Getting a Little Personal: Infertility

Posted by Natalie Gshwandtner on

Let me preface this post: my blog is not going to be all about infertility. I design and sell goods for babies- baby apparel, bedding, and nursery decor. I'd like to keep things fairly lighthearted, fun, carefree. This blog for the most part will focus on families that I find inspirational, art and graphics tutorials, products that are gorgeous, and my own artwork.

That being said, you may notice a lack of actual BABIES on my website. That is because I do not have any. Yet. I am planning to borrow some babies for product photography, but for now- just products. So this post is my way of addressing the lack of actual babies. And get some feelings off my chest.

My husband and I have been trying to conceive for two and a half years. That's kind of a long time, though not terribly alarming. We have looked into getting fertility treatments, but frankly, that is expensive and more than I feel like dealing with. Plus, I have been in a pretty good place as far as acceptance. I've stopped tracking ovulation and putting pressure on the situation, and am instead relishing the extra sleep, disposable income, and minimal amount of responsibility. Yippee!

That being said, infertility is something that I think about often, especially as I work on new products and designs.

I've had lots of time to read about infertility experiences and causes, and apparently there is a stigma attached to infertility. People are uncomfortable talking about it, people feel shameful about it, people get offended when someone accidentally brings it up.

As a couple that has been trying to conceive for 2.5 years, I can honestly that we don't feel any of that shame or discomfort in discussing our struggle. Offended? Not yet. Sadness? Sometimes. Some situations and events are more upsetting than others.


When every symptom = pregnancy

Ahh, symptom-spotting. My favorite part about the struggle, and the quickest way to drive oneself completely batty. It is also an effective way to drain your bank account. Pregnancy tests are not reusable!

Have a headache? It couldn't POSSIBLY be because you drank too much coffee and not enough water. Must be pregnant.

One month my chest was burning and hurting, and in my standard hypochondriac fashion I was convinced that I was having a heart attack and needed to go to the ER. Luckily, cooler heads (Jason's) prevailed. Turns out it was just heartburn. Since I had obviously never had heartburn, I googled "heartburn early pregnancy symptom." The internet confirmed it: the only logical explanation was pregnancy! I was wrong; cue the tears.

One time I was craving spicy food. This never happens, so I took full advantage and doused some spicy fried chicken with sriracha sauce. I ate the whole thing. Killed it. First time loving spicy foods, and the craving disappeared as abruptly as it arrived. I'm not sure what was happening there, but it wasn't pregnancy.


When everyone else is getting knocked up

Some of my friends are on their 4th kid. My Facebook feed is awash in beautiful little newborns, hilarious toddler temper tantrums, and sweet children heading off to their first day of Kindergarten. I love seeing the pictures, truly. But sometimes it aches.

I found out someone close to me, who had only recently started trying to conceive, was pregnant. Even though I was (and am!!) so very happy for her, I had to excuse myself and go cry in the bathroom.


When people don't know how to behave

I have read through many of those articles advising you what to say and what not to say to someone who is struggling, or may be struggling, with infertility. I consider myself lucky- I guess I just don't associate with idiots like this:

“One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, ‘Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother.’”

I mean, WHO says something like that? That kind of statement would be grounds for friendship termination.You're fired, security will show you out.

But then there is this advice, borrowed from the same article:

"Don't complain about your pregnancy. For many facing infertility, it can be hard to be around other women who are pregnant. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Not complaining can make things a little easier for your friend."

Maybe I'm just not as sensitive as some, but pregnant women get a free pass to piss and moan all day. The pregnant woman is the one hauling an extra 8 pounds of baby mass, plus all of the extra fluids and general pregnancy weight gain. The pregnant woman is the one dealing with completely irrational hormones and swollen boobs. Yes, it is emotionally painful to deal with infertility, but this is one case where my hurt feelings can go hang out on the back burner.


When your family is soooo ready for a new baby

My family is wonderful, and they really don't pressure me at all. But I know they are ready. I know my Grandparents are eager to be Great Grandparents. I know my parents are ready for a Grandchild. Luckily my sister-in-law took the heat off in regards to any potential pressure from my husband's family.

But the pressure is there, even if it's created internally. We want our nieces and nephews to have cousins in a similar age range. I always thought that my best friend and I would raise our little daughters together, and that they would be just as sassy and smart-assed as we were.


So there it is. I don't have much more to say about it.

And no- designing baby gear is not my sad way of dealing with infertility! (It's ok if you thought this- the cynic in me probably would have said the same thing!)


Think about it this way:

Whether or not you have children, whether or not you want them, baby gear is CUTE. It's mini, it's colorful, it's whimsical. It's FUN. Most people enjoy shopping for baby gear. Women at baby showers, squealing in delight over the most ridiculously adorable little tiny pair of booties. That is what I do all day. Silently, thankfully, otherwise Jason would probably move out.

In a way, designing for children is a return to my childhood. A time when I played make-believe, when everything was possible, when gnomes lived in the trees at the park and a unicorn was definitely tied up in the neighbor's yard, waiting to be freed.

I have so much fun painting, arranging, and dreaming up these kinds of scenarios. Infertility be damned, this is what I LOVE to do!

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  • So proud of you for sharing your experience. It’s only when we share our struggles do we bring the shame out of the darkness and break the stigma surrounding such issues. I know your story will help others. Love you!

    Chenoa on

  • Hi Natalie,

    Thank you so much for being open and honest. I’m sorry that you’re going through this, although, it seems, with a lot of grace. I wonder if I would be able to have your perspective…I hope I would. But, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I would. I think that all women have this massive fear when we start “trying not trying” or very purposefully trying. I know I did. I was honestly shocked when I found out that I was expecting. I really didn’t think it was possible, for no reason at all. And now, that I’m (thankfully) approaching the second trimester, I hope that I can relax a little. I’ve have 3 terrifying miscarriage nightmares and feel so many other fears. On top of which, I haven’t been a very graceful pregnant person thus far. I’ve felt awful since 6 weeks. Not like myself at all. I hate food- can’t stand the way it looks, smells…the way anything smells for that matter. I constantly try to remind myself to feel more grateful, because, well…so many woman/couples are struggling, hoping, wishing, praying etc. Anyways, I don’t really have a point but just wanted to share, since you shared (from a vulnerable place) and tell you that I appreciated your post. Thank you. I wish you…relaxation…as much as possible around this part of your life, with hope that maybe, out of the blue, when you’re not even thinking about it, you’ll be pregnant. But, either way, you’ll find your way with this…you already are. And that, is something to be admired.
    With love,
    Laura xo

    Laura Walls on

  • Love you Natalie and Jason❤️

    Jan on

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