|To those facing infertility, I recommend joining the supportive community at Then Comes Family.|
I’ve been giving this particular post a lot of thought over the last couple of days. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and I have a lot of feelings about what this means for myself and for those that I care about.
The theme of this year’s awareness week is, “You are not alone.” This is such a strong, powerful message to send to couples dealing with infertility. It’s something that I have spent months trying to convince myself of. Sure, I’ve always had the Husband, since we are trying to create a baby together. But once we’re out of our own little bubble of our home, out of our circle of protection, I felt painfully alone.
Let me backtrack for a minute. Our story began in January of 2014. We had been married for about four months, and I was ready to have a baby. The Husband wasn’t completely convinced, but he knew it meant a lot to me, and that by the time a baby came into the world, he would feel as ready as any person can feel. So we removed protection and began trying to grow our family.
Fast forward to November 2014. 11 Unsuccessful months of trying to have a child. I was at my wit’s end, so we went to a fertility specialist. He found some problems with me that required surgery to fix, but said we shouldn’t have any trouble conceiving after that.
Now, here we are, April 2015. We started out thinking we would have a baby in 2014. Then 2015. And now, we’re hoping and praying for a 2016 baby. Our doctor tells us that we fall squarely in the “unexplained infertility” category. And his recommendation, after three failed intrauterine inseminations (IUIs)? IVF.
Three little letters that are just about the scariest letters in the world. In-vitro fertilization. For those that aren’t up on their infertility treatments, IVF involves fertilizing an egg in a petri dish, and then transferring the fertilized egg to my uterus, in the hopes that it’ll implant and I’ll finally be pregnant.
The odds of success with IVF? 50-70%, depending on the statistics you’re looking at. For my age and for the protocol my doctor wants to try, we’re actually looking at around 45% success at our clinic for 2013. That’s a scary-small number compared to the large number that is involved on the financial side!
Cue the loneliness! I had known people who had gone through needing fertility medications like Clomid, maybe even a couple who had gone through IUIs. But IVF? That was surely a different story, right?
Wrong! The statistics show that approximately 1 in 8 couples faces infertility at some level. And in my life, I can think of at least 6 couples that I know personally, and relatively well, who have had to go through fertility treatments. I know three who have gone through, or are preparing to go through, IVF. Three separate couples in my life, plus me and the Husband. That’s more common than I ever thought before!
See where this is going yet? YOU’RE NOT ALONE! I’m not alone.
And what does this mean for me? It means that I don’t have to feel ashamed by my diagnosis. I don’t have to feel embarrassed that the Husband and I may need IVF to finally grow our family. That fact alone makes me feel so much more a part of an understanding community, maybe more so than I’ve ever felt before.
This, to me, is what National Infertility Awareness Week is all about. There are so many women I know who are scared to “come out” about their fertility struggles. They don’t want the pressure. They don’t want the platitudes. They don’t want the expectations.
And while I can understand and completely respect those thoughts, for me, my journey has transformed to something to much more than giving the Husband a child, more than growing our family. It’s about telling women, and couples, that they aren’t alone. Our stories may not be the same, but I can understand the feelings you feel on a daily basis. I can relate to turning down a baby shower invitation, or delaying a congratulations on yet another pregnancy announcement, because of the pain in your own heart. You are not alone, and you do not have to suffer in silence anymore.
Our society may be a fertility-normative one, but it doesn’t have to always be because we are not abnormal! If I can help even one women feel like she has a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen to her deepest, darkest fears and thoughts, then I have had a successful journey.
Remember, those of you who are traveling a similar road: keep the faith. It’s hard. There are, and will be, many dark times. But keep your head up and know that I see you. I’m here for you.
To learn more about infertility as a disease, please visit: http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility/
For more information on National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), please visit: http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html