It’s National Infertility Awareness Week
If you asked me a year ago if I would be writing this blog today, I would say no way. Last year at this time I was coming to the dreaded conclusion that I was likely 1 in 8, the current statistic associated with infertility. Just last April I was impatiently awaiting my first doctor’s appointment with my OB/GYN to discuss my infertility concerns. Even though I knew I had been trying for well over a year unsuccessfully I still hadn’t come to the full realization that I was about to be diagnosed with infertility. Until that point that term was somewhat foreign to me. I knew what it meant, but I tried to think of it as a distant term, that kind of term that won’t happen to me. Sort of like cancer. Everyone knows what cancer is, you know it’s this horrible disease that destroys lives, but you always sort of think of it in a distant type of way. Sort of like you are trying to protect yourself, like ‘that can’t happen to me right?’.
A diagnosis of infertility is very similar. You hear about it on TV or read about it online. You may know someone who struggles with it but you don’t truly ever think it could be yours. Until it is. Nothing can prepare you for the finality of the words “you have infertility”. For some reason our society has kept the concept of fertility and infertility a secret. It’s like the giant elephant in the room. Everyone knows how babies are made but no one talks about it. No one talks about the struggles, the process, the trials and tribulation it takes to get to the end goal of a little one. All we ever focus on is the happy bits, the pregnancy announcements, the baby showers, the first pictures and so on.
But what about all the in-between’s.
I think its time we start talking about the in-between. That’s what infertility is after all. It’s the indefinite in-between from the time you decide you want to have a child, to the time when you find out that it’s not as easy as they make it look in the movies. It’s the time spent waiting… so much waiting. Waiting for each month, waiting for the next test, the next doctor’s visit, the next specialist, the next procedure, the next dose of medicine, the next blood work result, the next ultrasound, the never ending next’s. And with all this waiting it’s hard to imagine why we expect people to hide in silence, to cry behind closed doors, to be left alone feeling like they are the only ones suffering. Why do we make something that is already so hard, that much harder?
I challenge you to end the silence, start a conversation, to reach out for support. There is so much support out there if you just ask. As hard as it is to break the silence barrier, I have decided it’s so worth it. I started this blog a few months back as our IVF journey was beginning. That wasn’t even close to the beginning of our infertility journey but at the time it seemed like it was the ‘real start’, the part that society would finally accept as being true infertility. I challenge that thought too.
Our infertility battle started closer to three years ago. Well before the doctor’s visits and the tests and the IVF. It started with the month after month of disappointment, negative tests and tears when someone else posted their pregnancy announcement. Each one of those announcements seemed to stack the deck further against us… “why is it so easy for them?”, “what’s wrong with me?” the list goes on and on. The truth is, because of the silent stigma regarding infertility I had no way of knowing if those other couples had struggled just as much as we were. Maybe that was their rainbow baby, maybe that was their one miracle.
It would have helped so much to know that, to know that we weren’t alone.
This year as I look back at how far we have come, and how far we still have to go as we search for our rainbow baby, I realize I can no longer sit in silence. I must advocate for myself, but more importantly for others who do not feel supported enough to do so. I have broken the infertility silence barrier and there is no going back. I have announced openly on all of my social media accounts that we are 1 in 8. I will #flipthescript. I won’t suffer in silence anymore and I challenge you to feel empowered to do the same.