Monday, April 23, 2012

Taking the veil of secrecy off infertility

I’ve been debating for 15 months whether to say anything.

That’s how long my husband and I have been trying to have a baby. Trying unsuccessfully I might add. I never dreamed having a baby would be hard. I figured the trying not to have a baby was harder than actually trying to get pregnant. After all you just stop preventing and bam you’re pregnant, right? But in reality one in eight couples experience infertility.

And we’re the one in eight.

I don’t write this as a woe is me pity party. In fact I’ve held off writing it for 15 months because I didn’t want to be perceived as that and because having trouble getting pregnant is something that people rarely ever talk about. There is hope each month that this one will be the ONE. That and some days it’s just easier that not everyone knows what’s going on. We’ve had a pretty strict don’t ask don’t tell policy with those closest to us regarding our efforts to have a baby, meaning if you’ve asked me directly in the last 15 months you’ve gotten the truth (and probably more than you wanted to hear), but if you haven’t asked me directly then I haven’t brought it up.

That policy has been both a blessing and a curse because we’ve endured stinging questions of “when are you going to finally try for a baby” (keeping in mind we’ve been married less than three years) or “do you have a plan for when you’ll have a baby?” I admit the latter one is my favorite. It just takes all my self control not to sarcastically answer, “Yep, the plan was for our baby to be here last fall. You can tell how well that worked out.” Instead, if I don’t know you that well, you typically get a “hey, we’re still newlyweds” shrug or something like that.

I can’t fault people for asking though personally other than my nearest and dearest friends and family I’ve never asked that question because you never know what someone is going though.

I admit it. I fell for the fairy tale hook, line and sinker. We eagerly decided to start trying and I envisioned romantic evenings, candles and sweet conversations with my husband. I pictured shortly telling friends and family that we were blessed and it happened right away without even trying. You know, all those things depicted in TV shows and movies?

Instead what I’ve come to realize is that for those few lucky ones that might be what it’s like.  Or maybe it’s just an urban legend. But the reality isn’t that for most. For most it’s yet another thing in life you have to work for. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s definitely worth the effort. Actually I can think of nothing more fitting to have to work for. But at the same time, I personally have experienced nothing more heartbreaking than a negative pregnancy test when I desperately want to be a Mom. And I have experienced nothing more daunting than putting that negative test in the trash as my vision blurrs with tears and trying to affix a smile and a positive attitude to try again. Don’t even get me started on the pain of having to speak out loud the words to my husband that it’s been another failed month.

I’ve been amazed how many friends have come out of the woodwork at a hint of what I’ve been facing and shared their stories. I am truly grateful that they shared their struggles and real world tips. Without them I’d be so lost on this journey it wouldn’t even be funny. I’ve also found a wonderful community online of women going through the same that is a great resource and strength. What has me telling my story today is thinking of someone who doesn’t have that network of amazing friends who have a glimpse into what this is like or to lean on through this journey.

I don’t know what the future holds for us. For someone who likes to control and plan everything that’s extremely hard to cope with. But if it were any other medical condition I’d be looping in my friends and family so why not with this one? It’s time to take the veil of secrecy off of infertility.

After all, I’m not alone. I’m one of an estimated 7.3 million people in the U.S. struggling with infertility.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. For more information on infertility, visit or

Jennifer Erickson is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist with Texas Health Resources who is hoping that her time to be a Mom will come soon.


  1. I could have written this word for word - from the snarky responses in my head to having to tell the husband that once again we're not pregnant. I'm glad you've written the post on blog such as this. Talking about infertility is so hard, but so necessary. We shouldn't be ashamed of it; we've done nothing wrong. My husband and I were finally blessed after two and half years and are expecting in November. But, the pain of IF doesn't go away. I truly wish you the best of luck and lots of strength as you continue your journey.

  2. Jen, this is really brave of you to discuss. I'm thankful for all the folks who read this and are helped by it. I hope things change soon. Very soon. This is one of life's great mysteries to me.