Apparently it's National Infertility Awareness Week. I've been mostly disconnected from the blog-world over the past few weeks, so it was news to me when I came upon a number of links and blog posts about the topic on Twitter. Honestly, at first, I rolled my eyes. Every week's an awareness week of some sort, it seems. I'm sure next week will be National Don't-Actually-Put-the-Cotton-Swab-IN-Your-Ear Awareness Week.
My initial, split-second reaction was to feel defensive, and I really couldn't tell you why. Infertility is something that people should be aware of. I've been very open with my struggles, and by doing so have learned that there are a lot more people who are or have dealt with infertility, both people that I know personally and people that have reached out to me through my blog, than I would have ever guessed.
A lot of you reading this now already know my story, but chances are good that others you know are going through the same thing but choose to be quiet about it. Choosing to share, and how much to share about a couple's infertility is a very personal decision and we've obviously decided to tell the world about it. But no matter how much we decide to share, there are some things that us, the infertile, wish the rest of the world knew about our situation. Here's my personal list:
1. Yes, we've likely tried what you're about to suggest.
Charting, temping, cervix-checking, cervical mucous-inspecting, ovulation predictor kit-using, "not trying", having sex every day, having sex every other day, having sex twice a day... we've done it. And now that we're on that topic...
2. Yes, we're having sex.
It amazes me how many times I've been told to just have a lot of sex. It's probably my number one annoyance since becoming open about our infertility and almost always comes from those who have easily conceived. This is also the number one thing that makes me defensive as it has a "you're doing it wrong" connotation and those offering this "advice" don't seem to realize how insensitive it actually is.
3. No, actually, it might not happen.
The most common phrase that I hear is "It'll happen." While I appreciate that it comes from a good place and is a way of showing support, it just isn't helpful. "I'm rooting for you guys!" and similar phrases are much more welcomed and supportive.
4. Yes, we're sure and yes, we're ready.
It's common in those with children to reference a melt-down, a diaper blowout, or other not-so-blissful facet of motherhood and ask, jovially, "Are you sure you're ready for this?" While good-natured and meant jokingly, after our first year of trying it became difficult to force a chuckle at this common quip.
5. No, I'm not upset because you're pregnant.
I'm upset because I'm not pregnant. There are a lot of babies and pregnant women in my life right now. Yes, it's painful, but I'm happy for all of them; ecstatic, even. For those that I care about, I am relieved that none of them had to go through what Jamie and I are going through. I've had people express guilt that it was so easy for them, or tell me that they felt bad because they were really wanting it to happen for me first, or even that they hoped it wouldn't affect our friendship. There's no need to feel guilty; your fertility is of no relation to my infertility. There's no need to feel bad that you got pregnant more quickly than it's taking me, but I do appreciate the consideration for my feelings. And of course it's not going to affect our friendship; If your being pregnant would cause me to no longer be friends with you, then you probably shouldn't be friends with me anyway! I am happy, happy, happy for you all and while I'm sad that I can't join you, I'm looking forward to this new chapter in life where my friends and family are having babies.
If you feel that you're guilty of any of the above, don't sweat it. I'm not holding any grudges. Infertility is tricky for all involved, be it the couple or their support system. I know that it's tough to gauge what is helpful, supportive, and appropriate when discussing it; this especially proves difficult in a casual, more light-hearted conversation. Being surrounded with pregnancy is also tricky for us when it comes to referencing our own infertility; I know that we have to consider how that might make you fortunate fertiles feel as we're not purposely trying to instigate guilt or any of the like.
So, as National Infertility Awareness Week comes to a close I can feel confident that I've contributed to the cause. Next week, I'll be sure to pitch the WaxVac and the importance of not jamming things into your ear hole.