It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Infertility Awareness Week: Guest Post

It might seem odd to highlight infertility on a blog that focusses on toddlers and parenting. However, who among us doesn’t know someone who has had difficulty conceiving, or who has even been told they will probably never bear a child? When a friend shares their sad news, it can be hard to know how to respond. One of my readers, Amy, writes poignantly of her struggles on her blog, Finding My New Normal. When she mentioned that this week is Infertility Awareness Week, I asked her if she would guest post.

Here’s what she has to say.

This week (October 19-25, 2008) is National Infertility Awareness Week®, a movement to raise awareness about the disease of infertility which affects 7.3 million Americans including me and my husband Bob. We have been trying to get pregnant for nearly 7 years. Our efforts include 5 tries involving medical intervention with an intrauterine insemination. We never got pregnant. We’ve never been pregnant.

There is no real medical reason for us not to get pregnant. I’ve had procedures to remove endometriosis and non-cancerous polyps. After each procedure we were told we would probably get pregnant now. We didn’t. When we started trying I was 33 years old and Bob was 39. Next week Bob will be 47 and I will turn 41 in December. Needless to say, as we age, our chances of conceiving become lower and lower.

As we age and our married life continues on without children, I find myself getting more and more desperate and more and more despondent. This isn’t what we imagined our married life to be. One of the things we found attractive in each other when we were dating was our mutual love of children. We even agreed on how many kids we wanted to raise and on our first daughter’s name (Grace). Our first years as a married couple were difficult due to an unrelated disability of my husband’s but we tempered the difficulties with dreams of raising a family. We talked of how we would teach and discipline our kids and what fun we would have during the holidays.

As it became apparent with each passing year that we wouldn’t get to spend our holidays with our own kids or travel with them, we began to find ways of coping. We joined RESOLVE, an infertility support group, and we tried surrounding ourselves with friends and family who would encourage us, spend time with us, and occasionally lend us their kids. Still, there are times when nothing really helps stem the tide of hurt that comes from being infertile. One of the most difficult times happened just recently when one of my best friends had an unplanned/surprise pregnancy and felt it best not to tell me right away. We worked through it and as happy as I am for her and her family, I can’t help but feel twinges of jealousy and wish it was me instead. This is common in women who can’t conceive.

Our story does not yet have a happy ending but that doesn’t mean things aren’t happily resolved for the other 7.3 million people struggling with infertility. We are finding our way and as we grope our way through this pain, we are finding things that help.

One of the things that helps is our RESOLVE infertility support group. Once a month we meet with others who are as familiar with our struggle as we are with theirs. We also share email addresses and phone numbers so we have contact the other 29-30 days of the month.

Another thing that helps is having friends who care. None of my closest friends have struggled with infertility but all of them have had some other kind of life pain and know how to offer a shoulder to cry on. They all offer prayers on my behalf, and if they don’t know what to say, they just say that. Sometimes all I need is someone to listen to me and give me a hug. Sometimes it even helps to hear my friends say they don’t know why we have to bear this burden and it just doesn’t seem fair. They are echoing my own sentiments and it makes them seem more normal to hear others give voice to them as well.

Something else that helps is having friends and family call us to watch their kids or to spend time with them during family friendly times such as holidays, birthdays, etc. Bob and I like to got to pumpkin patches, apple orchards, theme parks, zoos and the like but sometimes we are looked upon as odd because we are in family-centric areas without children. (Adults without kids are eyed suspiciously when they are spending time around a lot of children.) So we jump at the chance to take our friend’s and family’s children to the zoo, library, mall, etc. This gives us fun time with kids we love as well as giving our friends and family much needed time alone together.

So, please take some time this week to consider those around you who may be struggling with infertility. Consider calling them and asking them over for dinner to spend time with your family. Consider asking if they would ever be open to watching your kids. Consider asking them to spend time with you during the holidays. Consider just asking them how they are coping and if there is anything you can say or do to help. They may say no today, but just by acknowledging their struggle, you will have given them the greatest gifts…care, concern, and friendship.

If you’re interested in more information, Amy suggested the RESOLVE website, which lists “Specific ways to help/not help infertiles.” You can also check in throughout this week at Finding My New Normal for resources available to infertiles and those who love them.

Thank you, Amy.

October 20, 2008 Posted by | commemoration, parents, the dark side | , , | 5 Comments