This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Infertility may have no impact on many, but for “1 in 8” couples it may become something that impacts their entire world. I joined a group where I have met so many different women that have been touched with infertility in so many different ways and I’m lucky enough to have one of those strong women sharing with you today.
There is a magnet that has been on the front of my fridge for years that says, “Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” Many mornings I would skeptically look at that magnet and think… yeah, except when it comes to infertility! I would close that refrigerator door, walk away, and wonder if this would be the day that I finally found this missing “peace”.
Like many women who have traveled the fertility treatment paved road, I never realized the depth of the diagnosis of Infertility. I’ll never forget that first appointment with my gynecologist when she handed me that prescription paper and a pamphlet on Clomid. I walked to my car thinking… well this must be the ticket to a baby! Each appointment and procedure that followed on my journey seemed to feel like taking one more step down a staircase in to a dark world of loneliness. All of my friends and family members seemed to be having babies with such grace and ease, and I felt like each surgery I endured, each pill that I took, each injection in my body, and each negative result just pushed me further and further down that staircase while the rest of the world stood above me holding their cute bundles of joy. I felt so alone. Until I found my support group through RESOLVE.
Support group was the first time I felt hope. Support group was the first time that I didn’t feel ashamed to feel sad, jealous, and angry, or to talk about my questions and experiences. Support group was the first time that I felt like I could breathe! From the moment I started listening to the stories from the other women seated around me, I knew that I was a part of something, instead of an isolated broken woman. I no longer wanted to be ashamed to admit that my husband and I needed treatments for a medical condition. The more I read and learned, the more I wanted to share it with my family and friends. I wanted them to learn that this wasn’t just my husband and I… that this diagnosis of Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples! I felt that if I could take my experiences and use them to help other couples on that dark staircase, no matter if they were standing on the first step or the last, that I was creating a tiny ounce of good from all the heartache and stress that had consumed my life. I finally started to feel that missing peace.
Using social media, emails, and just plain old chatter I spoke about the current treatments we were involved in and our cycle updates to anyone who wanted to listen. I realized that the whole world did not always want to know about the size of my giant progesterone needles, but I wanted to help this topic come out from behind the shadows so that women and men did not need to feel broken or unaccepted in our seemingly fertile society. I firmly believed (and I still do!) that if we are not talking about it, then the medial diagnosis will never be accepted for what it is, and more research will never be completed, and insurances will never cover the treatments. I chose to live this diagnosis out loud!
When finally my last IVF cycle helped to create my daughter, the best gift my world has ever known, I knew that my strength had been fortified by those women who had surrounded me in support group. With an amazingly strong husband by my side we climbed a mountain that seemed like it would never end. That feeling of peace in my heart was my focal point, just like my magnet said.
My husband and I often say that we are forever changed by this journey. We don’t create and build our family the way that most people find typical. But we are now built stronger then we ever thought possible and filled with more love to give then most people will ever know in their whole lives. Infertility is forever a part of me, but it will not define me, and I truly feel that through support group and advocacy I found a peace in my heart that gave me the lift I needed.
Here’s a quick way to learn more:
- http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)