by | 12 Oct 2014

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the word ‘infertile’. For years it wasn’t a word I wanted to be seen in the same room as. But of late I’ve rather grown to like it. In fact, me and infertile now go for out dinner regularly when we’re not at home on the sofa with a takeaway watching X Factor on a Saturday night.

I mentioned in a previous blog that I’ve recently become a trustee of Infertility Network UK. There’s the word again. However, at our board meeting last week there was a lot of discussion about whether the charity should change its name and, in particular, whether it should ditch the ‘in’ in infertile. The charity’s mission is to provide support and information to those who are having or have had difficulty conceiving. Surely it’s wrong to intimate that all such people are ‘infertile’ and I don’t suppose anyone trying to conceive wants to believe it’s true. I know I didn’t. And even though me and infertile seem to have become good friends these days, I can’t say that we’re really one and the same thing. I have been pregnant. Several times. I’ve just not been able to carry a baby to term. You could call me ‘unlucky’ but ‘infertile’ doesn’t really cover it.

It just goes to show that reappropriation is a complex thing. Whether you’re black, homosexual or childless you have to approach the reclaimation of words with caution. Just listen to this wonderful poem by Dean Atta – I am Nobody’s Nigger – to see what I mean. And then tell me, are you happy to be anybody’s infertile?


  1. kiftsgate

    I’ve never really had a problem with the word infertile. In fact somehow it made me feel better to have a name for what we were going through. It’s not one you want to share with the whole world but with friends and family it was an easier way to talk. We both have issues and were told we would never be able to conceive without medical help. It’s not an unexplained infertility, which makes it easier to say we are infertile rather than unlucky. But I do see how the word may be inappropriate in other cases.. xx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      And I’m hoping with all my heart that now you are about to be very lucky and definitely no longer infertile! Hope you’re still feeling positive and well and thanks as always for your thoughtful comments. Jessica x

  2. sproutandco

    I love your way of thinking on this Jessica and its very much the philosophy I follow on my blog. In my first post I discuss how the words infertile, fruitless or baron will not be uttered on my website I call all my readers ‘Fertile Friends’. I think the mind/body/connection is so strong that I refuse to believe the words that I am ‘infertile’….

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Hi Rachel, thanks so much for your comment. I’ve just looked at your website which is beautiful and signed up for regular updates so look forward to hearing more from you soon. Jessica x

      • sproutandco

        Oh thanks Jessica, would love to connect at some stage and discuss – I think there is so much power in us being in the thick of it and connecting with women all over the world. Love your posts and what you offer. I’m actually just about to purchase your book too…..I’m still riding the ups and downs of the fertility roller coaster – just recovering from an unsuccessful IVF round, but feeling strong again after being on cleansing herbs and a program for the last month. My body rejects all IVF drugs, so we are taking a break for the remainder of the year (I’m going to write a book too) and will re-visit next year…..Hope your doing well. Big hugs xox

        • thepursuitofmotherhood

          Hi Rachel, sorry for my slow reply. Would love to connect too. If you haven’t bought my book yet I’d be really happy to send you one if you were up for doing a review on your website/blog or something. Also I was wondering, having read your website and e-letters, whether you’d like to be my next Fertility Proust interviewee? Let me know what you think. Jessica x

          • sproutandco

            Hi Jessica,

            Absolutely lovely, I would love to read your book and do a review on my site, that’s perfect – I haven’t had a chance to buy yet, so that would be super kind of you to send me one (my address is PO Box 2032, Clovelly West, NSW, Australia, 2031). I’d also really like to interview you in my fertile friend segment on the blog – maybe we could do the interview the same week I review your book?

            I’d love to be your next Fertility Proust interviewee – thanks for thinking of me – what an honour. What a beautiful series – I’ve really been enjoying reading them.

            Drop me an email at with the questions and I’ll come back to you.

            Thanks so much Jessica, look forward to chatting soon xo