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Name it and claim it?

April 7, 2009

The first time my OB GYN used the word “infertility” around me, it sent me into a tailspin, followed by several months of depression.

I had gone in for my annual pap smear … which I had previously delayed for 8 months because I kept thinking I would be pregnant before I could get an appointment. Ha. I mentioned the waiting time to my doctor and asked for any advice. She casually said, “Keep trying for a few more months, get your husband checked out, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll send you to an infertility doctor.” I can still exactly picture the moment she uttered the dreaded word. She was walking toward the back of the room, her face away from me.

I was already upset that the whole baby-making thing was taking longer than I had anticipated. But at that point, I was just frustrated at the wait. Hearing that word sent my mind on a whole new path.  I was not ready to face that it might continue to take longer and longer and longer.  I was not ready to claim an illness. I was not ready to fight with doctors about IVF, to undergo tests and treatments. I did not want to learn about fertility drugs. I wanted to learn how to make homemade baby food.

I still don’t like the word “infertility.” The “in” prefix seems to indicate an inability and a permanence that I am not ready to claim. Nevertheless, more than  a “few more months” have come and gone without any signs of pregnancy, so clearly things are not functioning properly.  I made up a term to describe my condition: “suboptimal fertility.”

This afternoon I looked up the definition of “infertility,” and it has all the loaded-ness and sadness that I had suspected.

From Merriam Websters:

infertility: from Middle French and Late Latin; not fertile or productive ; especially : incapable of or unsuccessful in achieving pregnancy.

I’ll admit being “unsuccessful” … at least so far. But I don’t like “incapable.” I am hoping for healing!

Next I looked up the medical definition, and now I want to cry.

Definition: Infertility is the inability to become pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex (intercourse).
Alternative Names: Barren; Inability to conceive; Unable to get pregnant.

I’m at the year mark now, so I can officially say I am “infertile.” I know a dictionary cannot diagnose me or condemn my fate, but I am a word person, and I don’t really love the fact that I now officially qualify as someone “unable to get pregnant.”

But strangely now, it is easier than it was months ago. I am mentally prepared to be in this for the long haul. I have a doctor I trust, who is working with me to try to figure out what is (or isn’t) going on. I know there are options that are no so invasive. I am already investigating adoption.

And even she who was called barren had a child. So maybe claiming the title of “infertility” can make it all the more exciting when I have a child too!

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One comment

  1. good to find you in the blog world!
    i’m hoping for great things too when those of us that are barren finally conceive 🙂 i can only imagine hearing your dr tell you that you were infertile.. i basically had to beg for mine to start any process, but he’s been great from here on out, but is recently starting to hit at the procedures we are not interested in, so i’ll see where we go from here. the blogs have been a great resource though, as i’ve measured my procedures/timeline against everyone else’s dr’s (i’m sure my dr would be thrilled to hear that).



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