Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't Ignore The Woman Underneath the Label/NIAW

RESOLVE and RESOLVE New England are sponsoring National Infertility Awareness Week between April 22-28th. This week has been on my mind for some time. Infertility has become such an ingrained part of who I am, and there is such misunderstanding, ignorance, and silence around the topic. I really feel like the only way to give infertility the understanding and attention it deserves is for the women affected by it to own it - to publicly say, "This is a disease that affects millions of women - probably your friends, family members, and co-workers included. It affects women like me."

RESOLVE challenged bloggers to write on the topic, "Don't ignore..." as it relates to their infertility journey, for NIAW. For me, this was the first thing that came to mind.

Don't ignore the woman underneath the label of "infertile."

Although I was diagnosed infertile in January of 2011, after a year of trying and a miscarriage, it took me a long time before that word really sank in. As it became more real for me, I became overwhelmed by the word itself. For a while, I obsessively researched my own issue (PCOS) and tried every possible "cure" to escape the weight of the label. It began to define me. It occupied my every thought, feeling, and activity. It took a while before I was able to get through an hour, evening, or day without being consumed by everything related to infertility. How could there be room for anything but charts, thermometers, and ovulation tests? Where was there room for me - my real self that existed before trying to have a baby?

If I could go back in time and tell myself (or any other women going through this experience) one thing, it would be this: don't lose sight of the person you are beyond the label. Underneath the diagnosis, you are a warm, breathing, person with so much at stake. Don't ignore the part of yourself that needs nurturing while in a crisis. Don't isolate, torture, or neglect yourself. Fight against the crushing anxiety, sadness, and feelings of failure that are so common among us. Fight against all of those who believe infertility treatment to be an easy choice. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You must conserve your strength for the obstacles to come.

Instead, seek support. Talk to people. Pursue your hobbies. Spend quality time with your spouse. Seek out a promotion at work. Spark your interest in something new. Read good books. See funny movies.  Do whatever keeps you present in your own life.

It is the hardest thing in the world to do these things, but consider this: 

If you don't care for the woman peeking out from under the label, what will be left when your TTC journey is over?

For more information:
http://www.resolve.org/infertility101
http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html 

18 comments:

  1. Well said!!

    I think too often people identify with one label. You're either "this" or "that." But we are more than just our labels. We are living, breathing individuals who are trying to make our way through this life the best way we know how.

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  2. This is great. Very well written and important.

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  3. Amen my friend. I have to remind myself of this all the time. It's something that is SO easy to lose and so hard to get back. Thank you for reminding us not to forget or ignore our true selves.

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  4. This is great, but can I just add one thing? Infertility also affects men. It affects couples. After all, it takes two to make a baby. Speaking as someone who is affected by male factor infertility, I feel like this is a fact that is often neglected. And just as we shouldn't ignore the women we are outside of infertility, we shouldn't ignore our men, either!

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  5. I loved the woman before the label, during the label, and most definitely will after the label has faded & peeled off.

    KG

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  6. This is great - so hard to remember sometimes that before, during and after the journey, infertility is not the word that others would define us by. It's important that we don't get hung up on this one dimension and let it drive everything we do. I am hearing impaired and have been my whole life - but this has never been something that I've let run my life in any way. But infertility? Yes. It drives my decisions. It keeps me from attending functions with friends. It shuts me out of honest communication. Thank you for reminding me that I am so much more than the adjective "infertile."

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  7. This is so important to remember, it's hard since so much of this changes you but to still have things to look forward to means a lot. I guess the key is to find the balance, as always.

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  8. Very, VERY well said, m'dear. Thank you for writing this.

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  9. I love this! Mostly, because I struggled with the word myself. It took me months just to come to terms with the word and years before I could put it away. It is so important to celebrate all that is YOU while coping with IF. There are many ways to create (other than making a baby). Keep Creating & Keep Celebrating!

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  10. Your last comment has stuck with me all day. If we lose ourselves in this battle, will we ever be able to find ourselves again?? It's so hard to keep the end goal in mind, and instead get lost in the fight. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post...

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  11. I'm a bit of a cautionary tale for your last sentence ( I put my feelings on hold about infertility until I basically exploded into a sad, anxious mess, way after most of the trauma) so I can say with certainty: you are right on. Good advice.

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  12. Great post! It is so important to focus on what's underneath, though I know firsthand how difficult that can be. I'm here from the Resolve website (#42)

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  13. An absolutely brilliant post - well done!

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  14. I really appreciate your effort.I used to search for these sort of blogs always.Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here.

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