Whether you’ve already had a child and are struggling to get pregnant again or have yet to welcome a bundle of joy into your family, you’ve likely been in situations that have required you to put on the “infertility poker face.” Well-meaning loved ones and friends may have asked you when you’re going to have children and expand your family, and because you don’t want to have an emotionally draining discussion to explain that you’re having a hard time conceiving, you just say “oh, I’ll have children someday.”
Everything is Alright…
In addition to having to put on a brave face and pretend that the challenges of infertility aren’t taking a significant emotional toll on you, you may also be experiencing physical health symptoms, such as missed periods, pain and hormonal imbalances. There’s also a good chance that you’ve taken several pregnancy tests, sometimes back to back, and tried several natural remedies that promise to boost fertility and make it easier for you to get pregnant. Of course, you may also be working with a fertility specialist or doctor who is offering you advice on how to increase your chances of growing your family.
After all the tests and evaluations that you have likely been through to try and understand the cause of your issue(s), it’s understandable that you may get to the point where you just want to know if you should rule out the possibility of getting pregnant or ever being pregnant again. In the midst of all of this, you still have to tend to the daily obligations of life, including working, making time for your spouse or partner and having a social life. These are just additional reasons why trying to be “okay” can get extremely tiring.
Pokerface versus Openness
When you’re waiting to get the results of yet another test, waiting for a missed period or a fertile week to ‘try again,’ or balancing out fertility medications to find something that works, your mind goes through a myriad of emotions. You try to remove the stress of the situation by coming to terms with the idea that ‘if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be’, and you assure yourself that even if you explore other means of parenthood, you’ll be satisfied as long as you get to experience the fulfillment of being a mother. You may find yourself taking the spiritual approach and remind yourself that you have to surrender to the process, that there is a greater lesson in all of this. And there are likely times you’ll have to go through this while you’re sitting in the doctor’s office getting the latest update on your health and ability to conceive, and chances are, you’ll have to put on the infertility poker face then as well.
While you know that your friends and family want to be there for you in the best way they know how, you realize that if they’ve never had to deal with the sadness, stress and uncertainty that comes with not being able to have a baby, they won’t be able to comfort you. On the other hand, you may be hesitant to share your struggles with others in hopes that conception will occur and you can simply share the good news. But as time goes on, you may learn how to make adjustments to your poker face. With your spouse and close friends, your poker face may be laced with a level of disappointment you know they can help you cope with. When you vent to a friend who can empathize with the struggle, you may be vulnerable enough to let a few tears fall. But you know that some part of you will have to remain optimistically stoic, until you learn the grieving methods that work best for you.
Whether you decide to share aspects of your struggles openly with friends and family, keep the journey a secret, or simple continue to say “oh, I’ll have children someday,” the fact is that, when it comes to the fertility journey, the infertility poker face is one look many women are all too familiar with, and no one is alone with wearing the mask.