Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Infertility = Shame

Resolve Blog Challenge

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines shame as: "1: a painful sense of having done something wrong, improper, or immodest  2: DISGRACE, DISHONOR   3: A cause of feeling shame  4: something to be regretted"

Merriam-Webster Thesaurus:
           Synonym(s): "DISGRACE"
           Related Words: "chagrin, embarrassment; guilt, mortification, self-reproach, self-reproof"

How does it make you feel to read those definitions, synonyms, and related words? Who are you? How does this relate to you?

You may be someone who is not affected by infertility. You may be someone who is not affected, but knows someone that is living with infertility. You may be someone like me; someone that is both directly and indirectly affected by infertility.

No matter who you are, we all need to be aware of each other and the effects that myths can have. I know that people tend to have good intentions when giving their "advice" when it comes to my... shhh don't say it too loud or you may shock others... INFERTILITY PROBLEMS. Myth: It is shameful to talk about infertility. It is not shameful. Infertility is just misunderstood, misconstrued, and under-talked-about. We should not, and cannot keep the secret taboos of past generations bottled up. Infertility affects millions, we are not alone, and we should not stand alone. It does not need to be everybody's business - that's up to you who you tell what - but we should also find support; it's hard. I am glad that I have a close friend, a cousin, and blogs by people that I can turn to for support - as they too have suffered some form of infertility.

Myth: Infertility = Not being able to get Pregnant; Miscarriage does not count. This is so classic; especially for me. I think this myth comes from how we both define and perceive infertility.

Dictionary defines infertile as: "not fertile or productive : BARREN...."
Thesaurus: Synonyms: "STERILE, BARREN"; Related Words: "depleted, drained, exhausted, impoverished"; and of course it also gives the opposite, the Contrasted Words: "breeding, generating, propagating, reproducing";  Antonym: "fertile".

In the King James Bible, we see the word Barren used whenever referring to mainly a woman that has not been able to have a child(ren); with a few references toward unproductive land. You can find this term in these chapters:
                       Genesis: 11, 25, 29, 30 ; Exodus: 23 ;
                       Deuteronomy: 7 ; Judges: 13 ; 1 Samual: 1, 2 ;
                       2 Kings: 2 ; Pslams: 11 ; Isaiah: 54 ; Luke: 1, 23 ;
                       Galatians: 4 ; 2 Peter: 1
Miscarriage is only mentioned as caused by another injuring the pregnant woman to the point of loss (Exodus 21:22). The list that has to do with the opposite is very lengthy.

I always have people "advising" me what to do, what to take, who to go to so I can get pregnant.... I don't have a problem of getting pregnant, I have a problem of staying pregnant. I suffer from multiple recurrent miscarriage.

Myth: We shouldn't talk about miscarriage, because it is shameful. Miscarriage = Abortion. There still exists societal taboos about infertility and miscarriage... which are wanting to be broken! We need to talk about infertility & miscarriage. Yes, it can be very painful and uncomfortable to talk about; but that is because we tend to perceive it as shameful. Miscarriage tends to be related to Abortion. Miscarriage is what medical professionals label as "natural abortion" - it is a natural phenomenon where the body for whatever reason ends, breaks down, and does away with the pregnancy. Miscarriage is NOT the same as forced clinical abortion.

Myth: It’s the woman’s fault. It takes Male and Female combined to make a baby. The woman is only half the equation. I have tended to blame myself for my multiple recurrent miscarriages. Nothing can be done; when you don't know what the cause is. The majority of miscarriage is unknown, a small percent has to do with multiple factors stemming from genetics.

Myth:  My husband does not need to get checked - his boys are just fine. I have not had any problems with getting pregnant, I have problems with staying pregnant... and no one knows why except God and He sure isn't telling. So in my mind, there's nothing wrong with my husband - it's all me.... he has yet to be tested for anything, but is open to him being tested.

Myth:  As soon as you adopt, you’ll get pregnant. This is another classic heard by many. Sure, so-and-so that you know actually had this happen.... but guess what? I'm not that person! I also have not had the chance to adopt... have you ever looked into adoption? The process is quite daunting... and on our recent foster care placement it was up in the air so many times, and so many times we were told it was going to adoption, then it was in the air, then the baby was going back to bio-parent, then in  the air.... urrrg!

Myth: If you see a certain doctor or take a certain herbal remedy you'll get pregnant, because so-&-so did. So what! That's not going to change the fact that every-time I get pregnant - I don't have a problem with getting pregnant, I have a problem with staying pregnant - I miscarry. Every. Time! In fact, I have been pregnant so many times, I wonder sometimes if I should bother.... but then I would be looked down upon as "giving up."

Myth: If you look into fostering, adoption, or other ways to create your family it means you have "given up" on having your own. Have I really. I spent a great day with a sibling and their spouse recently... and happened to mention fostering and adoption. The response of one of them immediately was something like this: "Well, we haven't given up on having our own." I didn't say I had given up... Just because my husband and I are open to different options of creating our family does not mean we have "given up" on having our own. No one, I think that suffers some form of infertility ever wants to "give up" - you just eventually come to accept who you are and how unique your family situation is. My husband told me some time ago that he has accepted the fact that for whatever reason unknown to mankind, we may not be able to be biological parents, and that is okay. I'm still working through the whole process.

We have a lot of negative language, that can be turned positive.... Post ways on how you and I, we, can do this; I would like to see what people think.

Infertility 101
National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW)


1 comment:

Ellen said...

It sounds really frustrating. I'm sorry that it's so hard, both to not have a child, and to deal with the comments of others. I think you are doing the best thing that can be done, and that is writing about it and educating people like me. Thanks for your insights. You're in my thoughts and prayers.