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February 09, 2017


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dubliner in deutschland

For me I felt very ashamed that I haven't been able to do what should come naturally for me as a woman. I don't know why infertility is so much more shameful than other illnesses but it is. And sperm seems to be very connected to manhood so men can't stand the idea that something might be wrong with their precocious swimmers!

Don't Count Your Eggs

Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and your source of feeling shame. I wish I had a magic wand to erase that feeling from everyone, but I understand it and it's very obviously a common feeling. Turning that shame into pride is what's most important because each of us has a lot to be proud of.


I felt ashamed because I considered myself without a child as a complete failure. I felt that without having a baby my life will not be complete. When I was yonge I was so sure I will have couple of kids..I used to babysit so many kids of family and friends and even when it crossed my mind " what if I can't have kids".. adoption was always in my mind as such a sure thing.. and then.. real life brought failure after failure after failure for 3 years. When everyone around me started family and was having baby after baby with such an ease, my frustration and grief grew bigger and bigger and I became completely withdrawn and so desperate and so ashamed. Ashamed because I tried so hard maybe too hard and nothing worked. I started to feel jealous and angry and ashamed of those feelings. You are right Maya that desperation + withdrawal = Shame, I will also add + jealousy to the equation.
I felt that the universe was stripping me from the most basic need, to love and nurture a baby. I felt ashamed that because I am trying so hard, going through so much pain and procedures and expenses and that nothing works, then I must be cursed or defective in some way. On top of that I felt ashamed when friends and family acted so awkward around us. They didn't know what to say or do which made everything so much worse!
I really felt like I am the outsider of privileged circle of lucky ones. I remember one particular party where everyone with kids gathered downstairs and I was upstairs on the phone with the doctor explaining to me that despite gazzilion drugs I took and gazzilion money we spent I only have one lazy egg which makes ivf procedure impossible. I had to plaster smile on my face, go downstairs and act like I have all together, because if I wouldn't, it would make everyone so uncomfortable. All this pain for so many years led us to our gorgeous donated embryo baby and today I can say that all this shame I was carrying for so long turned into pride. Pride that despite it all we didn't give up.

Mel. B..

What makes you feel ashamed is that it seems as though everyone
who wants to have children are able to do so. Everyone I know
conceived without much trouble and those who needed intervention
such as IVF, were successful as well. What makes me feel so isolated
is feeling like no one understands. One of my friends who suffered from infertility for years recently conceived. Although, I am happy for her, I feel like I won't have that connected experience with her anymore. Now I really feel alone. I wish there was an infertility therapy group I could join with my husband so we would feel less alone.


For me the shame wasn't really about my body or even the IF diagnosis- it was more about not being able to succeed at something. I had plenty of trials in life but all of them I was able to overcome by sheer determination, focus, attitude, smarts etc. This was different and to me the shame simply equated to failure. I have now somehow turned my shame into pride. I am proud I am able to handle this diagnosis. Proud I have fought for my child(ren) and proud I was mostly able to hold it together and proud my husband and I battled it together and got stronger. I consider it a badge of honor and even though I know some around me look at me with pity or sympathy- I shrug it off. I just feel pride and occasional lingering anger and those that just didn't 'get it' or support me. So I guess in the end my attitude and determination etc kind of beat IF- if only just the mental part of it.


There are a hundred and one ways to feel shame going through infertility. I felt like a failure. I felt ashamed that I was spending throusands of dollars a month NOT getting pregnant.The survival of the fittest/earth mother hippy parts of me said that if I was worth anything or truly a woman then I should be able to "do it myself." Obviously this is absurd, but it was like all my perfectionism exploded me into a million pieces thanks to infertility. I really just fell apart. I told very few people close to me because I didn't want to deal with their discomfort.I couldn't deal with a single negative or less than supportive word (clearly I was saying enough terrible things to myself.)I did join an infertility support group and went to therapy and couldn't have gotten through that time without those resources. My therapist recommended Brene Brown's work on shame and that was helpful.


I also didn't tell anyone about what we were going through. I didnt want people feeling sorry and having to walk on eggshells around me. I also didn't want all of the ridiculous baby- making advice from people who hadn't been through this themselves.
I think the shame I felt was around several things. One being a sense of failing at what I thought should have been the most natural and easiest thing in the world, to create a child with my husband. I harshly had thought IVF was for people who had left it too late, and not for someone like me who was young and otherwise healthy. Then I became someone who was considering IVF and realised that before all of this, I didn't have much empathy and understanding about it at all.
I was also so overly aware of how different our lives were to that of our friends and family who were all having babies. I guess no one knew whether we were childless by choice or not, but I just felt so inadequate about our situation and I suppose a bit awkward around everyone and their happy families. Like I was kind of faking that I was ok. I felt shame about feeling jealous and sometimes being unable to really honestly share the joy of friends and family around their pregnancies, births etc. And perhaps that I wasn't handling the situation as well as I should.


