Like many Generation Y women, I was raised on a steady diet of “girl power,” “having it all,” and “you can do anything you set your mind to.” I believed that every problem had a solution: All I had to do was find it, apply some ingenuity and elbow grease, and watch a solution materialize before my eyes. This mentality served me well — until I tried to get pregnant. My husband and I both wanted a family, so the moment my wedding papers were signed, I went off the pill and filled my Kindle with titles like Taking Charge of Your Fertility and Yes, You Can Get Pregnant! Some encouraged rigorous cycle-charting, others proposed affirmations and positive thinking, and a few acknowledged that “older women” (I quickly learned that in fertility terms, this means wizened crones over 34) might need to see a doctor. But all had more or less the same message: that our fertility is something within our control. To me, this made perfect sense. I’d learned about contraception in the same breath as sex, and my generation was led to believe that pregnancy can and should be on our terms. Our sex ed teachers taught us to wait until we were ready — conveniently leaving out the part that by the time we're ready, it may be too late. Since I still had a few years before entering wizened-crone territory, I figured I had plenty of time to get pregnant in what I considered the “right” way: spontaneously and naturally. I knew that assisted reproductive technology existed, but at the time I viewed it as a shortcut for lazy people who didn’t want to put in the time and hard work. You can do this! my inner Gen Y cheerleader whispered in my ear — stubborn, encouraging, naïve. You can do anything you put your mind to! That voice wasn’t alone. She had backup singers: the books telling me that all I had to do was take my temperature and perform unspeakable acts with my vaginal goop, and the well-meaning friends who told me to “stop stressing; it will happen as soon as you quit trying.” So I tried to relax, but not be lazy. I tried to bone with military precision, but also make it sexy and fun. I tried all-natural fertility lubes and baby-boosting positions and keeping my feet up in the air like a roast chicken for half an hour afterward. For the first time in my life, I was giving 100% to something and not seeing results. This was not what I’d been promised in middle school.
I tried to relax, but not be lazy. I tried to bone with military precision, but also make it sexy and fun.
It’s time for us to recognize infertility as a medical condition rather than a mental or moral issue.
My infertility, as it turned out, was no more a moral failing than my asthma or high arches.