April 26, 2014

Infertility Awareness Week

It's National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).  I have had lots of ideas of things to write, and in an ideal world, I would have had multiple posts to share throughout the week.  But, time has escaped me, and clearly this is not an ideal world. If it were, NIAW wouldn't exist. But, I couldn't let this week go by without posting something, so here it is....

Infertility is hard.  It's a lonely and isolating grief, mostly because the majority of people don't realize that those of us who experience it are grieving.  There is no tangible loss to point to that starts the grieving process.  Instead, we cycle through the stages of grief over and over again, bouncing back and forth between hope, despair, anger, etc., usually taking years to come to the stage of acceptance (I'm still not there). It is not a worse grief. It is just a different grief.

Because of this, infertility is often misunderstood. It's one of those things that a lot of people think they know how they would react to. I was one of those people.  I always wanted to adopt, so I really believed that I would not be sad if I experienced infertility.  I really believed that I would never pursue fertility treatment, that I would never feel like less of a woman if I couldn't bear children, that I would never be sad to miss out on pregnancy and childbirth. But I also had never experienced infertility.  

This is not a knock on people who have not experienced it. I am so thankful for the many people in my life who have never experienced infertility, but who don't make assumptions about how they would feel or act if they were in my situation.  They just trust me.  They trust that it is hard.  And even though they can't understand it firsthand, they know that this is a real grief, and they do not try to minimize or ignore the pain.

Even with these incredible people in my life, I still have felt a deep need to connect with other women who have experienced infertility.  I walked through the majority of our journey so far without the support of others who have walked the same road. Had it not been for a select few people (and dogs), who entered into the pain with me, I don't know how I would have made it. But over the last few months, God has brought various women who have dealt with infertility into my life in really amazing ways. And this week, we all came together at my house to meet and encourage one another in this journey. It was so good in so many ways, mainly because, with something that is so commonly misunderstood, it is nice to be with people who just get it.... no explanation necessary.  I walked away from this night feeling so grateful for where God has me. 

One of the women who has also adopted shared that the pain of infertility is still real, but that it is being crowded out with love for her little boy. I loved the way she worded that, because I could not agree more.  I believe that infertility will always hurt in one way or another, but the joy I get from being Silas's mom is so much greater than that pain. 

I feel so blessed by these women and so honored to be among them. Infertility has brought me great sadness, and I think it will always sting, but it has also brought me great joy. I am blessed by the ways it has shaped me and by the people it has brought into my life who would otherwise not be here, including my little perfection of a son.

So, here's to being 1 in 8. 

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  1. Thanks for this post."It is not a worse grief. It is just a different grief."

  2. I found your page through Casey's link up and was instantly interested when I saw the title - infertility. I'm currently one month away from meeting with my doctor again to be referred to specialists (going on 16 months). I also relate to the need to connect (which seems to be happening online more than from people I know). There is a peace in realizing you aren't the only one, especially when people in my life seem to just walk by their partner and get pregnant ;-)

    Congratulations on your son - he is quite the cutie!

    1. I relate to that! Pretty much all of our friends got pregnant and had babies during the time we were trying. It is so nice to find people who share your experience so you can feel a little more normal. I will pray that God brings people into your everyday life who get it, along with the people online. I wish you lived closer, then you could join us :)

  3. I feel like you've just summed up my past year of life. I found your adoption profile on Pinterest. I've been reading a few of your posts for the past 15 minutes, and I can relate! The intangible loss is something I struggle with almost daily. I've been on fertility medication for about 9 months. It hasn't worked thus far. We started looking into adoption over the summer. Then we took a break. Now we're two days away from our third home study, and our profile book will be published on our facilitator's website shortly thereafter. Deep down I've always known I would adopt, and my husband and I are so blessed to have the means to do so. I have a medical condition that would automatically make any pregnancy high-risk. I'm trying hard to believe that this infertility mess is God's way of saving me from a devastating miscarriage, or worse. Adoption is a blessing and a miracle. I've learned patience I never had nor wanted to have. I've found so much joy in creating our adoption profile, reading books about adoption, and discussing the possibility of our future matches. This hope is God-given. The process has afforded me the opportunity to connect with others who struggle with infertility, and those who have realized the Plan was adoption (maybe all along). I am thankful for your story and the fact that you decided to share such a personal and intimate part of your life. There are times I want to scream at the top of my lungs that I am infertile and THAT is why we don't have kids yet!!! There are also times I want to bury myself under the covers and hide and cry. But there is never a time I don't praise God for the gift of adoption. I am praying for the birth mothers and for their unborn children in hopes that they find the perfect family for their little ones. God has a bigger, and ultimately better, plan for us. Just have to remember this is not about me. And it's hard. Especially when my friends have babies, are pregnant, and are announcing every stretch of baby bump on social media. It's a slap in the face every time, but I want the child God destined for me, not their children. Would I like to have a little boy with my husband's sparkling blue eyes, or a little girl with my slightly crooked smile? Absolutely. But that just might not be what this is all about. There just might be more to our lives than spitting images...God's image is the one for which we really should strive.

    You are a blessing, and I am so glad you are here. I hope you and your beautiful family had a wonderful Christmas, and have a Happy New Year.

    Love, Karen