In a way, we’re all victims - victims of misinformation and a tendency, as a culture, to avoid talking about the uglier sides of life. This fact becomes all the more apparent when you have trouble conceiving. A quick Google search for “tips for getting pregnant” will lead you down a rabbit hole of terribly unscientific, unfounded, and completely misguided advice (this is the fertility version of typing “headache” into WebMD - just don’t do it). Eat this, don’t eat that, drink this, don’t drink that, try this position, sleep this way, exercise more, exercise less, manifest, distract yourself, work more, work less, do this, no this, no but THIS really works.
These well-meaning “experts” would lead one to believe that infertility is an easy fix and, if you’re not getting pregnant, you must be doing something wrong. Eat pineapple core after ovulation! Prop those hips and lift those legs after sex! Try yams for twins! Down some cough syrup! Smear yourself with lamb’s blood and wait for a full moon! And my personal favorite: Just relax and stop trying so hard! I’ve heard them all and yet here we are.
But there’s something particularly cringeworthy about that last one. However good-intentioned, this piece of advice implies that infertility is a state of mind instead of a medical condition; that if I believe it, I can conceive it! It suggests that if I just get my thoughts in the right place and open myself up to the universe and its preordained plans, poof! A baby! See, it was all in my head after all!
I’m rolling my eyes so hard I’m afraid they might get stuck in the back of my head.
From the time you get your first period, it’s drilled into your head how easy it is to get pregnant, like if a guy even sneezes in your direction at the right time of the month, well, sorry kid, you’re a momma now. Most of us spend the better part of early adulthood actively trying our hardest not to get pregnant, because we’re taught that the moment we let our guard down, it will happen. It’s just that easy (in fact, it’s so easy that there is a multi-billion dollar industry dedicated to preventing it). And for many, it is.
But what about the rest of us (and there are a lot of us)?
We’ve been indoctrinated from such a young age to believe that our ability to get pregnant is a given; that it’s what our bodies were designed for; that our ability to conceive is what makes a woman a woman and a man a man. Perhaps these false - though widely accepted - notions are why infertility is such a taboo topic. They’re what make an infertility diagnosis feel so shocking and shameful, like we have some terrible disease or personal shortcoming that we should never talk about or acknowledge outside of those designated places where “our kind” secretly commiserates.
Case in point: Since we first shared this blog just a few days ago, countless women and men from all parts of our lives have reached out and shared their infertility stories with us in solidarity. Many of these people now have children, and to this day, very few of them have shared their infertility struggles with anyone outside of their very closest friends and family. Their child is a living, breathing miracle of science, but few know it. These people have silently and secretly battled through what I can tell you firsthand is an immensely trying ordeal, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Now, let me be crystal clear: This is in no way, shape, or form meant as an indictment of the brave people who have come to me to share their stories. My heart is bursting with gratitude for these warriors who have chosen to reach out to share one of the most painful periods of their lives just to take a bit of that pain from mine. I fully and whole-heartedly understand their choice to stay quiet. No, the blame for their silence falls squarely on the shoulders of a society that has forced them to suffer beneath a veil of shame.
So if conceiving is supposed to be so easy, then what’s wrong with all of us?
That’s a question we’ve asked ourselves a million times over the last few months. Why us? What did we do wrong? What could we have done differently? And the answer? Not a damn thing. Life isn’t fair. In fact, sometimes it’s downright brutal.
But I don’t have to tell you that.
We all have a cross to bear, a battle we’re fighting behind closed doors. This process has reminded me that it’s so important to be kind, to be gentle both with myself and others, and to consider the impact that my words, however good-intentioned or harmless they may seem to me, might have on others. None of us truly knows what anyone is going through outside our narrow view of their world, what thoughts race through their minds when they turn the lights off each night, and what reality they wake up to each morning. A smiling face often conceals a breaking heart.
And if you want tips for getting pregnant, ask an infertile couple. We’ve tried it all.