Pregnant women are everywhere. Seriously: everywhere. You can’t hardly go anywhere without seeing at least one pregnant woman. And those are just the visibly pregnant women – some women spend about twelve weeks or so feeling very pregnant without the matching physical appearance.

This is not a bad thing. It’s just something that really jumps out at me, but then, maybe I’m just really hyper-aware of pregnant ladies. I’m relieved to say that I can now look at a pregnant woman without feeling like I’m going to burst into tears (hooray for progress – on that note, babies are still exceptionally difficult for me). However, when I look at a pregnant woman, I don’t think, “aw, baby!” so much as I think, “please let her have a live one.” Experience vs. Innocence.

I’m not going to say that I hide in the house hoping to avoid pregnant women and babies, because you can turn on the TV and see plenty of them. Last night, Geordie and I watched an episode of the Newlywed Show that featured expectant couples. This morning, The Price is Right ran their Baby Shower episode – all of the contestants were pregnant women. Not only that, but all of the female contestants on these two shows were visibly pregnant. Apparently, you’re only pregnant if we can actually see the baby bump.

But, that’s another issue altogether. No, what irks me is that people – in the most general sense – seem to take it for granted that getting pregnant is really easy. You’re not going to see a special “All-Infertility” episode of these shows. Of course, the difference is that pregnancy is something to be celebrated. Infertility is something that should be swept under the rug and never, ever talked about.

No, wait . . . That’s wrong. That’s seriously wrong. That’s so wrong it’s beyond imagining.

But it is often how infertility is treated. People want to talk about infertility almost as much as they want to talk about miscarriage and stillbirth. Unless it’s happening to you, you probably don’t want to hear about it. And you might not understand why anybody would want to hear about it. And for that reason, just like pregnancy and baby loss, the people it affects are often afraid to talk about it.

I talk about a lot of things people don’t necessarily want to talk about or even hear about. This is one of them.

As far as I know, I do not have any fertility issues. We are not trying to get pregnant at this time. But one of my greatest fears about trying again is that it won’t happen. See, there’s this thng called “secondary infertility,” which means that a couple who previously had no trouble getting pregnant suddenly can’t do it. No matter how hard they try.

Wait. Let me talk about that one little word: TRY.

I want you to imagine – those of you who have had no fertility/pregnancy issues – that, when you decided you wanted to try for a baby, you actually had to try to get pregnant. I’ve read (and heard) statements from fertile couples along the lines of “what do you mean, try for a baby? Don’t you just mean that you’re having birth-control-free sex?” I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that from a comedian – and people laughed at it. No, really, imagine this: you decide you want children and you leave the birth control behind you. And for six months, you as a couple have yourselves some fun in the bedroom. And no baby. So, you think, “well, I just don’t know my cycle.” And you figure out how your body works and you get a grip on that elusive moment of ovulation and you keep falling into bed and presumably enjoying yourselves.

And still no baby.

This happens to people. And not just a small amount of people; it happens to plenty of people. According to an excellent and heartbreaking Redbook video campaign from 2011, it happens to one out of eight women.

Many, many women hate getting their periods because of all the discomfort and inconvienence. Imagine again that you are a woman who, right now, wants nothing more than to have a baby. And every month, your period comes along to show that you still aren’t getting what you want. Imagine the disappointment, the heartbreak, the sheer confusion that comes with this event. Imagine how you feel about your body. Imagine how much you must hate it.

Or what if there is no period? What if you don’t bleed – but you don’t get pregnant either? What if you have PCOS? What if you have endometriosis?  What if there simply is no explainable reason?

What if getting pregnant actually meant working for it?

I’m not trying to scare anyone. Infertility doesn’t affect everybody. Plenty of people are able to have all the children they want simply by falling into bed and enjoying themselves. But not everybody. This is my point. We need to stop ignoring the minority. Nor am I suggesting that pregnant women have to hide themselves away or not show off their bellies. After all, if anything, I’ve shown that pregnancy truly is a miracle. I’m certainly not going to ask a woman to please take her four-month old baby out of my sight because it’s hurting my feelings. She has every right to show off her baby, just as I have every right to mourn mine. Simply be sensitive to to others, be sympathetic. Understand that pregnancy isn’t as simple as giving up birth control. It is no more a given than a live baby is.

And think. Some people look at a childless couple and think, “oh, they must hate kids.” Maybe they don’t. Maybe they want one more than anything else and just can’t have it. Parenthood is not automatic. We hear a lot about accidental pregnancies, but we don’t hear so much about the people who have to put effort into it, who have to seek out a doctor to get done what nature isn’t always able to manage. And while some infertile couples talk about it, many do not. We have to respect that too. It’s a private matter, and perhaps they don’t want their troubles exposed for the world to see.

All I ask, on behalf of those who are trying, is for people to show a little kindness, a little compassion, a little sympathy. A little forethought. And perhaps more than a little acceptance.

Advertisements