Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Infertility 101-Ch.4 : It Takes Two To Tango, But One To Make A Baby?

As women, we are not solely responsible for making babies. I seem to recall in the Degrassi High episode where Spike gets pregnant, that there was a boy involved as well. In that regard, grade seven sex education did not fail me. I'm still not great at putting condoms on bananas, fortunately that rarely comes up in my day to day.

As previously stated I loathe the phrase "Just Relax". I think it's a bunch of hogwash and malarky ( you know I'm serious when I start throwing around 'malarky'). Plus, I have only heard it directed to women. No one has ever said it to my husband, despite the fact his swimmers were part of the equation. I am aware that in our situation my infertility issues were the deciding factor, but most people dispersing this advice didn't know that. For all they knew his swimmers were the Brent Leroy's of the sperm world. Sure they might be loveable, but they might also be slow, lacking form, and just want to sit around reading comic books all day? Who knows what those little guys were up to? Perhaps the worst part of hearing 'just relax', or 'when the time is right', was that this all came from women. No man has ever suggested my high strung nature was the cause of our infertility. At least no man who's lived to tell about it.

So why is it that I've had such an unpleasant experience with other women through my infertility? I would like to think I'm the only one who has experienced this, but I know I am not alone. I'm not sure what drives these beliefs or comments? I don't think any one feels better after hearing them, so perhaps it makes those saying them feel better? I would like to ask everyone to please stop saying them. They are hurtful. I know that may sound harsh, but it's a harsh situation. I have already struggled through huge amounts of guilt at not being able to have children or successfully carry a pregnancy to term. The last thing I need to know is others feel this is my fault as well. It's rather severe to be told to relax, not to mention asking the bloody impossible out of people. Infertility is a very stressful situation so suggesting that we can relax or further 'not think about it' is unrealistic.

Those of us unable to have children aren't morons.There are doctors and specialists in this field, which suggests to me that there is an actual science to it. We are well aware of where the penis goes. By all accounts we understand the basic reproductive cues. In fact we probably understand more than most. This is a physical problem, not a mental one. If it was due to my state of mind, or us not being ready to parent, numerous children would not be born into this world. In fact, if a sound mind and stability were prerequisites for pregnancy, I would not be here today. A world without me in it? Then where would you all be? You'd be a little less mildly amused I assume.

I would love to have been able to express myself better in the early years. Unfortunately when feeling deflated my best defence line is "I know you are but what am I?" Not particularly witty. At this point in my life though I feel like I have nothing left to lose in terms of brutal honesty. We have been through many losses. Not to mention a bankrupt adoption agency, and further adoption obstacles. Frankly, I have zero fears about sounding rude or crass. As individuals and as a couple, we may not have been through the worst the world has to offer, but we have been through a helluva a lot. It hasn't made me hard, but it has made me more passionate about sharing our experience. Sharing the very real pain we have endured, and the pain one in ten couples goes through.

Infertility is not a women's problem. It is not a man's problem either. It is a hardship couples face together. If you have never experienced it, it's ok to not know what to say. It's ok to say, I don't know what to say. What's not ok is to pretend you have the answer.There may not be one. The time may never be right. Not all couples successfully have biological children, or are able to adopt. Some never become parents. We don't have crystal balls, and we don't know who it will work out for. We all have to accept that things happen in this world there is no answer for. If you can't understand, then you can't understand. No one is asking you to. We don't need to relate, in order to support someone. In fact much like the tango, it's just nice having someone there beside us.

J xx

painting by Fabian Perez


  1. Amen, sister!

    I don't think my husband has EVER had a comment about our fertility issues - but me??? Well, you may have read my recent blog post about the inane things people have said to me over the years. Come to think of it, I think ALL of those things were said to me by women! What is it with us?

    Great post.


  2. I LOVED your post on it!!!! I have no idea what is up with women on this! In fact over the years in group situations, I find I now gravitate towards men to avoid being asked about children and so on. I'm tired of feeling so judged. Thankfully those of us in the same boat have each other!! ; )

  3. I agree with Ruth, although don't start lumping all of us men together just yet:)...come to think of it I don't think I know how to respond to Hilary either :)

    I have to say that my thoughts have echoed what you said about "sharing your pain with other couples". While I don't always comprehend the infertility "pains" that women feel, the adoption side has opened my eyes.

    I feel very passionate about international adoption, and I can't say that I really knew anything about it before we got into the situation we now find ourselves in. My goal is to make my little part of the country just a little more aware and understanding of adoption and international adoption..

    Great series of posts Jessa.

  4. Thank you Sheldon!! I think adoption and International adoption education is so important. I've been on the side of future adoptive parent and adoptee, and there is definitely a lot of ignorance on the subject. The only way to alter that is to teach people, which is why it is so important to share.
    Thanks so much for reading my blog! I'm still shocked that I'm writing things people are taking the time to read. ; )

  5. I hear ya sister! I have come to loath the phrase “Just relax”. I know I am high strung but so are millions of other women who end up getting pregnant.
    I couldn’t agree with you more that infertility is not solely the problem of one sex but a challenge that men and women face TOGETHER.
    Great blog entry, I look forward to more. :-)

  6. Thanks so much Rachel! There are definitely a lot of us, who are in this together, which makes it a little bit easier. ; )

  7. Jessa: I have just discovered your blog and I am enamored with it. Your writing is amazing, you have such wit, and I am thankful that I get to read about your adoption journey. It has been a long, long time my friend (high school!!) since I have heard about your life. I never knew you were such a writer (please do write a book!) but I guess there are a lot of things we do miss about one another in high school. (From Heidi Cassaday (Palmer)

    And I must apologize for all women out there who make these terribly insensitive remarks. It is astounding and shocking. And humbling to think I could have been one of them. Thank you for your honesty. Really it makes a difference to those you have no idea what you are facing. Oh and sorry for such a long comment!

  8. Thank you so much Heidi! It's amazing that it's been 15 years since high school... Wow! I'm so glad you've enjoyed my writing. I sincerely hope to write a book one day... Make millions and buy an Island. ; )

    While this is highly therapeutic for me, I'm hoping it helps others and spreads some understanding.

    Thank you again, I am so flattered by your comment!! You made my day. xo

  9. You are definitely not alone in this one and yes other women are the worst. I think it's because the have absolutely NO IDEA what we have or are going through and feel they have the answer. The one I hate more than "relax" is "'re adopting, you'll see once you adopt you'll get pregnant" ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH is all I can say to that.


I love your comments & read each and every one of them!!!
Thanks you!!!