Because most people who deal with infertility are trying to find alternative ways to get pregnant, I have not found much comfort or solace in that community. I’ve checked out Facebook groups and Instagram hashtags and immediately turned for the other direction. So, it’s not all that surprising that I was unaware of what this week is — National Infertility Awareness Week. I don’t really need a national week to make me aware of infertility, thankyouverymuch.
However, out of curiosity I checked out the #niaw hashtag on Instagram to see if maybe I was wrong about my initial assessment of the community. I saw:
- Bruised bellies from daily shots
- Newborn babies surrounded by needles in the shape of a heart
- Women in hospital beds
- Sonograms of fetuses
- Women wearing “1 in 8” shirts
- Baby announcements
- Pregnant bellies
- Adoption announcements
I didn’t see any images that reflected my story. I did see some memes that felt familiar, but that was about it. I sought out the hashtag to feel less alone and ended up feeling more isolated than before.
And, at the same time, I was reaffirmed in the decision we made several years ago not to seek medical intervention. I admire those women with the bruised bellies but I do not desire to be one of them. I can’t imagine going through all of that knowing there’s a strong chance it would not work out.
1 in 8 women deal with infertility in some way. I wonder how many seek further treatments? I wonder how many don’t, because it seems if there are more out there, they are very quiet. Maybe if I speak up, others will feel more comfortable and safe to speak up too.
I never imagined that I would be a statistic like this. I mean, who ever imagines such a thing? But, here I am.
I believe that in all things God works for good. I really do. I don’t believe God causes our pain — that’s a by-product of our free will, the way the natural order works out. However, I do believe God can work through our pain to bring about something new. That whole new life, resurrection thing we just celebrated on Sunday… yeah, that applies to my life and to yours too.
Somehow, someway, good will come from this. God will work with me to create something good and beautiful out of my grief and loss. God will work with me to bring new life to spaces that have felt dead. God will work with me to resurrect my Spirit. Together, we will do this. Together, we are doing this.
For many people infertility is something they suffer in silence. I’m not sure why I decided to be so open about my story. I think the writing and sharing has helped my journey of healing in some way. I don’t know how or why, but I do know it’s helped. However, for many people (and I can probably include myself here too), infertility brings up issues of shame, not good enough, defective in some way, less than… I guess I can understand why women stay silent. I think it’s also a shock to the system when we’ve been told for years and years to practice safe sex… only to find it wouldn’t have mattered anyway (STIs aside). Infertility encompasses so many “taboo” topics — periods and sex just to name two. I guess it makes sense that this is an issue we don’t hear about much outside of conversations with close friends.
Clearly National Infertility Awareness Week wasn’t for me — as the “week” ends today and I’m just now getting around to writing about it! But, maybe this awareness week is for you. 1 in 8 women deal with this… that means someone you know, beyond me, also faces this heartbreaking diagnosis. So, in case you weren’t aware, now you are.
There could be (and maybe is?!) a national awareness week for anything… we’re all facing something. We’re all doing the best we can. Be gentle with one another.
P.S. I just went to the website to get the link for NIAW and immediately got a pop up about finding a specialist or help with insurance… I didn’t look over the site any longer than to copy the link but that pop up tells me everything I need to know: they think I’m there because I am trying to get pregnant.