She privately shared with me her struggles a few months back. Today for the very first time, she is bravely sharing her story with infertility on Just Jules. Thank you for doing this for me and hopefully helping others along the way. You're truly one of a kind.
A few months went by, then some more, then a couple more, and suddenly we were at a year of trying. A year of trying means officially "infertile" by definition of most insurance companies. We both went in for testing and discovered a few problems and reasons why it hadn't happened yet. Of course, those issues are being worked on, but they take time and there is no quick bandaid fix. Every couples struggle with infertility is the result of a slightly different medical issue and every individual responds to treatments and medication slightly differently. There are about 10,000 different things that have to happen perfectly, at the right time, for a pregnancy to occur - it boggles my mind that anyone gets pregnant, let alone accidentally!
With the fact that we were working on fixing the issues, I still decided to keep it to ourselves. It kept feeling like if I told people, we'd totally get pregnant right after that and never had to tell, right? (Kinda like washing your car and it rains the next day!) But more months went by, more friends and family were getting pregnant and resulting in more baby showers, more pregnancy announcements and baby pictures all over Facebook, and more people questioning when we were going to have our own.
Eventually, I cracked and made a snarky comment back to a friend who suggested that we have kids so I don't have to worry about cramps/period for 9 months (hello, that's what I'd LOVE to do!) and informed her that we'd been trying for 2 years. I pretty much knew that was how the news would get out!
So the doors flew open on our "secret" and it is quite freeing to have it out in the open. No more secrets, no more avoiding the question, no more planning the avoidance and responses to the questions before going to events that I anticipate being asked. I might have been more stressed over that than the actual process and fact that it hasn't happened yet. Infertility happens (in some form) to 1 in 8 couples. 1 in 8!!! Yet nobody talks about it. Why is there such a stigma on the topic? You can talk about it without getting into nitty gritty details of your sex life, I promise. Every time I've mentioned something about it on Twitter, I've had another friend come forward with their struggle of trying, miscarriages, failed IVF attempts, and successful happy endings. Yet while going through it, we've all felt isolated and been in so much pain.
The more that couples who are going through it hide it, the less it gets talked about. The less it is talked about, the more awkward it is when it is talked about. When it gets talked about, people have a hard time coming up with what to say and how to react to the situation. Yes, it is hard, yes, it sucks to go through, but it doesn't mean that the couples going through it are seeking your suggestions to fix the problem ("my cousins best friends sister just stopped trying and got pregnant with twins!" is not any help, I promise!!), nor does a canned "it will happen when it is meant to be!" response. It feels like it ends up being a vicious cycle - people don't talk about it because they are embarrassed/hurt/ashamed/whatever, which leads to less people knowing the facts, which leads to less people knowing what to "say" or how to "help" the people in their lives when it does get talked about.
Remember before that I said 1 in 8 couples struggle with some form of infertility? Think about the people in your life and the couples around you - I'm guessing you know more than 8 and I'm guessing you've heard of very few of them discussing infertility, but I promise you, it's happening.
Lesson of this all? I'm not sure that I would have done it any differently or announced that we'd been trying any earlier, but I do know that it feels a lot better having it be public. Maybe we should have told more people close to us to avoid at least a handful of the questioning from happening, maybe not - but it definitely helps to not hide it.
To anyone out there going through it themselves, know that you aren't alone in the struggle. Find an online support group (I'd recommend the TCOYF.com forums!) or open up to some people close to you. It has made all the difference to have a group of friends who were all going through a similar struggle as me. Even as the time has gone by and most of the friends in that group have a baby by now, they know what the struggle is and are still an amazing shoulder to lean on.
To those of you who are out there who know of a couple going through it, just be supportive. Understand that there may be times we can't attend your kids first birthday party or the next baby shower being thrown might just be too tough to handle. Don't offer us your toddler going through the terrible two's as a consolation to another month of finding out that we haven't conceived yet. And for the love of God, don't tell us to "just relax"! Next time you are about to ask a couple when they are having kids or tell them that it is "their turn", take a step back and think about it - how old are they? how long have they been married? There is probably a reason, whether medical or they just aren't quite ready yet, and chances are, your pressuring won't make them suddenly think "Hey, I hadn't thought of that! Let's go have a baby!" Everyday there is a reminder in our daily life that we're still struggling with it and a little love, support and understanding will go a long way!
And remember, it'll all be worth it when you see two pink lines. :)
You can follow Lori on Twitter @BlancoDiddy