THE BLOG

Honoring the Choices: Infertility

05/11/2015 12:59 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2016
Vladimir Nenov via Getty Images

It has taken me almost 18 years to completely come to terms with my experience with infertility. Secondary infertility, actually, which has its own cruel flavor.

The tree that we planted over our first lost baby recently wilted and died. It had survived for years after being transplanted from the old house but not the last harsh winter. Its loss was not an insult to injury, or a tragedy, while still being significant. The anniversary of the date has gone back to just being Halloween, not a holiday I resented and then embraced for its personal significance. I can talk about the topic without making a mess of myself, for a long time now, but also don't feel a deep need to do so.

Infertility, for me, has been reabsorbed and accepted. But it took a long, largely invisible, time. I am a different woman for it.

I describe the experience in The Specific Scent of Snakes, but realize that many people in my life won't know the story at all. We do pregnancy loss and infertility with a little bit of embarrassment in our society where HOPE and the magic of science bid us to silence if we're not busy being warriors about it.

I describe in the book something that women rarely share: the decision not to keep escalating the war against our errant bodies with more and more tech. Each family has a point at which they will stop, but we prefer the stories of extremes. We almost treat it as a failure of hope, a sign of not caring enough, not to keep escalating. That there are services and soothsayers to keep us going is a given, so the line is ours to make.

I wanted to honor the line, different for each of us. It doesn't have to be at any particular point, but it is unique to each couple, each member of the couple. We found our line where it was right for us. We drew it together, for which I am grateful and a bit awed, because it strains against the bonds more used to hope and hard work than acceptance.

How far is too far? When is it too soon? And how can we honor those choices?