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How to Stop Infertility From Being the Worst Thing in Your Life

How do you cope with the disappointment, pain, and grief of infertility? There are no easy answers or quick tips for stopping infertility from being the worst thing you’ll ever experience – but here you’ll find what works for me. First, read this comment from a woman who went through her own infertility roller coaster before accepting that she’ll never be a mom…

“Being childless is painful but it is not the end of the world,” says Corinne McDonald on How to Be Happy as a Childless Woman – Single or Married. “I found out I couldn’t have kids when I was 28, and I was devastated….until my little sister was brutally attacked. She lived through it, but she has so many health issues, emotional and physical. The world is full of suffering. Infertility is painful, I get it. But it’s not the worst thing that could ever happen to you – and you CAN learn how to be happy as a childless woman. It’s your choice: depression because of infertility or happiness because you don’t want to live in a black pit. What will you choose?

This reader’s comment so closely resembles my own perspective on infertility, it’s like I wrote it myself! Corinne didn’t say anything about faith or spirituality, but the reason infertility isn’t the worst thing to happen to me is because of my relationship with God. Not my religion; my relationship with the only source of life, love, and light I know.

This list of things worse than infertility might help you change your perspective, and help you hold on to the good things in your life. For there is so much to be grateful for – so much good – even if you’re coping with a devastating diagnosis of infertility.

I was inspired to write this article because Giuliana Rancic, co-anchor of E! News, was guest co-host for ABC’s “The View” in honor of World Fertility Awareness Month. She opened the episode on surrogacy saying that infertility stinks and it’s the worst thing in the world.

Is it really true that “Infertility stinks – it’s the worst thing in the world”? Yes, infertility stinks and it’s devastating…but the worst thing in the world? Not by a long shot.

Is Infertility is the Worst Thing to Happen?

If you adopt the “poor me – I’m infertile (or my husband is infertile) and we can’t afford infertility treatments and all I want to do is have a baby”, then you’re setting yourself up for a life of bitterness, strife, envy, and pain.

Why would you do that to yourself? Why is having a child the only thing that makes your life meaningful?

Why Infertility Isn’t the Worst Thing to Happen to You

Why Infertility Isn’t the Worst Thing to Happen to You

Believing that infertility is the worst thing that could ever happen gives you a negative, depressed, unhealthy perspective that is not based in reality. It blocks all the potential goodness in your life. It stops you from seeing and enjoying the happy things in life.

And it stops you from being grateful for who and what you do have. You’ve experienced a great deal of good, love, joy, and light in your life…and infertility is the black canvas that can let those pinpoints of light shine through.

If you think infertility is the worst thing in the world, then you haven’t slept in a back alley in a cardboard box with your single mom and sister, survived someone breaking into your apartment in the middle of the night to rape you, lived with a seriously mentally ill mother, been cut out of your sister’s life for reasons she refuses to explain, or lived in Africa for three years and witnessed how bad life can really get.

I’ve experienced all those things, which is why I’m childless and still very, very happy. I’d love to get pregnant and raise a child, but it’s not in the cards for us. So, I focus on the benefits of my life — and I write articles to encourage women how to grieve and heal after an infertility diagnosis.

Things Worse Than Infertility

To help you get over the thought that infertility is the worst thing that could ever happen to you, I brainstormed a list of things worse than not getting pregnant:

  • Losing a child to cancer or another painful slow fatal disease
  • Having a chronically or terminally ill child
  • Raising a child who abuses and even kills other people
  • Being abused in any way, especially as a child
  • A friend or family member’s suicide
  • Watching animals get tortured
  • Seeing your mom get beat up, and being helpless to stop
  • Seeing the way animals are treated in third world countries
  • Being homeless – sleeping outside and eating garbage
  • Not being able to overcome a mental illness
  • Having tumors that cause pain, reduced quality of life, and a shorter life
  • Being responsible for someone’s death or serious injury
  • Your husband having a vasectomy without telling you
  • Never loving, never having been loved

You know what? I can’t go on. I don’t want to dwell on all the worst things in the world. I’m more convinced than ever that there are worse things than infertility — but I don’t need to think about them.

