Thursday, April 27, 2017

1 in 8


1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility, and we are one of them. We have been blessed with 4 beautiful children thanks to reproductive science. I often think about how different our lives would be if we were alive and trying to build a family in an earlier time. Back when IVF wasn't an option, when women without children were referred to as barren, back when a woman's purpose was to provide an heir. Would we have pursued adoption? Lived a life without children? I'm thankful that we live in the 21st century and those questions will never be more than hypothetical.

You often times hear people say, "I beat infertility." I know I've said it before, but you don't ever beat infertility. It's something that stays with you. For me every monthly cycle is a reminder that we will never conceive a child on our own. Forget the fact that we aren't even trying to anymore. The emotions of failed cycle after failed cycle are still there, and they probably will be forever. When we were in the thick of it all, our marriage was tested and I can still remember the night when divorce came up in an emotional conversation. When you realize the family you planned together may not happen, or at least not in the way you envisioned it, it's sometimes more than a marriage can bear. Our relationship grew stronger through our struggles, but for many couples that isn't the case.

This week is NIAW, National Infertility Awareness Week. This week is so important because unlike many other diseases, couples who battle infertility often do so in silence. There is a stigma that surrounds reproductive health, and there shouldn't be. Battling infertility isn't something to be ashamed of, but many couples feel that way. It's hard when as soon as you get married people start asking when you will have kids. Then if you have one child, people start asking when you will have another. All of the comments and questions come from well meaning people, but they can be isolating.

I am fortunate that I have amazing people in my life who have been down the road of infertility before me. They were open about their journeys which helped me know we weren't alone. I was also lucky enough to discover a great network of women online who were going through their own fertility struggles. Many of them I still keep in touch with, and I am so thankful for their support when I needed it.

As I am sure you can imagine, with two sets of twins, I get asked a lot of questions. The biggest one being, "Do twins run in your family?" I could answer that they run on Rob's side of the family, because they do, but I prefer to throw it out there that all of our kids are the result of IVF. Sometimes that answer is follow by disappoint from the person asking the question, but more often than not a productive conversation follows. Frequently the person asking the question will then share their fertility struggles, or those of someone close to them. I prefer to be honest about our struggles and road to parenthood, because I never know if the person I'm talking to may be feeling isolated during their own infertility journey.

This year's NIAW theme is "Listen Up." It's important to listen if someone is trying to share their infertility story with you. Don't just offer a piece of regurgitated advice like "Relax and it will happen," or "Maybe you could adpot." Really listen to their struggles. Make sure people listen to your story. Whether you share on social media or just share one on one with a friend. Get others to listen to your story. Make lawmakers listen. Every day policies are being drafted that will take away my rights as part of an infertile couple. Let your representatives know that you don't support anti-family legislation and that infertility care is not an elective procedure.

Listen up! Speak up! Keep the conversation about infertility going. If you aren't battling infertility, chances are someone you know is. It's not just a women's issue, it's a couple's issue, and 1 in 8 of them are struggling with some form of infertility.

You can learn more about NIAW here or visit Resolve's website.
Our infertility journey is outlined here.

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