I met my husband when I was 15 at a “Thanksgiving Day” themed dance. We dated on and off in high school, but I always knew that I would end up marrying him. We would spend hours on the phone in high school, talking about what we wanted from life and how crazy it was that we wanted a lot of the same things. One of those things was a family.
After a few more years of dating, he finally moved to the state where I was going to college. We soon got engaged, both graduated, and shortly after got married. Both of us were 23 and ready to start a family. We couldn’t wait. We both came from large families – he was the oldest of 4 and I was the oldest of 6. We moved states, bought a house and started making plans to nest.
But we soon realized these plans were all but a dream. After a year of trying to conceive (TTC), we finally received our infertility diagnosis. I was crushed. He was crushed. How could this be? We were both only 24!
The rest of our twenties were spent going to doctor appointments, researching adoption options, starting an infertility support group, beginning a research on “rhetoric of infertility,” partnering up with the ART of Infertility, and basically deciding that it is okay to wait on building that dream we talked about and hoped for at 23.
Today, as we both embark on entering our thirties, I can’t help but think through the struggle of being under 30 and infertile. Being so young, many people struggle to really comprehend the fact that you can be young, healthy and yet still have trouble conceiving.
Here are the 5 Reasons I think Being Young & Infertile Is Hard (in no particular order):
1. Doctors (& our culture at large) always said that TTC when you are young would only help your chances. Growing up, we are told that we need to protect our fertility. That we need to be careful not to “accidentally” get pregnant. So when you receive an infertility diagnosis, rage – at the stories we’ve been told to “always use protection” – can fill your body. “How could I have trouble getting pregnant? I thought I was doing the right thing by trying early?” This confusion, pain and frustration at the perceived “myth of fertility” frequently entered my consciousness when I was diagnosed at 24.
2. I was told that you could (& probably should) plan your pregnancies. I grew up with a bunch of sisters – all of whom are close in age to me. We are each other’s best friends. And so, when I decided to start a family, I wanted to have not just one child but many. I thought by starting young that I could replicate the same type of childhood experiences I shared with my sisters. I could have my first baby at 24 then have the next one at 26 and then the next at 28. A two year gap seemed to make sense to me. But once I realized that I would have trouble even having just one child, I had to completely rethink this plan. I was devastated that I would not have the same type of family unit that I had grown up in.
3. A lot of my girlfriends – were not married – let alone TTC. When we first were TTC, many of my girlfriends were not even in relationships. They were all trying to meet a guy while I was trying to have my ovaries meet some sperm. I felt completely distant and detached from these friends who a few years ago had stood up in my wedding. No one seemed to understand why I was emotional when I saw a mom walking her baby down the street. And they really didn’t understand why I was peeing on ovulation strips every morning. I felt like I wasn’t just losing my hopes for a family, but losing a lot of my close friends.
4. Being Newly Married & Infertile Sucks. When you are recently married, having trouble conceiving puts a lot of pressure on your marriage. Being newlyweds can be hard enough. Put infertility in the mix and it can rock the strong foundation you thought the two of you had. For one, infertility messes up your sex life! Instead of “having fun” with your man, you are creating “sex calendars” and synching your biological schedule to your work schedule. Sex sucks and that never helps any marriage – especially one that is just starting out.