Monday, April 21, 2014

Resolve to Know More... Sensitivity

One in eight couples will struggle to create their family. One in eight! This is higher than the prevalence of depression (one in ten) or autism (one in 68) and the same estimated lifetime prevalence as breast cancer. This month was autism awareness - it has been all over the news, Panera Bread is selling special cookies to raise money, and there have been walks and races. Where is our ribbon? Where is our 5K Komen race or 3-day walk benefit in every city?

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. 

I know I am preaching to choir. My social media post for the day was this: "1 in 8 couples face infertility - chances are great that a friend, relative, neighbor or perhaps you are attempting to cope with the medical and emotional aspects of infertility. Resolve to know more... " I am still searching for a way to do more in the way of increasing sensitivity without being obnoxious. 


  1. Awesome! Thank you hugely for doing that.

  2. Excellent post! My goal is to write or share one IF related post every day of NIAW - raising awareness is important, and if my "friends" on social media don't like it, they can hide my posts :)

    1. Obviously if they hide IF posts, they would benefit from reading posts like this

  3. It's so frustrating. You are seen as selfish if you're infertile and would rather try your luck at IVF instead of adopting, but you're selfless if you get pregnant easily because now you're a parent. Why the stigma, people??