Infertility, Fertility, Sub-Fertility – Which Do You Prefer?
One year ago today, I posted the blog below. Language continues to intrigue me. The language of trying to conceive continues to evolve.
Recently something I posted received a comment that I was being negative because I used the word infertility instead of fertility. I was part of the driving force that built The American Infertility Association, and several years later, we changed the name to The American Fertility Association. Recently the organization changed its name again, to Path2Parenthood. This name beautifully reflects the mission statement and work that they do.
Language continues to evolve. What we say and how we say it matters. When we said infertility and disease, The American Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control, recommended insurance coverage.
Maybe the important thing to consider is this: what shuts you up, sends up walls, makes it impossible to hear?
Does fertility sound like a relief or an overly optimistic term?
How about sub-fertility? How does that one sit? A perfect halfway point or a silly compromise?
Infertility, Fertility, or Sub-Fertility
Even when presumably we speak the same language, the nuances are varied and the true intention of the speaker or sayer does not always translate accurately to the listener. And the listener listens with their own ears, their specific life experiences and the moment that they are in.
I have had the experience of sitting in Ladies Night In (Norwalk, tonight- June 2, come join us) and having two women report hearing the same thing from one of the RMACT doctors or other team members and have polar opposite reactions. No exaggeration. Polar opposite.
As in, “I love when my doctor acts like a cheerleader and says “go team, go! It makes me realize that I am part of a team and that I am not alone”.
The woman sitting directly next to her responds with this, “I hate when my doctor (same doctor) says that. It trivializes what I am going through. I’m not a baseball team!”
I kid you not. This actually happens all the time. We hear this all the time about our team members.
You’re probably not surprised though.
Experiencing the Ups and Downs of Fertility Treatment
Maybe noticing your own reactions, you see the same thing. One day, one minute, you can hear something and it feels soothing and just right and a different day or time of the day, the very same comment said in the very same tone by the very same person feels grating and irritating. Maybe even optimistic and yes, stupid.
I think of it sometimes as snap, crackle and pop. There are those times that nothing, absolutely nothing, NOTHING will be received well. All I will do is some variation of snap, crackle or pop. Never what someone who is trying to help, (doing it badly or not) wants to hear or feel directed back by them.
How we receive things. How they are offered.
Language is maybe how we meld the two together.
While I’m not responsible for how someone else receives what I say, I do feel responsible for being sensitive to how I contribute to someone else’s pain.
Do you consider your listener? Do you wonder for a moment, before you speak, what they are carrying around? That might prevent them from hearing you? That might take in what you want to say and have it detonate deep inside?
Be Aware of Others, Be Open & Be Willing
This isn’t really a matter of being more careful with your words. Or a matter of listening more carefully to your intention when you speak.
It’s really just about being more aware period.
Less reactive. Less defensive.
More open. More willing.
And the worry about the hurt you might feel with being more vulnerable? Reactive hurts a lot, defensive hurts a lot. Those feelings burrow deep in and make themselves at home. Those feelings make it harder to hear anything that is said with true love.
Being vulnerable takes courage. If you are reading this blog, you are being courageous. If you are considering what I am trying, gently, to bring to you, you are brave beyond measure.
If we lead with our hearts, they can get broken. That’s a prevailing theme. If we don’t lead with our hearts, we are at risk at living defensive, sad and hurting lives.
A gentle challenge. For one week, will you try something? For one day? Or one hour?
Take three deep breaths in and out. Once an hour. Observe how you are feeling. Let yourself settle down.
Let’s talk in a week and see how it’s going.
Who would like to join me this week?
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.