Three. You might have been three years old today. We planned and wished and prayed and worked hard for you, but you couldn’t stay. You were gone before we ever had a chance to know you. We miss you every day. You’re inked in our skin, and written on our hearts. You have a sister
It’s only fitting that National Infertility Awareness Week should coincide with what would have been my due date.
Nothing makes you more aware of your infertility than a baby you loved, but never got to meet.
Last August, the most amazing thing happened.
The pregnancy test strips I was using to test out the trigger from my first Femara/Menopur cycle started getting darker, instead of lighter.
I was pregnant.
It was amazing and terrifying and brilliantly exciting.
It was surreal.
In that moment, alone in my bathroom and surrounded by peed-on paper strips, I experienced more joy than I had in my entire life.
Our Gummy Bear was on his or her way, and I suddenly had everything I had ever wanted.
I didn’t know then that seven weeks later, it would all come crashing down.
The miscarriage was physically, emotionally, and psychologically the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.
The physicality of it only lasted a few days, but there are some aspects from which I may never fully recover.
I was a mother that night, and the next morning, I wasn’t any more.
I was empty.
Today is my would-be due date.
Today is the day that I was looking forward to, so intensely, and for such a short period of time; it’s also the day I have been dreading for so long.
Today is when I remember the tiny life that never got to be, and yet was loved so incredibly much.
I’ll never forget my first baby.
Gummy Bear gave me hope that I may one day hear that faint heartbeat, feel kicks and flips from the inside, and hold a wiggly, screaming new life in my arms.
Today, although my belly is flat, my heart is broken, and my arms are empty…
I am still standing.
I am a mother today,
and I will have hope, always.
Just as I will hold that baby in my heart.
I will remember.
Mourn and memorialize.
As long as I remember, my baby lives on.
Love lives on…
Sometimes being supportive isn’t so much what you say to someone who’s struggling, but what you do.
A hug can say more in its simplicity than a whole monologue on how “what’s meant to be will be” and “you’ll be a mother someday, I just know it”.
There are so many ways we can support our fellow Infertiles this National Infertility Awareness Week, and many of them don’t require a word out of our mouths.
For the intrepid few, sometimes a tattoo shows their struggle and their support. These are mine.
You can update the profile photo on your social media accounts with this Twibbon, showing your support.
You can update your Facebook cover photo with one of these fabulous creations from The Infertility Voice.
You can help to educate others and encourage sensitivity by posting links on social media to information that will help others our struggle. There is a great article here, and some wonderful tips on infertility etiquette here.
I particularly love infographics like these:
There’s also this cheeky little claymation rendering of What Not To Say To Someone With An Uncooperative Uterus.
You can support, inspire, advocate, and show a great deal of compassion without speaking a word this week.
Maybe give some of these a try:
I look forward to your submissions, and I look forward to being inspired!
Keep up the good work, folks.
This NIAW, we can get the word out about infertility, and we can do it as loudly or as quietly as we like!
We can make a difference – Join the movement!
Have you ever been stuck in an awkward conversation with someone you don’t know well?
Yeah. Me too.
And then the million dollar question comes up… The “why don’t you have babies?” question.
Yeah. That one.
And then you word-vomit your entire
non-reproductive history onto them, things get even more awkward, you realize there’s no coming back from this social faux pas, and you just abruptly stop talking. Or they back slowly away from you, hands in the air, like they’re afraid you’ll lunge after them to assault them with further knowledge of cervical mucus quality.
…Yeah. It happens.
When you tell someone that you struggle with infertility, it can be as intimidating for them as it is for you.
Infertility is a very broad term. There are hundreds – maybe thousands – of causes for infertility, and the average Fertile bystander probably has very little idea what those causes may be.
If you’re anything like me, the conversation probably goes a little like this:
So when are you and your husband going to have kids?
Well, we’ve been working on it for a while. It will happen one day. (UGH… I know where this is going…)
You know, the same thing happened to my cousin’s best friend. She was just trying too hard, and after like six months they took a vacation and relaxed, and then BAM! Pregnant!
Maybe you’re just stressing out about it too much?
…Yeah. That’s not it, actually. There are medical reasons why I’m not getting pregnant, and the doctors are working to figure out why.
It’s probably your husband. Does he wear tightie-whities and sit in the hot tub all the time?
What are we, a 70s swinger couple? No, he doesn’t, and no, it’s not him.
You know, I heard that after you turn 30, you need to see a special doctor to help you get pregnant. You probably just waited too long and missed your window.
