Don’t Ignore – NIAW

This is sorely overdue. I’m really sneaking this in at the last moment late, but this last week has been was National Infertility Awareness Week, with this year’s theme being Don’t Ignore Infertility.  I’m honestly at a loss for my own words on the topic, somehow, but I cannot ignore an opportunity to point out some excellent blogs that tackle the idea  from many different perspectives.  I have read some truly amazing posts this week.  These are just a sampling of what’s out there.  I could go on and on….

Anna at This Was Supposed to Be My Symphony:

Infertility is a heart-wrenching, faith-questioning, relationship-testing, life-altering, finance-draining experience that affects 1 in 8 couples. Please consider supporting the Family Act and the Adoption Tax Credit.

Mrs Brightside:

What I keep thinking about is how the ALI blog community means that none of us are ignored. We all bear witness to each other’s pain, struggle, strength and grace through every setback and triumph. I felt ashamed and invisible and utterly alone in my circumstances for years until finally finding you all, and I shudder to think of how much worse off I would be had I not.

jjiraffe at Too Many Fish to Fry

Why Do We Gather Online?
In the blogosphere, we can share our true feelings with others who have “been there” and who can comfort us. We can reveal the true level of devastation we are suffering from.
It’s because those closest to us often say painful things to us. We know people don’t mean to hurt us. But they do.
“My two coworkers (told) me that they “feel so sorry for people without kids! How empty their lives must be.”
“My SIL who knew we were devastated about not being able to having children looked at us with her newborn in her arms and said ‘You can’t imagine what it’s like to feel this kind of love.’”
“That was a defective baby and you wouldn’t have wanted it.” (As told to someone after a miscarriage)
It’s because insurance doesn’t cover most infertility treatments, and some don’t want to “out” themselves as having pre-existing infertility issues to their employer.
It’s because when people tell us, “Just Adopt”, they don’t understand how much it costs, how long it takes, how difficult it is and how much rejection is involved.
It’s because people are scared: infertility is increasing among people in their 20s.

Here’s the thing…
I got pregnant. THREE TIMES.And yet, I am still infertile.
After I got pregnant and miscarried, I felt like I didn’t fit into the category of “infertile” or of “fertile” or even of “subfertile” because I got pregnant. But technically, after my miscarriages, I clinically fell face first back into the category of “infertile.”
People think that my three miscarriages were just three terrible things that happened to me all in a row, like bad luck. What I think people miss about my story is that, in my case, miscarriage is a symptom of a DISEASE.Infertility is a DISEASE. It’s a life-altering, unwanted disease.
Statistics say that between 15% and 50% of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage (source), so chances are, more people are going through it than we realize. Some are handling it in silence, without support, which breaks my heart.

Check out Melissa’s Analogy Project for many, many more posts that can help those who’ve never struggled with infertility start to grasp what it means, like Bebe Suisse’s:  Having a miscarriage is like screaming silently and alone in the bathroom while the party continues without you.

“How lovely, congratulations!” you say brightly in a voice that doesn’t even hint of shattering. 
The ceremony has become awkward. Marc jumps up to look for a juice, a soda, something other than the wine, for her. Gilles mumbles some good wishes and puts down his glass. You take a sip – more than a sip – from your own, not caring about the rudeness of doing so before having touched it to everyone else’s. Claudine is still in the kitchen. 
It gets worse. Oh, we weren’t expecting it, they say; it was a surprise; we only found out a couple of weeks ago. It’s not the right time, but we’ll be happy nonetheless. It’s three months along. As it would have been for you. 
The time has arrived to say cheers properly. Glasses clink, your own among them, half-empty. “Congratulations again!” you add, as if saying it enough times could stop the anger and sorrow and resentment and jealousy, simmering, burning inside you. Consuming you. 

So that’s my take on the Don’t Ignore theme – don’t ignore the stories of those around you.  Don’t assume that having kids is as easy as falling off a log for everyone.  If someone confides in you, and you don’t know what to say, just say that you’re sorry, and mean it.  Don’t try to come up with some platitude to make them grateful for their pain.  If you have never had reason to read enough about infertility and infertility treatments to know that it’s not one-size-fits-all, don’t assume that your friend of a friend who you heard took “fertility drugs” has the same issues.  Don’t tell someone that you know it will all work out – because you don’t know that.  

Basically, don’t be a dick.