Breaking a Silence: on Infertility

August 2011. Four years in.

"Write hard and clear about what hurts." - Ernest Hemingway

I’m on a journey. It started years ago and led me here, silently tracing the keyboard with my fingers, willing them to produce words from my cluttered and timid thoughts. And after I’m done typing, my journey will continue indefinitely. Because whether or not I achieve the result I ache for, this experience is a piece of me, and it will be forever.
I’ve struggled knowing when or how to broach this subject here, or even if I should. Vulnerability is a frightening thing. But even more terrifying is the feeling of loneliness. So because statistics say I’m not alone, I’m ready to stop suffering in silence. I’m taking my vulnerability and stepping into this dark, ominous void and hoping that, if nothing else, my words can be what someone else needs today.

And if nothing else, I'm breaking the silence to contribute to a movement. Let's talk about this subject. Let's get to a point where women like me feel comfortable admitting it, and where friends like mine aren't rendered speechless when the silence breaks.

I’m among the 1 in 8 affected by infertility. 

For seven years I have hoped, wished and prayed that I might have a chance to experience pregnancy and everything that comes with it. Even – if not especially – the miserable stuff.  What I wouldn’t give to puke all day or gain 50 pounds or have stretch marks!
For seven years I’ve been handed advice, both unsolicited from acquaintances and purchased from physicians.

Oh just relax. Don’t think about it. Take a vacation.
Stress less.
Put your legs up and stay like that for half an hour.
Intimacy: Every-other-day. No everyday. No three times a day. (Three times a day!? A’int nobody got time for that!)
Take this vitamin and this essential oil and this supplement.
Take cold medicine. It worked for my friend.
Fill this prescription and call me when the ovulation stick smiles at you.
Gain weight. Eat more ice cream. Or eight meals a day. And drink beer.
Don’t drink milk or eat gluten.
Take my kids! That’ll cure you from ever wanting any of your own.
Just adopt. Then you’ll get pregnant. Probably immediately. It worked for my friend.

The last one gets to me for personal reasons, but I honestly give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I smile and nod and maybe offer an “OK, thanks.” because when it comes to infertility (and adoption) I completely understand that outsiders genuinely have no idea what to say. These are taboo and sensitive subjects, and people become so caught off guard that they feel they must say something. Because saying anything at all seems more supportive than saying nothing, and I totally get that. At times, I even appreciate it.

Five years into this journey, we were blessed with our sweet Jack through adoption, and I thank God every day for him and the miracles and benefits that adoption has brought into my life. I wouldn’t trade Jack or our experience with his adoption for a single thing, not even pregnancy. In a way, adoption has made me thankful for my infertility, because without it we wouldn’t have Jack or a relationship with his birthmom and her amazing family.

But adopting Jack and finally becoming a mom doesn’t change the fact that I’m still affected by infertility. In many ways, the pain of infertility is lessened because whether I gave birth to him or not, I know Jack is completely mine and was always meant to be mine. I get to know what it is to be a mom, and that’s something I know a lot of women are still wishing and hoping and maybe even praying for.
But that’s not to say that I don’t get a small pit in my stomach when I hear a casual complaint about pregnancy or feel a twinge of envy when a woman unknowingly boasts about getting pregnant “without even trying!”

But it’s all just a part of the journey, and though it's emotional for both my husband and I, we keep going. And we keep trying. Even when it's no longer fun. And we keep smiling and nodding and saying, “OK, thanks,” and we wouldn’t trade our sack of rocks for anyone else’s because we know that though we bear this one burden, there are a lot of other things we’ve never had to worry about. And whether we’re blessed with our own adopted babies or our own biological babies, our journey with infertility will always be an unforgettable part of our history.

So let's start talking about it.

Helpful links for those affected by infertility, or those looking to support friends or family members affected by infertility:

The Hidden Emotions of Infertility, lemonwater blog

The Invisible Pain of Infertility, Redbook Magazine

This Woman Has A Secret, SELF


  1. Thanks for this post, Jess! We really do need to talk about it more because we will realize how many others struggle. We got all of those suggestions and then had some interesting conversations when people said I shouldn't take pills to get pregnant. Thanks for being brave and getting the conversation started!

  2. Great post. I love love love when you say "our own adopted babies or our own biological babies" I hope you're able to add on to your ridiculously adorable family soon. Love ya

  3. Beautiful as always, Jess. And good for you! Putting yourself out there and being vulnerable is never easy.Thank you! It makes me love you even more than I already do!

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