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The Lingerie Addict is currently away on medical leave

I am infertile.

Content Warning: This post is about infertility and its associated feelings.

I’m infertile.



I’ve known this for about six months now, but it still feels odd to say aloud. Speaking the words gives them a heaviness, a weight, they don’t seem to have when kept bottled up inside.

For awhile, my husband and I have been trying to have a child. At some point, knowing the stats about conception and so on, we realized something might be wrong.

And after many tests (so many tests...most of which I had to do), we learned what the something might be.

It’s me.

My uterus.

My fibroids.

Like so many Black women, I’ve had fibroids for years. Probably long before they were actually diagnosed. And, again like so many Black women, I was told not to worry. That fibroids are benign. That they cause no problems. That they won’t interfere with pregnancy.

Except they do. And they did.

It’s been hard, these last few months, looking at my body, my abdomen, distorting, as these hard little balls of muscle grew inside me. Pushing my stomach out, rounding my belly, until strangers asked me - obviously eager to offer congratulations - if I was pregnant.

(Of all the things that have hurt these last few months, that hurts the most. Being asked if you are carrying a child when you know there is no room in your uterus for one.)

It’s hard to talk about the duality, the acute sense of internal conflict, I feel right now. I loathe my body, not for how it looks, but for what it is unable to do. I am a feminist. I know that I am a person, not just a uterus. I know my worth is not measured in my ability to have a child. And yet...

I also know, from various groups and forums, that I am lucky when compared to many other women. Lucky to have a husband who adores me. Who has made clear that his love for me has nothing to do with my womb. Who defends me valiantly, with a fierceness he won’t even use for himself, when people pry into my carefully constructed nonchalance.

But late at night, in the quiet, hearing our neighbor’s baby wail, I curl up, cradling my deceitful stomach, my throat tight and eyes stinging as I weep quietly so as not to wake my sleeping husband.

I don’t think I ever fully understood how badly I wanted to be a mother. Until I couldn’t.

Tomorrow, sometime, I don’t know when, I am having surgery on my uterus. An abdominal myomectomy if you’d like to look it up. My doctor will cut me open, scoop out my fibroids (for some reason, I imagine him using a little ice cream scoop even though I know this is both perverse and morbid), and reconstruct my uterus.

It is considered major abdominal surgery. The recovery time is around six weeks, and, knowing that I only gets one chance to heal, I plan to use them all. And even in this, I am lucky. My husband can take time away from work. My parents can travel to see me. I am self-employed which means my job is quite literally waiting for my return. And I am cautiously, tentatively, shakily optimistic.

I thought for a long time about whether or not to share this story publicly. I tend towards privacy, as many of you know, and I treasure the fact that my blog has never been dependent on me sharing my personal life.

But after months of feeling alone, I suppose I wanted others who are going through the same to not feel so alone.

Infertility is a crushing weight. There’s not only your own internalized fears and recriminations. There’s the judging remarks (“You should have had children earlier.”). The terrible advice (herbs and oils and pessaries). The cavalier insistence that you should “just adopt” from people who clearly never considered that option for themselves. The devout reassurances that your condition is all part of some deity’s plan, as if the idea of being personally cursed by god should be a comfort.

Worst of all is the agitation, when you, ever so often, share that you’re infertile. The ways their eyes skate over your belly then quickly unfocus, embarrassed. The desperate rush to change the subject. The abject relief when they find an excuse to scurry away. Leaving you isolated. Wandering the prickly maze of your own thoughts once again.

This will be my last blog post for awhile. I want to take the time and space for my body to heal. To give myself the best possible chance for the future I desire. I am worried, scared, and nervous, but also excited and hopeful. See you all on the other side.


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Cora
Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

54 Comments on this post

  1. Anita says:

    Cora, I feel your pain. I knew I had fibroids and was told the same thing. I developed a ovarian cyst which was causing unbearable pain for years before I acknowledged I had an issue. I found out after the myomectomy to save my uterus, in which my inexperienced doctor neither removed the fibroids nor the cyst, that I had endometriosis. My second experienced doctor performed my hysterectomy beaue the first doctor had butchered my uterus and I would never be able to carry a child. So now, I’ll never have biological children and I’m a little obsessive over my nieces and nephews. I got the same platitudes, it’s God’s plan, you can adopt, you should of had them earlier but from the extent of my endometriosis I would have had to be a teenage mother to have avoided infertility. I pray that your surgery is successful and that your recovery and healing is quick. Thank you for sharing and know that you are not alone.

