To Whom It May Concern:
I want to talk to you the day after Father’s Day. Let me start by saying, well done. You did it. You made it through. There are no more “parent” holidays for the next 11 months. As a bonus, wedding season is almost over; you won’t have to sit through a bridal shower as well-meaning old women pester the soon-to-be bride about starting a family, knowing first-hand that for many, it isn’t as simple as a matter of choice. You have until the next baby announcement or Thanksgiving, whichever comes first, before you suddenly feel like you’ve been slapped in the face, again, with the fact that you’re not the like rest of the fertile world.
Holidays shared with extended (or immediate) family are hard, I know. It usually means you see so-and-so you haven’t seen in ages, and looky there, they’re starting a family and glowingly happy about being pregnant (and they usually go on about how they ended up “miraculously” pregnant even though they “weren’t trying,” cue facepalm). Or, you get asked, again, for the 237th time when do you plan to have babies. Or, you hear last year’s pregnant couple complaining about the sleep deprivation that comes with their new bundle of joy while on the inside you’re nuts enough to be dying for such a reason to never sleep again.
And the “parent” holidays usually mean family dinners and an overwhelming number of social media posts all about how wonderful it is to be a parent and parent with [insert partner’s name].
Hey, you, over there, feeling like you’re not allowed to be in the “infertile club” because you “only” suffer from secondary infertility. Let me tell you, I’m in the same boat. Maybe there are some infertile people in the world who want to tell you to suck it up and be happy with the one living child (or two?) you have, but there are way more out there who understand the complete mind duck (that wasn’t autocorrect, but you know what I mean) that comes with not being able to conceive or carry a baby to term. You’re part of the club. I bet Mother’s Day and Father’s Day was difficult for you, too. This is the day where everyone asks when you’ll have another little one so your child doesn’t end up being an “only” child (as if that’s the worst thing in the world, or if by being an “only” child they are somehow less; terrible label). Father’s day may be the day where you berate yourself for having a failure of a body that can’t provide your partner with another child. Or, maybe it’s the day you try to convince yourself how great your life is and that you should learn to be content and grateful, and let the positivity carry you to a better state of mind (as you pray you can run by the store super quick for a bottle of wine without anyone noticing). Whatever those days mean to you, I know there’s still some sting in there that’s maybe even followed up with a reminder to be grateful.
Worse again, maybe these holiday is the day where you get the feeling that everyone is walking on eggshells around you, trying not to upset the poor, sad infertile in their lives. That’s very thoughtful of them, but it isn’t quite what you’re looking for either.
And “former” infertile over there, who isn’t sure if you will ever again “try” for another child but still feel the sting of the parent holidays, this is for you, too. I don’t care if you have a child or two or three now, or you never got there. I do know that going through infertility changes a person and their perspective.
So, infertile, I’m declaring today, the day after Father’s Day to the be official. . .I don’t want to label it “Unhappy Infertile’s Day” because that implies that no one with infertility can find any joy or happiness in their lives. I don’t want to call it “Happy Infertile’s Day” because that makes light of the pain and struggle felt by those with infertility. I think I’ll go with “Dealing with Infertility Day.”
Happy Dealing with Infertility Day to you! I hope it’s a great day filled with no pregnancy announcements (unless it’s your own), no curious well-meaning strangers asking when you’ll be putting a “bun” in your “oven,” and no feelings of deficiency.
When we’re not sure what it is we want from those around us—do we want to know about the pregnancy announcements, do we want them to be quiet about all things reproductive, do we want them to tiptoe, or do we want them to treat us completely normal—what I know is that an acknowledgement that we’re different and that it isn’t easy will always be welcome. Find your own way to acknowledge your differences, or use mine. I know I will be wishing all my friends a happy Dealing with Infertility Day today.