If Only I Were Fertile. Why Didn't I Think of That?
This blog is to share. It’s to share with those in your life that are not infertile and never struggled to have their family.
“What you put your bodies through.”
That’s a statement that a woman I was chatting with at a conference recently tossed at me about infertility treatment. A woman pushing an endearing two year old in a stroller.
It felt like a hand grenade. And yes, it landed and then exploded. I saw red. I got pissed off.
While I’ve been working in the field of infertility for over two decades and spent over six and a half years trying to conceive, I’ve never become inured to that type of comment.
Maybe you don’t hear it the same way that I do. Yes, when infertility becomes apparent, we do put our bodies through a lot. This is quite true.
Maybe I’m oversensitive.
Infertility Treatment – Is It A Choice?
How I hear it is that it’s a choice that we make to put our bodies through a lot. And at it's essence, of course it’s a choice. We who are “infertile” or subfertile or struggling with infertility; however you look at it, we do make a choice when we undergo fertility treatment. We do make the choice to take medications, to have our blood drawn regularly, to have procedures that are uncomfortable, even painful. We do make these choices because we want what you have, a baby and a family. (By the way, we have NOT made the choice that it would simply be more fun or more convenient to become pregnant this way, in a doctor’s office; that was not a choice. Our reproductive systems, our partner’s and ours, aren’t working the way that they need to be able to conceive. We need medical help and are grateful that there is help available.)
We do choose what we put our bodies through.
Why? Well, what’s our alternative?
If month after month of trying on our own to become pregnant turns into year after year and there’s no baby, what is our alternative? If we’ve tried eating right, timing sexual relations, sleeping well, exercising properly, and taking supplements that we’ve heard can help, and still there’s no baby, what then? If we’ve tried every alternative health idea that makes sense to us, cut out all aspects of our lives that could get in the way of a healthy pregnancy, taken the vacation to relax, given it time, put it in God’s hands, lived our lives hoping and praying and nothing has happened, and there’s still no baby, then what’s our alternative?
Childfree living is what’s left.
If you are jumping to adoption or fostering or mentoring, please just stop right there. Those may be options down the line for those of us trying to become pregnant. But they are not second choices (and should not be) and they are not the automatic next step that you may think that they are. Trust us, there is a process to ending trying to have a biological child that is more complex than, “we can’t get pregnant, let’s adopt”.
So, yes, we put our bodies through this. And you, fertile lady, who looks down your nose at me for “what I put my body through”, talked in the next sentence about your baby. You talked about your son, with adoration in your voice and love shining through your eyes. You leaned over and whispered loving things into your son’s ear and he smiled and called you mommy.
I wonder what you would have put your body through to have brought him into the world if you weren’t fertile.
P.S. I wasn’t very nice to that woman. I wasn’t mean. I just wasn’t nice. And if you are the friend of someone who is working with a fertility specialist so that they can become pregnant, if you say something like that woman did? Your friend may not be so nice either. And consider how hurtful your comment will feel. Not may feel, will feel. Because really? No one chooses infertility. And if you make the comment to your friend while holding your baby in your arms, rethink it. Or expect a less than pleasant response.
Because no one chooses infertility. No one.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.