm (4 years ago)

    An incredibly important and inspiring piece Sara. Through talking openly about it in the way that you do, conversations of answers, support and help will be ignited.

    At the ripe old age of 38 I have many friends that have experienced fertility issues and eventually have been blessed with the outcomes they always dreamed of. You have a wonderfully positive attitude and thank you again for speaking publicly on a subject that is not discussed in public nearly enough.

    As an aside you should be incredibly proud of the life you have created for yourself already at such a young age! It’s pretty awe-inspiring. Sounds like you are the kind of woman that will achieve whatever she wants and I am sure that for you and John, this will be no different.

    Reply
  6. Charli
    November 25, 2013 at 3:08 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m so pleased to read this. My partner and I have had a rough 2 and a half yrs ttc and now we’ve had our first fertility treatment and are pregnant. I’ve started my own personal blog and may put it out there one day!

    If people didnt assume it was easy for everyone much of the heartache would be taken away instead of feeling useless comparing ourselves to society and the endless questions about just deciding to have a baby and popping one out 9 months later. ..for some its just not that easy. Its been exactly 27months for us and we’re very early on and have an awfully long way to go. .but we’re the closest we’ve ever been to having the baby we’ve been longing for. Sone people take what they have for granted unfortunately and more needs to be highlighted so that people may start to understand how emotionally draining the whole process is for those of us that are less able to conceive xx

    Reply
    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      November 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm (4 years ago)

      *whispers congrats* it’s such a long road and I hope we will get there too and that it works out beautifully for you.

      I’ve had all sorts, the best I’ve heard is that getting pregnant is something “any idiot can do”. Charming ;) not this idiot apparently!

      Hang in there lovely, find people who understand and choose who you confide in wisely if you’re feeling fragile about things. I know too well how easily a wrong word can throw you right off balance. Xxxx

      Reply
  7. Em
    November 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Something a friend went through made me realise how insensitive it can be to ask either whether someone will be having kids soon or whether they are pregnant. Funny how people seem to not think twice about asking these very personal questions. I try not to ask or make such comments anymore.

    With regard to your points on adoption – the more I read, the more shocked I became. I didn’t realise most of what you said and than you for raising awareness – if adoption is something we end up needing to consider, it is good to have more idea of the possible issues.

    I wish you all the best whatever the future brings and again want to say thank you for such a positive and eye opening post x

    Reply
    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      November 26, 2013 at 8:51 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks Em :) yes there’s a whole world of information when it comes to adoption that most people wouldn’t realise until they really looked into it! Not an easy process xxx

      Reply
  8. Annie
    November 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm (4 years ago)

    This is a very important post Sara… Thank you for sharing this… The conditions for adoption break my heart… (Body fascism again) this makes me want to dedicate more efforts into altering these policies… Xx

    Reply
  9. Kate
    November 26, 2013 at 8:31 am (4 years ago)

    Thank you Sara. It is good to know that people are willing to speak out; I myself am off to hospital tomorrow to deal with my own condition. Your post has come at a very good time for me as I have been working myself up about it. It’s nice to know that other people are able and willing to speak about their problems. I don’t currently have a partner but like you “I know” I want children; whether I have them naturally, foster or adopt. Thank you for your blogs, they are so very helpful. I wish you and John all the best with your future xx

    Reply
  10. LinsDCB
    November 26, 2013 at 9:15 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. We have been TTC for over 5 years now and have been “diagnosed” with unexplained infertility. We have been married 7 years and pretty much from the get-go people have been asking when we would be having children. Then, we got tons of “oh well, it takes a REALLY strong couple to want to have children, may be you guys just aren’t there yet” which actually really made me want to turn violent!! People just don’t think.

    Similarly to you, I also feel totally blessed to have a wonderful life with a great job, and also running my own business. I wake up every day understanding it is a gift just to be alive. And I too have a fantastically supportive husband, and we know that it may be us two minus children for the rest of our days. Again, this is something that people don’t seem to get and/or feel threatened by. I keep getting told “of course your husband is the most important person now who you love the most but once you have children he will be bottom of the pile”. Well, I pity those husbands that applies to.

    The next part of our journey starts early Jan as we have been approved for NHS IVF treatment. I’m excited and scared to see what that holds. I wish you and your Mr all the happiness and love on your own journey xx

    Reply
  11. Ruby
    November 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm (4 years ago)

    I know of quite a few people who have struggled with fertility. I think that it is really brave of you to lay part of your heart for all to see. It was very touching.

    It seems to me like you have seriously considered adoption. I am just wondering if you could share more about that because I really did not know that being overweight is a hindrance or that you need to put in childcare hours too prior to adopting. I have not really seen much prior to this blog about that. Would definitely be keen to read more on that.

    Reply
    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      November 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm (4 years ago)

      It differs agency to agency, social worker to social worker. The idea is you’re meant to have the energy to care for a child and they want you to stay alive until the child is twenty. Individual assessment decides that.

      Also the childcare hours differs agency to agency, region to region xxx

      Reply
      • Ruby
        November 28, 2013 at 9:06 pm (4 years ago)

        Thanks for replying. I truly hope you get all your dreams fulfilled.

        Reply
  12. Anna
    December 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm (4 years ago)

    I couldn’t agree more with all that you have said, especially about this being an issue nobody seems to want to talk about or acknowledge. In a similar boat to you but not brave enough (yet?) to write about it on my blog. Also have an amazing husband who reminds me every day that I am loved beyond reason, no matter what. Good wishes for whatever life has in mind for you xxx

    Reply
  13. Sarah Bryden
    December 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm (4 years ago)

    Wow Sara, you are so brave. My husband & I are currently going through this. The pain can be unimaginable, like grieving for something you didn’t even have. However, i totally agree with you in that i know myself so much better now. I know what i want & who i am. I like to think that when the time comes whether biologically or via adoption i will be a stronger, better person, & more importantly, parent because of it.
    Sending you big hugs and wishing you happiness in whatever the future holds x

    Reply

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