April 24th-30th is National Infertility Awareness week. If you have suffered from, are suffering with, or know someone who is going through it now, let them know you are there for them and just listen to them. Don't give them ideas on how they can fix the problem. You'll only cause more hurt. Just be there for them, pray for them, and if they want to talk, they'll talk, but if they don't, that's okay too.
We are one of the millions of couples who are suffering through infertility. We don't share this with many people, because although they mean well, they cut us deep when they try to give us unwanted advice, some have even been family members. Some don't think we are trying very hard. Many of these very "helpful people" have no clue what it is like to walk in our shoes. We have been married now for 13 years. We have been TTC or "trying to conceive" for 11 of those years. It gets very lonely at times, even though we have each other, seeing families enjoy each other, major holidays filled with family get-togethers, and every time friends and family members celebrate the birth of a new baby. Some people even "suggest" we take their kids home for a week and then ask ourselves if we really want kids. "Ouch"! Below I've gathered a bunch of information from the web with links to some great sites. This post may be long, but so is the journey.
This was written by a fellow member of Hannah's Hope Prayer Ministries, Karen Gory. It so well written that I've left it intact. I couldn't have written this any better myself.
April is Infertility Awareness month. You may have seen one of the cutesy messages floating around on Facebook, implying that infertility is a temporary condition, and that we will all get our happy-ever-after if we wait patiently for long enough, either though IVF or adoption or a miracle of God. The facts aren't anything like that, but Facebook messages rarely traffic in fact. ~ Karen Gory, April 17 2011
Infertility is a silent disease. You can't look at us and see at a glance that we're any different from our neighbors. But we are.
We are the women who cannot have children. There are far more of us than you might think. One out of six couples will deal with infertility. For every unplanned pregnancy in the world, there is another woman who will not be able to conceive without expensive medical assistance, if at all. There are women who have always known about their health issues; there are women who never even imagined it could be them; there are women who were able to bear one child, but never became pregnant again; there are women who have had 10, 12, 20 miscarriages in a row; women who have drained their bank balances in pursuit of advanced medical treatments, and women who have never conceived at all.
Infertility isn't just a woman's problem - 30% of infertility is male-factor, and another 30% of couples have a joint issue, so it's split evenly down the middle. But it's the woman who will have an empty womb for the rest of her life, who will never know what breast-feeding feels like, who will never have a dramatic birth story to share in the coffee circle when the conversation inevitably comes around to what it was like 'for you'. What it's really like for us isn't something that's easy to talk about past the initial 'we can't have children'. It's one of the great conversation-stoppers of the world, about on a par with 'I have cancer' or 'my mother was an axe-murderer'.
So what does it really mean? It is a grief that strikes when you least expect it. For some, it's a monthly punch in the gut. For others of us, it's just a hidden emptiness, a wound long healed over until something pries the scab off and brings it back again anew. It means never holding a new life in your arms and knowing it will grow up with your eyes. It means never eagerly shopping eagerly for a layette... or if you already did, then it means the anguish of an empty room and a closed door, and the final grief of packing it all away and giving it to someone who will actually be able to use it. It means putting down your book or turning off the movie five minutes before the end, because Hollywood's idea of a happy ever after ALWAYS includes 2.5 children and a dog. It means that baby showers and Mother's Day celebrations will forever be for other people and not for you. And sometimes you won't be able to face another room (or church) full of happy smiling people for a million dollars.
But as great a grief as it is to know that we are infertile, it is not the end of the world. The number of children you have (or don't have) is not a measure of how much you matter. Sure it hurts. Sometimes it hurts so much I want to hide under the covers and never come out again. Sometimes I want to yell at the top of my lungs that it's NOT FAIR!!!! Wouldn't my husband be a good father? Wouldn't I be a good mother? Don't we have all the love in the world to give a child? Sure we do... but it's not going to make a difference to the outcome for us. And being angry and bitter about it won't change anything, or make my life any better. It'll just keep me from seeing the blessings that God has bestowed on me.
Life is precious. ALL life. Whether you have no children or sixteen makes no difference in the long run. You are just as precious and valuable to God as the next person. God doesn't want us to spend our lives in misery. We are doing it to ourselves. The longer you hang onto the old griefs, the worse they become. Let them go... let your tears wash away the anger and the pain and the guilt and the fear for good... feel God's loving arms around you. He loves you just the way you are. You are perfect in His sight.
We are all on a journey together. And there is something that He wants to use you for just the way you are... ~ Karen Gory, April 17 2011
Infertility is a heart-wrenching, faith-questioning, relationship-testing, life-altering experience. April is Infertility Awareness Month. Whether a friend, a family member, a colleague or yourself has fought through this difficult fate that MILLIONS of women are fighting day in and day out...post this as your status if you or someone you know has walked to hell and back for the chance to be a MOM.
Here is some information from their site:
Myths About Infertility Diagnosis
by Alice D. Domar, Ph.D.
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health
Myth: If you just relax, you will get pregnant.
Busted!: If only it were that easy! The fact is, the vast majority of individuals who have infertility have a medical reason, not a stress-related one. Upwards of 90% of all infertility cases are caused by physical problems. In the female partner, the major causes of infertility are absent or irregular ovulation, blocked fallopian tubes, abnormalities in the uterus, and endometriosis (a chronic painful condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus migrates into the pelvis and attaches to the reproductive organs). The male partner can have issues with sperm production which can lead to too few sperm, sperm which can’t swim correctly, and abnormally shaped sperm.
More Myths – Busted!
