One of the most famous speeches of all time is ‘I Have A Dream’ by Dr Martin Luther King.
As a teenager, I remember my older sister studying his life at school. Hearing his words for the first time moved me to tears. His passion, determination and most importantly the message he was sharing was inspiring.
Fast forward thirty years, and now I have my own dream; one I am passionate to share.
All around the world, countless women and men feel like failures. Failures for not being able to do the one natural thing that happens so easily for others; have their own child. I dream that one day, silence and stigma will no longer be associated with infertility. Couples will be able to freely discuss their struggles and feel supported by others for doing so. My vision is that they will not be judged because of their fierce desire and biological urge to hold a baby in their arms. Their trials and tribulations; emotional, physical, mental and financial burdens will be heard rather than dismissed.
You are likely to be acquainted with someone who’s been on or is currently riding the emotional rollercoaster of infertility.
But because it’s not talked about, you may never know. In the meantime, their parenthood aspirations slowly take hold of their lives and become their silent focus. The isolation for each woman and man sets in deeper the longer the journey lasts; like a knife repeatedly stabbing the heart. The disconnection is intense, the shame unforgiving and the longing for their own child relentless.
If the fertility issue is the woman’s, she feels guilty for not being able to provide her partner with his own child and worries it will destroy the relationship.
She blames herself, questions whether he will go elsewhere and concludes she is less of a woman because her body keeps failing her. Her partner, on the other hand, feels desperate to fix the problem. Instead, he becomes a reluctant bystander to watching his partner slowly lose her sense of self and regularly cry herself to sleep.
When the fertility issue lies with the man, his masculinity is harshly questioned by himself and those around him.
He feels inadequate and internalises the shame; sometimes with other distractions. There are few support groups for men or opportunities to talk and express emotions; it becomes easier to shut down or numb the pain.
So how can we help change this?
Silence is not the answer, it never is. Silence does not make the problem go away or enable those who are suffering to heal. We should not hide our own embarrassment or uncertainty about what to say with silence; it just doesn’t work. Even if we have no firsthand experience on the topic, we need to open up the lines of communication during times of challenge or hardship and reach out to others.
Change starts with us all.
Unfortunately, not everyone will welcome a baby into the world, just as not everyone survives cancer. But it doesn’t mean those couples shouldn’t be supported to try. Everything starts with a conversation, with genuinely hearing and seeing the other person, and acknowledging their pain. It’s not until we get to this place that they can begin to move forward. Allow others to express themselves and simply be there for them. Listen. Hug them. Ask them how they’re feeling. Tell them they can talk any time, and if they don’t want to, that’s also okay. Doing this will help them feel like they matter and are less invisible.
I will continue to talk about infertility and shine a light on this subject. To be a voice for those who cannot find theirs.
I will write about this topic and share my articles all over the world. Why? Because I have a dream, that one day, infertility will not be surrounded by silence, stigma and shame. I have a dream, and I won’t rest until positive change is made. If you would like to be part of this or learn how to transform your life, I’d love you to join my Facebook Community and Facebook Group. We’re all in this together!