Today begins my third year observing National Infertility Awareness Week, which is a kind of sad realization in itself. Three years, and we are still waiting. It is an odd place to be in, feeling like we’re exactly where we started yet a million miles away. One major change is how I have acknowledged my infertility more and more every year. The first year, I believe I changed my profile picture and left it to imagination. Last year, I posted something relevant on my status every single day, including tagging myself during monitoring which just happened to coincide. Strangely enough, I did my first IVF cycle around the time of NIAW.
This year, well, I have a blog. My story, for better or worse, is here for all to see. I have done it for a number of reasons, the most important of which being my hope that it helps someone else feel better. Maybe someone who is not yet ready to talk about it.
I frequently think of “All the Time” by Barry Manilow (there’s a backstory I promise). The lyrics say:
All the time I thought there’s only me, crazy in a way that no one else could be. I would have given everything I own if someone would have said “you’re not alone”.
Unfortunately, loneliness has been a huge part of the infertility journey for me. Especially because when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know anyone who had been through it. The other reason is that people who don’t know the pain may give some pretty rotten advice. Being of a larger BMI, most people suggested weight loss. Others told me to relax. It was like they were handing me a sign saying “It’s my own fault”. The best thing I ever did for myself was to learn how to politely ignore them. Second best was to find a community.
If you’re struggling with the pain of infertility let me tell you.
You. Are. Not. Alone.
Maybe it has been going on for years now, and it just doesn’t seem like it will ever happen. You are not alone. It may feel like it because your friends/sisters/cousins/coworkers are pregnant and it just doesn’t seem fair. I used to lament when people were having a second (or third) before our first. Yes, it’s an odd mix of wanting to be happy for them and sad for yourself and it doesn’t make you a bad person.
Maybe you’ve just started the journey and your doctor can’t intervene until you meet that clinical definition, but you feel like something just isn’t right. You are not alone. I think you folks are the ones who need it most. Maybe you’re afraid because everything you know about infertility is IVF and egg donors (and terrible mix up stories on Law & Order and in magazines). Take it one step at a time and take this time to take good care of yourself (and your relationship). Early in the journey can be lonely because generally you’re still keeping it a secret.
Reach out to someone, a support group, a counselor, a Facebook group. I’m continually amazed by how I open my heart and people fill it with love and help me realize that I’m never alone.
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