I've read a couple of articles lately talking about a “growing women’s movement to de-stigmatize infertility.” That’s a quote from an article last week on Yahoo, which starts by saying that infertility used to be something that was thoughtful shameful, a hushed-up topic that was simply not discussed. That may have been the case decades ago, but it’s hard to think of that as a recent phenomenon. So we wondered: Have you experienced stigma as someone who’s had difficulty conceiving?
Probably most TTC women – maybe all – have had awkward moments with a friend, family member, coworker, or neighbor who simply didn’t know what to say when you told them you’re having trouble getting pregnant. Or worse, they said exactly the wrong thing when you told them. But that’s not the same as being stigmatized, as if you were guilty of some grave offense. One article quotes a survey by the drug company Merck in which 61 percent of respondents hid their infertility from family and friends, and almost 50 percent didn’t tell their own mothers. Thinking back on awkward comments and responses I got over the years, there was an element of judgment to a few of them - if I'd only done things in my life this way, like trying harder to marry sooner (I'm not sure how much harder I could have tried!), I wouldn't be in this predicament. It could be that the judgment and stigmatization in my case was completely hidden - that the people around me didn't have the nerve to tell me all the things they thought I had done wrong, that resulted in my not having a child. So perhaps you can be stigmatized and not know it? I'd love to hear your experience.
One of the articles I read talked about a book I had not heard of before, Silent Sorority, a memoir about infertility written by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, a woman who tried for a long time to conceive and who never became a mother – a story you almost never hear told. Tsigdinos writes a blog of the same name about her experiences in the aftermath of not being able to conceive and deciding at age 40, after multiple fertility treatments, that she’d had enough.
We’d like to hear what you think: Have you experienced stigma and judgment from others about your inability or difficulty conceiving, or the choices you’ve made as you’ve tried to become a parent?