  2. T says:

    You’re so strong for sharing how you feel.
    And admitting you’re not okay.
    I hope all goes well with healing and I am glad you realize also you’re so so lucky.
    You have a loving husband.
    That caring fam.
    The job you have.
    It doesn’t make it any less scary to go through something but, yeah, some people don’t have any of that.
    Anyway.
    You deserve all that and more! It’s lucky but also your effort.
    Idk why I feel the need to reassure you when I’m just a stranger but.. If you ever read this, I’m so proud of you.
    As one person to another.
    Yknow, we had the opposite reaction to being infertile.
    I never wanted children.
    To know I couldn’t have them meant nothing to me, maybe some relief.. So our perspective is totally opposite.
    I get the immediate sympathy tho.
    They suddenly look guilty for asking.
    Like I’m no longer me. It hurts a lot.
    You’re beautiful. I mean, as you are.
    I wish you so much happiness and stability.
    Stay safe and stay well.

  3. Ja&Pa says:

    Loving best for a strong recovery and the amazing journey that awaits you.

  4. Whitley says:

    As someone who has had a similar experience, I think it’s so great that you are openly talking about this. Thank you for your strength and leadership. This is hard to deal with and even harder to talk about. My thoughts are with you.

  5. Kim says:

    You are probably post surgery now. You may still be in pain and wondering if it’s all worth it. It is. When I was 40 my son was conceived naturally; however, at 13 weeks we were in urgent surgery due to cysts growing outside the uterus and threatening the pregnancy. For me the shock of the surgery, learning that my and my baby’s life had hung by a thread, and the pain was a lot to take in. Yet we persisted and the baby is perfect (even now at 19 years old). So what I’m trying to tell you is EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK. You will have your baby. So keep the faith. We are all pulling for you.

  6. Jane says:

    Thank You for sharing. I have also traveled this road. I feel every word you wrote.

  7. Laura says:

    Cora, I just saw this and hope that the operation was a complete success. It sounds as though you have a strong support system with love all around you. Be gentle with yourself the next few weeks and months. Sending much love and wishes for a swift recovery.

  8. Bernadette M Gibson says:

    Cora, I had the same problem back in 1970. My entire uterus was filled with fibroids. I had the operation and yes, it took 6 weeks to recover. The doctors said I may get pregnant or I may not. It took me 3 years and I finally did. I had a beautiful baby girl. Never got pregnant again but my beautiful Nicole made up for it. S he is now 45 and as loving and caring as she was growing up. Please , don’t give up. There is always HOPE. Blessings to you and your husband.

  9. Joanne says:

    Hi Cora. Very sorry to hear. Especially that you’ve felt so isolated going through this. Understand how that could happen, even with a very supportive close circle. I’ve never said a word on here, but thought I’d just let you know I always found you inspiring and my thoughts truly are with you now. Wishing you the best results and recovery, and sure you’ll find a way to make the most of things, no matter what.

  10. Tashonda says:

    What you are experiencing, I have to dealt with for the last 15yrs. It was 14yrs ago when I had my first myomectomy. Unfortunately the fibroids returned and because I already had endometriosis, it pretty much sealed my fate, infertile. I just couldn’t except that was my fate and I continued try, I ended up having an ablation in 2015 and finally a complete hysterectomy in 2016 at age 40, that being so final was almost unbearable. My heart aches every time I go to a baby shower, my heart aches when I see a pregnant mother or a newborn baby. I too have felt less than and wanted to just go somewhere else and hide at times. I have also felt a sense of guilt, as I am my mother’s only child, knowing that I am the end of her bloodline. Time eases the pain, but it doesn’t go away, you just somehow learn how to cope. Sending you hugs and get well wishes. I’m happy to know that you are taking time for you!

  11. Cherry says:

    I understand how hard it must’ve been to share this story, but I truly appreciate that you shared it. I was recently diagnosed with fibroids myself and have felt there was nowhere/no one to turn to. I sincerely hope that your surgery goes well, your recovery is quick and full, and you get the good news you’ve been waiting to hear. Bless you and your supportive husband and family.

  12. Erica says:

    Thank you for sharing, Cora. Sending you love and healing vibes.

