Tuesday, April 24, 2012
NIAW: Don't Ignore....Yourself.
April 22-28 is National Infertility Awareness Week.
When I sat down to write to this year's theme of "Don't ignore..." I struggled a bit. What should I say? What (or who) is being ignored? The more I thought, the more I realized that I've been ignoring myself.
As any woman who knows this journey will tell you, it's not easy. Infertility is like carrying a brick in your pocket. Sometimes, it feels like it's pulling you down. It's painful and feels too heavy to bear. Other times, you forget it's there and become accustomed to the weight. But, it's always there.
I go back and forth quite a bit with how I feel about infertility. More than anything, I'm constantly testing the limits of worth; it is worth it to make this person feel terrible for the awful thing they just said? Or, is it more worthwhile to remind myself I cannot persecute people who do not know the details of my situation?
I thought about this last week when I ran into a former boss. I worked for this woman for two years and she cannot remember my name so she typically calls me Hannah, my maiden name. This is extremely irritating. Then, this happened:
"Hello, Hannah! So good to see you. You know, I was just wondering the other day whether you've had a baby yet."
My first instinct was to poke her in the eye. My second instinct was to tell her for the millionth time that my name is EMILY for God's sake and she needs to find a hobby instead of thinking about my uterus in her free time.
But, I didn't. I made a joke about having two dogs instead of children and waited for her to leave. I've regretted not thinking about myself in that moment ever since. My role is to be an advocate for myself--to show and tell people how I wish to be treated. On my terms. In my way. And when I brush aside how I actually feel, I'm doing myself a grave disservice. I am ignoring my heart.
Like anything else, it's not pleasant to feel those ugly feelings. Jealously. Rage. Anger. Bitterness. We know how those things feel, but all to often we push them down because they cannot fit inside a neat, tidy (and socially acceptable) box of emotions. I still feel those things, but I refuse to let them rule my life.
Undoubtedly, it's a thin line between living a life full of rage and anger and letting people walk all over your heart. In my life, telling people my personal truth is the most important thing I will ever do. Thinking of myself---not ingoring myself--means standing up for every other woman who is afraid to tell her story. I wear my story (and my heart) on my sleeve.
We cannot have children. We will probably never have children. We have tried everything. Nothing worked. I still believe in miracles. I am not angry anymore. I know there are women out there with my same diagnosis who have had children. I know there are men out there with my husband's diagnosis who have had children. I cannot (and will not) spend every month of my life, however, believing that this is the month things change. I live my life accepting it will never happen because that's the only way I know how to be happy again. Maybe it will--maybe it won't--but my heart needs a break from living on the edge of hopefulness. I have moved on. I am happier and more peaceful in my acceptance than I ever was in my deepest disappointment and hope.
There are an overwhelming number of expectations for a woman like me: twenty-eight years old, healthy, and happily married for nearly 5 years. It stings every time someone uses the word "yet" in regards to my fertility. As if I have been idly sitting around, wasting the most fertile years of my life because I'm too preoccupied with being a horrendous human being to be bothered by having children with my husband.
The course of your life cannot be predicted. Curveballs? They will be thrown at you. The way you choose to react to and move on from the devastating events in your life is the single greatest act in shaping your life on this planet. It's about paying attention to your personal truth and following your heart instead of worrying what others might think of your choices. It's about paying attention to your heart.
I didn't choose infertility. Neither did my husband. But, it's our reality. And I will use every breath in my body to tell people what this life is like, never ignoring how I really feel.
We chose to move on.
Then, we chose adoption.
Then, we chose to wait until we were ready.
It doesn't always make sense to the rest of the world, but that's not the point. We are survivors. And if you want to know what that means, read this post.
For more information about infertility: http://www.resolve.org/infertility101
About NIAW: http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html