Why are we so terrified to talk about our infertility?

I want to break the silence.

07 Sep 2018

A brilliant new book landed at GLAMOUR HQ this week and we couldn't help but run an extract below. Notes to Self by Emilie Pine is a book of essays speaking out about the things in life that we are conditioned to stay silent about. Tired of listening to the inner-critical voice that says that our lives are too small, or too messy, or too painful to write about, Pine has written about the things that embarrass us, that scare us and that hurt us. Here, she shares her raw account of infertility and breaking the silence surrounding it.

"Recently I was reflecting, yet again, on the ways that invisibility affects women in their lives and careers.

"On this occasion, however, I wasn't just thinking about how women are overlooked for being women, but because infertility is a particularly hidden kind of process.

"We are wary of talking about our attempts to get pregnant for fear of exposing our hopes to public scrutiny and comment. We are afraid of 'jinxing' anything. And we are ashamed of our failures. For all these reasons - all the grief the time, and the effort - are simply invisible. This can be emotionally difficult when we're with our family and friends, every time someone's pregnancy is announced, or a friend includes you in the group of women who 'aren't interested in having kids'.

"And at work it can also feel galling that the years of 'trying' don't get any recognition - there's a reason I didn't push ahead in my career but I can't put it on my CV, I can't even admit it to myself, and I certainly can't say anything about how resentful I feel about maternity leave!

"As I bite my tongue yet again in a friend or work situation, I realise that it's my silence, and my sense of shame, that are making me feel so terrible. And so I also realise that if I am ever going to get past this, I need to come to terms with that word: failure.

"Infertility is loss and grief and exhaustion. But it is also knowing what it feels like when your body fails you every single month, when you compare yourself to every pregnant woman and wonder 'What's wrong with me?', and when you realise that you have to stop trying and accept you're not failing, you're failed.

"This piece is a response to all the emotions tied up with failure. It is not easy for me to simply reject the social script that women all want to be mothers. That's okay for others, but I really wanted to be a mum. And I know I should count my blessings: health, partner, fulfilling job. But I keep coming back to failure and invisibility. So I'm writing about it, and I'm reclaiming it, and I'm making myself visible."