This year, RESOLVE’S theme for National Infertility Awareness Week is “You are not alone.” I’ve participated in this week two years ago, but when I saw the theme for this year, I knew I had something to say.
I started my infertility journey being angry, scared and utterly alone. Besides for my mom and my husband, to everyone else, we were just too busy with college programs and wanting to buy a house to think about starting a family. When I tentatively started letting people in, some were supportive, some were quick to dole out the advice, and some were too uncomfortable to even bring it up.
It wasn’t until we went to our first appointment at the fertility clinic, where things started to get more real, that I made one of the biggest decisions of my life: deciding to put our story up on social media. My heart started pounding as soon as I hit “post.” What would people think about such a personal entry? What if they tell us to just relax and it would happen when it was time? Even worse…
What if no one said anything at all?
It was after that post, after receiving more comments and words of support than I ever imagined I would receive, that I decided to take it one step further: I started a blog. A very public blog. Some may have thought I was crazy, to put it all out there: the inseminations, the timed intercourse, the entries of negative pregnancy tests that most would have only written to themselves in a carefully hidden diary. I took the most intimate moments of creating a baby with my husband and I put it out there for the world to read.
It was, without a doubt, the best decision I could have made.
By reaching out, by putting my infertility out there, I found other bloggers who were going through the same things. I remember reading posts, my eyes wide, thinking to myself, I could have written this very same post. Those same bloggers would in turn read my own entries, commenting that they would have felt the same way, done the same thing.
Three years, three IUIs, three IVFs, and two donor egg cycles later, infertility blogging has become a part of me, no different than my own arms or legs. I’m friends on Facebook with the same bloggers I met online three years ago. I have an overflowing shoebox of all the gifts and cards I have received from bloggers over the years. Putting my blog out there for everyone has blessed me with friends I’ve made in real life, and has put me in contact with old acquaintances that have come forward and shared their own stories with me.
The theme “You are not alone” isn’t just something I tell myself anymore. It’s what I want to tell anyone who is experiencing infertility: You, friend, are not alone.
That pregnancy test that was negative this morning? I’ve had those too.
That third IVF that failed? I’ve been there.
The baby you lost after years of trying to get pregnant and finally succeeding? Oh sweet friend, I’m crying right along with you.
I’ve walked in your shoes. I’ve nodded along as you try to explain what it’s like to be the only one of your friends still without a child. I understand you better than most of the people in your life. If you are reading this, and you haven’t told a soul about your treatments, your babies you’ve lost, please know, you are not alone.
Not everyone can share their story to the world. For some, there has been too much judgement; for others, there is shame or awkwardness. Some people are private, and that’s ok. I encourage you to find some sort of connection to others going through the same thing. It can truly mean the difference between defeat and survival. Unless you are comfortable with those in your life knowing, create a blog, lock it down with all the privacy settings you want, and connect with other bloggers. Read other blogs. Join an online support group. Or, find a local in-person infertility support group. Resolve has them. Churches may have them. Connect with those you know in real life going through infertility. 1 in 8 couples are going through the same thing. Chances are, you know one of them.
I know myself how excited I get when I learn someone I know has gone through treatments. I will go right to people, regardless of how well I know them and I will share my story. And every single time I have done that, I see the relief in their faces. That look of, “You too?” My closest friends have been discovered in the last three years all because one of us stepped forward and put ourselves out there by saying, “Hey, I’m going through this too. I get it.”
Infertility steals so much from us. Our free time, our money, our ability to plan more than a few days ahead. It’s stolen family members who just can’t support us. It’s stolen friendships, faiths, a normal sex life, our bodies.
Don’t let infertility steal this too. Don’t let infertility leave you feeling isolated. You may inevitably go broke, you may be hurt by family and friends who don’t understand, you may question your faith, feel like you can’t have sex without permission from your doctor, and be bruised by endless needles.
But don’t ever think you have to do it alone.
Click on these links to learn more about infertility and NIAW:
- http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility/ (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)