I started as a guest blogger one year ago, in April of 2015, when the theme for National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) was You Are Not Alone. At the time, I reflected on coping with infertility through writing, which helped me find the words to have face-to-face conversations with my friends and family who don’t struggle with infertility but wanted to provide support.
The statistic is that one in eight couples of childbearing age is diagnosed with infertility. In all honesty, when I look around at the people in my life who have shared their story with me, I’m sometimes surprised the statistic isn’t higher. Of course, I’m happy that it’s not. When we were first diagnosed with infertility, I had a hard time believing that we were not alone. Now I know that infertility affects many people, and those people are all around me. It really is true when they say you never know the battle another person is facing. I have found myself in awe listening to stories of people in my life that I never would have guessed had experienced infertility. Together, we can provide each other support and understanding through our struggles to start and grow our family.
2016 Theme: Start Asking
April 24-30, 2016 is National Infertility Awareness Week. The theme this year is Start Asking. Infertility comes with so many questions: Why did this happen to us? What are our options? Why doesn’t insurance cover more of our treatment? What happens if treatment doesn’t work? How many times can I put my body, my bank account and my mind through this? How do I explain my condition and my feelings to loved ones?
The answers to these, and so many other questions are sometimes hard to find. That’s why, according to the NIAW website, their goal is to “raise awareness about the disease of infertility and encourage the public to understand their reproductive health.”
Infertility is a disease that I will never fully understand. Like any other disease, it doesn’t discriminate based on a person’s gender, goodness, social or economic status, goals or place in life. It can truly happen to anyone. And, just like any disease, it’s important to ask questions to understand and be your own health advocate. Ask your fertility specialist to help you fully understand your diagnosis and treatment plan. Ask your spouse how you can be supportive, and at the same time, tell your spouse what you need to feel supported. IF you know someone that is experiencing infertility, ask if they are willing to share their story and explain things you don’t understand. Ask how you can help.
I hope that, this year, during NIAW, we all take an opportunity to raise awareness about infertility. The Resolve website provides a list of ideas to use in your community, on social media and even with legislatures. There are also links to blogs and other infertility resources.
You Are Not Alone
While I strongly believe that it is important to Start Asking, my purpose in writing is truly to provide the reminder that You Are Not Alone, no matter where you are in your infertility journey. If you’re reading this and experiencing infertility, please know that my thoughts are with you. Every night, my daughter and I say a prayer together for “God to bless the mommies’ bellies.” I hate, for you and for me, that we have this in common, but I hope that you find comfort knowing that there are people all around you that understand what you’re going through. There are also people all around you that want to support you and help you through your journey.
I’d love to hear comments below about what you plan to do to recognize NIAW as well as how you look for support from those close to you.
Melissa Kimball is a marketing communications professional who lives in Whitehouse with her husband, Bob, her toddler, Hope, and boxers, Blue and Bo. You can read her monthly columns by clicking here.