Friday, May 18, 2018

Two Worlds (A guest post written by Léa)

As long as I remember, I have always seen me in a future life surrounded by children. Having children was not a wish, it was an evidence about which I didn’t even have to think. The desire to have children arose only because what I had imagined didn’t come true after some time. It is as if experiencing infertility had woken me up. Something in me got broken, resulting in the end of what I would call an age of innocence. Even if life does offer us a child one day, infertility has forever made me into a different person and I see life through a different lens.

Now for me, the world seems to be split into two parts. Not between parents and non parents, but between people for who having children is the most natural thing on earth and those who had to acknowledge that it is not so: on the one hand, a majority of naive people, parents and non parents alike; on the other hand, a silent minority, infertile people as well as very few of their relatives and friends. Only this silent minority can see that the way to parenthood is uncertain, paved with fear, pain and loss.

Incredibly enough, the first group is totally unaware of the existence of the second one. Of course, everybody knows that something called infertility exists, but this knowledge is very theoretical. Most people think it is a temporary condition which can nowadays be solved with the help of medicine. Very few suspect how deeply the experience of infertility can change a person and affect your being, your feelings, your way of thinking and acting.

On the other hand, infertile people are quite often unable to identify who is on their side. While parents naturally form a group, meeting in places like schools and playgrounds, benefiting from legitimate privileges organised by the society (whose interest is to perpetuate), infertile people have to overcome huge barriers to get in contact with peers in their daily life. Indeed, parents can for obvious reasons find each other easily, but how can a group come together based on something its members are missing?

The burden of infertile people is so heavy because they very often have to go through profound grieve, experience loss and shattered dreams alone. They are facing the disbelief and the inability to understand of most of the people around them, and unable to identify people suffering the same pain. From my experience, the only meaningful help came from online communities. Various inputs from all over the world gave me the strength to think of a fulfilling life without children.

I had lunch this week with several colleagues. One of them will get married soon and wants to keep her birth name. Another colleague told her: “Anyway, you are only delaying the question of choosing between the family name of your husband and yours, as it will arise again when you will get children”. I thought this was a perfect illustration of these two worlds. I would never utter such a sentence. Maybe my colleague doesn’t want children, or she already knows she cannot have her own. But for the other colleague, there is neither a doubt about the fact that a married couple wants children, nor is there a possibility that this desire may not be fulfilled. I try not to judge these people too harshly: I used to think like them. But I wish that one day, infertility will get the awareness it deserves and that more and more persons will have consideration for the sensitivity of those who are facing this very existential crisis.

Written by:   Léa, Europe  


  1. dear Léa, thank you so much for writing such a beautiful guest post for my blog. I really appreciate it!
    I agree... I also hope that infertility gets one day the awareness it deserves.

    1. Thanks a lot Klara! It is an honour to write a post for you blog, thank you for giving me this opportunity :)

  2. Léa, I'm very glad you posted here on Klara's blog. This is such a good post. I am sure many of us can understand it, and say, "yes, that is (or was) me too."

    You made this point: "... but how can a group come together based on something its members are missing?"

    That is so true! Yes, it's very hard to find people who understand us, especially if all our friends are focused on their families. It can be very lonely sometimes. I too am very grateful for the help I've had from my online friends. Even many years later (I'm old! lol), I still get support from the friends I've made online - some of whom I have been lucky enough to meet (like Klara or bamberlamb), and others I hope to meet one day. You are always welcome at our blogs.

    I hope we get to hear from you some more.

  3. Dear Léa, it was the same for me: in the most diffucult time of grief the best support I found was online. Klara, Mali, Lisa, Lesley and some others were a huge help for me. I have some friends and also family who tried to support me as well, but very often, they would hurt me without realizing it.
    Now, as I notice the initial deep grief lies behind me or has become much softer, I do get to know others in real life who don't have kids or can't have them either. There are many more of us out there than we think. But it takes time to heal and be open again for new friends I guess. When sad and depressed, I certainly wasn't attracting new friends...
    Here in Switzerland, women without children are starting to organize in groups. I wish this could happen where you live as well. I think being truly understood by others who *know* makes a huge difference, even more so in real life.
    Thank you for this guest post at Klara's! It is beautifully written and I agree with Mali: I hope to read or hear from you some more.
    All the best to you!

  4. So appreciate your insights, Lea. Like you, Klara and Mali, I am grateful every day to connect with those who truly appreciate the superhuman strength needed to manage and incorporate the challenges that come with knowing our lives will unfold outside ‘conventional’ understanding. Your words and ideas illuminate with such grace. Thank you for sharing them with us.

    1. Dear Mali, dear Elaine, dear Pamela,
      thank you so much for replying to my post: It means a lot to me, as I read and love your blogs (along with those of Loribeth, Infertile Phoenix, Unenfantpeutetre, BentNotBroken…). Thank you for all the thoughts you share online which help me a lot!
      I plan to start a blog soon but in my mother tongue (French)… however I might translate some of the posts :)
      All the best to you!

  5. Dear Léa,

    Your post is so well written, and so true.
    I read it several times, and I fully agree with your words.
    I am a lucky one, and still today I know that infertility has forever made me a different person, and yes, it makes you go into a real existential crisis. It is clear that in this 'other world' out there, so few people know what it means to go through infertility and how it can affect your life, how so alone you can feel even in the middle of a crowd, and how difficult it is to grieve what you have never had a chance to experience.
    Online communities have also been and still are an incredible source of understanding and support.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.
    I am looking forward to reading your blog, and am touched that you mentioned mine.

    A bientôt :)

  6. Thank you for this wonderful post, Lea (and also for mentioning my blog!). I will look forward to reading more from you in the future (thank goodness for Google Translate, lol)!

  7. Dear Unenfantpeutetre, dear Loribeth,
    thanks a lot for your comments, I am very touched that you liked my post :)