Infertility: A letter to my extended family

Dear all,

I know that I am a little bit of a black sheep in the family. I’m the only one who decided to leave France and follow my mum’s side and live in England with an Englishman.

I know that means that I may seem distant at times, spending our family reunions with him, speaking English, rather than with all of you, speaking French.

I know that I am different from all of you and that I’m not always around, we don’t hang out and that we are not close friends, like some of you are.

I know that I can seem disinterested in your lives and your families, that I don’t like to hear about you and what you are up to.

This is not because I don’t like you. You are my family and I love each and every one of you.

It is because seeing you and your happy families is like a knife in the heart.

You are all from a Catholic family and all of you seem to be able to produce children with the snap of your fingers. Every time I come home, which is once a year, one of you are pregnant again or have just had a baby. I purposefully try not to be in the loop of all these joyful announcements as they are too hard to bear.

I truly am the black sheep of the family as I am the only infertile one.

When I say that I’m “just enjoying being married right now, so we’re not planning a family yet” to your endless questions, that is not the truth. The truth is, telling you all that I cannot have a child would be too painful, mostly because I don’t think any of you would understand what I am going through. You are also never above giving others unsolicited advice and I don’t think I could take any of your advice on how to get pregnant.

When I refuse to look after your children on family trips, which I know is unusual in our family, as we all normally help each other out, it’s not because I’m a horrible selfish person. It’s because my heart breaks at how cute your children are and I am terrified I will never experience motherhood. It’s much too hard for me to spend so much time with other people’s children.

When I get really drunk during our family reunions, it’s not because I’m an alcoholic, it’s because seeing all your beautiful children running around playing together is so painful that I have to find a way to numb the pain.

When I move from my assigned seating to sit with my parents or older members of the family, it is not because I don’t want to spend time with you, it is because sitting near you while you are cuddling your child makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep.

When you shoot me nasty looks because of these actions, my heart breaks.

Hopefully one day I will be brave enough to tell you the truth about how I feel and share this letter with you and hopefully one day you will understand the reasons behind my actions.

Lots of love,

Abbie

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