If it’s taking a long time to conceive a baby but you aren’t coping with infertility (maybe you’ve received an “unexplained infertility” diagnosis), read Discouraged Because You Can’t Get Pregnant?

What do you think – is infertility really the worst thing that has ever happened or could ever happen to you? I welcome your thoughts below…especially if you don’t agree with me. I realize that my perspective on infertility isn’t the same as many women’s, and I have received negative comments before.

Feel free to share what you really think and feel. This is a safe place to express yourself! Don’t call me names because personal attacks aren’t acceptable…but feel free to share your emotions, opinions, and thoughts.

Help for Women and Men Coping With Infertility

How to Stop Infertility From Being the Worst Thing to Happen to You

In Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility, Janet Jaffe, David Diamond, and Martha Diamond walk alongside women and men who are grieving the loss of their dream of having children.

For people experiencing infertility, wanting a baby is a craving unlike any other. The intensity of their longing is matched only by the complexity of the emotional maze they must navigate.

Drs. Janet Jaffe, Martha Diamond, and David Diamond – who are fertility specialists in the field of Reproductive Psychology and who have each experienced their own struggle with infertility – offer insight and compassion.

In this book, you’ll learn how to:

  • Reduce your sense of helplessness and isolation
  • Identify your partner’s coping styles and erase unfair expectations
  • Listen to your “unsung lullabies” – your conscious and unconscious dreams about having a family – to mourn the losses of infertility and move on

Ground-breaking, wise, and compassionate, Unsung Lullabies is a necessary companion for anyone coping with infertility.

Are you trying to get pregnant? Fairhaven Health's Hormone Balance Bundle improves egg quality, encourages cycle regularity, and helps your body ovulate regularly.

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16 thoughts on “How to Stop Infertility From Being the Worst Thing in Your Life”

  1. I think you mean well, but this article is dismissive of the deep and lifelong sorrow those of us who are infertile and childless must learn how to manage on a daily basis. It IS a lifelong sorrow, some days better, some days worse, and it doesn’t deserve to be compared to “oh, these ten other things that are WAY worse than YOUR problem.” That’s not compassion; that’s marginalization.

    I’m a Christian too. Having that relationship with Jesus helps with my sorrow but it doesn’t completely remove it. We are childless in a childFULL society and there is stigma, judgment, misunderstanding, and marginalization attached to that. I’m just surprised by this article — coming from someone who’s living this life. (And, btw, about your list. There are many studies that show the pain of infertility and childlessness to be on par or worse than cancer. So … yeah.)

    No one in pain is ever helped by someone saying, “Well, at least you don’t have this or that.” Again, that’s not empathy. That’s just an apples to oranges comparison. No matter what someone else is going through, you can always call find someone who’s had it much worse. How is that helpful? Honestly. I’m asking you. If your husband died suddenly, would it help you to have a friend say, “Well, at least he didn’t suffer for a long time like So-and-So’s husband. That was WAY worse.” Would you feel heard, supported, understood, and loved if someone said that to you? Or would you feel stupid for your grief because someone’s grief *might be* WAY worse? And who quantifies or measures grief anyway?

    I once went to get prayer during the worst of our infertility journey from a woman who was supposed to have this wonderful gift of compassion. I was crying, pouring my heart out, and she stopped me to say, “Well, I once prayed for this woman who saw her mom get murdered.”

    I felt like an idiot. I really did. She made me feel like a fool. I ended the session abruptly because I felt so humiliated and never went back to this counselor with the “wonderful gift of compassion.”

    So since my infertility and childless are not on your Top Ten Worse Things, it’s therefore invalid? The Jesus I know would NEVER sit beside me and say, “Well, sorry about your little pain, but I had it WAY worse.” Nope. He’d sit by my side, hold me, and say, “I’m so so sorry for this pain. I know how much it hurts.”

    Don’t belittle people’s grief. Stop comparing, quantifying, and invalidating. And if I told you what I’ve been through, heck, you wouldn’t even believe me so it’s safe to say you don’t know what ELSE people might be dealing with ON TOP of infertility and childlessness. They may be dealing with an absolutely shattering, backbreaking combination of pains, so give me a break with the unhelpful list of “what’s worse.”

    I know the words look similar but comparison isn’t compassion.

