Sunday, April 22, 2012

NIAW: Don't Ignore . . .


First off, happy National Infertility Awareness Week! For anyone who is living with infertility or know someone who is, this week is an important one for raising awareness, educating the public about infertility and sharing the concerns of the infertility community. For more information, visit RESOLVE or the following links:

  • http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility
  • http://www/resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)

The theme for this NIAW is "Don't Ignore Infertility," and like many of my fellow bloggers, I wanted to kick off this week by tackling this year's blog challenge, starting the post with "Don't Ignore . . "  and filling in the blank as it relates to infertility and the journey to resolve.

I've been thinking a lot about this theme this past month. On a lot of levels, I've been very lucky to not be suffering in silence while living both with infertility and healing from both my miscarriages. This has been largely due to Grey, family, good friends and this community. But even with that, I'm still very aware of how ignored infertility and pregnancy loss are by society. This post by Wannabeamom demonstrated this very well and Grey has talked about coworkers' silence and discomfort follow the news of our second loss. In their discomfort of not knowing what to do, most people will ignore infertility and miscarriage/infant loss, assuming that we'll recover on our know if given time.

Infertility and pregnancy loss are both forms of death: death of children, death of dreams. Death of an opportunity to love. Hence it's not okay to push those we love, care about or work with who are suffering from this to the wayside. To simply think that with time and maybe even another baby that everything will be okay.

Unfortunately, this means that the burden of change is on us. That those living with this disease and pain must find the courage and strength to speak out to change things for the better. Not an easy task, especially while dealing with treatments, loss, a new diagnosis or simply trying to find your way through the darkness. But, as Mahatma Gandhi once said " a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." And considering we may very well only get this one life, this one chance, well: why not rock the boat.

So here's my list of "Don't ignores, " adding on to posts from fellow bloggers. If you have some of your own, I encourage you to share yours either below or on your blogs.

Don't ignore the pain of infertility:
I spent a lot of time early in this journey trying to surpress the anger and pain I felt. Add in the fact I had a lot of help from those who were clueless about what I was living with and I was a pretty jumbled person for awhile. Let's face it, pain is hard to face. To really look it in the eye and dig for the cause can be draining, both physically and emotionally. But if you ignore the pain, be it your own or someone else's, it's not going to go away. If nothing else, it will grow and become tangled with other emotions and issues, making it that much more difficult to resolve.

Don't ignore loved ones living with this disease or grieving from loss
I can't begin to express how important this is. I've had many well-meaning family members and friends who have suggested that I "just needed to relax" or "to just adopt" or offered unsolicited advice on how they were able to get pregnant like "drinking 3L of water a day while taking B12." The end result was always the same: I felt belittled and misunderstood. Infertility is a disease, recognized by both the World Health Organization and the CDC. Though there has been a lot of work showing the connection between the mind and body for helping improve treatment outcomes, for 1 in 8 couples in this country expanding their families will require medical intervention. In short, stop offering advice and ignoring the signs of infertility and start offering support. Gives us the opportunity to talk without interruption. When we lose a pregnancy or a cycle fails, send your condolences. Tertia has a great post on how to be a friend to an infertile, which I highly recommend. Most importantly, though, be there for us and surround us with love. Following my second loss, it was the emails, the notes, the care packages that got me through. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am to be surrounded by love during a time I needed it most. I get it, people living with infertility and loss can be a bit prickly at times, but most people who are grieving are.


Don't ignore the lessons from this journey
For anyone on this journey, there will come a day when you resolve. Be it through being able to conceive, through adoption or by choosing to live child-free. When you do, please do not forget what it's like to live with infertility and loss. While struggling to expand my family, I've unfortunately encountered infertiles who developed amnesia regarding this process. One couple told Grey and I that we just needed to wait until we turned 40 and then to try IUIs again (then wondered aloud why I started crying), another began emailing the my infertility support group weekly ultrasound photos with pregnancy updates, ignoring requests to stop. Even recently, a blogger I was following posted words of advice about how just relaxing resulted in her becoming pregnant, suggesting this was really all that needed to happen. All of these examples hurt because they came from people who should have known better. This journey will be unique for each person, but there are common things that will touch each of us. I'm not saying that one needs to continue to live the same emotional state as when they were dealing with infertility, but don't forget these lessons you learned while on your journey.


