Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Busting an Infertility Myth: There is a simple solution to your complex problem

{My list of baby names.}
 When I reveal to people that my husband and I are struggling with infertility, I instinctively clench my fists. As my knuckles turn white, my hands turn a shade of purple and my fingernails dig deeply into my own flesh, I realize something: I'm bracing my body for an impact. It's like that moment when you realize, with both hands gripped tightly on the wheel, that no matter what you do next you are heading for a head-on collision. You are going to be hit, so you might as well brace your already battered and broken body for the accident that lies ahead.

I'm not driving a car or operating machinery. I'm just trying to survive a conversation that I instinctively know will end with the deployment of my airbags. I can only hope that I'll escape with a few cuts and bruises instead of a concussion. It's really the hardest thing, as an infertile woman, I will ever do--tell my story. It's scary. It's heartbreaking. But more than anything, it opens up a place inside of me that I aggressively protect from the outside world. I may not be a mother, but I'm as protective as a momma bear when it comes to my fragile heart.

When the topic of children arises, I am wearing a blindfold. I listen and wait in the dark for the words to come tumbling from the mouths of those around me. Will they make a suggestion? Will they tell a story about their friend's sister's cousin who got  pregnant on her honeymoon by drinking mango juice and eating sand? I don't know what to expect and I can't anticipate from which direction the impact is arriving. So, I just brace myself for the blows instead.

More than anything, suggestions come from a good place. People have good intentions. They want to hear your story and they want to feel like they can help you in some way to achieve your dream or create a miracle. However, it's never that simple. A family member once suggested that I allow his friend to touch my shoulder, as this same friend touched his wife's shoulder once after a miscarriage and she went on to have four children. This was a serious suggestion.

What people don't realize is this: it's never simple. It's not just one thing--it's a lot of things. Chances are the person who is infertile isn't that way because they aren't trying the right things; it's because they have a serious medical condition or problem that prevents them from conceiving a child or even carrying a child to full term. They have tried everything--and I mean everything--for at least 12 months and nothing has worked. It's a medical problem, not a I-just-forgot-to-put-a-pillow-under-my-butt-after-intercourse issue. They have tried everything, they have explored all avenues and they did visit every doctor and taken every test and consumed every pineapple core they could find. And nothing worked.

For my husband and I, it truly is not a simple problem with a short and sweet conclusion. We visited doctors. We pulled down our pants. We were shot with blue dye. We were x-rayed, groped and analyzed thoroughly. We took medication. We prayed. We wore boxer shorts. We stopped riding our bikes. We cut back on our running. We had surgery--with another scheduled for next week. We paid medical bills. We relaxed. We enjoyed ourselves. We got angry. We cried. We tried to find someone to blame. After trying everything, we are right back to where we started: childless and dreaming.

You probably know someone who is infertile. One in eight people struggle with infertility, so you're bound to have someone in your life who is currently in the throes of that same struggle. You likely know someone who struggled with their fertility and was able to conceive. You've probably heard my favorite story: the couple who gave up after years of trying to conceive and decided to adopt. Then, as the adoption was finalized they became pregnant in the most miraculous of ways. It's an amazing story, I won't deny that. But as someone who has decided to adopt, I feel that same familiar pain whenever I hear that story: what about the couple that adopted and never conceived? Who's telling their story? Giving up the dream, letting it go or relaxing is not how we, as women, conceive children.

When people suggest a miracle or tell me a story about someone they know who experienced our same struggles and went on to have children, I say this: That is an amazing story and an incredible miracle. However, I believe in a different miracle. I believe it's a miracle to survive an ordeal that tests every shred of your being---your marriage, your heart and most importantly, your faith. I sincerely believe that a miracle will happen for us someday, but I have let that type of miracle go. The heartbreak of month after month of a lacking miracle is enough to break even the strongest of faith and I can only believe in miracles by letting my miracle go. There is a miracle out there for me and my husband; I don't know what it looks like and I can't call it by name, but it's just waiting for us to arrive. That's my kind of miracle.

This post is a submission for the Bust a Infertility Myth Blog Challenge, through RESOLVE.

April 24-30 is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). For more information about infertility visit RESOLVE.

Want to here more about my story? Here are some related blog posts:

My Infertility Confession

On our decision to adopt

On trying to let go

Allowing the experience to change me

How choosing to adopt has changed us

It's not what you do

On being brave

The Weight

1 comment:

Christina said...

Honestly, people that haven't gone through something like this don't understand. I agree that they have the best of intentions but on some level I wish they would keep their suggestions to themselves. I hope you get your miracle whatever it may be!


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