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Resolve to Know More About The War of Infertility: Surviving and Thriving

By Tracey Minella

April 25th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

 

credit: Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net


Okay. I lied. It’s just about surviving. The thriving only comes when the baby arrives. If the baby arrives.

And the reality of that “if” makes infertility a war. It’s what throws us into survival mode. We battle infertility. We suffer infertility. And every month when we lose another battle, we bleed. Literally and emotionally and financially. We question if we can recover from yet another blow. And like a wounded soldier trembling alone in a trench at night, we look up at the stars and make our secret bargains with the universe. And we worry if we’ll ever win this war and go back to a normal life. To the life others continue living during our physical or emotional absence. To the life we left on hold.

There are no rainbows and unicorns in infertility. No time for fun or relaxation during a war. For parties or thrills or belly laughter. For “thriving”. Sure, you can sometimes kick back momentarily, but your mind rarely disengages from the war at hand. And there is nothing wrong with that, so don’t feel guilty when you don’t want to participate in something others think is fun. When in doubt, sit it out. Like “friendly-fire”, well-meaning allies can unintentionally cause you great pain. Baby shower invites are grenades thrown by friends.

Let’s first acknowledge that the only people qualified to give advice to infertile people are other infertile people. Not your mom or your best friend. Not even your doctor, beyond the medical part. And certainly not your hairdresser’s second cousin’s babysitter. No one else knows what you’re going through…no matter how much they love you.

credit: Resolve

Even those who suffered their own fertility challenges and emerged triumphant can’t fully understand the pain felt by those still waiting for their day. Yes, they walked a mile…maybe ten… in your stirrups. But the filling of previously empty arms changes you. Becoming a parent changes you, even if you still want more children. Your advice may not be as welcome as before.

So here is my not-as-welcome-as before advice: I can tell you to treat yourself well, not because you will enjoy it so much as because it’s one of the few things about infertility that is in your control. Eat well, sleep enough, and exercise because doing so can improve your chances of conceiving. Occasionally, do your favorite pampering-type things if you have the time and money to help with stress relief and feelings of deprivation. If you’re not feeling the romantic walk on the beach thing, do it anyway. Or do something that feels right to reconnect with your partner if the battle is taking its toll on you as a couple. He or she is the only person who is worth that herculean effort.

Control what you can. Ask for help if you need it. Believe it will happen.

Because winning this war isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

For more information about how you can resolve to learn more about infertility, please go to:

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101  (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)

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Does infertility sometimes feel like your own private war? Do you have any tips to share that have helped you?

 

Photo credit: Ambro http://bit.ly/1ffg5MV

 

 

 

 

 

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Join the Movement and Change the Conversation About Infertility

By Tracey Minella

April 27th, 2013 at 9:28 pm

 

Another National Infertility Awareness Week comes to a close. The events celebrating it are over. The special NIAW banners and badges on blogs and social media will come down. And things are going to return to “normal”.

Is that acceptable?

Are we going to allow the progress made this week to stall for another 51 weeks? Are we going to stop talking about infertility until next April? Are we going to condition the public that they only have to tolerate our voices for a week each year and then “they’ll just fade away”?

Or are we going to change the conversation about infertility? More importantly, are we going to change our one-sided conversation into a two-sided one…where it’s not just us talking at the public and the politicians and our families, but it’s them hearing us and talking back. You know, real conversation.

Talking about infertility isn’t easy. It’s uncomfortable for the listener… and often the speaker as well. Recurrent miscarriage doesn’t make for nice dinner conversation. Talk of low sperm counts can make people queasy. The listener’s mind may involuntarily wander to visions of stirrups and collection rooms. Reactions can vary from awkward embarrassment, to hysterical crying, to unwelcome and misguided advice, to the (preferred) silent, supportive hug.

No wonder many people don’t talk about infertility. It’s so intimate. It’s too close to talking about sex for most people’s comfort.

Yet, if we don’t speak up, we won’t get the support from our families and friends, the politicians and the public. And nothing will change. And too many suffering infertile women’s biological clocks will run out before they can get access to the medical assistance they need to build their families or they will age out of “acceptable” adoption age limits.

How can you keep the conversation about infertility going now that NIAW is over?

If you think of infertility as a disease, like cancer, it may help you to sit your family down and tell them what’s going on. Same thing with close friends. It’s easy to call or write to your political representatives. And if you’d like to meet them in person, there’s a great opportunity to do so at Advocacy Day on May 8, 2013. See RESOLVE’s website for details. http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/advocacy-day.html

If you aren’t comfortable telling everyone about your infertility, why not just tell someone? One trusted person. A random stranger. A politician. A support group. Or join in the conversation when someone else is talking about infertility.