  13. Cora, news like this is never easy to put out and/or receive, but I believe in you and believe that you will find your way after dealing with such upsetting news! You are an inspiration to so many, and after sharing this vulnerable moment, you are helping so many more! Here for you always! Please treat yourself kindly during recovery, and focus on healing! XOXO

  14. Renae says:

    Cora, don’t give up. I know the world seems black to you now–but is there a chance that removing the fibroids might restore your fertility? I hope so!

  15. Gary Walsh says:

    In my prayers

  16. Amalia says:

    I’m holding you with loving thoughts.

  17. Jodi says:

    Oh Cora, I’m so sorry. I hope the surgery goes well and that your recovery is so rapid the doctors are astonished. If there’s anything I can do, please let me know!

    Sending cyber hugs!

  18. Francisco says:

    Dear Cora
    Thank you for sharing…you have another friend in here, wishing that you get well soon, that everything goes ok and giving all the possible strength!
    From Portugal with Love!!

  19. Jaddie Dodd says:

    Good luck, Cora! My wife and I struggled with infertility, but IVF was an effective solution for us. I’m confident your surgeon is going to give you the best uterus imaginable for your future baby.

  20. Sally Kathren says:

    Cora,
    I share your heart break. I, too, had fibroids that caused severe symptoms and had a myomectomy myself a little over a year ago. For various reasons including almost having a stroke at one point, I was unable to have surgery when I first needed it, eating into my last few years before menopause. I am still hoping to adopt an embryo. I hope there is some hope for you also.
    Sally

  21. Monique Simmer says:

    Dear Cora, I’m so sorry to read of your heartache – from the bottom of my heart I wish you complication-free surgery with an optimal outcome, a speedy and easy recovery and that you find a way to have a family with your husband in the future. Sendiing much love and strength, and keeping you firmly in my thoughts.

  22. Liz says:

    My dear Cora, thank you for sharing such a personal story. I walked a similar path to yours several years ago. My belly was determined to fool people into thinking that I was pregnant, when all I had was a grapefruit-sized fibroid and numerous cysts..mini-versions taken over my womb and my ovaries. After the surgery I waited, and waited…and waited. When I surrendered and sort of come to terms of my infertility, my little bundle of joy decided it was time. She fiercely grasped onto my wombs walls, perhaps knowing it was her and my only chance of meeting each other as mother and daughter. After five miscarriages, I became a mother. At 46. With this story I don’t want to compare or give you false hope. I simply want you to know that you are not alone, there are sisters here to listen to you, that share your sadness, desperation and hope. Whatever the end result is, you will come out as a stronger, wiser and more esoteric woman. I’m proud of your courage, I’m proud of your husband for been your rock -just like mine was and continues to be- as well as your family for understanding. That makes a whole difference my friend. Yes, we will definitely see you on the other side. Many blessings, light and chi.

  23. Dana says:

    Thank you for sharing this and I am so sorry about all of it. Best wishes that the surgery and recovery go extraordinarily well.

  24. Caramel Knowledge says:

    Wishing you the best outcome possible.

  25. Jael says:

    Thank you for doing what you need to do for yourself, and simultaneously thank you for sharing. Be well. <3

  26. Melissa says:

    Hi. I am so happy you are taking the time to rest. Thank you for being so transparent with us and for speaking a truth that so many Black women know, but may not have the words to articulate. I appreciate you. And I’m sending you my love. I’m carrying thoughts of you with me.

  27. Luci Blue says:

    Oh Cora, My heart hurts for you. I am praying that you have an easy recovery and are able to give the child of your heart a wonderful mother and family. There are no “should haves” just what is and what will be. Blaze your trail, wherever it leads you! Here’s to healing all that ails you!

  28. Bubble says:

    Sending my love and hopes that the surgery goes well and that you will recover swiftly <3

  29. Mehgan thompson says:

    I love that you shared your story. I was diagnosed with PCOS and it was an infertility challenge but I wanted a child so bad. Over 9 years me and my husband tried and tried again, we experienced 9 miscarriages, 2 failed adoptions, and then when we thought we finally got our child we delivered still born at 24 weeks in 2017. We did try fertility one more time and our son was born 2/15/19 he did however come 7 weeks early and was only 2lbs 16oz when he was born. Durong The emergency c section my husband almost lost me and our son. But we both made it through. After 5 weeks in the NICU we did get to take our son home, so miracles do happen. Keep your head up high. I’m not going to lie it’s hard, infertility is the hardest thing you will ever deal with emotionally, mentally, financially and physically but you not alone and there is amazing support out there. I wish you all the best and am sending positive vibes your way! Thank you for being strong enough to share your story and make it ok to talk about your an amazing woman!

