We’ve reached the end of National Infertility Awareness Week, and though the week will end, the good work that’s been started through this awareness campaign can’t end. Here’s why.
Infertility in our society is a disease never discussed in public, and rarely detailed in private. We probably all know a family or couple with infertility, and have wondered at some point, “Why didn’t they ever have kids? Why did they adopt?” I know I have – and still do, although with a far more sensitive curiosity than before I realized I might be one of those wondered-about people.
Is there a shame in infertility that I just haven’t internalized yet? I get that it’s embarrassing – you hardly ever want to share medical details anyway, nevermind one as personal as having to do with your reproductive bits. But I’m not ashamed that I’m an infertilite. And part of the reasons why I started this blog was to get people talking about it, to raise their awareness, and to put some good thoughts out into the world for all the other people experiencing infertility. Heck, if I was ashamed would I have posted a picture of my uterus for the world to see?
The reason I ask this question is because you almost never actually find out why other people are infertile. For instance, I saw a posting on Twitter the other day about a teacher who was fired from her job for getting IVF treatment (it was a Catholic school, and IVF is against Catholic doctrine). The teacher was described as “suffer[ing] from a diagnosed medical condition which causes infertility.” (Read the ABC News article here) Ooooohhhkaaaaayy…. I mean, not that it’s any of my business, really – but what a missed opportunity for someone to shed light on the realities of infertility, especially from an “everywoman.” Tell us you have blocked or malformed tubes. Tell us your body has a thyroid problem leading to off-balance hormones. Tell us anything, something – because most cases of infertility are caused by “medical conditions.” Infertility is a disease.
It’s one thing for celebrities to be open about it (Giuliana and Bill Rancic, for example) – they make a living off it and employ publicity managers who guide every move they make. But it’s quite another – and quite more powerful – for an ordinary person to speak openly and honestly about their experience. And there just might be thousands of people out there who hear, “I have a uterus didelphys,” and stand up and say, “Me too! Phew! I thought I was the only one…”
I guess I can only really speak for myself about this, because everyone’s case is different and everyone has a different threshold for public scrutiny. And I’ve never been in the national media for my infertility. I don’t wear a t-shirt that says “I have a unicorn in my uterus,” though I find that hilarious. I don’t necessarily want everyone to know that much detail about my life, because it isn’t their business. But should I run away from that truth, or meet it head-on come what may? If I talk about it, even just a little bit, to friends, family, and strangers alike – maybe I will make it a safer, supportive space for others to share their experiences.
That’s something you don’t have to wonder about.