Oct 18, 2011

The Truth About Trying

Today Redbook announced that they’ve joined forces with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association in a new campaign, “The Truth About Trying,” to end the secrecy about infertility.  On their website they say, “One in eight women in the United States will struggle with infertility, so why don’t we talk about it?”  To which I say, “Hear! Hear!!!,”  or perhaps that should be “Here! Here!”

As part of their campaign they’ve invited both celebrities and “regular” people to post videos on their site sharing their experiences, thoughts, and feelings about the struggle with infertility.  They’ve also added articles about infertility including the various kinds of treatments, links to infertility blogs, and an article entitled “The Invisible Pain of Infertility.”

I encourage everyone to check this out- even if you haven’t had any problems with infertility, chances are good that you know someone who has- they just might not be vocal about their struggles. 

When I started blogging a few years ago it was because I was pregnant with LP and wanted to share my experiences being pregnant, having a baby, and bits and pieces of our everyday life, mostly so that our family members who don’t live nearby could see what we were up to.  I never in a million years thought that three years later I’d be sharing our struggle to have baby number two with the world (or at least with the dozen or so people who read my blog)… And while I don’t plan to turn my blog completely over to infertility as I enjoy writing about the funny things LP is saying and about projects we’re working on too much, I don’t plan to stop blogging about it either.  For me, it’s too important of an issue.

Since my few posts on this topic, I’ve had several emails from people I know telling me that they have faced some of the same issues.  These were women who I had NO idea had gone through this struggle until recently.  I’m guessing most of them went through it without saying anything to the majority of their friends and family.  And that saddens me.  Every time one more person sends me a little message saying they struggled with this too, I cry.  I cry for their struggles, and for mine, and for the struggles of so many people around the world who are going through this or who have gone through this.  I cry for the people who didn’t feel as though this was something they could share, as if they had something to be ashamed of.  If we had almost any other kind of disease we wouldn’t hesitate to tell people about it, to share our experiences, to offer advice on taking precautions against getting the disease, etc.  But for some reason we don’t share our stories of infertility.  Some people think this is because fertility is so intrinsically tied to sex, and people don’t like to talk about sex, or about semen, eggs, and ovaries.  What’s wrong with talking about something that humans have been doing, literally, since the beginning of civilization?  Why are we so squeamish about this?  As Barbara Collura, the executive director of RESOLVE says, “When women dealing with infertility can communicate with others in their situation, they get through it in a much better state of mind and also share needed information about their options.”   For me this has been totally true, the more I share with other people our struggles, and the more I talk about it, the better I feel.  I spend much less time feeling sorry for myself and mad at the world when I know that other people have gone through this too.

I feel fortunate that so far we haven’t received any terrible news about our chances of conceiving from our doctor.  We’ve had some bad luck, but there’s no diagnosable reason for this other than unexplained secondary infertility.  I haven’t had to submit to tons of testing, or had to inject myself with hormones, or go to the blood lab every other day for blood draws.  We haven’t lost any babies months into a pregnancy after years spent trying to conceive, as someone I know sadly did recently, and while it’s been frustrating and upsetting and disappointing, there hasn’t been too much pain and heartbreak for Paul and me.  But we also don’t know where this journey will take us- if we don’t conceive in the next few months we’ll be heading into the world of IUIs and IVF.  That world involves a lot more medical intervention than we’ve previously experienced.

As someone suffering from secondary infertility, I find that my emotions are very much on a roller coaster most of the time.  While I know that we are so so so blessed to have Little Paul, that he’s happy and healthy and smart, it kills me to know that we haven’t been able to provide him with a sibling just yet.  And seeing how sweet he is with his friends makes us realize how wonderful he’d be with a brother or sister.  Paul and I both have two younger brothers and want LP to experience the same type of sibling relationships.  And while I try my hardest to keep my emotions in check when I’m with LP, I’m sure he senses that some days Mommy is a little sad about things, or I’m a little pissed off and am impatient with him, and I feel guilty for letting this affect him in such a way.  Sometimes it’s hard, too, to realize that he’s growing up so quickly, and to let him have his independence.  Without another little one in the house, and with the realization that he might be the only one, we tend to baby him a bit and spoil him with our attention.  On the RESOLVE website they have a great article about secondary infertility, all about the support that people experiencing secondary infertility need and don’t always receive. 

So here I am, up on my soapbox, urging you please to support Redbook’s campaign, “The Truth About Trying.”  Those of us going through infertility need the love and support of our friends and families, not just of the anonymous people on the infertility message boards…  

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