Infertility Awareness Week

Megan Tansom | April 24, 2019

It is National Infertility Awareness Week this week. The purpose of this movement is to increase awareness of infertility which affects 1 out of every 8 couples. 1 in 8! Infertility is usually defined as a couple that has been trying for at least a year without achieving pregnancy. 1 in 8 of your friends struggles with this! Not a lot of people talk about it. Infertility is a long, miserable, lonely and sometimes heartbreaking experience. You don’t have to go through it alone. 

I started my journal last week because I want people to know our story from when I was really in it. It was the hardest thing in my life to go through at the time and I feel like I have forgotten how painful that time really was. I always tried to stay positive and be happy for everyone around me who were growing their families – but that too is SO HARD. I was truly happy for my friends but at the same time sad for us – and I think that is totally ok. I didn’t wish this on anyone and was so glad they didn’t have issues but couldn’t help thinking, “Why me?” 

I know not everyone will be open about their struggles but having someone to talk to that can relate to what you are going through is so helpful. We started sharing our infertility journey with people and I met just a few of the 1 in 8ers going through this with me… or that came out the other side with one (or two!) babies. They were my tribe sending me inspirational quotes or just a quick text of understanding after a procedure or a “you are not pregnant” test result. I also had amazing friends and family that maybe didn’t quite understand from a personal side, but who listened and let me talk, let me cry, drank wine with me, sent me flowers, or just let me be. 

So basically what I am saying is, infertility sucks but sadly is so common. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Talk with those around you. FIND a tribe. Explain to your friends how you are feeling. People that love you will understand or at least try to. You will go crazy trying to keep it to yourself or just between you and your spouse (stories for another time here!). 

I believe Infertility Awareness Week is for those struggling to get pregnant to realize they are not alone but ALSO (and maybe more importantly) for those who may not have these same struggles to just be aware that 1 in 8 of your friends may have not had such an easy time. Questions of “when are you going to have a baby?” or “you have been married a while now, no baby yet?” can be extremely heartbreaking for those going through this struggle silently. Just be aware that you may not know everyone’s story.

On my Instagram last week (@megtansom) I asked what topics would you like to hear from me on infertility/IVF. I got a number of responses/questions and want to answer two of them that relate to infertility awareness. Just remember that I answer these based on my own experience and opinions. I know others going through this may not feel the same:

Was there anything others did or said that you found encouraging? / How you were able to still be happy for your friends and what they could do to help the situation?

I have amazing friends and family you guys. When I talked about our situation, they were there to listen. I think that is the most important thing – listening. Sometimes questions can’t be answered in this situation and your friend may just want to vent – to yell, cry, or just be sad. I had some friends that would ask questions just out of pure curiosity and also genuinely wanted to understand. I was very open about our experience, as you know, so I was happy to explain as much as I knew. Try not to relate if you actually cannot relate – just be there. If someone going through this takes a step back from you and your friends, know they will come back when they are mentally capable. I remember leaving a baby shower early just because I needed a minute. I was overwhelmed by the number of pregnant women there and felt like I couldn’t breathe. There was nothing anyone said or did, I just needed some space. Just ask what your friend needs from you and hopefully they will be honest and allow you to be there for them.

If you had an easy time getting pregnant, don’t feel bad about that either. Your friend is NOT actually mad at you and your healthy reproductive system. It may be hard for them to see their friends getting pregnant, but as I said before, they are not sad/mad at you – they are sad for themselves. I had a girlfriend who told me she was pregnent with her first child and was almost ashamed about it. She downplayed it like it wasn’t the most exciting thing to happen in her life, which I knew it was!  I felt terrible she felt like this is how she should tell me since she felt bad about my situation. I never would want anyone to feel bad about getting pregnant just because I had trouble. I was thinking YEY YOU! I am SO HAPPY you didn’t have to go through the saga that I am in. Again, I was sad for me but overjoyed for her, truly. I know others who have struggled and put out a temporary “I hate everyone who is pregnant or that has kids” vibe. What they are going through is emotional and hard. Tell them you are there to listen and let them have their space if that is what they need. They will be back… and hopefully it will be for pregnancy and motherly advice when the time comes. They will need you!

I have never been a person that needed to be showered with gifts but a well-timed “hope” necklace showed up in my mailbox that made me break down in tears. It was just so nice to know my friend was thinking of me and praying for my future babies as well, reminding me to keep faith and hope. I received a few bouquets of flowers on certain IVF dates just saying “I love you” or “hoping and praying for you” during our egg retrieval and transfer. Again, just nice someone else was hoping right alongside us.

If all else fails, an “I am here for you whenever you need me” text or conversation can speak volumes. Hopefully they will take you up on it like I did with many of my girlfriends. It takes a village people.

Let others pray and hope for you, your spouse, and your future babies. Every little bit helps.

I am terribly sorry if you are 1 in 8 and in the thick of it right now. I am hoping your infertility journey ends soon with whatever happy ending you are praying for.

Next week I will continue to share Part 2 of my infertility journal and I am also working on some more twin related posts. Sign up for my blog update emails below to follow along.

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