That’s not… no. *sigh*facepalm*sigh*
…….Okay, here’s the thing: Infertility is defined by a man and a woman having regular, unprotected sex for one full year and not successfully conceiving a child. If nothing happens after a year, most women see their OB, who should refer them to a reproductive specialist for additional testing and, sometimes, artificial reproductive technologies. Age has nothing to do with that process most of the time, but yes, some women’s fertility will start to decline after age 35. Maybe that’s what you heard. And for the record, I’m only 32 and my husband wears boxers.
Uhh… Yeah. Nice talk. Anyway, I hope you get knocked up… Bye!
And then you just scared away another Fertile and simultaneously made a big awkward scene at a wedding/church/office break room/check-out line at Target.
It can be frustrating to try to explain your entire medical history to someone who doesn’t know the ins and outs of infertility like some of us do, but in the same way that we expect people to be receptive of we have to say, we need to be patient and clear when explaining our infertility to them.
Next time the conversation erupts around you, try to inform rather than defend.
So you’ve been trying for quite a while then?
Yes, four years actually. We’re seeing a very good specialist though, so we have a lot of hope that it will happen soon.
So what exactly is the problem? Are you just too stressed out, or what?
Well, I am stressed, yes. Trying this hard for something you want more than anything, and failing month after month for four straight years would stress anyone out. However, that is not the reason we haven’t been successful. Infertility is a disease, and much like cancer, there’s not always a clear-cut way to cure the disease. It’s a lot of trial and error, but we’re getting closer every month. *patient smile*
Oh, okay. Well I wish you the very best of luck, and I hope it happens soon!
…Hey, wait! You know, I have a friend who is having some trouble getting pregnant too… Would you mind if I gave her your email address so she could have someone experienced to talk to about all of this?
And then you become an ally, an advocate, rather than a Bitter Infertile/Socially Awkward Crazy Cat Lady.
We can all open ourselves up to educating and informing others, and oftentimes one open door leads to another. We all have an ungodly amount of medical knowledge stored up in our warped Infertile brains – we just need to be careful about how we word-vomit that knowledge onto the unsuspecting, uninformed public.
Please take advantage of this National Infertility Awareness Week to share with others, and in turn, others may share with you. Being an advocate and having a reputation as an Infertility Ally can be a very fulfilling thing.
Use what you know, what you’ve been through, and the compassion you’ve gained along the way to educate and inspire others! Encourage the conversation about infertility, and in turn you’ll encourage sensitivity and compassion toward our cause!
And so, in the spirit of educating, informing, and opening up about infertility, I’m working on a Q & A (vlog!) post for later this week. If you have a question about infertility, treatment options, medications, side-effects, or anything medical/ART related, please feel free to ask!
You can also ask anything you like about me – personal questions, relationships questions, what kind of cup I pee in a thousand times per month – nothing is off limits!
I’m an open book this week, so please expect an extra helping of TMI – in video form!
Today, April 21st, 2013, marks the first day of this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).
NIAW was created by RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, to help bring awareness to the disease, those who suffer, and ways the public can help. Each year has a theme, and this year’s message is Join the Movement.
Those of you who are not new visitors to this blog, or who know me in real life, are very much aware that this is not my first rodeo. I’ve blogged my way through two other NIAWs in the past, and was just joining the infertility blogging community during 2010’s awareness week.
I feel as if I’ve grown each year, and that each year’s theme for bringing awareness has mirrored that growth for me in so many ways. This year’s theme is no exception:
Join the Movement.
I’ve been through so much in the four years we’ve been working to start a family. I’ve had highs and lows, moments of frustration, moments of elation, and moments where I’ve wanted to quit.
I’ve had moments of pain, sorrow, grief, and dark moments where I’ve just wanted to die.
I’ve stumbled and fallen, picked myself up and dusted myself off, stumbled again, and needed the help of others to get back on my feet.
It’s not been an easy road by any stretch of the imagination, however one thing has remained constant: support.
I am blessed in so many ways, and I am fully aware that I have been blessed with supportive people in my life. Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances. I’ve been on the receiving end of much positive encouragement throughout this journey, and I do not take that for granted.
This year, in keeping with RESOLVE’s NIAW theme, I would like to invite you, the readers: friends, family, total strangers – to join the movement.
There are a thousand and one ways you can get involved, whether you are suffering with infertility, supporting someone who is, or just feel the compassion to help others know that they’re not alone.
You can share your story. Blog, tweet, share with a friend. Whether you suffer from infertility or not, you can shine a light on this disease and help break the silence.
You can show support for the entire infertility community by changing your Facebook status.
It’s as easy as this:
Infertility affects 7.3 million Americans, as many as 1 in 8 couples. Like me. (or my friend/my sister/brother/cousin.)
