Last week was National Infertility Awareness week. Infertility is medically defined as a person who has tried to conceive for over 12 months with no success. I had no idea of this definition until my doctor told me that I fell into this category.
With this in mind I wanted to do something a little different this week. I’ve written an open letter to people (in general) who ask “When will you have more kids?”. Many people ask this, and it seems to be a common question. But with awareness in mind, I just wanted to give those people a glimpse of how that question is received on the other side.
Last, I just want to say if you suffer from infertility, you are not alone. Many of us suffer in silence, but please know that I am with you. I’m rooting for you. But more importantly I’m praying for you.
To whom it may concern,
This is the hardest post I’ve ever written. Mostly because I don’t want to write it. But I feel like I have an obligation to speak on behalf of the women who are going through the same thing I am. I want you to know that this is all coming from a place of love. This is to the aunties, the moms, the nice church ladies. The women who mean us no harm, the women we love. But unbeknownst to them, they are causing us pain, and I thought it was time to explain why.
The other day you asked me when I would be expanding my family. It was a light hearted question to which I mumbled some kind of response. You then responded with ‘don’t wait too long, you aren’t getting any younger.’ But the thing is— I already know that. I know that every day that passes decreases my chances of being able to conceive. And I really didn’t need the reminder.
There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you don’t know about, and honestly, I think that’s why we’re in this situation. You don’t know that I got another baby shower invitation in the mail and I cried. I was happy for the parents-to-be, I really was, but it was just another reminder of the thing that I wanted so badly. But had no control over. After I cried, I felt bad. What kind of monster cries because they got an invitation to celebrate an impending birth? Apparently this one.
You don’t know how excited I get every month when my period is late. Maybe this month we beat the odds. Maybe it’s going to happen for us after all. But the more hope I feel, the more devastating it is to me when my visitor comes and I realize, it wasn’t this month after all.
Maybe it was easy for you. Some people hop into bed and come out pregnant. Maybe you never wanted kids. Maybe you just never realized that this process is really hard for some people. I know you aren’t deliberately trying to be cruel. But, I don’t think you know that this simple question reveals so much of your fertility journey to me. How much you didn’t have to struggle. Because if you did, you would never ask this question. It’s one that I’ll never ask.
You don’t realize that I take a big white pill every day to increase my chances of ovulation. And the medicine makes me physically sick. My outings are mapped by bathrooms along the way, because I can never be too far from one. Just in case.
I cry to my husband. I cry to God. The commercial I saw last night triggers it. Days of intense sickness trigger it. Looking at baby pictures trigger it. Everything, it seems, can be a trigger. I try to emotionally detach, knowing that it’s the hope that’s killing me inside. If I could just let go of it, it wouldn’t hurt so bad. Every. Month.
But if I did, what kind of person would I be? So I don’t. I hold on to it. I wipe my tears and put on a brave face. I pray thanking God for the things that I do have. I RSVP yes to that baby shower invitation. And all is going well.
But then, I run into you. And you ask me, “Where’s the next baby? I thought she’d be here by now.”
“Don’t wait too long!”
“When are you going to add to your family?”
“Don’t you want your girl?”
“Are you already pregnant?”
“Is there something we should know?”
This is what I want you to know. Your questions rips me to shreds. I am medically infertile, and the one child that I do have is a miracle. I suffer from PCOS, the most common cause of infertility in women. Please know that this question is more personal and painful than you ever intended it to be. When I do have news to share, and decide to announce it, you will know. But until then please respect my silence.
Again, I know you aren’t asking this to hurt me. It’s just a lighthearted remark. But I think if you knew how much it did hurt me, and the millions of others just like me, you wouldn’t ask it anymore. So this is my plea to you. Please don’t ask me this question anymore. Please don’t ask anyone this question. We just don’t know how many women are silently struggling, trying to hold it together. We don’t know when they’ve reached their tipping point. And we’ll never know, because this is a load most bear alone.
Instead, here are a few things you can do. Pray for us. Encourage us. And be ready to celebrate whenever we finally do have glorious news to share with you.
All my love,