'It felt barren': Author aims to raise awareness on infertility

A P.E.I. author is hoping her new book will help people better understand the difficulties faced by people who can't have children.

Elizabeth Powers was first diagnosed as infertile in 1989, and after six years of medical interventions finally accepted she would never have children.

"We grieved," said Powers.

"We transformed our lives over the course of time by deciding how to deal with the loss. How to deal with the fact that these children that we wanted to have so much were never going to have their lives given to them."

'Bursting with maternal instinct'

The sadness never completely went away.

"It felt barren," she said.

"It felt barren when I was around a group of women at work or in a supermarket or at church, who were bursting with maternal instinct like me, however they had their babies."

Powers uses the word barren to describe her situation because it is clear. When she told people she was infertile they often assumed it was a condition that could be fixed, that eventually — with medical help — she could have children.

When she told people she was barren, they did not so often have that misunderstanding. Saying she was barren, she found, was definitive and final.

'It was silence'

But still, when she turned to people for compassion and understanding, she found it was not so forthcoming.

"I was astounded at the lack of understanding around me," said Powers.

"There was something very wrong, and missing, with the topic of barrenness, because it was silence."

Powers has now shared her experiences in a book, Breaking the Silence of Being Barren, which she hopes will start a new conversation on what it means to be infertile.

Powers is also lobbying the federal government to take a lead role in raising awareness about barrenness. Ultimately, she would like to see barrenness recognized in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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