It’s National Infertility Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “Don’t Ignore Infertility.” As if I could possibly ignore it, even if I wanted to.
I know this theme isn’t directed at me, at us, who live with infertility every moment of every day. It’s for those who are blissfully ignorant of its existence. Or those who want us to stop our whining and “just adopt.” Or those who have the power to make decisions about our health and have decided that infertility is not a medical condition worthy of insurance coverage. Because to them it’s a lifestyle choice.
But we didn’t choose this. My husband didn’t choose to be born with a malfunctioning pituitary gland. We didn’t choose to have to shell out thousands of dollars for medications that I have to inject into my husband’s ass three times a week. We don’t choose to have needles stuck in our arms and Hubby’s semen examined under a microscope. This is not the “lifestyle” we envisioned for ourselves when we started dating 8 1/2 years ago.
Or maybe, in a way, I did choose it. Because he told me about his condition all those years ago, and I still chose to be with him. Does that mean I deserve everything we’re going through now?
Obviously, I have a lot of bitterness and unresolved anger regarding this issue. It’s not directed at you, dear readers. But if you also have anger issues and would like to know where to direct it, RESOLVE has a whole list of ways you can let policy makers know how infertility affects the lives of one in eight couples nationwide, like us.
My anger and bitterness are actually not the reasons I started blogging. What I wanted was an outlet, a community who understood the emotional and physical pain of infertility. And to drag myself out of a deep funk. It has helped me tremendously, but, aside from those random search terms that pop up on my site stats, I’m pretty sure this blog isn’t doing much to reach out to people who don’t already know firsthand how damaging infertility can be.
In my daily life, I am fairly open about our struggles. Many of my coworkers know that we’re in the midst of treatments. They also occasionally get an earful about the fact that we’re paying for all of this out-of-pocket. I’ve had the uncomfortable conversation with my supervisor, asking for time off for procedures that are cycle-dependent and therefore can’t be scheduled with much advanced notice.
My friends also know what we’re going through and are, for the most part, understanding and sympathetic. There are certain people (the gossip machine of family members who shall remain unnamed included) with whom I simply won’t bring it up. If they want to ask questions, I’m happy to answer, but I’m not volunteering any unsolicited information about our reproductive abilities and/or status.
I’m not embarrassed about that fact that we need medical intervention to have biological children. But the details are rather private (not that you’d know that from reading this blog) and aren’t open to public debate. Which is why I will never openly discuss our treatment on facebook. I have friends there whom I’ve communicated with privately, but I will never post a status update regarding semen analysis, the trans vag invader, hormones, needles, or the quantity/quality of future embryos. Not gonna happen.
I don’t have a huge platform from which to wave my flag of infertility awareness. I think of it as sharing information in circles. The circle of friends or coworkers who may take that knowledge into a different circle of friends, and so on. Plus, it saves me the work of trying to remember who knows what regarding our struggles and treatments. I just assume I’ve been open with everyone I encounter on a daily basis (families I work with being the obvious exception), so I don’t have anything to hide.
How do you reach out, advocate, or otherwise ensure that infertility is not ignored?