My husband and I are a childless couple. Both of us have issues with infertility, and neither of us saw it coming. It’s something I rarely speak about anymore, as I am now heading towards 50 and in the thick of that endless orgasmic joyride known as perimenopause. Hint: opt out of it, if you can. There’s gotta be a button somewhere one can press.
My thirties were probably the loneliest time in my life. My friends were having their first, second, or third babies, and here we were without any. I tried coping by knitting cute little outfits and blankies for the wee nippers, but it broke my heart a little every time. See, when you grieve for the loss of a child, everyone grieves with you. If you grieve for the loss of a pregnancy, you still can find some who will sympathise. But if you grieve for the loss of children you will never have, well, you can hear the crickets chirping. No one stands alongside and grieves with you. At least no one did for me.
There’s such a dull ache that never seems to go away. Then there are the people who gossip behind your back, with good intentions, and decide to bombard you with unsolicited advice. I’ve heard: just relax, take a vacation, stop thinking about it, use a pillow to prop your hips, take your temperature, have you tried acupuncture, and, why not adopt? One time a couple I barely knew invited us to lunch and in the middle of our meal began to insist upon offering us fertility advice. (Now at this point, I had known our having a baby was a medical impossibility and was finally coming to terms with it.) I’m not one to burst into tears but when I went home, I was completely inconsolable. Someone had broken my trust and told this couple, who were practically strangers to me, about our situation. I’d never been so humiliated in my life. We never saw that couple again and I gave my so-called friend a piece of my mind.
So, my thirties passed, and now I’m almost through my forties. Do I still mourn? Yeah, sometimes, the way you can grieve for anyone. It never really completely goes away. You just learn to accept it and try to live life as fully as you can. But before I got to the good place I’m at now, I was feeling low about myself because of my infertility, as one does. I expressed my feelings online and something wonderful happened. An old friend told me not to call myself infertile, because she thought I was extremely fertile. She told me I was fertile in my creativity, fun spirit, and so on. Honestly, it was one of the best compliments I’ve received and a total shot in the arm.
It’s true, what she said. I am fertile. My imagination is so fertile, I wrote a sci-fi/fantasy book. My humour is so fertile, I often have people in stitches in real life. My creativity is so fertile, I can write, draw, sing, play instruments, and make crafts like a truly crafty thing. My business sense is so fertile, I have my own consulting company. My love is so fertile, I have sustained a thriving 25-year-and-going marriage, and fantastic friendships.
I’m not infertile. I just cannot give birth to a child.
One of the biggest truths I’ve learned is this: words mean everything. You can turn a person around for the good with them, or you can condemn someone fathoms deep underground. Maybe we can all take more time to think about how we use words to describe others, and ourselves.
A drop of encouragement can lead to a world of fertility.