Well folks... it's that time once again where National Infertility Awareness Week coincides with my birthday. Yay? Mixed feelings there... I am an infertile so in a way it only seems fitting I guess, but what do I want for my birthday this year? Well I want people to start talking! I've seen 5 birthdays pass whilst Homme InFertile and I have worked towards getting pregnant with no luck. I've grown 5 years older without a child to do the same. And as NIAW rolls around again, I can't help but reflect on this chapter of my life and wonder what it all means? Who have I become in the process? What have I learned?
When I met my husband, Homme InFertile as I so call him here, it was lust at first sight. I say lust because I don't believe you can truly fall in love with a person you've never spoken to... but the attraction and chemistry was instant and undeniable... and in the 10+ years we've been together I have fallen more and more in love with him with each passing day. I am one of the lucky ones in that respect. Unfortunately, we have been less than fortunate in the reproductive department.
We got married young, and started trying for a family very quickly. I had ALWAYS (and I really truly mean that) wanted to be a mother. It was a very tightly woven fabric of my being, and it was undeniable. My maternal clock seemed to click in much earlier than my friends, but I honored it, wanting to finish having kids by the time I was 30 in order to enjoy a long full life with them in it. With tomorrow's passing birthday and me turning 31, we know that is a certainly not happening. We were forced to let go of that dream, and many others along the way.
We let go of the dream to ENJOY the trying to conceive journey.
We let go of the dream to NATURALLY conceive our child.
We let go of our ideal TIMELINES surrounding parenthood.
and slowly... month by month... we started to let go of hope.
Let it go might as well be our theme song... and I'll admit, I've used it as a pick me up... disney ain't just for children folks!
But hope is a fickle thing. One minute it is lost completely, and then seemingly out of nowhere, a new factor emerges and hope is re-born. A new treatment. A new doctor. A new year. A new city. A new drug. A new protocol. A new diet. A new anything and we begin to believe once more that our story may have a happy ever after, afterall. But that isn't always the case.
We are forced, as infertiles, to watch those around us move forward with their lives while we sit stuck in the mud... or cement as it feels some days. Friends that didn't even have a significant other when we started trying, now have two beautiful children. Our social media feeds are constantly filled with baby-spam and gripes with parenthood, while we long for just a taste of what their world has to offer. We're outsiders with no way in... And it hurts. It hurts because no one is talking about it. And if we do, we make others uncomfortable. So for me... I want to #StartAsking for people to share their struggles, not just their successes. I want to #StartAsking for people to not get uncomfortable when I talk about infertility. I want to #StartAsking for better insurance coverage for infertility, as it is a disease. I want to #StartAsking for people to have empathy and compassion, and put themselves in other peoples shoes... because I would trade anything for your morning sickness... telling me how horrible it is, isn't helping. I want to #StartAsking for the world to get educated on infertility, and acknowledge that it isn't just a women-centric issue. Infertility affects men too! And men need just as much support!
We move through life with a smile on our face, and heads held high, because there is no other option. You don't stop living your life because of struggle... you work through it. "Be brave." I remind myself constantly. "Be patient." I work on daily. "Be happy." I choose every moment I can. The choice to be happy is one I don't take lightly. There are a lot of ways to be happy on this earth, and although I know parenthood will bring me much joy, there are other things in my life that do the same, and I am unwilling to ignore them. The pain is real, but so is the joy in fully living the life I've been blessed with.
I wasn't always this way. In fact I remember at 6 months freaking out, bawling my eyes out on the bathroom floor in a panic that I was never going to be a mother. The pain I felt then was a different pain. A panicked pain. A young pain. But as the years roll by, the pain has evolved. It's still there... and I still cry... but it's seasoned. It's hard to describe... but when you repeat something so frequently, and continue to get the same result, you become more immune. This isn't to say I'm not saddened by my experience, or that when I get my period it's no big deal... but somehow it isn't AS big of a let down as it once was. And I find that sad. I'm more sad about the fact that I'm not more sad, than just being sad about my circumstances. But the more I opened up, the more support I began to get. The more I talked about infertility, the more aware my friends and family became. Do I still from time to time get ignorant advice, comments or suggestions? Sure. Does it bother me? Sometimes... but what would bother me more, is for them to continue to be unaware of the journey Infertiles face daily. The realities of this horrible disease. I wrote an original poem inspired by this struggle.
You say to me; enjoy this time,
but this time of mine, I don't need, I'm fine
You say to enjoy the freedom I have,
but freedom I lack, I do not laugh
You say be brave, be patient and trust,
but trust is lost, and question I must
You say you believe, and feel you know,
but promise, you can't, and faith is slow
You say you miss the life I lead,
but what when life I lose and bleed
You say you care, you understand,
but each time I fall I find no hand
So what you need to see, I say,
is I hurt, I hope, I blame, I pray
-written by Femme InFertile
So if someone you know or love opens up and is honest with you about their struggles, don't go for the quick fix, don't offer up your suggestions, but instead open up your hearts, minds, and arms and support them. Give them a hug. Tell them your there for them. Educate yourself so you understand what they're going through. Ask them if and how you can help. You never know what someone else is going through. Don't assume you do.
Resolve has some amazing resources if you want to learn more. Their goal is to raise awareness of the following:
And to finish us off... I want to share one of my favourite resources. I'm sure I've shared it before, but if you know someone going through infertility, they need your love and support. But unless you've been through it, it can be hard to know what to do, and what not to do. Here is a great little cheat list to get you started.