26 April, 2016

National Infertility Awareness Week

This week is “National Infertility Awareness Week”

The theme this year is #StartAsking

I’ve thought about this theme for several weeks and could not think of an appropriate question to #startasking. I was even contacted by resolve to make a video for my YouTube channel, and I never responded. I feel really crappy about that. So, I began pondering why I didn't respond in the first place. Why didn't I want to share my voice and be an advocate as I had in the past. 

What was wrong with me? 

Well, to be very honest, I felt stuck, and didn't know quite what to say. I also felt anxiety creeping in from my old days of infertility. A small part of me even felt as if I no longer belonged in the "Infertility world". I also felt incredibly overwhelmed with my busy life as a full-time working mom to three small children, and worried that I could not find the time to do it. 

I felt like “who was I" to talk about infertility now that I have children?

And then it hit me! 

Who am I?

How many others feel this same way and become silent again? 
How many want to speak out, but feel they have lost their voice or place in the big "IF" world?
How many just want to close that painful door and never look back?

So, I decided I would. . . 

#startasking mothers to continue being advocates

Who am I?

I'm a Mother to IVF twin boys, and a naturally conceived baby girl, but I am also a woman who suffered loss, painful defeat, deep heartache and emotional darkness, because of an awful disease called Infertility. My husband, my family and my amazing friends stood by my side supporting me through each broken dream and each crushed hope. My life is forever changed by my infertility, and I am unable to erase that part of me, ever. 

Infertility is woven into my soul and has molded me into the woman I am today. And, I must always remember that my children do not make me fertile, they make me a survivor!!

My question - #startasking mothers to continue being advocates, is not a jab at those who’ve made it to the other side successfully, but more of a nudge and a note to say - It’s okay to still relate to your infertile side once you’ve crossed over to motherhood. It’s okay to stand up to infertility if you are no longer fighting to have children or made the decision to not have children in your life, because having children after infertility does not erase the struggle. Its okay to be an advocate for something you survived or didn't. It's okay to still have a voice in a community you may not feel as connected to. 

I think a lot of woman who finally have a child, whether it be through medications, years of trying, IVF, surrogacy embryo adoption, egg donor, or even adoption; feel like they have a smaller voice after the fact. Maybe they feel their voice no longer counts, because they got that prize at the end of the twisted rainbow. 

I have felt like this at times, myself. . .

There is a certain type of unexplained guilt you feel becoming a mother after infertility. Maybe not everyone feels it, but I know that I did.

It was a kind of strange and lonely place to be at first. I felt so happy to finally be pregnant, but I also felt guilt for those who were still struggling. I also felt lonely, because It felt like a lot of woman who'd been there supporting me during my struggles had suddenly ran away to hid, and I don't blame them, because I was that person once, too. In order to protect your heart, you back away from the things that hurt you, and other peoples pregnancies can hurt. I know deep in my heart that they didn't back away out of spite or rudeness, but out of undeniable pain.

I did IVF at the same time as a good ttc friend. I found out mine worked and a week later she learned that hers didn't work. I felt absolutely crushed for her. I didn't even know how or what to say, except that I was sorry. I felt terrible for sharing my happy news during her dark moment, as though she would think I was rubbing it in, even though I knew she didn't think that. I felt sad, happy, and guilty all at the same time. She eventually went on to have a child through the amazing gift of egg donor, but I will never forget that feeling of guilt I felt during one of the happiest moments of my life.

There are many reasons why "post infertility Moms" stop being advocates and stop standing up. It's not because we think we are better or we no longer need the Infertility community for support, or that we no longer care about our fellow IF Sisters. You simply start a new journey, on your own and not everyone rides the wave with you, some people get left behind, others follow and swim beside you, and over time, you find yourself without your once tight community. Suddenly, you're a new a mother who has drifted so far from the shores of infertility that you don't know how to find your way back. A year may pass by and you want another child, so you find your way back, but it's different than it was the first time around. You are different... 

I think we need to remind mothers that their stories are still needed long after their babies are born, that they still have a place in the infertility world. Their stories of success after darkness give hope to those who are just starting to suspect they are infertile to those who are still wading though the deep trenches of heartache and uncertainty.  

Mothers are the advocates that the infertility world still needs and we must encourage them to continue to speak.