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?
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