    May I suggest you look up Brene Brown? She’s an expert in empathy, shame, and vulnerability and really really insightful. It think you’d benefit from listening to some of her talks on YouTube. I understand that you want to give people a “different” perspective, but shoving a bunch of other things that are worse — in your subjective opinion — is NOT the way to do it.

    Childlessness is the LOSS OF THE BASIC HUMAN DREAM. It cannot be understated. Don’t do it.

    Never say “at least” to someone in pain. Never compare grief to grief. Just don’t do it. You don’t know everything they’re carrying.

    1. I agree with Cordelia, this article is full of nonsense. Though I have to take issue with her claim that Jesus knows how much she hurts, because Jesus ‘lives’ in another dimension whose inhabitants cannot comprehend the concept of pain. You can only grasp what pain is like when you are in a body which can suffer it. That includes the mind.

      The drivel that pervades this twaddle-ridden commentary is basically the type of aversion tactic which wouldn’t be given the time of day by any mental health professional these days.

      Like the author of this claptrap, I am also infertile, and I found the article too simplistic. ‘Only in darkness can you see the stars’ can only be applied in a literal sense, you cannot apply it to human grief, which is what living with infertility is essentially all about.

      Best wishes.

  2. Mom of large family

    As a friend of a few infertile women I found this comforting. I have personally experienced many of the things you listed “worse than infertility”. Now I am married and have been blessed with many children, way more than we planned. I feel really guilty because our friends cannot have children and they are always upset that we so easily can. I try to be thoughtful and respectful on the subject, however, I’ve never shared with my infertile friends that while they had a wonderful childhood, I did not. Infertility absolutely does stink, I have sympathy for them but since I’ve not gone through that myself I cannot began to empathize or fully take in what they have endured (thus the guilt), just as they cannot even begin to imagine my childhood or tragic life experiences that I have not shared with them.

    If I’d been asked before I had my first child, yes, I would have said that infertility stinks big time and is very painful but it’s not the worst thing that can happen. Silent grief comes in all sorts of things taken for granted. Thank you for sharing.

    1. That’s bizarre, “Mom of Large Family.” You’re “comforted” by this because ….. what? ….. you know infertile people? May I suggest that knowing infertile people is not the same as knowing infertility and your comment — which makes something about you that isn’t about you at all — proves that in spades. How nice that you’re “comforted” about something you don’t have to live through. Again, that’s just weird. And, well, a bit self-centered, “Mom of Large Family.” You simply do not understand what you claim to understand and I suggest you spend some time really talking to your infertile friends to comfort THEM from time to time. You don’t need comforting about infertility; they DO. You live in the majority of the “haves.” We live in the minority of the “have nots.” I’m not sure the two can fully understand each other, but it will never happen if no attempt is made. You fail to understand the blessing you have by living the mainstream accepted life or to understand the deep isolating grief for those of us living on the fringes.

      Infertility and childlessness are not about you.

  3. I appreciate your efforts to help others with your perspective. However, when someone is in the midst of struggling with infertility it is the worst thing in the world because that is where they are. I have had many struggles in life. I was abused as a child, I’ve been and seen destruction in both Iraq and Afghanistan War, and I’ve lost both of my parents – one to Suicide. And yet the biggest devastation in my life right now is my inability to get and stay pregnant. It is the most painful thing I have experienced. When I was in away at war what kept me going was my dream of coming back home and starting a family. And with every month and year my dream appears to be fading away whiles those around me seem to be fulfilling theirs. I believe everyone grieves in their own time and perhaps your time has come but my has just begun. I am already 2 years into fertility treatments; I’ve only been pregnant once and miscarried 2 months ago. And as far as I am concerned that is the death of my child and that is excruciating. No amount of goal setting will make that right or ease my mind. The only thing that will help me is time.

  4. I also did not find this article to be helpful. No, it may not be the worst thing in the world, but it is painful. Knowing it’s not the worst thing in the world isn’t all that helpful because most of us will never experience the worst thing in the world, so this is as difficult as it gets. I read somewhere that infertility may well be the first big disappointment many woman will have to face. If they have gone through life without losing their parents, had a good life as a child and teenager, it can be a shock to be faced with this seemingly endless battle, that you really have no control over. Having been raped myself and faced 15 years of poor health and depression, I still find myself feeling gutted about not being able to realise my greatest dream in life, to become a mother. Maybe it is good to have some perspective that life is much more difficult for many people in the world, but that doesn’t stop me mourning what may never be.

