Coming out of the Infertility Closet
Why don’t more women talk about their infertility? Is it shame? Embarrassment? Or simply that it’s no one else’s business? Whatever the reason, it is their life, their disease, and they can talk about it or not. But… by staying silent do they do a disservice to others?
Where are the Stories of Infertility
I read a recent article in the Huffington Post Blog by a woman asking just this question:
What I want to know is, why aren’t more women sharing their stories of infertility. There have been a few exceptions like Celine Dion, Giuliana Rancic and Sarah Jessica Parker, but on the whole, not much. When I hear that Susan Sarandon gave birth at 45, or Halle Berry is pregnant at 47, or Geena Davis had twins at 48, my question is, how? Is it taboo to talk about this? Do these women not share their story because they’re embarrassed? Or do they want to give the illusion that it “just” happened? For eight years, I’ve been hoping to hear more stories about infertility from women of all walks of life and I feel I’ve been let down. Yes, the friends that have become pregnant after their struggles of infertility are a blessing in my life, because it gives me hope, but I want to hear more stories. I want to feel I connect with a community of women and couples that know what it means to be reproductively challenged, but they are few and far between.
I do think women talk about infertility, but most choose not to do it publicly, preferring instead to talk with a few trusted friends or to share on closed support groups such as the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group. Not every woman wants to share her pain. Not every woman needs public recognition of her suffering. Quite frankly, not every woman can withstand gracefully the inevitable ignorant, hurtful comments…and trust me, they will come. (See for example: 12 Stupid Things People Actually Say to the Infertile, The Art of Giving Advice to Your Infertile Friend–DON’T, Please Keep Your God Out of My Infertility, Why Do You Stay with Your Infertile Husband if You Want Kids So Much?)
Largest Sorority in the World
A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer almost exactly a year ago. It has of course been an awful year for her, but she told me she also has never felt such support–mainly from others who had gone through diagnosis and treatment before. She said she felt like she had been inducted into the largest sorority in the world.
By failing to talk about infertility, are we denying ourselves the sorority of others who have walked this path before and the power that comes with numbers? Do we run the risk of marginalizing the disease of infertility—implying that it’s not bad enough or big enough to warrant its own banner? And perhaps most important, do we abandon the newly diagnosed to figure it all out alone without our support?
Who do you talk with about your infertility? How do you balance privacy with sharing? Do you think you owe it to others to be more public?
Image credit: Sarah Ackerman