Infertility is not life threatening and, for the vast majority of us, it will not cause significant disability. However, it does and can lead to depression and anxiety. It does lead to severe financial hardship for many. It results in lost wages, time away from work, and decreased work performance because of the of the time and attention displaced.
And yet, this diagnosis is largely unknown and misunderstood. It is taboo to talk about and comes with a inherent sense of shame. There have been likely millions of blog posts about the insensitive comments said, and those left unsaid, to the infertility community. This is a pervasive problem.
If I could advocate for just one thing, it would be for a greater sensitivity. Infertility is a disease, a common disease, but it not treated as such. Baby-making is viewed as this common, inevitable fact, written into children's rhymes:
First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes the baby
In the baby carriage
It has been ingrained in us since childhood. This is how it works. As soon as the engagement rings get put on, the questions begin: When? How many? When you picked the wrong outfit: Are you expecting?! When you open up that you are struggling: Have you tried going organic? You should go on vacation? You're so young, you can't have problems! When you open up about pursuing more advanced medical options: You're going to have eight kids! That is messing with God's work. You're going to have a baby with three heads!
The message of fertility is barraged across social media. There are parties thrown. There are daily pictures and updates of children. And there is the complete lack of understanding when this is all too much too bear for some people.