    On another note, I would love to adopt a child, but it’s really difficult to do in Australia. It takes years and years.

    1. I also disappointed…i had children to a abusive husband..now i married to a wonderful man and we can’t have a child together due to infertility..and it hurts alot..i have to let go tho..i need to find inner peace god bless to all

  5. I have to say I too am a little disappointed by this article. I appreciate the point but you can’t really compare different life situations and having experienced infertility, child abuse and poverty I personally would rate infertility as the worst thing I’ve experienced. I feel I have to comment on behalf of the multitude of ttc ladies who will read this looking for hope and come away feeling like they were making a fuss about nothing.

    1. Yep. I so agree. The general cultural attitude towards the infertile and childless tends to be “What’s the big fuss anyway?” and well-intentioned but somewhat easy-fix articles like this one only feed that shallow, ignorant view. I’m incredibly disappointed in this post. Shocked, really, that someone on this path would diminish the deep deep sorrow in such a blithe way.

  6. I didn’t feel this article was berating at all.

    I just completed yet another failed fertility treatment, the latest of a series of brutalizing treatments over the last four years, all of them unsuccessful. The treatments have wrecked my health, my mind, my spirit. I have lost all faith in the existence of a good, loving and protective G-d. I desperately want a genetic child, particularly because I have no siblings, my cousins live in another country, and once my parents are gone I will have no family other than my husband. My husband is an only child as well. It sucks, big time.

    Yet Laurie is correct. There are a myriad of blood-chilling horrors this life is capable of producing and no one is immune to being struck by any of them. I’ll give you one: My great aunt and her two little children, marching into a cold Nazi gas chamber, stark naked, and choking on cyanide gas. Doesn’t get more horrible than that.

    If anything, this painful life experience has taught me that nothing is a given in this brief life. Every good thing in life is a blessing and can be taken away at any moment.

    So I am counting my blessings–my wonderful husband, my living parents, my three little dogs, my health, etc.

    What other choice do I have?

  7. M,

    I’m sorry that this article made you feel berated! As a writer and woman who can’t have children, I’m always sad when readers leave feeling worse than when they arrived. Sometimes my articles backfire…and sometimes what helps me feel better about infertility doesn’t work for other women.

    You’re right — there is nothing wrong with your dream of having a biological baby! I’m sorry that dream is eluding you right now, and I hope that it comes true one day.


  8. I read this article hoping to find a little encouragement and light on a bad day and instead I find a list berating me for feeling emotionally depressed and sad due to infertility. Sounds like you have had one hell of a life and I applaud you for moving forward to find your happiness, but shame on your for making people feel inferior because they feel infertility is the worst thing in the world to happen to them. You said previously, focus on your dreams, learn to fly etc. Well, my dream is to have a biological baby. That is what I have always wanted and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And just so you know I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life and do my best to appreciate them everyday.

  9. Dear Katelyn ~ Yes, I agree that never being adopted is worse than not being able to conceive. It is SO sad that we seem to be programmed to want kids who are biologically related to us. Most of the people I love most in my life aren’t related to me at all!

    Dear Dorthea ~ Thank you for sharing your story. You’re helping us see that infertility isn’t the worst thing that could happen to us.

    Thanks for your comments; I appreciate them.


  10. I lost my parents and husband in a car crash. I’ve never been pregnant because I’ve never found anyone I love as much as my husband. We were married for 10 years, and were just starting to talk about having children. We had busy, fulfilling lives and kids were part of our future.

    If you’re married or in a relationship, cherish your loved one. That person is more important than children that don’t exist yet.

    But I do feel bad for women who can’t get pregnant or who are coping with infertility.

  11. Worse than being infertile? Never being adopted because so many families want a baby that’s genetically related. How many kids are parentless and want a loving home?

    1. go adopt then, katelyn. it’s not cheap to adopt, though, or without its own pain and not the sole responsibility of the infertiles. rude.