Join The Movement...To End The Awkwardness

Friday, April 26, 2013

This isn't the first time I've blogged about needing to talk about infertility, and I'm sure it won't be the last. But I want to talk about one specific facet of the infertility discussion.

I want to talk about how freaking awkward it is.

Because it IS awkward.

It's awkward for the people dealing with it. It's awkward for their loved ones. It's awkward for our society.

As a woman with infertility, I can totally vouch for the awkwardness. No matter how pro-talking about it I may be, it can be awkward to bring it up. The infertility discussion doesn't exactly perk up the mood. You don't sit around the table at Thanksgiving and say "This year, I'm thankful that I haven't completely driven myself nuts from the grief of not having a baby" when your turn finally comes.

And of course, actually bringing it up is awkward. When you do, you can see the people in the room start to get fidgety and squirm a bit. You can tell they don't know what to say and they're silently hoping to find a way to change the subject (not everyone is like this, of course, but it seems to be the general reaction). I fully believe that the main reason people react this way is because infertility is still a bit of a taboo subject. It's just something you don't talk about.

Unfortunately, when we do talk about it, the reactions can be pretty awkward too. There's always that friend who is like "Oh, just enjoy being young and childless. They're such a handful!" or when his/her child is behaving badly, "Be glad you don't have to deal with this", when you're just over here thinking I would do ANYTHING to have kids that stress me out. I have a friend like this, and I love her dearly, but she's constantly making remarks like this, and it always makes me feel really weird. I know she doesn't mean anything offensive by it, and maybe she's just trying (and failing) to make me feel better, but it hurts every time she says something like that. And I know I should probably tell her that, but then we'd both feel awkward (see? There it is again. Awkwardness is just everywhere).  If you want to know more about infertility etiquette, Resolve has a great page on the subject.

But if we talk about it more, and make it more acceptable to talk about, it wouldn't be nearly as awkward. We could bring infertility awareness to the mainstream. If people are more educated about the disease (and  the World Health Organization does define it as a disease), people will feel more confident discussing it. While not everyone going through infertility feels comfortable talking about it, I think more people will if we let them know that it's okay to talk about it, and I think that works the other way too. I, for one, am always willing to talk about infertility with anyone who wants to know more or know my story. Heck, I actually wish more people would ask me about it, because nobody ever does. It actually makes me kind of sad, because even though they might just be unsure how to broach the subject, it feels like they just don't care. And saying that makes me feel selfish for wanting to talk about myself. But I need to talk about it sometimes, you know? And I'm sure a lot of other infertile women feel the same way.

If you are dealing with infertility and feel comfortable talking about it, I urge you to let people know that it's okay. If you're not sure where to start, ask someone you trust if they feel comfortable talking about it with you.

If you know someone with infertility and feel comfortable talking about it, I urge you to reach out to them. Ask them if they would be okay talking about it. If they are, that's wonderful, but if they're not, don't push them; when they're ready to talk, they'll know they can talk to you.

No matter who you are, I urge you to check out the links below so you can learn more about infertility, and how you can help.

Together, we can make infertility a heck of a lot less awkward.

Infertility 101
About National Infertility Awareness Week

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  1. Whoa! You are seriously such a good writer! I love what you said about the Thanksgiving table thing because it is completely true! Infertility is awkward because it's about sex, I think. What people fail to understand is that for A LOT of us, sex has nothing to do with baby making. Nothing at all. In fact, one time when the infertility conversation became awkward with about eight of my fertile friends, I observed that it shouldn't really be that awkward because the only sex involved in conceiving our child was the sex my husband had with a Dixie one was awful.

    1. Thanks :)

      I hadn't thought of it in that way before. With as much sex as there may be on TV, it's still considered a super private subject when it comes to actual conversation, so you might be onto something there. I think some people feel awkward about it as well because of their personal beliefs; I know some people who consider any non-intercourse form of conception to be unnatural and wrong, so they probably aren't sure what to say in those situations either.

      Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in terms of making infertility an acceptable subject of conversation.



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