|“We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.” – Sonia Johnson
A week ago, at 4am, I woke up suddenly and I was shaking. I had a horrible dream about having a painful egg retrieval while visiting Sesame Street. I’m not even joking. I blame this on four things:
1. My 15 month old son’s recent obsession with Elmo.
2. My history with fertility treatment.
3. My internship working at Sesame Street after I graduated college. (Yes, I can tell you how to get to Sesame Street. It involves a subway.)
4. My clearly twisted subconscious.
This nightmare was brought to you by the letters IVF.
I was lying in bed alone trying to calm down (my husband had been banished to another room due to his unfortunate snoring) when I remembered that National Infertility Awareness Week® would soon be upon us and RESOLVE always has a theme for their “Bloggers Unite Challenge”. I grabbed my iPhone off my bedside table and looked up what this year’s theme would be: “Join the Movement’.
On the RESOLVE website, it reads, “Join the movement to bring infertility support groups to every community, increase and protect access to all family building options and help change the conversation about infertility.”
“Join the Movement.” What does that say to me personally? What does that make me think of? Why am I still awake? What normal person dreams about Big Bird being present during a surgical procedure?
The more I tossed and turned and thought about those words, “Join the Movement”, the more I thought about the many men and women who deal with infertility. Roughly 7.3 million in the United States have had difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. And yet… so many of us have often felt alone. I know I certainly did for a time.
If I shared with you that during my own journey to have a family, I was the woman at the baby showers in the corner near the wine and cheese plate faking a huge smile who then went home afterward and cried my eyes out, would you know what that experience is like?
If I shared with you that it felt like everyone I knew was getting pregnant around me while I was going through treatment, would you relate? (At my old job in particular, a co-worker once joked that there was clearly “something in the water”. I suppose I was drinking from the Infertile Vending Machine.)
If I shared with you how much of a failure I felt, how isolated I became, how I avoided friends with babies, stopped watching shows with pregnancy plot lines, went to bed at 4pm in the afternoon because I got my period yet again, or that I began to hate the holidays and seeing my family, would you know how that felt?
My guess is you can relate to one if not all of these feelings because, even though it sometimes feels that way, we are NOTalone. And the more I thought about “Join the Movement”, the more I realized that is the starting point. To know that there are many others out there like us, and together – we can make a true impact in increasing and protecting access to all family building options and help change the conversation about infertility.
There is an entire community ready and willing to support each other whether one is working through IVF, adoption, surrogacy, donor eggs, female infertility, male infertility, insemination or living childfree (by circumstance, choice or other). There are so many people that can stand by you and say, “Oh honey – I know exactly what you mean. I’m here for you!”
I know that my infertility journey changed my entire life: My career, my marriage, my outlook and, with the addition of my son, my world. Three years of trying to get pregnant, five timed cycles, one uterine polyp (which I lovingly nicknamed Jackson Polyp), one dilation and curettage, three inseminations, three IVF’s and no more money left in my savings account, and it all came down to one lone 8-cell embryo on my last cycle. I’m still stunned and profoundly grateful at what that lone embryo became.
When I first began treatment, I cast myself as the lonely infertile. No one understood me, no one knew what it was like and I felt like I alone was being punished. Slowly though, I started this blog, I created a Twitter account dedicated to my infertility struggle (@the2weekwait), I began having brunches with my fellow infertiles where we’d vent over fruit salad and as time went on, I connected with some of the most special, supportive, strong as hell women that I grew to rely on. The fact that on my last IVF cycle, ALL of my medications were donated from my fellow infertile friends always chokes me up. My son’s life is the direct product of this community’s generosity.
Over time, I became more active in the infertility community and would eventually leave my boring job and become the Patient Care Manager at Fertility Authority which is where I work now. Through my role, I talk to countless women, men and couples about their fertility concerns and assure them that they do have options, that there are people, doctors and support out there for them and most importantly, that they are not alone.
Once you know you are part of a community, it’s not only easy to get involved, it’s so important at a time when so many are trying to limit our family building options. You could volunteer at one of the many RESOLVE locations, start your own support group (or brunches) in the comfort of your own home, connect with others on any of the various online support groups (or Twitter which is my personal favorite), write your elected officials in Washington to co-sponsor Family Act of 2011, speak to your HR Department about making sure the company insurance covers infertility treatment or, if nothing else and if you at all feel comfortable, be open about your own fertility history (even if it reads as a Sci-fi Novel). By sharing our stories, we support others who can relate plus we educate friends and family who are simply unaware.
Infertility is a real problem that hits on every aspect of our lives. It puts an incredible strain on our relationships, marriages, self-esteem, financial state and our physiological well-being. Our voices need to be heard – not just by one another, but by the people out there who are simply ignorant of what infertility means. Simply by all of us saying, “Yes. I had trouble conceiving. There are others like me. It’s a medical condition and it’s not my fault”, we not only remind each other we’re not alone but we let the world at large know we exist. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Only insert the word ‘infertile’ between ‘committed’ and ‘citizens’). 🙂
|Me holding the result of my 3rd IVF
|As I thought about all of this (by now, it was 5:15am), I heard my son stir in his crib. Selfishly, I went to get him, brought him in bed with me and snuggled with him. I sang our favorite song, “You Are My Sunshine” and as I got to the line, “You’ll never know dear… how much I love you.” I thought, “But you will know what I went through to have you.” I can’t wait to tell him about how much he was wanted and just how many people were involved to make his happy little life possible.
I rested my cheek on his fuzzy head, he looked up at me, smiled and as we both started to drift off to sleep, it occurred to me that Sesame Street is a place where everyone cooperates and supports each other’s differences. Plus, as Grover once said (out of all the quotes I’ve included here, it’s only fitting that Grover, one of our great philosophers of our time, get the last word), “Where there is life, there is hope!”
So, no more bad dreams; just hope for the future and the movement we are all a part of. With hope and humor… always.
To learn more about Joining the Movement, RESOLVE or Infertility in general, please visit: