Infertility is something no woman expects to face. We grow up feeling that pregnancy is some almost unstoppable force that we have to constantly fight off. We are smothered with lectures about birth control and safe sex. We may have a few friends who face unwanted pregnancies. The general feeling we grow up having, as girls who eventually become women, is that pregnancy wants your body and is after you and you must resist it—until you’re ready to have kids. So when that day comes—that day when you’re ready to have kids—you think, “This should be easy. Okay pregnancy—I’m ready! I’m taking out my IUD. I’m not taking my pill anymore. We’ve burned all the condoms. I’m ready for you.”
Pregnancy, when you want it, should be the reward for all the years you spent successfully warding it off—you think. So when it doesn’t come, and you find that you’re infertile, it can shake you to your core. It’s even possible that your mother struggled with infertility, but didn’t tell you that, for many reasons, like, it’s painful for her to talk about and, she didn’t want you thinking, when you were young, that you could go without birth control, because you probably had fertility issues, too. There are chances to warn young girls about infertility and talk about it, but nobody does. Because it really isn’t an issue anyone is worried about…until they are. Then it can be emotionally painfully and mentally hell.
I haven’t attempted to get pregnant, and I don’t plan on having kids, however, for a young woman, I’ve had a surprising number of friends who have dealt with fertility issues, and are even going through IVF treatments right now. There’s a common theme when I talk to them all: they have thoughts they feel guilty about. If you relate to this, know that these thoughts about infertility are perfectly normal.
Why’d I use birth control all those years?
This is such an understandable thought. Think of all those years of remembering to take your pill. Of panicking when you forgot to pack it on a trip, and having to make four phone calls to have your prescription transferred to some obscure pharmacy at your destination. Of taking the morning after pill. Perhaps more than once. What was it all for?!
I shouldn’t have waited
If you’re past the “healthy time” to have kids aka if you’re trying in your mid thirties or beyond, you can begin to blame yourself for waiting. You can wonder, desperately, what would have happened if you’d had kids ten years ago. Is this happening because you waited so long? Your doctor assures you that you may have had these problems, at any time you tried to conceive. But it’s hard to believe this isn’t somehow related to you waiting so long.
And I waited…for what?
If you waited to get your career off the ground, it’s normal to start scrutinizing your career. “I waited for what? It’s not like I’m famous! It’s not like I’m even on Forbes’ radar. Things really aren’t where I wanted them to be in my career, and so I may have ruined my chances to have a baby for…nothing.” But you can’t think like that. Your career probably is much further along now than it would have been if you’d had kids early, even if it’s not quite where you want it to be.
But I was being responsible!
The anger can set in when you think, “So, I was responsible. Unlike the many individuals who have kids when they cannot afford them, or who have them for all the wrong reasons, not even knowing who they are yet, I was responsible. I waited until I was financially stable and until I knew who I was as an individual. And this is the reward I get.”
Is this evolutionary fate?
You can get caught up in thoughts like, “Is this evolution’s way of telling me that I shouldn’t reproduce? Am I not supposed to pass on my DNA? Is there something fundamentally wrong with my DNA? Maybe if I had a baby, she’d grow up to be, like, a tyrant or a terrible person. Maybe it’s all destiny.” Yes, many women have these thoughts—as crazy as it sounds. But it’s normal. It’s a tough time.
Is it financially irresponsible to pursue this?
It’s also normal to have questions like, is it wrong of me to try to do something about this? Like IVF? There can be some judgment around it—from others, and towards one’s self. It’s a lot of money. Is this the right thing to spend it on? Especially since it may not even work? What will others think of me spending my savings on this?
It’s not fair
It’s true. It’s not fair. You have so many friends who wanted to get pregnant, went off birth control and, bam, were pregnant. And you don’t even think they want babies as badly as you do. You’d love your kids so much—so, so much. Why would the powers at be keep a baby away from someone as loving and nurturing as you?
She’s pregnant, and will be a bad mom
You may start judging the women who have managed to become pregnant naturally and easily. You see women who you know will be bad moms, getting pregnant. They’re selfish. They aren’t very nurturing. They’re huge partiers. They’re irresponsible and will be bad role models. It makes you angry that they’re blessed with a baby.
Maybe I caused this
Through diet. Through an eating disorder you suffered in college. Through that riding accident. Through being a rebellious teen or a burden on your parents who God is now smiting. You can wonder if your own actions naturally harmed your reproductive system, or if your actions have brought on punishment from the powers at be.
Maybe my birth control caused this
This can be an infuriating thought, because all you ever wanted to do was be responsible. Could the very thing that you were using to prevent pregnancy until now, be the reason you now can’t get pregnant? You’ve heard that long-term birth control can affect someone’s ability to conceive. The research may be inconclusive, but you’ve heard the whispers.
I’m fundamentally broken
It’s common for women who are dealing with infertility issues to feel that they—their bodies—are broken in some fundamental way. They can feel like they’re just wrong, and they can even have thoughts like, “I shouldn’t have even been born. I was a fluke. I have a broken body.” But you have and will do so many great things in this life, beyond having kids, that that simply isn’t true.
My partner should have picked someone else
There can be feelings of guilt towards your partner. You know that, when he chose you, it never crossed his mind that you two would struggle to conceive. You feel like he should have picked somebody else. You feel he’s probably thinking that himself. But the truth is that, he wants to spend his life with you—whether that means a baby, or no baby. He wouldn’t prefer life with someone else—someone he doesn’t love—just because that came with a baby.
It must be a mistake
Denial is very common. Even though you’ve run several tests with your doctor, and she has confirmed, without a doubt, that you are infertile or that your chances of conceiving are quite small, you can think there was a mistake. You can think you want a second opinion, and when that comes back the same, you want a third opinion.
I’m letting down my parents
If your parents have always dreamed of having grandchildren, you can feel bad about letting them down. Perhaps they haven’t even been subtle about it, but they’ve been pushing you for years to make them grandbabies. In addition to letting yourself down, you feel like you’re breaking your parents’ hearts.
Did I choose the wrong partner?
Don’t feel bad if this thought crosses your mind. This is a difficult time. You can’t control your thoughts. And you may wonder, “Is this my body’s way of telling me that I chose the wrong partner?” But, no, it is not. So don’t pack up and leave the guy for somebody else (or a sperm bank) as you’ll find the same results.