I’m not quite showing yet, but I feel pretty pregnant. When the time comes that it’s a little more obvious what’s going on in my uterus though, I wish it would be appropriate to wear a t-shirt or stamp a temporary tattoo on my head that says “I STRUGGLED TO GET PREGNANT AND YOU CAN ASK ME ABOUT IT.” Because man, there is nothing like getting pregnant via infertility meds to make the infertility stories start crawling out of the woodwork. It would have been nice to hear some of those anecdotes six months ago.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. There are a handful of nonprofit organizations that offer help, counseling, advice, resources, and more for those dealing with infertility. One of those groups, the National Infertility Awareness Foundation chose “Listen Up” as its message for 2017. For the group, this means everything from simply listening to those in your life who are infertile, to learning more about your own reproductive health and how infertility could affect you. I’m extrapolating my own message from this.
Infertility is a touchy subject. The web is filled with blog posts like “12 Things Not to Say to Someone with Infertility” and memes about crazy things “fertile” people will say to those trying to have babies. So it’s understandable that many people know they don’t know what to say. It also makes sense that people have no idea how to deal with it.
So here’s how we fix that: Listen Up. Question your own doctor. Do some Googling (of reputable sites and peer-reviewed journals, for the love of God.) If you have a close friend who’s been down the infertility road and already has bundles-of-joy in hand, take your questions to them. Learn what you can and then take your questions to your friend/child/sibling in the middle of it. Trust me, they will appreciate your investment.
Few things were more comforting to me throughout our whole process than someone with an intelligent question. “Hey, was it Letrozole or Clomid that you tried? I read a study that suggested the two may work differently. If you haven’t tried one, the other may help with ovulation success.” This was an immediate green light for me to speak candidly with this person about my diagnoses, because they’d clearly done their research and understood just how deep into this process we were. Nothing was more annoying than receiving Facebook messages from near-total strangers suggesting we try an ovulation predictor kit when I’d written six blog posts already about how I can’t ovulate. So listen (or read) and then ask.
The point is: Michael and I are not infertility graduates yet, but we’re on our way and hoping to get there soon. I hope that just once in the next few months, my gigantic babygut can be a light at the end of the infertility tunnel for other women – and maybe we can even chat about her path. It doesn’t have to be a battle people take on on their own. If you’re going through it, you’ve got to take the first step and open up. After that, friends and family have to be sensitive and educated when they ask questions.