I stand with the 1 in 8 who live with infertility. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, repost if you’re with me.
Infertility is a heart-wrenching, faith-questioning, relationship-testing, life-altering experience. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Whether a friend, a family member, a colleague or yourself has fought through this difficult fate that MILLIONS of women are fighting day in and day out. Post this as your status if you or someone you know has struggled at a chance to be a parent.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. 1 in 8 people in the US are struggling with infertility right now. That means that 12 out of every 100 Facebook friends on your list is, or has struggled with infertility. Please show your support this week by sharing this status. We can only bring awareness to this disease if we are willing to talk about it!
You can update the profile photo on your social media accounts with this Twibbon, showing your support.
The most meaningful, and absolute best way that you can join the movement this year, is also the easiest.
Every person you know is fighting some battle. It may be infertility, and it may not be. Sometimes it’s not for us to know, and sometimes broadcasting our support for an entire community of infertility sufferers isn’t going to make you any friends.
One thing is certain, however; if you show kindness in your everyday life, listen when someone needs to talk, encourage others to express themselves in whatever darkness is in their lives, you will be a supporter, and that is a legacy worth leaving behind.
I urge each of you to reach out this week.
Be open, be compassionate, be supportive.
Be receptive to those who reach out to you. Be willing to connect on a deeper level.
Be the voice of those who aren’t willing or able to broadcast their woes.
Be the secret confidante to those who just need a friend.
Be the public bullhorn for those who want to be heard.
Be informative to those who ask questions. Be patient. Be present.
Be a friend to those who need a shoulder upon which to lean.
Join me in supporting the one in eight this week.
Join the rest of the infertility community in standing strong in the face of enormous struggle.
Join us in what may not be the most popular stance, but one that could make a huge difference for someone you know.
Join the movement.
April 24th, 2012. CD1.
I wasn’t planning to write this. At least not until I returned from my trip…
I’ve come to really rely on the support of others throughout this journey, and I really needed the catharsis of blogging more than usual this month.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is “Don’t Ignore Infertility“.
Not that I’ve had the opportunity to ignore infertility this week… Nothing like a negative blood pregnancy test to make you painfully aware of your infertility.
Our beta was negative.
Or, more accurately, it was technically negative.
Let me ‘splain.
Although I hadn’t mentioned it here, I’ve seen a couple of faint second lines on some early home pregnancy tests in the past couple of days. I am usually very cautious about believing them, but I was overly-cautiously optimistic this time.
I started spotting on Saturday morning. Just for a half hour or so. Then nothing… Until Sunday afternoon. More spotting. Nothing on Monday, and a negative HPT this morning…
I started to bleed this morning while getting ready to head to the clinic for the beta.
By the time I arrived, I was in full flow. The doctor took my blood for the pregnancy test, and then sent me back for a Cycle Day 1 ultrasound. The nurses who performed the ultrasound were concerned that I might actually be pregnant…
When the doctor called me later to confirm the results of the blood test, she said that they had all come to the agreement that this must have been a chemical pregnancy. My HCG levels were low, and technically negative, but everything else pointed to pregnancy.
A chemical pregnancy is a fertilized egg that fails to implant. Technically not a miscarriage, but close enough.
The good news is that the eggs and sperm appear to be getting along, they just didn’t move in together at the right time. Perhaps next month they’ll get it right.
I’ll start back up on the same protocol on Thursday, and expect another IUI in early May.
This is where the whole “Don’t Ignore… Support.” thing comes in.
I need you. My friends, my family, complete caring strangers who take the time to come here and read about our many struggles and few triumphs. People who send up prayers and offer words of encouragement. Fellow humans who take time out of their busy days to think about little ol’ me and my busted uterus.
I’m not the only one who needs you, however. One in eight people in the US are currently going through what I’m going through – or worse. Which one of your coworkers is it? How many of your 300 Facebook friends are suffering in silence? Who in your family is quietly struggling this personal battle?
Thank you all for not ignoring infertility. Thank you for not overlooking or avoiding what is an invisible, but heartbreaking illness. Thank you all for understanding that it hurts in so many ways. Thank you all for your support, love, and hope.
Just… Thank you.
Infertility is a heart-wrenching, faith-questioning, relationship-testing, life-altering experience. One in eight people in this country is currently walking through hell and back to become a parent. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a colleague or yourself, millions are fighting through this difficult fate day in and day out.
Please don’t ignore infertility.
Please support the one in eight.
April 30th, 2011. CD1.
Not that it’s a surprise or anything, but this cycle was so strange, I half-expected her to stay away for a while longer. Oh well, I suppose. No help for that. Moving along to other things…