Monday, April 22, 2013

Join the movement: Bring infertility out of the shadows #NIAW


First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes baby in the baby carriage....

But what if that carriage is empty?

For 1 in 8 couples in the US, an empty baby carriage is a painful reality.  My husband and I are part of that "1."  We watched our friends build families while we faced disappointment, month after month.  After a year, we began to seek help as to why our dream wasn't coming true.  Like 20% of couples with infertility, though, comprehensive medical testing did not reveal an answer.

We decided that we weren't going to share our struggle with friends and family.  It was just too personal, too intimate.  We feared becoming objects of pity and, instead, kept our fear in the shadows.  We reserved our tears for the darkness after we turned out the lights at night.  We forced away the ugly jealousy that engulfed us when a friend or family member announced a pregnancy.

Slowly, though, a few of our friends sensed the masked despair behind our childlessness. They shared their infertility stories with us, stories we had not known much about (as they all, happily, had children by this time). The sense of relief that rushed in when they welcomed hearing our story was profound.

I started searching for others.  I found blogs like Life Without BabyInfertile Myrtle, and The Infertility Voice.  I read Silent Sorority.  I scoured The National Infertility Association's website, RESOLVE.org.

These narratives showed me that, somewhere along the way, our silence had morphed from privacy-protection to shame-avoidance.  Keeping our story untold meant that we had bought into society's unspoken infertility taboo.  The shadows were becoming intolerable.

April 21-27 is National Infertility Awareness Week (#niaw).  I'll be sharing resources and information on The Singing Pen this week in support of #niaw and the millions of other couples with an empty baby carriage. With my husband's full consent, I am adding our story to countless others in hopes that we will all step out of those shadows together.

Infertility is not a curse, a judgment, or a penance for some prior sin.  We did nothing to deserve it.  It is a medical condition that, like many others, medical science still doesn't fully understand.  It cannot diminish our accomplishments or lessen our worth.

And we must refuse to allow it to define us.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I bet among couples where at least one is a physician, the numbers are much higher. I know so many of my med school classmates/colleagues who have struggled to conceive. One friend went through at least 4 attempts with the IVF/injections/treatments. They were ultimately able to conceive, but from the outside it looked like quite a cost, both literally & figuratively.

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  2. Appreciate your comment. Given that many physicians, at least in my experience, often delay childbearing (usually to complete their training), and increasing age typically correlates with decreased fertility, it makes sense that the numbers would be higher.

    Confirming these hunches would make for an interesting research study... :)

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