I'm not really sure why.
But it really feels like something I'm not supposed to discuss. And being an open person, that makes me feel a little weird. Especially when it is something that is so big and common, so I'm told, with one or two anecdotes -- so and so evidently struggles with this, someone my sister knows had that. But it is rare to meet someone who talks freely about it in the first person.
But I think it is time. Time for me to talk. I'm not sure if by doing so I defy some deeply seated social taboo, or if it is merely a result of a desire for privacy. Whatever the reason, I feel a little bit like I am doing something wrong in opening up. Like I should be embarrassed or more discreet. I wonder if I will regret sharing with the world, especially in this very private sphere.
But I am going to go ahead and say it:
I can't have kids.
At least not yet.
It is something I've always suspected. It is something I hoped I would overcome with a few simple medical prods. And it is something I continue to deal with. Like when my disability insurance refuses to pay for any pregnancy related injuries or illnesses when they normally pay for this in women without documented fertility issues.
I used to think I would have five kids. In dental school I was asked by a girl if I would quit working to have a family when I graduated. I told her that I felt I would want to continue to work, at least part time, and "Who knows! Maybe I can't have kids so I'll be glad to have my work." She scolded me for saying "such a horrible thing." I don't know why having a realistic intuition was an inappropriate thing to say, but she seemed to think so.
I have thought a lot about pregnancy. I have had a lot of fear. I think I was coming to terms with my fears (both of pregnancy itself and also the fear of maybe not being able to get pregnant) when I wrote my Blueberry girl post. It was shortly after that that we started trying for a baby.
Most of my married life I was shielded by questions, judgements, suggestions. I think it was pretty obvious that in my stage of life (residency), having a baby would be very difficult to manage. But as I get closer to the end, I suddenly feel like it is free game to discuss my reproductive status. I feel like I am bombarded with suggestions (this would be good timing for a baby), encouragement (it would sure be great to see some little Sheffields running around), and questions (mostly, are you pregnant?).
I should probably feel loved that people are interested in me. And flattered that they think my genes are worth passing on. But it can be hard. Most of the time it doesn't make me sad or mad or frustrated. But it does make me feel awkward. And alone.
When I hear, "No kids yet? Hmmm...I guess it is a personal decision, really." It pangs my heart to think, "Well no, it really hasn't been my decision." When I am asked when I am going to have kids, I say something like, "Maybe after residency," but I am really thinking, "Maybe never." I am embarrassed when I find myself tearful in inappropriate situations (probably partly from the stress of disappointment after disappointment and partly from the induced hormonal surges), and frustrated that when I look in the mirror, I am plagued by the effects of my out-of-wack hormones wreaking havoc on my body -- acne worse than when I was a teen, for one. And the disappointment and worry of what comes next after taking 5-7 additional pills each day that still don't seem to be working. I feel alone that while I answer with a superficial polite response with a smile, inside I know the struggle I carry alone, or at least it feels that way much of the time.
I'm not sure what I am hoping to achieve by this post. But I am tired of hiding it. I am tired of trying to be brave and quiet. I am tired of feeling like I am alone and weird and broken, when evidently there are lot of others who must be feeling the same way. People that could probably help me. And people maybe I could help.
So yes, I am infertile. And if you ask, I'm going to tell. When you get a real answer you didn't want to hear, maybe you can be the one who feels awkward or embarrassed. Because I am moving on.
* * *