Infertility sounds like a unilateral and conclusive word. It sounds like a permanent state, an identity, predetermining a single possible outcome to the challenge of trying to conceive a child.
But those struggling with infertility know that there are as many diagnoses as there are individuals bearing the label. And the conclusions to the shared challenge of trying to conceive are equally diverse.
I know folks who identify as infertile who, after many years of “trying”, are ultimately able to conceive without any medical interventions. And I know others (myself included) who conceived with the help of expensive and invasive technologies, drugs administered orally or through subcutaneous injection, and/or a range of medical procedures. There are those whose struggles with infertility end when they are able to become parents using a surrogate; donor eggs, sperm, or embyos; or through fostering or adopting a child. Some continue with medical interventions, ever hopeful that the next procedure might yield the desperately desired outcome. And others work hard to accept the reality that they will not be parents.
Infertility is not limited by religion, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, marital status, or age. It’s not only “older” folks trying to conceive who find themselves visiting a fertility clinic: I know people in their early 20’s who’ve been otherwise unsuccessful becoming pregnant and seek help.
And so to discuss “infertility” as if it’s a unilateral problem faced by an easily discernible patient with only one type of solution or outcome is misleading. And yet, there is a special kind of kinship I feel with every person whose heart has yearned for a child and whose body hasn’t cooperated. Ours is a silent and often invisible community of extraordinarily different people. And too frequently we never find one another because of the internalized shame and/or stigma that prevents us from “coming out”.
But if we all “came out” – willing to share our stories, our struggles, and our faith – imagine the possibilities: support for those in treatment; support for those who choose to stop treatment or change treatments; support for new parents trying to integrate years of yearning with the realities of the first few months of parenthood.
This is the outcome for which I fervently pray this year, 17 weeks pregnant with my second child conceived using IVF. I pray for a community of those, who, like me, are “out” and willing to embrace others on this crazy path toward that which their hearts most desire.email print