This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) in the United States. Although I’m not from, nor do I reside in, the states I decided to partake. Why? Because it is needed. There are too many infertile people out there that cannot or will not speak out about this disease and I have already stated that I will. Infertility needs to be spoken about loudly and often.
So, although it would take me 6 hours to cross the Montana boarder, I chose to write this post. The theme for NIAW this year is “You are not alone.” And you’re not!
-Those of you walking into the fertility clinic for the first time, swallowing back your fear and disgust… I feel you! I promise we all felt that way. See those ladies looking so chill in the seats next to you? The first time, they wanted to puke too. I know I did!
-Those of you that can’t even read the gossip mags anymore or watch the news because you are SO SICK of trying to unsee every pregnant bump when your own stomach remains obstinately flat… You just want to yell “fuck this” and rip it to shreds, don’t you? Yeah. Me too.
-Those of you that never dreamed you could want something enough to put your body and emotions through hell, constant rotating month-after-month hell, just for a shot at it. Who would have thought that you’d be willing to buy bigger yoga pants just to deal with the bloating each new cycle of meds brings? I understand. I’m there with you.
It’s so hard. It’s all the more difficult because our culture is NOT set up to support infertility. Nor the depression and anxiety that so often comes with it. We are raised in this culture to dream big and then achieve. We are taught, indirectly and unfortunately, that any struggles with depression or anxiety mean weakness. And in North America we pride ourselves on our strength.
But that attitude does a huge disservice to those of us, like me and maybe you, who have been trying to conceive a baby and having those efforts fall flat month after month. Whos world is constantly rocked by the thought that they are different, and that their lives are incomplete. 1 in 8 couples in the US (1 in 6 in Canada) suffer from infertility. Real INFERTILITY, not just trying for a little bit, but trying and not conceiving for OVER A YEAR. It’s a far cry from what we are taught to expect though, isn’t it? That people can get pregnant with a touch, with just a whisper of semen. A far cry from what we see portrayed in the media. That all women of child bearing age are fruitful and huge. A far cry from what our society dictates should happen naturally.
You know: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
We chant that silly rhyme as small children. We internalize it. We play house and we have babies, just like every other mommy we know.
The littles I teach at school have internalized it. When we got married 6 years ago they all got very excited and immediately started asking if there was a baby in my belly. Why? Because that’s what married grown ups do! Procreate.
That’s what I had thought as well, pretty much my whole life. It’s not that I didn’t know of couples that struggled. Or hadn’t occasionally seen it used as a drama plot in a sitcom. I understood adoption and all that. I am a liberal, educated woman… I just knew it wouldn’t happen to me.
Until it did.
I was young (26), in the best shape of my life (120 pounds of rippling muscle), financially secure… and I couldn’t get pregnant.
There was nowhere for me to turn. I felt incredibly isolated, and afraid, and pissed the fuck off. As I stood surrounded by our culture of fertility I started falling apart. Everyone was pregnant, everyone but me. I watched my friends drop like flies around me- pregnant, pregnant, pregnant, pregnant- and I shrank into myself. It was supposed to be so easy! How could this be ME? MY LIFE?! How could this have happened?
Then I did something that took guts. I did something that forced me to not only acknowledge my label as infertile but embrace it. I started this blog. I called myself Unpregnant. Right out there for everyone to read in black and white. I owned my story. Then the most incredible thing happened…
I found all of you! I wasn’t alone, although I had felt that often.
I wasn’t a freak. Or untouchable. Or broken.
I was just ME.
Even though I couldn’t get pregnant.
And I met a thousand other amazing people who were also struggling. I loved all of them and thought they were amazing and they loved me back in return. For all of what I was. Bum ovaries or not. I was still worthy. I was still me.
Freedom. Liberation. Acceptance. Support.
I am not saying you need to start a blog. It’s not for everyone, truly. I just hope you realize that our culture is set up to push the idea of those super fertile reproductive rabbits. That we should get married, procreate and die. That that’s all there is. That’s not the truth for so many people. 1 in 8 will find that their life does not unfold this way. But you can live while you are trying! There can be joy mingled with the pain.
You are not alone! You are not broken, or untouchable, or a freak. Neither of us are. We are warriors. We are strong. We are loved and we are many!
From the bottom of my heart know that I stand with you. We stand together.
For more information check out these pages:
- http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility/ (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)