Last week, April 19-25, was National Infertility Awareness week. There were a ton of amazing and moving articles that circulated the Internet during this week, one of which I’d like to share with you. Note: If you’re only interested in my story, stay tuned. I will write more about me and my experiences, and how becoming pregnant has affected all of this. But for right now, I want to share this piece by Steve Wiens, who describes in the infertility journey in ten words (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-wiens/infertility-words_b_3319325.html). It may be beneficial to share with others who aren’t experiencing infertility so they can understand more about you and your journey.
- Lonely - We saw couple after couple get pregnant before us, our best friends included. When they told us, we high-fived them, then we went home, and hardly knew what to say to each other. We felt lost, sad, and even lonelier than before. We were excited for them; we were just very sad for us.
- Exposed - Everybody wants to give you advice, and some people say incredibly stupid things. My favorite: "You just need to stop trying so hard!" Some people want to know every excruciating detail of what you're doing to get pregnant. Suddenly, your most private details are the subject of casual conversation. It's okay to avoid the question, smile, and change the subject.
- On Hold - We were always checking the calendar, wondering if we should plan that vacation, or that work trip, because what if we're pregnant? Then we stopped doing that, because we would have never lived if we would have scheduled everything around a "what if." It's okay to miss a month or two; you have to live your life. This is hard, but over the long haul, it will create more stress if you feel so trapped that you can't plan anything.
- Invaded- For women, there are so many things entering your body (probes, needles, drugs) and so many people measuring your progress. The loss of control can almost merge into a loss of self. But, it feels like once you've started down this road, there's no stopping until you get pregnant. It's okay to say what you need, and it's okay to shore up your boundaries in whatever ways you can.
- Awkward- During one of the first visits, I actually ran into some people from my church… They asked, "What are you doing here?" I mean, what do you say? It's okay to laugh at yourself sometimes.
- Angry- Unfair is the password that gets you into the infertility club. Many thoughts and feelings may be irrational, but it’s also good to be honest in safe places. You actually may be angry with God, and you may need to find some safe places to be honest about that. It's okay to express the darkness, even the stuff you're terribly embarrassed about, because it's good for your soul. But in the right places, with people who can handle it.
- Stressed - Even though it seems like a stressed out couple is less likely to get pregnant, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine finds that there is no proof stress causes infertility. Besides, trying hard to "not be so stressed about it" never worked for us. It also didn't help to "just stop trying." Everybody has a friend who was infertile for 73 years, and the day they stopped trying, they got pregnant. That never happened with us. It's okay to be stressed. Don't stress about your stress. Trying hard not to be stressed is silly.
- Despair - The cycle of hope and despair with infertility can take you out. I remember getting so excited when Mary was two days late, and just knowing that this time, it's going to happen! Then, a few days or hours later, when she told me she got "it," I would plunge into despair. The alternative is to temper your hope so that your despair doesn't get so low. After about a hundred months of experiencing this cycle, we found that the best route is to keep hoping, and if it doesn't happen, keep crying. It's too hard to pretend that you're not excited and that you're not depressed. Be excited. Be depressed. It's okay to hope, and it's okay to cry. Keep hoping and keep crying.
- Loss- This was not how it was supposed to be. This was not what you dreamed it would be. And you don't know how it will end. It's okay if you don't know how to wrap your mind around your emotions. Be gentle with yourself for not totally having control of how you feel from moment to moment.
- Ambivalence- Every time you have to go through another kind of treatment, you ask yourself: Is it worth it? Do I really want it that bad? And then in the very next breath, you are taken out by the sheer magnitude of how much you want a baby. It's okay to want and not want. That's normal.
Which number do you identify most with? Comment below.
Lastly, I just want to quickly bring your attention to an organization that was recently added to my resource list. Yesh Tikva is a newly launched, Jewish organization that provides resources, tools, and support to individuals struggling with infertility. Please visit them at www.yeshtikva.org and like them on Facebook. Here is more information about their mission:
“Yesh Tikva works to provide those thrown into the world of infertility with navigational tools to cope emotionally and practically along this journey. Resources include support groups, online support forums, platforms for sharing personal stories, medical resources, and events. We are constantly building, growing, and improving our offered resources. Additionally, Yesh Tikva looks to increase awareness of infertility throughout the Jewish community. Infertility has been taboo for far too long; it is time that those struggling share their experiences and give it a face. Yesh Tikva aims to increase the sensitivity of those who have not struggled to have to children and to equip them with the resources to help and support those who may be suffering in silence. In hopes of creating a resource for others on this roller coaster, we share our stories and open our hearts. You are no longer alone.”