Don't ignore what you've accomplished
Finally, living with infertility and loss is not for the weak. The reality is, you will be changed from this experience. Most of the time for the better. You may have learned your stronger than you thought you were. Your marriage/relationship with your spouse, significant other or even friends and family may have strengthened in ways you couldn't have imagined. You may a greater appreciation for yourself and your life. Going through all of this may have given you the courage to make changes in other aspects of your life. What ever it is, celebrate those accomplishments. I never wish infertility and miscarriage/loss on anyone, but have been continually inspired by the people I've meet during this journey who have risen out of the ashes and go on to change the world in their own way. Celebrate your accomplishments.

With the beginning of NIAW comes a sense of hope that I've been missing for the past month, feeling that despite the pain for the last 2.5 yrs, there will be a happy ending to this journey. A main part of that hope comes from knowing we are not alone. That with the recognition for infertility and pregnancy loss comes the hope that one day soon, we'll have a better understanding of this disease. And that no one will have to suffer silently and alone.

15 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post, so clearly stating some of the most important facts about infertility. Thank you for being an incredible advocate for those of us who are going through fertility issues and recovering post-loss. With more of us speaking out, the world inevitably will change! Love to you!

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  2. Beautiful post! Thank you for the reminder of not ignoring what I have accomplished.

    The more we get the word out there hopefully things will change.

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  3. Just perfect. I love this post and agree with every point. You inspire me all the time and I am so glad to have found a support and friend in you. What a well thought-out and detailed post about infertility.

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  4. I always love your posts. I would add, don't ignore your friends and family. It can be so easy to withdraw into your own world while dealing with this, but by opening up to friends and family I have felt so much less alone in this journey.

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  5. Wow - amazing. Thank you for your insight. You're right - there are upsides amidst all this chaos, including life lessons and strengthened bonds. Very touching.

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  6. Thanks for posting about this. I had no idea that there was such a thing. This is something that definitely needs more awareness.

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  7. Fantastic -- and important -- advice. I think it's so true that when people become uncomfortable, rather than confronting those feelings, they choose to ignore and hope that it goes away. And it does perhaps go away for them even if it doesn't go away for the other person actually experiencing the pain and reaching out for support.

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  8. You are so right. The burden of change does lie within us no matter how unfair it may seem. It is our job to bend to make continue to maintain our relationships because people that don't know what we are going through are unable to bend the way we really need them to...

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  9. Tracey (The Fertility Daily)April 23, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    I love this post full of hard earned wisdom. So sorry for your losses. I live by your third lesson: Don't ignore the lessons of your journey. I'm an IVF mom, but it was a long haul of 6 fresh IVFs and a twin loss along the way before I had my resolve. I never forgot. Never will. And I try to give back.
    I blog for my IVF docs at Long Island IVF so I can share my stories. I'm hoping ICLW and NIAW can help me find new blogs and spread the word about LIIVF's free Micro-IVF cycle contest kicking off this week. Details for those interested are on the blog or Long Island IVF's FB page

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  10. This is such a powerful, compassionate and honest post... thank you. You've put it so beautifully... I can feel your strength in every word.... and you're so right when you say that 'the burden of change lies with us... That those living with this disease and pain must find the courage and strength to speak out to change things for the better". There is a 'better' out there for us and future generations... and posts like yours help to get us one step closer xoxo

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  11. PS. I've nominated you for a 'One Lovely Blog' Award via http://newyearmum.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/one-lovely-blog-award.html xoxo

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  12. Awesome stuff. I'm so glad that you and others like Waiting for Little Feet are focusing on self-care and dealing with the pain of infertility in the now. I didn't do that at the time, and have been paying the price for that in the last few years, after my twins were born.

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  13. This is wonderful, and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it.

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