I didn't tell anyone I knew about what was going on. I ran through all the scenarios of what would happen if I did share with friends and family. My conclusion was no one could ever say anything that would ever make it all work. That's all I really wanted - was it to work. Afterwards, when I got pregnant through IVF - my mom said "you should have talked to your sister-in-law about it. She went through IVF, she would understand." My response was "She wouldn't make the shots easier. She wouldn't make the invasive process of the doctors appointments better. She couldn't help me get a positive pregnancy test." I didn't see the point in having people give me the sad/dopey eyes when things didn't work out. I only wanted to share joy.


I didn't feel shame for a long while in our journey, but like you say, with every month marching by and no baby in sight I felt I'd failed.

I also think comments like

Just relax......
You just need to get drunk .........
Take a holiday, it worked for me..........
Go to acupuncture, it worked for my friend......
Maybe it's just not meant to be..........
Gosh, I'm super fertile, have my eggs...
Take these herbs....

Then when you miscarry

There was something wrong with your baby.....
You were relaxed, that's why it happened.......(I wasn't relaxed, I was about to start IVF)
God knows what he's doing......

All of these good intentioned, but thoughtless comments made me feel like infertility was in my head, that it was my state of mind hindering our ability to conceive and keep a pregnancy.

The truth is that a sperm count of 5000 per load is rarely ever going to produce a pregnancy. We are dealing with a medical condition..... not a state of mind. We can't do this on our own, we need medical help.

Even though I've tried to educate family and friends so they know our situation, these comments still persist. I guess I've just accepted that some people will never understand and that we know our truth (however, hubby is still in denial) 😀

Pamela O

I guess I should also mention that I pride myself on being a liberated feminist and all that. So suddenly spending insane amounts of time obsessing over my lady parts, and over the whole gestating and giving birth thing -- YEARS of my life -- took a whack at that aspect of my identity. Suddenly I feel like just another high-strung biddy whose eggs are past their sell-by date. I should be doing rocket science or something, not hours and days of research about lady hormones and writing blogs where I talk about monthly bleeds.

It's awful and shameful to say this, but I've uncovered so much internalized misogyny within myself through all this. Calling myself "liberated" and meaning "not like those other women" was a big part of it.

I am a woman. And the more I learn about the female reproductive system, the more in awe I am that it ever works. It's so vastly intricate, and when it works right, so utterly badass. I mean, women create entirely new humans in an insanely strong muscle balloon that somehow magically knows how to turn an undifferentiated clump of cells into a fully-grown baby.

That ahould blow everyone's mind.

So that's been one of the gifts of this. Rooting out a lot of internalized misogyny. I think a lot of my shame also came from that. I was shamed by it and then ashamed it even existed. It's really hard to admit even now.

Pamela O

This is a good question. I'm certainly not the type to tie my self-worth up in my lady parts. But something like shame definitely crept in with me as well. I think in part because it's such a taboo in general. I would have had no problem talking about it, but I was afraid other people would find it awkward and just a downer. And even if I didn't judge myself, maybe they would judge me, look at me differently.

And part of that I think is because (as I've said before) there was a part of me that was previously a little judgy about infertility. It happened to people who didn't plan, or people who were cosmically unlucky. It would never happen to me. I wasn't cursed or careless! I'd get married by age 33 (check!) and conceive both of my babies before I turned 35, or perhaps "just adopt." What could possibly go wrong?

Well, at age 35, and 36, and now 37, I got nothin'. And I know a lot more about adoption than I used to, and we can't afford the infant type (and aren't thrilled about the intrusiveness of it, and probably wouldn't qualify anyway), and we don't feel prepared at the moment for foster adoption.

And then I guess I find myself asking: Was I careless? Am I cursed? How did this go so wrong? I've known since I was a kid that I wanted to be a mom, and I thought I lined it up perfectly. What the hell happened? What did I do to deserve this crappy fate?

And sure, you tell a few people. And at first it just seems like a bump in the road. But then it drags on. And on. And on. And it sucks. And it hurts. And it's monotonous. You're sick of it. Why would you want to inflict it on anyone else? Especially people who are having babies all over the place and dealing with all the issues surrounding that, who have no idea what you're going through and don't know what to say (because there's nothing to say, except yeah, it sucks). It's like they are in a different universe.

So... no wonder you get withdrawn. You feel like the odd one out. Like it's middle school all over again and everyone got picked but you, except now it's even worse, because in middle school you could secretly tell yourself that some day all those jerks would have miserable lives and yours would be awesome. But now no one is being a jerk. They're just moving forward in life in one of the most fundamental ways imaginable and you are not. There's not even anyone to be mad at. Just this awful directionless left-out misery. And in our society, there's not even a way to mourn it publicly without it being really awkward. And without people saying -- out loud or in their heads -- "You should have planned better" or "You should just adopt." Like it's not even real or valid pain.

Put that all together... feels kinda like shame to me, or something very close to it.

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