Unless you've been living under a rock this week (or at least not reading any ALI blogs), you know that in the US it's National Infertility Awareness Week. Or NIAW for short. The amazing Mel (also known as the Stirrup Queen), in parntership with Resolve, has instituted Project IF, an opportunity for all of us to have our voices heard by those outside our community.
Because infertility affects all of us in vastly different forms, from poly-cystic ovarian syndrome to male factor, from clotting and immune issues to recurrent pregnancy loss, from situational to primary to secondary to unexplained infertility, we ALL have something to bring to the table. We all have a story to tell and a need to be heard.
And we all have our "What IF" questions. The things that haunt us, that keep us up in the dark hours of the night. No matter the different roads we travel through this physically and emotionally challenging place, we are linked by these shadows.
One of these "What IF"s that resonated with me is
What if I never get to do all the things I’ve put on hold in my life for “once I get pregnant…”I don't know anyone in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) community who set out on this journey fully aware of how long it would take. For some of us it's a matter of months, for others years, and others even longer.
When my Beloved and I set out on the trying-to-conceive road, we didn't think it would take that long. There was a long history of fertile-myrtles in both our families. Mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers who all had unplanned pregnancies, got pregnant 'just by looking' at their significant others. There were a few miscarraiges along the way, but they were chalked up to unfortunate things that just happen.
Our journey seemed destined to be a short one, with our first bfp (big fat positive - pregnancy test) coming just six months after we started trying. Sadly, that pregnancy ended too soon, as did our second that came just a few months later. Then came the year of testing, procedures, and more waiting. Finally, fourteen months after our second miscarraige, we are pregnant again. And this time, so far anyway, all looks good.
But life in the meantime has not been easy. Living from cycle to cycle, month to month, hoping that the stars will align, and that my body won't fail me again. In the midst of this, it's far too easy to get tunnel visioned in on the next morning's temperature (bbt - basal body temp), the phantom symptoms that stalk the two week wait (after ovulation, until AF shows up), and ultimately the next cycle.
And it's easy to let things slide...
Relationships... especially with family and friends who have children. Anything to avoid the awkward well-intentioned questions (so when are you guys going to have kids?) and the reminders of what you don't have.
Job opportunities... Do I dare go for that promotion? What if I get pregnant and have to go on maternity leave? Will my boss and coworkers resent me?
Intimacy... When the romance is taken out of that aspect of your life, and intimacy becomes something that is timed, a means to an end, and planned down to the hour, you can lose that connection with your partner.
Other plans... vacations, education, buying a home, even enjoying a glass of wine with friends. All these things take a back seat while you are waiting. Even something as simple as making that spare room into something useful, rather than waiting for the mythical baby to fill the some-day nursery.
And the holding pattern doesn't end when you get pregnant. Instead you wait for the other shoe to drop, for it to be taken away from you just as quickly as it was given.
But what if I can learn to live in the moment? If I can see the world outside the little sphere my life has become? What if I can find joy in the things that make each day worth celebrating? What if I can learn to take advantage of opportunities that come my way as they come?
Infertility takes it's toll on millions of people in North America and around the world every day. And most of those people suffer in silence, too ashamed or embarassed to speak up and ask for support. They grieve every lost cycle, every failed procedure, every baby that never happens. Building a family isn't a privilege, it's an innately human need.
For more information on how you can lend your support or learn more about infertility, check out the Resolve website here and here.
To read more "What IF"s and to add your own, check this out.