Recently I was introduced to a reporter for a nationally published women's magazine who is planning to write a story on women who battled infertility but end their journey without children. She wanted to profile a few women in her story and was reaching out to a few people. I'll be honest, I was scared shitless when I sent her the small blurb about our story and a couple of pictures of myself because, let's face it, if chosen I would go from being relatively anonymous in an obscure corner of the blogosphere to having my name and possibly picture published in a national women's magazine. But I thought to myself "announcing" my infertility in a national publication would be pretty badass.
The reporter was very upfront that she was gathering blurbs from multiple women and then she planned to take everything to her editor and decide how to proceed from there and that sending her a short blurb was by no means a guarantee that my story would be published. I knew from the beginning that my story was a long shot to be published. I wasn't chosen to be profiled. To be clear, I'm not upset or hurt, not even a little bit. And I'm not surprised. Lets face it, the goal of a women's magazine is to sell issues, and sensational headlines sell magazines. Mine headline isn't sensational at all. In fact, "Infertile Woman Doesn't Pursue Treatment But Still Grieves That She Will Never Have Children" is probably a headline better suited for The Onion than a women's magazine.
Catchy headline or not, I think my story is important to share. I think that there are a whole lot of women (couples) that fall into the same category as me (and my husband), couples who are infertile but don't or can't seek treatment. For us there wasn't any one particular reason that we didn't do IVF. It just felt like the right decision for us. We went as far as we were willing to go and were willing to accept any consequences as a result of our decision. We were on the same page from the start. There wasn't even much discussion. We just knew it wasn't for us. This isn't to say it wasn't hard because it was gut wrenching.
Other couples have religious objections to IVF. Catholicism comes immediately to mind. Others have ethical issues with IVF. What to do with any frozen embryos is a question that many are faced with. Gender screening. Genetic testing. It's a whole can of worms. There are no easy answers and there are no universally correct answers. The right answer is what is right for the couple.
For many couples, the cost of IVF is insurmountable. Not everybody of reproductive age has a spare $15-20 grand laying around to pay for a medical treatment that, best case, has a 70% failure rate. In fact I would guess that many people don't have that much laying around without tapping into home equity or retirement. I'll never forget after we received our infertility diagnosis we were ushered into a room to talk to the IVF nurse and then to another room to talk with the financial manager (notice how I said ushered, at no point were we asked if we wanted to talk to these people, but we were reeling from the news we'd just received and couldn't say no). The finance manager was talking about paying for IVF and gave us a brochure about financing IVF through a specific company. Since my sarcasm often comes out at times such as these I remember saying something to the effect of "yeah, that's probably at a 25% interest rate too" to which the finance manager replied "actually I think it's only around 22%." Now I'm no economist or accountant but that sure seems like predatory lending to me.
But the point is that there are a lot of people who don't or can't pursue advanced fertility treatments. It doesn't mean that the couple didn't try hard enough. It doesn't mean that they didn't want it bad enough. It doesn't mean that it was God's will. Or that they wouldn't have made great parents. They are good enough. They did want it enough. They would have been awesome parents. And God (if such a being actually exists) doesn't have a damn thing to do with fertility (or infertility).
At the end of the day I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to correspond with the reporter. Doing so took me far out of my comfort zone. But you know what? The sky didn't fall. The training wheels came off of the bike and I didn't wreck. I grew. I don't know what this means going forward. On one hand I feel like maybe I have found my voice (or at least my confidence) but on the other hand I don't think I'm ready for an infertility coming out party. But what I know for certain is that my story is important too.