The Invisible Badge of Infertility

5

It might seem weird to have an infertility post on a “mom’s blog” but I want to change that, because it shouldn’t be weird. While I’m a mom to a two and a half year old little girl, I’ve never been pregnant.

say what?

We adopted Reagan, our little Ray Ray of light, in February of 2013. But before that amazing day happened, we suffered with infertility for years, and it hasn’t stopped. I remember seeing families everywhere thinking, “look how easy it is for them to have a family, why isn’t it easy for us?” Thoughts of jealousy would consume me as I kept posing my one unanswerable question to myself, “why can those families have babies when they want, but not us?” I know I’m not the only one.

I’ve never suffered through a miscarriage or an infant loss, and I can’t imagine having to go through that. As my husband and I go on our sixth year of infertility, there were times I felt that I was suffering a loss every month there wasn’t a positive pregnancy. Even though I am a mom, those thoughts of “what’s wrong with me?” still creep in. Before we had Reagan, we tried diligently to get pregnant with fertility treatments for over a year and a half. But at some point, the emotional and physical toll your body takes comes to a breaking point. It did for us and we did a 180 toward adoption and never looked back.

Although my husband and I aren’t seeking fertility treatments anymore, infertility continues to be an invisible badge that we wear, just like so many other people. Couples who are infertile may have kids, and they may not. Fertility treatment might have worked, or maybe it didn’t. People who go through infertility (which is one in eight) wear that badge without pride and often silently, feeling a sense of shame that our bodies have failed us in an area that is supposed to come so naturally.

Please know, these feelings of shame are normal, but we don’t have to set up camp there. We can talk about our infertility and we can talk about how we feel a sense of loss as well. There’s no shame in communicating our feelings because when we do that, we can help another family going through the same thing, and we can also see that we’re not alone…doing this allows us to overcome the shame we feel through the badge of infertility; the badge we didn’t ask for.

What I’ve realized, now that I am a mom, is that other moms and dads could have gone through war to become a family. What I see in public is not the full story. Even though I see a family, doesn’t mean they’re not suffering loss, or still struggling with infertility. My understanding and grace for how families are grown has deepened through how my own family was formed, and I hope yours can deepen too. Don’t stop talking about infertility, even when you feel you are passed that phase. Just because we’re moms doesn’t mean we forget our story of infertility, we need to tell it to give hope to women who are desperately trying to become moms.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Anne-Marie,

    Your post on Infertility caught my attention immediately, as I dealt with infertility the first decade of my marriage. You have captured the essence of how I felt, wearing the “Badge” myself for so many years. After years of infertility treatments, I finally became pregnant. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage with the first pregnancy at age 34. The miscarriage gave me insight to the grief women experience during and after this process. Finally, a few years later I gave birth to twins through in-vitro. The years of struggling was hard and long. It has opened a new place in my relationship with my niece who is currently wearing the Badge due to her husband’s cancer treatment he had when they were just newly weds. I plan to share this post with her. I know she will appreciate your openness on this topic.

    Thank you,
    Gayle Wright

  2. This an absolutely a wonderful post. So oftentimes those struggling with infertility are the ones being judged but also can be so quick to judge other families without stopping to think that it may not have been easy for them either. We need to continue talking about this topic and educate others so that we can better understand it as a whole and offer support and hope to those struggling who may not have the right kind of support that they need. Having positive support with this is the key to making it day to day. The struggle is real and so misunderstood. I also know that just because you have one child that doesn’t make the struggle any less hard when you try for more children and it’s not happening. I think the pain associated with infertility is something I will forever carry and also be more sensitive to others about in the future. It’s something that is forever changing. You just don’t walk out of this the same person. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your journey.

  3. If you ever get to the point where you are considering adopting again it might be neat to look into embryo adoption… We always wanted to adopt traditionally but the expenses were insane… And I really wanted to Carry and give birth again… Embryo adoption is a neat option… Check it out one day 🙂

  4. This article has very real points about the shame infertility brings. However, this writer adopted and has a child. Her perspective is filtered by the success she had adopting. She states to tell your story so that it “helps others going through it” as if there is some defined end point. Also to give “hope to other women trying to become moms” assuming you will have a child if you just hang on long enough. She dismisses the reality that sometimes there is no way through it, you just have to move on from it. The way to move on usually involves being pushed to the limit, and needing to accept the loss and build a good life for yourself that will be quite different from the life you imagined. I am one of those that after 5 years, had to move on without a child. It is a completely different “invisible badge” we wear. Maybe her next article/blog will address that.

    • Hi Ginger,

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment, but you are dismissive in my infertility experience (that is still ongoing) due to the fact that I’ve adopted. Saying my perspective is “filtered with success” is an unfair assessment. There has not been an end to my infertility, even though I have adopted a child. While I don’t expect everyone to resonate with what I wrote, it has resonated with many, and telling our infertility stories does help others in their infertility journey, wherever they may be in it. I wish you the best in your infertility journey, and respect your choices in however you see fit to walk it, please respect mine as well. Sincerely, Anne-Marie

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here