It’s National Infertility Awareness Week. Eight years ago if someone had said those words to me, I would have thought aw, yeah that’s good that someone out there is thinking about those poor people, but it would have never been me. You never think it’s going to be you. In fact, I had a friend whose sister was going through IVF and I thought Wow! That poor girl! I don’t know how she does it! And then two years later I WAS doing it. So, yeah, here I am to spread awareness. This year’s theme (set by the Resolve people) is Start Asking. It’s a challenge to ask the big questions and to challenge others to also ask those big questions.
It got me thinking about what I want people to ask me, first and foremost. It’s a tricky thing to know what to say to people who are going through something that you know so little about. I think everyone going through infertility wants something different (we are female after all!) Some people don’t want people to say or ask anything, but they want to feel supported and loved. Some people want people to ask how they are feeling or handling the situation. For me, I want you to ask questions so that I can help you understand the process better.
I knew so very little about the reproductive system before all of this infertility stuff. I had taken my Biology classes. I had discussed female anatomy with my mom when I was hitting puberty, and we had the school wide “girl talk” when I was in fourth grade. But I really didn’t understand the ins and outs of how a baby was made inside of the female body. I knew I had a uterus and ovaries. I had heard of Fallopian tubes. I knew there was sperm involved and eggs, yadda yadda yadda. But how did they all fit together? How did they work? I didn’t know any of that, until I had to.
What I don’t like is when people ask questions like “so you’re going to need a surrogate?” or make comments like “maybe adoption would be easier” when they don’t bother to understand that my uterus is fine. My uterus has never been the problem. No one is telling me I can’t be pregnant – it’s the getting pregnant part that’s hard. Surrogacy would do me absolutely no good. Surrogacy and adoption are great options for people who have very different problems than me.
So, yeah, I think I want people to ask about the details – to make an effort to understand things better. Infertility is a huge umbrella from male factor issues, to egg issues, to tubal issues, to uterus issues. There is unexplained infertility and infertility dealing with multiple losses. The one thing we all have in common is that we are fighting to become somebody’s mommy.
I don’t have a problem explaining things to people. I have been known to draw diagrams for people to help them understand better. I try not to overwhelm people with too much information before they’re ready though. That’s why I want people to ask. I don’t want people to assume they know or be afraid to ask the dirty questions. That’s part of why I started this blog. My friends who know me well know that I have no shame in using the big, “dirty” words, and talking about things that make other people queezy. So ask away! I’m here to answer to the best of my knowledge.
So, what will I be asking? I’ll be asking for more infertility insurance benefits. It’s insane how little insurance will cover if it is tied to infertility in any way. I’ll also be asking my community for events to honor people suffering with infertility. We have 5K runs for all sorts of causes around here – but not for infertility. Why? It’s time for people to stop being embarrassed about their situation. We didn’t do this to ourselves. I didn’t ask for deformed Fallopian tubes. I didn’t ask for a diminished ovarian reserve. I didn’t do anything to get dealt this card. But here I am, and I’m ready to stand up and