Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Infertility a Fight or a Loss?

I saw this secret on PostSecret yesterday.

It's had me thinking.

Do I agree with what the person is saying?

Should infertility be referred to a "fight" like cancer?

I'm just going to write down my meandering thoughts about it and give you a warning in advance that I haven't come to any conclusions.

I think cancer is a "fight" because it is often a life and death situation, like a war or battle. To win the fight with cancer, you live. It goes into remission and you are cancer free. Many losses happen along the way, but no one really counts those as long as you live in the end. People lose their body parts, years of their life, health, and money. But in the end, if you live, you won the "fight."

Infertility is not life-threatening. Yes, it threatens my way of life. But it won't kill me. I may lose body parts, years of my life, health, and money, but I am not really at risk to die. And how would win a "fight" against infertility? By becoming pregnant? Naturally? Does it count if it took serious medical intervention to become pregnant? Without that intervention, that person would never get pregnant, so they are still infertile. If you have a baby with medical intervention, did you win? Even though you'll have to go to those extents all over a gain for a second child? Your body isn't better. You didn't overcome just kind of circumvented it. If you are "infertile" and then a couple years down the road you are able to naturally conceive and have a baby (several times), then were you really infertile to begin with? Does adopting a baby win the fight against infertility (I am here to tell you that it does not - adoption is a cure for childlessness, not infertility). So if there is no way to win this "fight," is it really a fight?

But calling infertility a "loss" isn't right either. A loss is something you had and you lose. You lose your belief that you'll be able to have children. You lose your hopes and dreams. But you only halfway lose them. Because you can do things to gain those things. Like medical intervention. When I think of a loss, I think of losing my mom. She died and she is not coming back. I can dream about her. I can think about her. But I can't go to a doctor and see if he can find a way to circumvent her death. The cruel thing about infertility is that it comes with a bit of hope. The lose isn't complete in many cases (some people - those who are sterile - have complete loss). Month after month, there is a twinge of hope. It bubbles up again and again, no matter how hard you try to keep it down. And the devastation of "loss" happens month after month too. So I am not sure infertility can really be called a "loss" either.

Infertility takes fight, that's for sure. Going through that pain every month. Deciding to close your heart to a lifetime worth of dreams or going to a doctor and having your intimate life analyzed on a calendar, taking hormones that make you crazy, torturing your body and heart, all with the slim chance of getting pregnant. It takes a warrior's heart to be able to do that.

So what is infertility? A fight? A loss? A mountain to climb? A disability? I live with it every day and I find it...undefinable.

What are your thoughts on this postcard?

P.S. I had been thinking of the "fight" vs. "loss" on an individual level. When looking at it from a societal level, I do believe infertility should be a "fight" and have more attention. Infertility rates are going up. That is terrifying. Whether that's from some kind of environmental issue, toxicity in food/poor nutrition, genetic mutations, whatever, I don't know. But it is scary. And it isn't very well supported. Very few insurance companies cover infertility expenses - because it's not a health issue, right? Insurance covers Viagra. Because obviously the inability to maintain an erection is seriously devastating to your health and life, but not being able to reproduce doesn't matter.


kareydk said...

I think that infertility is a fight that for most of us results in regular, recurring losses -- either no pregnancy this month or a miscarriage. And then it's a huge loss when you finally hit the "it's never going to happen" wall. Even though I've adopted, I will always feel a hole where there should have been a birth. Others may feel differently about it. But I wake up sobbing on a regular basis. I'm 54, been through menopause, and it's just so gone. There's not even a shred of hope. I know I will be mourning this on my deathbed. I always wanted to give birth to one child and then adopt one. Surprise. Crap got in the way of that plan.

Rachel said...

Hope can be so cruel.


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