I’ll never forget the moment one of my best friends called to tell me that she was accidentally pregnant. My husband and I had only been trying to conceive for a few months, but I already knew that something was wrong, and she was the person to whom I had been confiding my deepest worries. I could tell she was afraid to tell me, and I felt simultaneously sad that she was feeling bad about telling me…and angry, angry that it wasn’t me calling her to share my good news. I wanted this so badly, and she and her husband had no intention of starting a family yet. It took everything in me to say the standard congratulatory phrases and act happy before I hung up the phone and burst into tears.
That was the beginning of the age of bitterness for me. As most people who go through the ALI [Adoption/Loss/Infertility] journey can attest to, you can logically know that another’s joy isn’t the cause of your pain, but emotionally it is extremely hard to feel anything but jealousy and self pity when it seems that everyone around you that one simple thing that you want so badly – the ability to procreate with a person you love. I spent the next year and a half spiraling downward and hating the way I was feeling and acting towards my friends and family, but I wasn’t sure how to be any different.
Finding the ALI blogging community saved me. Suddenly I was surrounded by hundreds of other women who got it. They understood my darkest thoughts and fears, and they knew how to best support me when most people in my life had no idea what to say. These were women whose cycles and adoption journeys I intimately followed, and I grieved with them and rejoiced with them, depending on if it was one line or two that they saw at the end of the day.
Through blogging I found Resolve, and their page “For Family & Friends” became a must read for everyone in my life. Resolve gave me the tools to help educate my family and friends about how to best support my husband and I through our infertility diagnosis, and my blog friends from the ALI community helped me to feel better understood and not alone.
After only a few months, my husband and I began to open up and share the story of our struggles with close family and friends, and slowly but surely after that, I began to share our story with anyone who asked. It started with a simple post on Facebook about NIAW [National Infertility Awareness Week]. Bit by bit I got braver about sharing our struggles with people around me, and it has never ceased to amaze me how often people would respond with their own stories of heartache and loss. I’m sure I made a few people uncomfortable, but I figured if they could ask me personal questions about why I didn’t I have a child yet, they had better be able to listen to my honest answer!
1 in 8. That is how many couples will struggle with infertility. For every person I share my story with, I bring a voice to this “silent” disease, and I feel a little bit stronger and heal a little bit more.
Not everyone has to be an advocate, but I do hope that enough people will start to talk about this that the general public will learn that infertility is a disease. This is not something we caused. This is not God’s way of saying we should “just adopt.” This is not something to be ashamed of or to feel like we have to hide. Infertility is a devastating diagnosis that changes the lives of people every single day. Is is a diagnosis that men face as often as women, and it can happen to your best friend, your sibling, or you.
Be mindful of how your words can hurt others. Educate yourself about the disease of infertility. Support those who are in the midst of a horribly painful time and who desperately need your love and respect. Protect access to all family building options. Give people a chance at the hope of building their family – in whatever manner that may occur.
Here I sit, 3 1/2 years after that initial conversation with my friend, with my own child sleeping soundly in her crib upstairs. I wouldn’t wish Infertility on my worst enemy, but I am thankful for how it has made me a stronger person – a better person – than I was at the beginning of all of this. I still have my moments of jealousy and self pity, but don’t we all? More than anything, I know that I am lucky to have my child in my life, and I couldn’t have made it to this point without the support of my faith, my husband, my family, and my friends – both in “real life” and online. We are so blessed.
From Resolve’s website:
Since 1989 RESOLVE has organized National Infertility Awareness Week®. Now we ask you to help us and join the movement to…
Bring infertility support groups to every community.
Increase and protect access to all family building options.
Help change the conversation about infertility.
To learn more about infertility, check out these links from Resolve:
http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)