By JANNETTE ARMSTRONG
My husband and I are in our early thirties and have been married for four years.
I have a rewarding, fulfilling and demanding career. We travel a lot. We love to eat out. We spoil our fur-kid (our dog, Darryl) absolutely rotten. Our life is rich in so many ways.
But for the past two-and-a-half years we’ve kept a dirty little secret: We can’t get pregnant.
Logically I know infertility is a common issue that many women and couples face. Logically I know that it’s not my fault and that I’m not alone. But heck, this is how it darn well feels some days. I know I shouldn’t be ashamed but it’s not one of those things that is talked about or widely accepted as ‘normal’ in our society, and I write this to try and remove some of the taboo about a few things that women really shouldn’t be ashamed of at all.
We’re at that age now when many people around us are having babies so dinner party conversations never take long to reach the, “When are you two going to have kids?” stage (it seems a strangely personal and insensitive question to ask a relative stranger. Whether it’s a choice, a medical issue, or a matter of timing, I’m not sure why people feel I need to explain myself to them).
Then at every family gathering we’re inevitably asked, “Are you pregnant yet?” It turned into a bit of a game actually, to see how long we could be at a family do before someone would ask (the record as about two and a half minutes – that’s barely enough time to get through the polite “Hello, how are you?” bit).
With so much pressure from family, friends, and – lets face it – society as a whole (cue criticism of our ‘deliberately barren’ female prime minister), my inability to conceive has left me feeling like a complete and utter failure.
I often feel like I’d let my husband down – he married me thinking I’d be able to make his dream of being a dad come true but I’d pulled that rug from under him. I am failing as a daughter, sister, and a friend for similar reasons.
But overwhelmingly, I feel as though I have failed as a woman. Having babies is, after all, what the female body is made to do. It’s supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, yet I just couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried (and boy did we try: fertility diaries, vitamins, ovulation sticks, alarm clocks, missionary, doggy, sideways and hanging up-side-down…!).
Perhaps it is a little paranoia but I get the distinct impression that many in our lives think I am the reason we were still childless too – because I am too career-focused and keen to see the world. Comments like, “Oh, you’ll settle down and want children one day too” probably don’t help.