#Listen Up: Why Infertility Awareness Is Not Just For People Living With Infertility

When I think of National Infertility Awareness Week (taking place here in the US this year April 23 – 29), it conjures some unexpected images.

What would the LGBTQ movement be without the participation of friends, family members and fellow citizens?

The women’s movement without the support of men?

If you haven’t been personally affected by infertility, you know someone who has been. A friend. A family member. A co-worker. We are people just like everyone else who, as it happens, weren’t dealt a simple hand in the human reproduction department. The level of traumatic loss with which we deal is high, our support systems are more often than not emaciated.

And yet. A perceivable level of broad base support for the social issue of infertility and its related havoc is somehow missing. It is rare I see family and friends supporting, speaking and standing up for those in their life who are dealing with reproductive trauma and loss. One would be hard pressed to find, anywhere in human history, a cause so drenched in the need for a social restructuring that is so ignored by those who are not directly afflicted. (more…)

#Listen Up: Eight Ways to Support People Living With Infertility Now

With National Infertility Awareness Week on our door step, here are some ways friends, family, co-workers and community members alike can support the infertile community.

#1 HALT THE BABY MAKING MYTHS

Just relax and take a vacation. When you stop trying, it happens. It will happen when it’s meant to. Here, let me give you some sexual pointers…… (more…)

#Listen Up: The Difference In Doctors

Insights on Infertility Medicine’s Failings

For National Infertility Awareness Week April, 2017

“Something is wrong. The holidays are over, yet my physical symptoms are still present”.

I was sitting, practically slumped over on my primary care physician’s table. I had originally thought the debilitating and sudden onset symptoms I was experiencing might have been spurred by holiday grief. I had just been riding a fairly good, transformational spell but had become open, in the past three years, to the fact that grief can do funny things.

“I feel just like I felt two weeks ago when I went to the ER” I informed him, my heart bouncing around in my chest as unprovoked waves of nausea and panic swept through me while the room spun.

Fortunately, he listened to me and took me seriously. He showed concern. And he acknowledged right away that his puzzlement over why a healthier than average almost 45 year old was in such a state of disarray warranted further investigation. Investigation he knew required the help of others, so he funneled me to the right specialists. On my way to a diagnosis I was, unaware of the relative medical paradise I was about to enter.

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My Dicey Relationship with Goals

Musings on infertility’s psychological aftermath

In the aftermath of infertility, on the heels of the numbness and avalanche of grief that follows, there is a lot of sorting to do.

For me, it conjures the image of a once complete home now in shreds of rubble and shrapnel post tornado. Some of the pieces are just missing. Some still present are unrecognizable. Most noticeable is that the pieces no longer fit together into a form that shouts sense, direction and continuity.

And so in my mind, I have piles. (more…)

Involuntary Childlessness in the Human Conversation

Scenes from when it works, Illuminations on what goes wrong 

Today I am dedicating my blog to National Infertility Awareness Week and to the launch of Justine Brooks Froelker’s latest book The Mother of Second Chances, based on her blog Ever Upward releasing on April 17th. For five weeks 25 amazing women will share their stories of infertility and loss as part of this incredible blog tour, because together we can shatter the stigma.

Click here for the scheduled list of participants and posts, running all of the way from March 27 – April 28!!  We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We’d especially love to see your own broken silence by sharing your own infertility story using the hastags: #NIAW, #infertility and #EverUpward.

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I recall walking out in the world during the two years following my fertility treatments feeling like the teacher from Charlie Brown – voiceless.

The portrayal of even a smidgen of my experiences brought forth endless platitudes. Blank stares and silence filled the space where ceremony and ritual, verbal acknowledgements (try I’m so sorry for your loss) and casseroles are supposed to be in the event of that which is world shattering.

Close to 20% of the female population aged 45 and over in the United States (and in many other countries around the world) does not parent.  It is likely the majority of this population is child free not entirely by choice, hopefully one day soon there will be an actual statistic available.  IVF has now been around for 40 years, providing many of us with a towering pile of failures.  And yet the human conversation still lags far behind reality.
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Heartbeat

I was missing you on the day things crumbled. My cart seemed so bare two days before Christmas as I struggled to procure the few things your Dad and I needed, trying to make the best of our holiday for two we felt no urge to celebrate.

I didn’t know then why Fairway Market was spinning and going black or why my heart was flailing about or why the vision of the woman cuddling her toddler in the cheese line suddenly felt no less barbaric than the act of trying to exist.

All I knew then was that I missed you. What I know now is that the towering experience of missing you was layered with a malfunctioning nervous system and I think back on that space in time with sorrow. And with a pointed acknowledgement of human fallibility. That space in time when I sat in my car and in my body spinning out of control trying to fathom your absence. An impossible feat under normal circumstances, an utterly defeating experience in the presence of unregulated blood pressure and minimal blood flow to the brain.

I dialed 911 as my heart relentlessly beat out of my chest. (more…)

Emotional Labor Misconceptions

In the face of involuntary childlessness, grief and recovery

How am I going to live THIS life in THIS world?

It’s one of the questions that has adhered itself to every aspect of my being since stopping fertility treatments three years ago. It’s a question that has become only more throbbing as I make my way back out into the world and initiate my life rebuilding process. It’s a question that is unavoidable. And how could it not be? My experiences trying to conceive, the physical absence of my children and our loss of parenthood colors everything.

I’m not alone in this. When one has come through and out of the wanting of parenthood in any way shape or form, finding themselves on the other side of their dream or pursuit or hard work without the desired children in tow, we are all in some version of a related boat.

Thoughts, feelings and instincts on this question percolate in our systems. We organically, if not subconsciously, become silent, unseen coping skill factories, working overtime to generate a new life that makes sense to us, a new social normal and perhaps most of all, self-preservation.

I was recently made more consciously aware of part of my process when I read Cathy’s latest post, Are You Doing More Than Your Fair Share of Emotional Labor? over at Slow Swimmers and Fried Eggs (Thanks, Cathy!). Realizations rising to the surface were of course prompted by the writing and investigating of fellow infertility survivors because where else would they come from? There’s no context out in the wider world acknowledging the plight forward for those of us who wanted children but couldn’t have them, even most if not all infertility support groups are tone-deaf towards this journey. (more…)