This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and the fine people at RESOLVE have challenged Bloggers to write a blog post with the theme of “Don’t Ignore Infertility”. In your life, in the lives of your family and friends, don’t ignore infertility. The words that so make so many of our hearts drop to our feet are: “Just relax, it will happen” and “Just trust God’s will”. These (and others) are phrases that I can’t stand. They are meant to be helping words. Kind words. Words to uplift and give encouragement. And yet as quick as they are spoken, they cut to the quick and cause resentment, anger and bitterness.
Some people experience infertility and never have biological children. Others have children and experience infertility after that, called secondary infertility. Either way, it hurts. There is no cure, and the best that we can hope for is to find some other (albeit very costly) way to get pregnant or have that child we dream of.
I got married last week to a wonderful man. He’s so smart. And his sense of humor is to be reckoned with. He’s witty, kind, understanding and sensitive. Very tender-hearted, yet still a man’s man. He has these amazingly blue eyes that fill my heart with wonder every time I look at him. I want my children to have these qualities. I want them to come from him. My heart breaks when I think that I may not be able to have that. When we talk about starting a family in a few years, we have to plan it. We have to plan the visits to the doctor, and the tests. I didn’t exactly expect to include my doctor in babymaking until AFTER the deed had been done.
But this is what we are faced with. The hope that MAYBE, just maybe, it will happen. And the fear that it won’t. That’s what RESOLVE is. It is hope. It is resolve to keep trying until all efforts have been exhausted. For now, whenever I see someone who is struggling, I make sure they know they are not alone. Whether I know them or not. The internet is a vast place filled with many ways to connect. And here at home, in real life, as it is so often called, I make sure that people know I’ve struggled with this for over ten years, and that it’s made me stronger, more certain of what I can and can’t do, what I want, and last of all, I can reach out and make people feel like it will be okay. Even if they live with infertility. I refuse to stand back and let it be something that is wrong with us. Something that is broken. I am not a broken woman, and neither are you.
So here are some other things that I feel should not be ignored:
Don’t ignore others: If you hear a woman in the doctors office talking, or you just happen to overhear a snippet of conversation, say something! Only you can understand the feelings of anger, resentment, hurt, shame, frustration and disappointment like they can.
Don’t ignore education: Unfortunately, many people do not realize, even in today’s forward thinking society, that infertility is not a taboo, it’s not a scarlet letter to be branded with. It’s a medical disease. If you confide in someone, and they start telling you that you may not be meant to have kids, don’t accept that. That is ridiculous. You are a woman. Meant to have kids. Because of my openness with a lot of my experiences, I’ve been able to educate many people who didn’t have the first idea about infertility as a medical disease. Don’t ignore your feelings: It’s okay to feel all those terrible things. It’s okay to cry. It’s even okay to cry at random times throughout the day. As women, we grow up thinking about marriage and then babies. It’s ingrained in us and is part of who we are. When a part of us doesn’t work, and it keeps us from doing what we were meant to do, it’s very upsetting. It should be. Don’t minimize your feelings. You have every right to be angry, to be sad, mad, bitter. For close to four years I quietly boycotted every pregnant friend I had, every baby shower and birthday. And then when that didn’t “fix” me, I turned around and forced myself to go to every birth, baby shower, and birthday. That didn’t help either. At the end of the day, I still came home in tears. But it’s okay. You can feel those feelings. They aren’t wrong, and no one should tell you they are. You are mourning for the ability to conceive a child. That’s natural. So mourn. Then pick yourself up and find a solution.
Don’t ignore the power of quotes:
“The English language lacks the words ‘to mourn an absence.’ For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful, some not. Still, we are conditioned to say something, even if …it is only ‘I am sorry for your loss.’ But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?” ~Laura Bush
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” — Dale Carnegie
I have decided to be happy, because it’s good for my health. - Voltaire
Dear Father in Heaven,
I pray to you today to protect and guide all of Your children who are plagued with the devastation and frustration that fertility issues cause them.
For all of the women who are going through egg retrievals today, give them peace and calmness to alleviate their fears and phobias and physical pain.
Bless them with an abundance of viable eggs and healthy fertilization.
Watch over the development of the babies and keep them warm and safe.
For all of the women who are going through embryo transfers today, give them patience and hope for all of the blessings that You may endow on them.
Give them healthy and strong babies to survive the difficult yet joyful journey that they have ahead. For all of the women who are going through the two-week-wait today, give them courage and strength to wait for the joyous news.
Allow them to focus on the positive outcomes and to pamper and treat their bodies as the shrines they are.
For all of the women who have faced a cycle that was unable to fulfill their dreams and have made the decision to try again, bless them, Father, for they carry on in spite of pain and disappointment. Strengthen their resolve and show them the joy of their commitment by blessing their homes with a new life in the cycle to come.
For all of the women who have journeyed through the deserts and have found no more strength to carry on in the face pain of such bitter disappointment and frustration, shower them with Your Love. Give them peace and remove any grief and anger that they rightfully feel.
Open their hearts and their souls to Your Word and to Your Will.
Show them paths and choices that might lead them to the desired end.
For those who have received the blessings of a child, protect their family with Your Strength, guide them to Your Way, show them Your Love and leave Your Imprint in their hearts to have them be beacons of light for the rest of the world.
In Your Blessed Name, we pray. Amen
Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the U.S. This figure represents 1 in 8 couples, or 12% of women of childbearing age. (2002 National Survey of Family Growth)
http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility)
http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)