  30. Gabriell Washington says:

    Wishing you a smooth surgery & recovery. I had the same in October (myomectomy for fibroids) and am happy to share info or just be someone who responds to emails if you’re bored/restless and recovering… gabbidub @ gmail.com. I was terrified of the surgery and the fertility implications. Still am, a little.

    Good vibes sent your way,
    Gabby

  31. Amber says:

    Cora, this post made my heart ache. I am so sorry you’re going through this, but also so hopeful for you and am going to be sending you so many good thoughts and well wishes for your surgery and throughout the next few months. I hope everything goes as well as possible and that you recover fully and are able to make all of your dreams for building your family in the future. I know I don’t live near by, but please let me know if theres anything I can do or help with from afar, even if it’s just to lend an ear to listen. So much love to you.

  32. Sansharay DeCaul-Steele says:

    Reading your story sound familiar to my own. I recently had surgery called a laparoscopic bilateral cysts removal. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for 3 out of the 5 month we have been pregnant. Reading your story just makes me want to share my journey and the things that I venturing on right. Thank you.

  33. Jojo says:

    At 43, I had the same surgery you’re about to. At 45, I had my daughter. You may not be infertile. There is hope.

    Best wishes!

  34. Mackenzie says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life with your readers. Best of luck with your surgery, wishing you a safe recovery.

  35. Lee K says:

    I have had major abdominal surgery (for giant dermoid cysts). You are smart to take advantage of the recovery time. Hopefully you have some good books for then? If you’re looking for something fun and sweet, I recommend Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole. The heroine’s a disabled Black woman who runs a pop culture site.

  36. Emma says:

    You aren’t alone. I was told to ignore a fibroid the size of an avocado, 18 months later it was the size of a honeydew melon (my surgeon’s words, not mine).

    I didn’t want children, and then couldn’t have them. I had to have a hysterectomy when I was 36, the recovery time was the same as yours due to the size of the fibroid and the method of surgery as a consequence. I then endured 3 years of undiagnosed premature ovarian failure – I was largely ignored by my GP. It was finally diagnosed 2 years ago.

    Then a the start of this year I got a new year’s bonus of finding out I had a cyst the size of an avocado so both my ovaries had to go. I’ve just gone through the menopause for the second time (worse than the first).

    Not wanting children, and then not having them doesn’t mean it’s any easier – I had to question suddenly if I did want them or because I couldn’t have them did I want them. Nobody listened, and nobody understood.

    I’m now just angry, angry that 80% of women will get one and they don’t know why – and nobody is doing anything to find out why. I’m angry on behalf of black women, like yourself, who have a higher probability of getting one, and of often finding it harder to get treatment for it. I want this to change.

    If you would like someone to talk to – to ask questions (I can do my best to answer), please drop me a line, I’m more than happy to listen. I hope your recovery is kind to you and you’re surrounded by love.

    I’m currently researching this as I want to share my story so women like you and me, don’t have to go through this quite so alone. I have a platform, I intend on using it to start yelling (if I have to), to make a change.

  37. Ashley says:

    You are most definitely not alone!!!! 1 in 8 of us is going through this, me included. The loneliness, the jealousy, the want, the hurt, the yearning for that little person. It all sucks so bad and I 100% get you and your feelings. Infertility is the most cruel, unfair, thing a person can go through. And it’s devastating and you feel so alone.

    But there are many of us out here. And no, until someone is in this position, they don’t know what ‘just adopt’ sounds like, or what it’s like when they say ‘their god’ must not think its time. Ok but it’s the drug addicts time to have her 6th and have it taken away?! It’s just that ‘easy’ until you’re in this position.

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this too, and I want you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this awed up journey.

  38. Emily says:

    Cora you are so strong to post about this. I can relate to you feelings although my problems are slightly different – I seem to have unexplained infertility – I’ve had 2 failed cycles of IVF as my eggs don’t seem to make it past fertilisation. I have also had all the comments about it’s all part of God’s plan, and have I considered adoption . I really hope the surgery goes well for you. Take all the time you need to recover and know that there are people out there who can empathise.

  39. nofixedstars says:

    i am so very sorry to hear this. everything you say rings true. any woman who has wanted to have a child and found that she cannot, or that there is an impediment in her body, will understand completely about the feelings you express. i deeply hope that your surgery brings a solution, that your recovery is quick, and that in time you find a resolution that brings joy back to your life.

