This week has been an emotional one. Yes, we just arrived to Valencia, attended a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, moved into our new apartment, and are adjusting to the 9 hour time change and language difference. But it has also been emotional because it is National Infertility Awareness Week, and in honor of this week I have been doing a lot of reading, writing, and talking about the reasons we are here.
With this transparency about my struggles and my immersion into others’ comes intense conflicting emotions birthed from isolation and community: heart aches and feeling overwhelmed from the outpouring of support, apprehension and confidence in what lies ahead.
According to the National Infertility Association, one in eight women struggle with infertility, and belonging to this club is obviously not something I would choose. My default is to look at the lives of my best friends- the lives that I once felt inextricably a part of- and be keenly aware that I am a shadowy figure on the periphery desperately wanting to have what they do. However, no actual partition exists; in fact, most of my friends have had trouble conceiving, have had miscarriages, or have needed medical intervention to start the family unit they have today. I keep telling myself that while our current realities do not align, our future realities will.
The intention behind National Infertility Awareness Week is to “change the conversation around infertility so the public, media, insurers, healthcare professionals and lawmakers understand: The scope of the problem and who is struggling to build a family. (hint: it’s not just “older women” who “waited too long” to start a family); There are many barriers for millions of people who struggle to build a family. These barriers include: lack of insurance coverage, out-of-pocket costs, faith and religion, sexual orientation, and state and federal laws; The impact of infertility is far reaching—it impacts family, friends, co-workers, and employers.”
Fertile Girl, an online community dedicated to changing this conversation, created an amazing video reframing how we look at “infertility”:
Watching the Flip the Script video resonated with me so deeply because it helps realign my sometimes myopic paradigm with reality. Not only does everyone have a backstory that I can’t see, but we are in a much larger community than just #1in8. Any woman who has lost or has longed for a child knows my heartache. And with miscarriage rates around 25%, the number of women who have suffered is a lot higher that 1 in 8. Yes, the heartache compounds when you have no children, since you are also tending to the open wound created by this void. But I have learned that I am only as isolated as I choose to feel, and I am thankful to have found an amazing network of brave and vocal women who are sharing their stories and offering encouragement.
Someone once told me that “Everyone you meet in life is either coming out of a storm, in the midst of one, or about to enter one.” Ain’t that the truth. I think the best advice is to just be kind- and to yourself, especially. Please take a look at the video and share with someone who you think could need a little extra support today.