This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (April 22-April 28).
Last year, I participated in their blogging challenge about busting infertility myths. One of the posts was about breaking the silence associated with infertility and the other was about how some people use religious beliefs to "comfort" infertile people.
I feel very strongly that people need to be educated about the troubles that face infertile people - I think this is something that needs more focus and attention. This is why I am participating in the blogging challenge again this year.
The theme this year is “Don’t Ignore…”
My part of this theme is "Don't Ignore...Me"
One part of the problems with infertility is the pity people give you when they find out that you are someone who is struggling to have a baby. I get the "sad eyes" from many strangers when they find out that I am living with infertility - those "oh so sorry, you poor thing" looks that make you want to scream. These come over and over again the more people have learned that this is an important component of my life.
I don't need nor want your pity about being someone who is living with infertility - I am not ashamed or embarrassed about it and talk about it in a way to help educate other people to prevent the "sad eyes" from being directed at other people.
Another aspect is just being ignored completely by people when they find out that I am living with infertility. Now not ignored as in don't talk to me, but ignored as in being insensitive and not thinking about some of the things people say in conversation that are really hurtful toward people who are struggling to conceive. Many people don't even realize that they are being insensitive to me. They make comments "we weren't even trying," or "we only sex one time." Now while these in and of themselves are not insensitive comments, when you attach them to someone who has been trying for months or even years - it is approximately the equivalent of a knife to the gut.
If you act as though those comments hurt your feelings, you get the impression people think you are being too sensitive to the subject.
I have been through many aspects of the infertility process: from months of trying unsuccessfully on our own for months, to using fertility drugs such as Clomid or Femara, to have an HSG (ouch!!), completing 3 IUIs unsuccessfully, completed a failed IVF cycle with drugs such as Lupron, Follistem, Menopur, HCG, and Progesterone, including the egg retrieval (14 follicles collected), 2 embryos transferred, and no embryos surviving to freezing.
As we have moved through all of the process, several of our friends do not talk to us about it and as we have found out it is because they do not know what to say.
It's ignoring by omission.
When they are not talking to us about what we are going through, they are ignoring our lives and ignoring our journey. It is not done to be mean or spiteful and we hold no ill will toward anyone who has done it (please those who read this - do not think we are saying that at all). We want people to know they can talk to us and ask questions about what we have gone through, it's not offensive or hurtful to talk about. Many people will preface a conversation by saying something like "is it okay to ask you about _____________?" to make sure they are not crossing a line.
My experience with other people who are living with infertility is that they are more than happy to inform or help others to learn about the different aspects of infertility.
It's okay to ask questions, it's okay to want to help in anyway you can.
Please stop ignoring us - we are people who want to be parents and all the support you can give is much appreciated.
For more information about the infertility issues, please go to these websites:
- http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)