Little One, this is an important week. Not only because of our good fortune the past two days, but also because it’s National Infertility Awareness Week.
I think it would be remiss for me not to mention our infertility to you, Lo. After all, it does play a part in how you’re going to be in our lives.
The other day, the TV reporter asked me a question that I’ve been asked several times, and it’s always a difficult one to answer: What were your first thoughts when you were diagnosed with infertility? I stared at her, unable to speak. I stammered over my words, and blurted out some rote response.
It’s a difficult question for me to answer not because it was some life altering moment, but because it wasn’t. I didn’t have my stomach drop to the floor, my head didn’t spin, I didn’t cry or have any reaction.
I was only sixteen.
My mindset at that time was, “Okay, deal with it later. What am I doing this Friday night?” There was never really an earth shattering emotional breakdown, just the truth. And I’ve realized something important Lo: that wasn’t my defining infertility moment. My defining moment would come years later: my legs spread open on a doctors table, my loving husband grasping my hand, a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand in places trans-vaginal ultrasound wands are built to go but should never go, the white coat straight faced reproductive endocrinologist saying softly, “I’m sorry Mrs. Miller. It looks like that round didn’t work either.”
That was my moment. Not when I was sixteen.
But I’m very lucky that I had that moment when I did. Sixteen year old minds aren’t meant to comprehend such news, and neither are twenty-something to fifty-something minds. What gave me a leg up when coming to my diagnosis realization wasn’t my age, it was my years of experience. I was not blind sided. I didn’t get married with hopes this would happen right away, I didn’t always picture a bouncing baby with Dads eyes and my nose on my lap. Because I had years to marinade in my diagnosis, take it in during small windows of my life, a bit at a time. Your Dad and I had plenty of time to discuss our options before we even walked down the aisle and said a single I do. My diagnosis didn’t hit me like a freight train- so it didn’t derail any image I had of a future family. I knew it was coming, I had time to prepare.
That is one of the reasons I’m such an advocate for infertility. It is not because I feel like I’ve been through so much, or I want pity or attention for my disease. Instead, I want people to have the experience I had. My infertility has been painful, it’s had moments where it’s hard to go on, there have been weeks of depression. But despite the hard moments I had a clear and concise early diagnosis. That is such a beautiful gift in the world of infertility that very few get the chance to experience.
I want to change that.
I want every woman and man who has to face this terrible disease to have a warning. I want young women and men to get tested for diseases that cause infertility early. I want there to be awareness. One in eight couples will face infertility. One in eight! So many women and men are walking around in this world, blissfully unaware of the freight train coming their way. I want to jump in front of them, knock them off the tracks and give them their due time to soak up the information, support and resources needed to overcome infertility before it really hits home.
There is this stigma around those with infertility. I’m not really sure why it exists, but I want to break the stigma. I’m not ashamed that I was born the way I am. My poly cystic ovarian syndrome is something that is a part of me, completely. I embrace it, I respect it, and I treat it as best I can. It has made me who I am, it has given me the grief of infertility, yes, but it’s also given me so many gifts. I am a strong courageous fighter because of my infertility. I have a voice that I’m not afraid to use because of it. It’s something I hope you never have to face, Little One, but if you ever do or know someone that does: I want them to know by the time you’re a twenty-something what to do about it. How to treat other people who face it. I want you to see the compassion and heartache the way your Dad and I do, and not run from it like so many people. Instead I want you and everyone else to be brave, look into the eyes of someone facing infertility and say the only words that need to be said, “That’s awful. I’m sorry. I recognize this is difficult because it’s out of your control, and it’s not your fault. I’m here for you, you’re not alone.”
Break the stigma.
If the stigma is broken, then the realness of infertility as a disease can heal and rebuild anew. Doctors will recognize the disease, as will insurance companies. They will begin to cover it, and people won’t have to stare down their bank accounts to see if having a family is even a feasible option. It will be treated as it should be: as a disease that should not be ignored.
I don’t want you to take any of this the wrong way, Lo. I advocate for infertility just as I do for many diseases and causes, not because I feel like you’ll be a second best, or a second option. Never, ever mistake it: you are the first choice. Your Dad and I have no qualms about adopting. There will never be not for an instance of your existence a doubt that you’re our child. Genetics be damned, you’re our baby, Lo. Already, and we haven’t met you yet: you’re our family. You’re a part of us in such a beautiful way.
And just for that fact alone: adoption advocates for infertility, and the multitude of ways to build a family.
There are so many wonderful ways to build a family, sweet one. Our way is the way we’ve chosen. It’s what is in our hearts, what we feel is best for all of us. Other people turn to IVF, IUI, clomid, injectables, surrogates, donor eggs, FET, donor sperm, donor embryo’s, gestational carriers. That is their decision, and it should be honored and respected.
People take their families for granted every single day, and not all give a passing thought that there are others out there that don’t have that luxury. We can change things in this word, Lo. Don’t ever forget the amazing power you possess as an American and human being on this earth. We have to band together for each other, and fight for what is right for all American families.
Genetics, whose uterus you were carried in, how many rounds of medicines it took- that isn’t what matters. In the end, a family is a family is a family.
Our family is strong because of infertility. We have love in our hearts because of it.
And the best gift we’ll ever get out of this will be you, Lo.
Never giving up the fight,
This week, don’t ignore adoptive parents. Learn about the different ways to build a family, and educate others. To learn more about infertility and National Infertility Awareness Week, please visit:
- http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)