Where the stress/infertility connection may come in tends to be after one has been trying for a while, and the stress of not conceiving easily may then contribute to the problem. But there has never been a study which shows that simply relaxing increases pregnancy rates. Research does show that infertility patients who learn and practice a wide variety of stress reduction techniques can have higher pregnancy rates than patients who don’t learn those techniques.
Myth: You waited too long to have kids.
Busted!: While it is true that fertility decreases with age, youth does not guarantee fertility. Many men and women in their 20’s have infertility. And women in their early 40’s can get pregnant and deliver healthy babies. However, if you know that you want to have children, the earlier you try, the less likely it is that you will have trouble.
Myth: It’s the woman’s fault.
Busted!: Sometimes the fertility diagnosis lies with the woman, but it is just as likely to be an issue with her male partner. In order for a man to be fertile, he needs to have enough sperm (count or concentration), they need to be able to swim properly (motility) and they need to have normal shapes (morphology). Other contributory causes can be erectile dysfunction or lack of libido.
Myth: Something you did caused your infertility (you are too fit, too fat, ate the wrong food, had a STD…).
Busted!: There are few lifestyle factors which permanently impact fertility. Smoking can be one of them, but many people have stopped smoking and been able to conceive within months. Obesity, and being underweight, are both associated with an increased risk of infertility, but losing or gaining weight can relatively quickly bring you back to the fertile zone. Eating unhealthy food can put you at risk for diseases such as heart disease and cancer, but switching to a more healthful diet- focusing on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy products are associated not only with a lower risk of disease but may increase one’s chance of ovulating normally. Once again, if you know that you want to have children, it is indeed a good idea to look at your health habits and if you have any which might hamper fertility, such as smoking, excess alcohol intake, being over or underweight, extremely vigorous exercise habits, or a big caffeine habit, adapting healthier habits can decrease your risk of experiencing infertility.
Myth: Infertility isn’t a disease.
Busted!: Yes, it is. According to the dictionary, a disease is a “disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body”. Infertility in either the male or female partner is in fact directly due to some malfunction in the body, whether it be hormonal or structural.
Here is a touching video:
(Keep the Kleenex nearby)
(Keep the Kleenex nearby)
Helping a Loved One with Infertility
• Unless you are a very close friend, don’t ask specifics such as, “What day do you have the pregnancy test?,” or “What day will you do the artificial insemination?” Simply saying, “I’m praying for you,” “We’re thinking of you,” or “Please let us know if there’s anything we can do,” are all appropriate ways to show your interest without putting her on the spot.
• If possible, do not surprise her by making a big announcement that you’re pregnant. While it is appropriate for you to be excited and want to share your news in a big way, consider telling her privately first and letting her know when you plan to share your news.
• Do not ask her any questions about infertility around other people.
• The childless couple may feel “out of place” at child-centered family events like family vacations, Easter egg hunts, children’s birthday parties, etc. Absolutely invite them, but don’t make them explain why they declined the invitation.
• Offering to ride with her or drive her to appointments would be appreciated. People often have to drive over an hour to the nearest infertility clinic.
• If you say something to her and think later that maybe you shouldn’t have said it, call her and apologize. It will mean al lot to her.
• Definitely invite her to baby showers and let her know when a baby has been born, but don’t expect her to attend those events. Besides feeling very uncomfortable herself, she may feel that her presence will make others uncomfortable.
• Sometimes a woman going through infertility will not want to talk about it. But she still needs to know people care. Calling and leaving a message saying, “I hope you’re doing OK. We love you and are praying for you. Call if you want to talk,” is very considerate because there’s no pressure for her to call back yet she knows she hasn’t been forgotten.
• Sending “Thinking of You” cards are nice. Here is an example of a note: “I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking about you and praying today and especially over the next three weeks. As I was thinking of you this verse kept coming to my mind and I think it is meant for you. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope an a future!” Jeremiah 29:11. God’s plan is to give you hope and not harm. Know that you are loved and cared for deeply!
• Acknowledging that Christmas and Mother’s Day are difficult days is appreciated - but this is a tricky one. An example follows: at a family Christmas, my sister-in-law privately walked over to me and handed me a gift bag. It contained a children’s book with a written note on the inside cover: “This is a bedtime favorite of our girls. We hope it will be for your little one very soon! We love you and keep your baby-to-be in our prayers!” It meant so much that she took such a bold step to acknowledge our pain, but did it very privately so we were not put on the spot. She realized that while everyone else was happy and excited, we were struggling.
• There are lots of books on infertility and miscarriage that can be helpful. Buying one and mailing it, along with a simple note, to someone you love who is experiencing infertility would be a very nice gesture.
• If you know she has just had a negative pregnancy test or is having an especially difficult time, sending flowers with a note saying, “We love you, “or “We’re thinking of you,” is always a good idea.
Things to Avoid Saying:
• “Just don’t think about it so much and it’ll happen.”
• “You’re lucky. We would love to have some time without our kids!”
• “If you wouldn’t get so stressed out about it, maybe...”
• “I know exactly how you feel, it took us two months to conceive.”
• “You can have a couple of my kids!”
• “I’m having another boy. I was hoping for a girl.”
• “This was an accident. I didn’t want to be pregnant in the summertime.”
• “I can just lay in the same bed with my husband and get pregnant!”
• “Maybe God doesn’t want you to have children for some reason.”
• “Do you just not want kids?”
• “Have you tried....”
• “You’re Lucky, you don’t have to take the pill.”
• “How much does it cost to do......(in-vitro, artificial insemination, etc.)”