Don’t wait until next April. Keep the conversations going.

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (basic understanding of the disease of infertility)

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (about NIAW)

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Have you talked about infertility with anyone this week?

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Don’t Ignore Infertility Support Available

By Tracey Minella

April 24th, 2012 at 11:10 pm

 

There’s something wrong with me. I see infertile people.

As an infertility blogger and an IVF mom, my mission is to support the women still on their fertility journeys. To listen to them and, when the time is right, to share my own stories to give them strength to go on…or to let go.

And to remind them that their infertility journeys will come to an end. Someday. It may be the day a baby is born or adopted, or with an eventual decision to live child-free. But someday, all this stuff…the charting, injections, inseminations, blood work, retrievals, transfers, miscarriages, stillbirths, and two week waits…all the stuff that now makes up every moment of every day… will end. “Really”, I tell them. “Trust me”…

But I lied.

True, the infertility journey will end. But the infertility itself never goes away.

Most people don’t know that.

After six years… three IUIs, six fresh IVFs, a twin loss, OHSS, ovarian torsion, and countless other obstacles to happiness, then a seventh IVF, for two problematic, bed-rest, preterm labor, gestational diabetic pregnancies which each delivered 6 weeks early…I was sure I’d put infertility behind me. Shop’s closed. Time to let that little smokin’ piece of charcoal I call “my remaining ovary” rest in peace.

But infertility remains.

It’s like in those movies where people see dead people. Except I see infertile people.

It’s there in the faces of young married couples who have the careers, the houses, and the “fur babies”, but have no obvious reason not to have had children yet. The woman awkwardly avoids eye contact when someone unknowingly brings up children. Those of us who’ve been there see it. It is blindingly obvious—like infertile radar.

It’s there in our faces, too. It’s in the little nagging worries about whether the countless vials of injectable medications are going to come back to bite us some day, some way. Or in the resentment we feel about having children later…possibly a decade later…than fertile folks did– and the fear of having less energy to parent them the way they deserve, or of living long enough to see them settled.

I’ve seen division in the infertility world. Among the childless, you have the rookies and the veterans defined by the number of failed IVF cycles they’ve endured. Then you have the secondary infertility patients, often claiming to be resented by the childless for being “greedy” enough to come back for another child. Finally, you have the newly pregnant or newborn success stories– the envy of all. Harsh, but often true. The world can be ugly, and the infertile world is no exception. Self preservation prevails.

When a patient passes into the success story group, something wonderful happens to them. But something sad happens, too. They get the boot. Like some kind of graduation rite, the new moms get ejected from the ranks of the infertile. Their infertile former friends think they’re different now. They think they’re just like all the other fertile folks.

You have a baby now. You no longer understand us.

Are you reading this and saying “So what? Bring it on. Just let me get pregnant and kick me out! I can’t wait until infertility is over!”

It’s not so easy to be a woman without a country. You don’t fit in with your old infertile friends who are still trying to conceive, but you also don’t fit in with the fertile people who, by their words and actions, often take the ease with which they conceived for granted.

Enter one of the best kept secrets of the infertility world… the survivor’s guilt.

Infertility will always be part of you. Sorry. Even as you push your child on a park swing, you’ll be acutely aware of the sad, detached woman on the bench. You’ll always remember the date of your long-awaited positive pregnancy test and will often think of the waiting room and the people still waiting there. You may find you are far too overprotective of the child you worked so hard to have. That infertile radar is always on.  And your heart will hurt for those still struggling…even if they’ve forgotten you.

I blog about infertility for the doctors who didn’t give up on me when I wasn’t an easy case, or an easy patient, or truth be told, much help to their success stats. I blog for the doctors who built my family. For today’s patients and the patients yet to come. Some of the drug names have changed, but the stories are all relevant and the support is heartfelt.  It didn’t feel right to just turn my back and go on with my life after my journey ended.

Sadly, many IF bloggers gravitate only to blogs by women currently on their journeys. Of course, they are wonderful sources of support. But to overlook the value of informative commercial blogs or blogs by those whose journeys have ended is to overlook another source of support. (And you may just miss an opportunity to win a free Micro-IVF cycle, too.)

Don’t ignore the infertility support that is available from those who’ve walked a mile in your stirrups. Don’t shun us because you think we don’t understand you anymore. Don’t lump us in with the fertile people just because our journey has ended. Take advantage of the fact that we want to focus only on you.

We are here to help and support you. We will never forget. Don’t ignore us.

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

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This year’s National Infertility Awareness Week theme is “Don’t Ignore Infertility…” How have you or others ignored it?

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