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Infertility: Pain, Blame, and Shame

Shame she felt not being able to have a baby.

A good friend told me she’d always wanted kids, just not right away.  After college she’d begun a career she loved and soon met a man she became engaged to.  When they first got married, neither one of them was in a hurry to change their busy lifestyles and start playing house.  They had their whole lives ahead of them and before you could say Pampers she was 35.  She and her husband decided it was time.  And besides, if she had the baby right away, she could be back at work within a year. 

 

Everything had always come easy for my friend – a good college, a great job, a handsome and loving husband – why couldn’t she get pregnant?  Months passed.  They used thermometers, ovulation kits, saw specialists, took tests which all came out normal.  There was no diagnosable reason they weren’t getting pregnant.  She started to panic.  Was she too old? Had she waited to long? She couldn’t bear to hold her friends’ babies anymore.  It got so she couldn’t even look at a pregnant woman in the street.  Every time her period came she was inconsolable. 

 

Eventually her doctor put her on infertility drugs – hormones to help her ovaries produce super-novas or something that would increase her chances of success.  But still she felt like a failure every month.  She described it as unlike any feeling of failure she had ever felt before – not like getting a bad grade at school or bombing a project at work – she said it felt like a failure as a mammal.  And that was painful beyond belief. 

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For some reason she started blaming her husband.  If he hadn’t wanted to wait so long they wouldn’t be in this mess.  If he hadn’t been so hung up on “getting his career on track before starting a family” she would have had a baby years ago.  But she knew in her heart that she really could have tried to have a baby any time she wanted.  The blame thing just came out of nowhere. 

 

But what really surprised her was the shame that she felt about not being able to have a baby.  Friends would say “So, when are you two going to have some kids?” and she would laugh and say something lame like “We’re working on it” or “We’re just not ready.”  She always felt that people could see through that façade and they could tell she was a failure.  She felt ashamed.

 

Her doctor suggested they go beyond the medicines and try invasive procedures to get pregnant.  They decided to do IVF the following month and the doctor they chose for this procedure was an hour away.  Since she would be driving there often, they bought a new car.  That month they got pregnant – without the procedure.  A year after their first baby, they wanted to have another, so my friend took the medicine again, but after trying for eight months, they had no success.  So they bought another car and immediately got pregnant.  They’ve only leased cars since then. 

 

Copyright: Gigi Vorgan

 

Gigi Vorgan is the co-author of the new book “The Naked Lady Who Stood On Her Head – A Psychiatrist’s Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases" (Morrow, Oct. 2010) 

For more information see  drgarysmall.com

 

Gigi Vorgan is the author of numerous health books, including The Memory Bible, a New York Times bestseller, of which she is the co-author.

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