I thought I’d share with you all the posts and links I’ve been sharing all week on Facebook.
Sunday April 20
Today marks the start of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). Infertility affects approximately 7.3 million people in the US alone. I am one of them. I’ll be sharing a little of my story throughout the week along with some outside resources. But it’s Easter so I thought I’d start with cats. Because cats.
Monday April 21
Today for National Infertility Awareness Week I’m sharing some great info on infertility etiquette. I’ve heard many of the don’ts, usually from very well-meaning people. I’ve also seen at least a dozen other versions of this list by bloggers. This is a great resource to learn how best to support those with infertility.
Tuesday April 22
Today’s #NIAW post is brought to you by acronyms. Much like the military, the infertility (IF) community loves acronyms. Not everyone gets a diagnosis when they get tested for infertility, many people have “unexplained infertility.” I am one of the lucky ones who at least has a diagnosis: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. PCOS affects different women different ways. For me it means my hormones are wonky and I don’t always ovulate, which obviously impacts fertility. It also means that common tools like ovulation predictor tests (OPKs) don’t necessarily work for me because I have a high baseline level of the hormone (LH) they test for. And PCOS is also linked to insulin resistance and because my father is diabetic I am hyper-aware of this added risk factor to me developing type 2 diabetes. I am also lucky that so far I have not had the issue with weight that many women with PCOS struggle with, although my BMI puts me in the overweight category my doctors don’t consider my weight unhealthy at this point.
Wednesday April 23
Today is hump day so I thought I’d give you a link for #NIAW from a comedy website before shit gets real tomorrow. But I also wanted to talk about taboo and stigma. It’s really significant that sites that Cracked and Buzzfeed are posting about infertility in recent months, because it is a topic that is so often not talked about. I decided to come out about my infertility on Facebook this week because I think we need to break the stigma. We need to be able to have the hard conversations about it. We’ve been trying to conceive for two and a half years and while I’ve spoken with several people one on one I haven’t felt comfortable going public. I am ashamed that my body doesn’t work the way it’s “supposed to.” But like my battles with depression the more I talk about it the more I know I’m not alone and the less shame I feel.
Thursday April 24
Let me first get this out there, this post is going to be about loss, so if that’s a trigger for you please go ahead and skip it. I’ve known for a while that it would be important for me to talk about loss during my #NIAW posts. There are a lot of different experiences when it comes to pregnancy loss and infertility. For some couples they have no problem getting pregnant but have been unable to carry to term. For others they go through expensive, invasive treatments, get pregnant, and then suffer a loss. (And some never see a positive pregnancy test and deal with a different grief.) There is no hierarchy of infertility pain. It’s all painful. What some of you know but most of you don’t is that last summer we had a pregnancy loss. The pregnancy was ectopic (tubal) and not viable but I had to take chemotherapy drugs to “resolve” it because of the risk of my tube rupturing. It took about seven weeks to fully resolve. It was, without question, the hardest thing I’ve been through in my life. And feeling like I had to hide it from most people made it even harder. It’s still really difficult to talk about and there is still a lot of grief and guilt and plenty of triggers abound. The link I’m sharing today is the blog of my friend Sarah. Sarah has been through recurrent miscarriage due to genetic abnormalities. She shared this post a couple of weeks ago and I felt like it was a list I almost could have written myself. When I was dealing with the loss, the people who did know wanted to help and I had no idea what to ask for. Now I have this and hopefully I never need it again. But it’s a resource in case any of us know someone going through the pain of pregnancy loss, regardless of their fertility status.
Friday April 25
Today for #NIAW I’m going to talk about another uncomfortable infertility topic: money. Fertility treatment is expensive. Few insurance plans cover it and when they do they often don’t cover much. We have been lucky. Tricare has covered all the testing and treatment that we have needed up to this point. But they don’t cover everything and we are getting close to the place of having to pay for treatment out of pocket. Yet we are still lucky because [local military hospital] is one of a whopping FIVE military hospitals in the country that subsidizes IUI and IVF as part of their teaching hospital program. Even subsidized, IVF is still not really in the budget for us anytime soon so fingers crossed we don’t get to that point.
Not everyone is so lucky. A single cycle of IVF, which is not guaranteed to work, costs an average of $12,000 out of pocket in the US. How many couples do you know that can afford even one cycle at that price?
The photo I’m sharing here is of me wearing a necklace that a friend of mine custom made for me as part of her efforts to raise money for IVF. You can read more about her story here: http://crowdfundingamiracle.wordpress.com/ And you can order some of her lovely jewelry here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SoDamnCharming (She’s having a big 50% off sale right now in honor of NIAW, check it out!)
Saturday April 26
This is my last post for #NIAW. Thank you for reading, liking, commenting and generally being awesome people. I promise tomorrow I’ll go back to my regularly scheduled bitching about how stressful school is, but I reserve the right to bring the topic of infertility back up at any time.
There are about a million more points I want to make but I’m just going to hit some of the big ones here and now.
-There is this perception among some that infertiles are bitter, jealous, humorless, and angry with the world. And I definitely am sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not also happy for my friends and family when they are pregnant or that I don’t love their kids. I am and I do. But there is a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in which I am happy for you and sad for me. Read the attached link. I think this blogger does a beautiful job of capturing much of that feeling.
-I do sometimes have to hide some of you from my feed. It’s not personal but every ultrasound pic, baby bump photo, pregnancy symptom complaint, and infant pic is capable of cutting like a knife. I still love you and I’m still happy for you, but sometimes I also have to protect my heart. I still check in on you when I feel strong enough.
-I was so happy this year on April Fools when not only did I not see a single fake pregnancy joke post, but several of you shared this link: http://www.scissortailsilk.com/2014/03/28/the-joke-is-over-why-i-hope-not-to-see-pretend-pregnancy-announcements-on-april-1st/ Those “jokes” are never funny.
-The infertility community is amazeballs. All this time when I haven’t felt comfortable talking to my friends and family about this stuff, I’ve found some seriously incredible friends in my computer who just get it. I wouldn’t have gotten through this time without the support of that community and for that I am crazy grateful. I try to give back to them as much as I can (I spent this morning anxiously awaiting a friend’s test results and Googling what time it was in Hawaii).
-Infertility is a part of me but it’s not all of me.
-I love you all.
In the end I got a pretty good amount of response, especially on the loss post. I’m really glad I did this.