Hiding in the shadows of infertility
Trying to conceive
Most people have stopped asking us when we're going to start popping out babies now.
We've only been married a year but the distinct lack of pregnancy news has lead most to believe there are problems. And there are*.
You probably know a couple like us in your own lives; they gushed about how excited they were to start a family in the beginning, then there was radio silence.
Unless you've tried and failed at having a child, you probably won't understand the internal hell it is being a part of the 'trying to conceive' (TTC) journey.
But I want to let you in on our little world; maybe it will help you become a better parent, knowing you have been blessed with the job so many of us want.
And to those who are on the rocky TTC path, I'm hoping for the awareness to shine some light on that often-dark spot in your life.
I cannot say it enough: you are not alone. You. Are. Not. Alone.
So who are the great un-pregnant?
We are a secret club; we are your friends, your colleagues, your siblings, your associates, your family.
We are bound by a silent taboo; some of the closest people in our lives don't know what we're going through.
We are that couple who have been married for a few years and despite an active interest in children, never seem to produce one of our own.
We are the women who leave the room when someone announces their pregnancy with great fanfare at the office at work.
We are the people who like your sonogram photo pregnancy announcement on Facebook, then feel a sting like a thousand paper cuts every time we get a subsequent notification of "Congrats!!!!!!!" on the update.
We are the women whose friends feel worried, concerned and embarrassed to tell us they are pregnant for fear we will rip their belly open and steal the baby from their uterus.
Or that we won't be their friend anymore.
We are the women who turn down that glass of wine, not because we're pregnant, but because we're pumped full of drugs to try and make us conceive.
We are the women who are forever rushing off to various appointments, our arms baring the signs of countless needle pricks from blood tests.
We are the women who turn down that invite to that event or holiday because we're saving money - not for a new car, or home renovations, but the inevitable bills that roll in from the specialists.
We are the women who smile, nod and try to sputter out "Soon, hopefully" or "We'll see what happens" when you ask us when we're going to have kids.
And then we go away and we cry.
We cry a lot.
We are also, more often than not, supported by wonderful partners who feel the whole journey in their own way too.
Infertility - and that's defined as a couple that have been unable to conceive after 12 months or more of unprotected, regular sex - affects (depending on what you read) about 10 to 20 per cent of couples.
So it's fair to say it's more common than many of us may think.
But when you're experiencing it, when you're going through it, when you're suffering from it, there are fewer times you ever feel more isolated and alone. (In fact, it feels like there are babies everywhere. EVERYWHERE!)
Many couples spend their childbearing years trying to avoid conception by using contraception, so when the time comes to try to make a baby, most think throwing away the pills/condoms/injections/other contraptions is enough.
But when it doesn't come naturally, when the body doesn't respond the way it should, and when no baby arrives, we start asking questions.
Then we get the answer no body wants to hear: I'm sorry, you're infertile.
Don't get me wrong, I know my husband and I will be parents one day; I'm utterly convinced of that.
We haven't given up hope, and there is every chance, with the help of modern technology (or maybe even naturally!), that we will achieve our goal and our family will grow.
It's just the road to parenthood has started off as more of a Rally of New Zealand, with twists, turns, bumps and crashes... rather than the have-a-glass-of-wine-and-light-some-candles-lets-get-jiggy-with-it romantic conception experience that I once hoped for.
But I refuse to hide in the shadows of infertility. It is such a dark place as it is; the silence only makes it worse and perpetuates the idea that this is something we should be deeply ashamed of.
We're trying to do a beautiful thing. This is our story.
* I'll get into further details on this in future columns. In the meantime, please try to refrain from commenting saying "Just relax! It's easy! We got pregnant on our first go because we were relaxed!" or I will set my army of hormonal, infertile friends and support team on to you. We are a scary bunch (especially at that time of the month) so you have been warned!
- Essential Mums