This week marks an important week in the world of infertility as it is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). It’s a week where people can unite and help educate others about infertility and what it all entails. I have been so grateful that thanks to my blog and social media, we have been able to share our own story and build a network of support as we fight this.
Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. 1 in 8. That’s tragic. It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate – it touches men and women. The highs on this journey can be high and the lows can be devastatingly low. You can’t just dip your foot into this world. When you deal with infertility, you tend to be all in – invested fully with your heart and body. There are days when you feel fine and then without any warning, something triggers your emotions and you unravel very quickly. You learn to grieve as you are forced to face your own reality over and over again. Infertility is hard on relationships as you navigate feelings of brokenness, guilt, jealousy, frustration, sadness and anger. There are friendship causalities along the way.
This year, RESOLVE has set the theme for NIAW by spreading the message “Resolve to know more”. This can be taken in many different ways – for those supporting someone with infertility, it may be resolving to know more about what to say to your friend or learning more about the disease they face. For those struggling with infertility, it may be resolving to know more about when to see a fertility specialist or knowing more about the options ahead for your family. (Check out the links at the bottom of this page with lots of resources!)
To my readers that are supporting someone that is struggling with infertility:
Thank you. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being interested enough to spend time investing in your knowledge of infertility. Thank you for trying, caring, and loving us. In the spirit of education, here are some great ways to support someone you care about: Let your friend know you care. Become educated in what they are struggling with, not to offer advice but to be more aware of what they are suffering from. If your friend chooses to open up to you, please act interested. Ask them what they need. If you are friends with the husband, don’t forget about him either. Often times it’s even harder for men to talk about how this is affecting them. Support them in whatever they decide, whether that’s pursuing treatments or not. You know Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? Remember them on it. This is often one of the most painful holidays that we encounter and simple acknowledgement of us on that day means so much. Offer to come to doctors appointments with us if you can. We may not take you up on it, but it means a lot to know that you care to do so. Pray for us and offer hugs and simple words of encouragement. We truly are so blessed and lucky to have you in our lives. People like YOU make this struggle easier.
To my readers that are newly diagnosed or quietly struggling with infertility:
I am so sorry. I am so sorry that you have to go through this awful heartache. I am so sorry that your heart breaks as you navigate baby shower and listen to pregnancy talk without anyone being aware of your pain. I am so sorry that you are scared – not knowing what’s ahead and worrying about what your future may hold. If I can offer you any advice, please take the time to learn about when it’s time to talk to a doctor. 91% of people who struggle with infertility wish that they had sought medical attention earlier. If you don’t feel comfortable with your current doctor or the plan, find someone else. If you are uneasy about what you are being told, do some research yourself. And try to find someone to talk to, even if it is completely anonymous. Start an instagram account that is not linked to your facebook account or last name and search for hashtags like #ttc and #infertility. There will be an entire world of support available to you behind those doors. Or tell a close friend that you can trust. It is so difficult to suffer silently. I wish I could give you a hug. I completely understand the decision to be quiet about your battle but know you may receive so much more support than you realize.
To my readers who are vocal about their infertility:
Thank you. Thank you for being the voice of many. Thank you for being willing to share your story. Talking about infertility has become so taboo since it deals with sex and intimacy. Your bravery is shining. Please don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Continue to advocate for yourself. Be in tune with your emotions. There may be a time where the depression that is linked to infertility battles becomes too much and you need to reach out for help. Many reproductive specialists will offer the names and numbers of counselors to talk to. Take advantage of their professional support when you are feeling so overwhelmed by this. Do everything you can to not pick the scab on your heart. Don’t be afraid to grieve but also don’t be afraid to laugh. Speak up when someone has hurt you but don’t personalize everything. Remember to ask yourself what the person’s intentions were, as it likely wasn’t to inflict pain. Know that you are valuable regardless of what your family looks like. You matter.
To everyone reading this today, I challenge you to pray for someone that is struggling – even if you are someone struggling yourself. Maybe it’s someone you know or someone random. (Check out the hashtags of #niaw and #1in8 on Instagram or Facebook. Your page will be flooded with the faces of couples who are battling this fight.) Pray for a healthy pregnancy, pray for healing of their bodies, pray for wisdom for them as they navigate their treatment options, pray for peace to flood their hearts, pray for their spirits and their joy to be refilled, pray for their faith to be strengthened, pray for their marriage to withhold the stress of this struggle, pray for the medical team working with them and pray for those in their life that support them.
Josh and I are 1 in 8. We are doing everything we can to not let this disease define us and it’s one of the hardest and most heartbreaking situations we could ever imagine going through. Yet, still we have hope because we are not alone in our fight. We have a Savior who stands with us in it all, we have the love and support of many, we have the wisdom of doctors and we have each other – all of this certainly sets us up for success.
Here are some resources for those wanting to learn a basic understanding of the disease of infertility, for those who want to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, or that wants to read more facts from my NIAW blog last year.