  40. Julie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope the surgery goes well, and I wish you a speedy recovery.

  41. Maddie says:

    Holding you in the light. May you have all the strength you need.

  42. K says:

    Thank you for your courageous sharing. May ALL the Light, Warmth, Peace and Healing you need meet you at every point turn and tear on this leg of the journey. You are loved. You are light. You are beautiful. You are blessed. Amen.

  43. Estelle says:

    I hope the surgery goes well, wishing you the best possible recovery.

  44. Rae Hudspeth says:

    I am so sorry for your loss (it is as much a loss as any other) and sorrow. May your surgery go well, and you heal both body and heart.

  45. Thursday says:

    As someone who has chosen never to have children, the insensitive and ignorant comments you get are hard enough to deal with. I can only imagine how challenging it can be for someone with more complex circumstances. I am glad to hear you have your family and friends to support you, and I will be here thinking of you and hoping for a swift recovery.

  46. Kelly says:

    Hi Cora, thank you. I’m sorry. I’m so impressed. So many conflicting emotions.
    I’m also infertile, and your age. With the difference that I didn’t really want children anyway, so that made it easier when I found out last year. And yet… I struggled like you with these feelings and doubts. Had no idea that the feeling of worth and attractiveness were so linked to being fertile. How bizarre is that? As independent, strong, feminist women still feeling – even though you know it is not true – that somehow your ability to produce a baby determines a part of your ‘value’ as a woman. Bizarre. But that gets better, it fades away.
    And the part of ‘helpful’ comments from others. Hah. So relatable.

    Anyway. Thank you for writing so eloquently and powerfully and sincerely about this. You are very strong to do so.
    You’ll be fine, in whatever way.

    I wish you the best – that what you wish for may come true. I wish you community, people to talk to and share with, that stay because they understand, or merely because they have no fear of your sadness. I wish you and your husband also find beauty together in this hardship, maybe come even closer.

    Good luck sweetheart.

  47. belpita says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is a journey and only you know how to make it, because it is about you and your body. I am relieved to hear that you have good support around you. Remember that it is always ok to say that someone’s “well-meaning” advice is hurtful to you. You should never have to apologise for whatever feelings you experience.

  48. Kate says:

    While not having fibroid cysts due to a long term medical condition my eggs are “No longer viable.” At 34 it’s an incredible weight when you hear those words. With an extraordinary husband who loves me regardless and with time the weight does lift. I don’t know if it will ever fully go away but I do know the pity looks and ignorant judgements will sting less. God speed to a safe recovery with your surgery and I hope to hear from you on the flip side.

  49. Lizzie says:

    As a fellow infertile woman (“clinical infertility” meaning there is no diagnosable reason and nothing to be done), this was incredibly touching and powerful to read. Thank you for sharing. I’ve shared so many of your experiences, and it was moving to read you write about them. I used to have a blog where I wrote, among other things, about trying to get pregnant (I’m queer, so I started by using a doctor’s help). I felt/feel so ashamed and embarrassed and failed when it didn’t work that i just stopped writing. I’ve lost friends because of it, because it’s painful being around their growing families. It’s so hard. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    I don’t actually read your blog, I just found you through a Google search this evening (though it looks incredible! I’m going to read previous posts!). It’s amazing to that I discovered your writing the night you posted this.
    I wish you so much strength for the surgery.

  50. Lexica says:

    I know that “sympathy” and “best wishes” are useless, and I wish I had a better way to express how my heart is hurting for you.

  51. Brenda says:

    I hear you and I hear your pain. For that I am sorry. I can’t imagine what you are going through but I understand loneliness and the pain that comes from it. I hope your surgery goes well and that you have a speedy recovery filled with rest, love and support.

  52. I am so sorry you are going through this. I will keep you in prayer for a sucessful surgery and quick recovery.

  53. Yvonne says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that your dealing with infertility. I can not imagine the pain and sadness that comes with it. I hope that you are still able to find some comfort with your family and friends who care deeply about you.

  54. Jessica says:

    I’m a long time reader/follower, but don’t participate much. Strictly lurker here haha. I just wanted to say I’m so truly sorry for your struggles, and I hope that you take the time you need to heal from your surgery. I commend you for opening up and wish you all the best in the weeks to come. Take care of yourself! <3

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