Sunday, November 21, 2010

I have infertility

doesn't that phrase sound weird?

I think so, but I wish it didn't.

Sometimes, it bothers me that when we are diagnosed with infertility the phrase that works best is, "I'm infertile."  I have thought about this for a long time and wished for a better phrase.  I can't think of any other medical diagnosis that when you receive it, you then become it.  For example, do people say, "I'm breast cancer?", "I'm leukemia?", or "I'm kidney disease?"  No.  I guess some people say they're diabetic, but they can also say, "I have diabetes".  And while I don't let infertility define me, sometime just the fact that when I tell people "I'm infertile"  I feel like it has defined me.  I know this is just semantics, but I wish there was a better phrase.  I suppose if I start saying "I have infertility"  maybe it would catch on, but probably not.  At any rate, it would cause some confusion.  And that is always fun to do with fertiles.  Since adopting our child I have thought I might say, "I have overcome infertility", or "I'm an infertility survivor" like cancer survivors are able to say.

I don't know.  It is just something I have thought about in the past, and again now in the present.   What are your thoughts on this?

I was reminded of these thoughts I had because blogger Keiko at Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed had a post where she wanted her readers to fill in the blank to the sentence:  Infertility is...

It was interesting to read what others wrote.  I added my own endings to the sentence.  Here they are:
my first thought was:
infertility is exhausting

second thought was
infertility is not the winner. I beat it. I am an infertility survivor

and this sentence goes along with the 2nd thought.  

infertility is not how I choose to define myself. 

Do you have infertility or are you infertile?  Maybe I am splitting hairs semantically, but I do think it matters at least mentally and how you view yourself and the particular brand of infertility you are fighting against.  


  1. Hi, I enjoyed reading through your blog and seeing your precious little one! Congratulations!!
    I still see my self as infertile, but it no longer defines me as I feel it once did. I was able to experience adoption and then birth after IVF. I will ALWAYS see myself as infertile. There are still little thoughts that I get when seeing someone become instantly pregnant or large families, but it's different now.
    You're right! Infertility is exhausting and I am a survivor. Although there were times I wasn't sure I would be. But I know and see how God carried me through that time!
    Stopping by via ICLW!!

  2. I usually don't say it either way because people tend to get all weird and start avoiding me once they know. But you're quite right - "I'm infertile" does make it sound like you are a disease or that the disease owns you. It certainly feels like that sometimes, but I agree we should watch our words carefully here and show infertility who is still boss!

  3. First of all I hate the word infertility. I hate saying infertile. I don't think any word would make it sound better. I have struggled immensley with not letting infertility define me, but I know it has changed me forever. Great post.

  4. Very thought-provoking post. I don't have any answers or insight - you've just got me thinking about it more. I like the point you make. I want to be a survivor too!

  5. i prefer to explain why i am infertile. i think people need a greater understanding of what the vague word "infertility" means. it could be soo many things, and i think people find a way to understand and empathize better when i tell them what exactly my problems are. they are less likely to come back with a platitude and more likely to look at me with bulging eyes saying "oh wow" lol ill take the trade.
    i actually have a page on my blog where i have lots of fellow IF bloggers listed along with the cause(s) of their infertility. im hoping that possibly someone out there who knows nothing about it (and cares) will find that page and realize that we aren't trying to get multiples or cheat the system without "trying" long or hard enough. i want people to understand that adoption isn't a cure either. my own father told me a month ago that if we adopted we would probably get pregnant. UUMMMMM we've been trying for 4 years? and you know my one remaining tube is destroyed, right? it was kind of a wake up call as to just. how. clueless. people are unless it is directly affecting them.
    anyway sorry to go on and on, just my two cents!
    if you would like to be included on my 'causes' page, let me know :)

  6. That's a really good point, and I never thought of it that way before. I resisted the label of infertility for a long time (I even liked to call our RE our "fertility doctor" NOT an "infertility doctor), but now I feel good about claiming my place in this infertile tribe. But you're right that it's a disease that we have, not who we are.

  7. good stuff. i also hate the word infertile...i usually say we "struggled with infertility," but you're right, it's still sounds so defining...

  8. I definitely think that I would fall under the "I have infertility" category. At first, I didn't even realize what you were talking about because...I do think of it as a disease and not really something that defines me. Maybe saying, "I'm infertile" sounds to grizzly and depressing...and maybe...too definite.

    Like when you tell someone "I have infertility" it seems more like a state that you are in right now but that you might be able to overcome. "I'm infertile" sounds more like a statement of fact. Abandon all hope, sperm who enter here.

  9. Interesting point. I still think "I'm infertile", but I'd add "and that's OK. Infertility has taught me SO many more things that I wouldn't have learnt otherwise."

  10. What a wonderful thought provoking post. I think I am still in the "I'm infertile" camp but working my way to the I have infertility and I am surviving. I hope to see infertility viewed as a disease at some point in my life time so that others won't have to deal with the stigma that it currently carries.

  11. Great post! I agree quite a bit with your thought process on this. Granted, our fertility issue is male factor, so I have never really said "I am infertile." Rather, as we are husband and wife and therefore one, I simply refer to it as "our infertility".

    The weird thing I am realizing about IF is that, even though I consider us to be IF survivors since we have our son, I still don't really feel like we have come out the other side because we still want more kids. Its almost like people think once an IF couple gets a baby they are "cured", you know? Its just a fine balance for me to remember on a daily basis that God has blessed us beyond measure and we are thankful for that, but we are also still hungry for the children He has yet to give us.