Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guest Post from Aislinn: National Infertility Awareness Week

It is National Infertility Awareness Week, and I am hosting a guest blogger today. Aislinn from Baby Makin' and I got connected through my friend Lauren at Our Crazy Ever After. If you go to Lauren's blog there will be a linkup of all the guest posts she set up for this week. Thanks to Lauren for the idea, and to Aislinn for the guest post.

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, established in 1974, is a non-profit organization with the only established, nationwide network mandated to promote reproductive health and to ensure equal access to all family building options for men and women experiencing infertility or other reproductive disorders. RESOLVE founded the National Infertility Awareness Week in 1989.
RESOLVE improves the lives of women and men living with infertility. 

One in eight U.S. couples of childbearing age is diagnosed with infertility. RESOLVE addresses this public health issue by providing community to these women and men, connecting them with others who can help, empowering them to find resolution and giving voice to their demands for access to all family building options.

Now, without further ado, Aislinn:

When I saw the call for infertility bloggers to write about their struggles during National Infertility Awareness Week, I jumped on the chance. After I submitted my comment, however, I sat back and wondered to myself, "what am I going to write about?" My writer's block wasn't due to the fact that our journey was so long that it would take forever to explain, or too emotional that it's hard to talk about; in fact, as funny as it sounds, I like talking about our infertility journey.
What was holding me up, is that after a year and a half of trying, I'm finally pregnant. In fact, I'm 6 months along with a healthy baby boy.
I was afraid that since I am "on the other side," my story wouldn't be as compelling, as emotional, or informational as other women who have been fighting for years with no success. But then I thought about this year's NIAW theme, "Resolve to know more," and made my goal to make information about infertility more available.
Even if our journey only took a year and a half, and we only had to use ovulation medications, our journey was still long and emotional, but most of all, it was educational. As strange as it sounds, I'm thankful for our infertility. Would I wish it on my most hated enemy? No. Never in a million years do I ever wish for someone to go through the roller coaster of infertility. I am, however, thankful for the information I've gained about my body, the pride I have when I know I've advocated for myself with my doctors, and the confidence I have in my knowledge of infertility.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone, but women especially, to have knowledge about their bodies. When I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome,) I spent hours researching, reading books and blogs, getting my hands on any information I could.
Things I thought I knew from my grade school sex education class were quickly thrown out the window. Did you know that a woman's egg is available for fertilization for only 24-48 hours? Or that your hormones fluctuate throughout the month, and if one of your hormones is out of whack, it can make pregnancy pretty much impossible? The more I read, the more I was surprised at how the human population survived with all of the things that could go wrong.
Throughout our journey, I started piping up when friends quoted wrong information, and I came out publicly on Facebook about our journey. I was hoping that I could spread some of the knowledge that I had gained to other women so that they didn't have to go through the journey we did, or at the very least, it would be a shorter one.
As part of the "Resolve to know more..." theme, and subsequently my "resolve to teach more..." hopes, here are a few things that most people do not know about infertility: 

1. Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age. If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse. (Information taken from here.) 

2.  Infertility is a medical problem. Approximately 30% of infertility is due to a female factor and 30% is due to a male factor. In the balance of the cases, infertility results from problems in both partners or the cause of the infertility cannot be explained. (Information taken from here.) 

3. Infertility will affect 1 in 8 couples. That means you, or someone you know, will likely battle with infertility. 

4. People struggling with infertility want your support, not your advice. If they have been struggling for any length of time, they've heard standing on your head after sex will get you knocked up (and have probably tried it). They have also heard enough stories of your mother's friend's hairdresser getting pregnant after trying X, Y or Z. What they really want to hear is "I'm here for you," "Is there anything I can do to help?" and "I'm here if you need to vent, need a hug, or need a really strong drink." 

5. Many women going through infertility have a hard time attending baby related events. There's a common term used in the IF community of "depressed happiness," when you hear of another pregnancy, or get another shower invitation. It's a strange emotion of feeling absolutely elated for your friend/relative, while feeling like it's never going to happen for you. Many women find baby showers a stab to the heart, and while they want to be there to support you, they cannot handle hours of cooing over tiny baby clothes and warding off questions of "when will it be your turn?"
If your friend politely declines your baby themed event, please don't be upset with her. Unless you are aware of her treatments, you never know if she's just had yet another failed cycle, a miscarriage, or the blow of learning she'll need IVF just to have the chance to conceive. She may send a present through the mail, with another attendee, or want to celebrate privately with you. While it is your chance to celebrate, be aware of her emotions. 

6. Infertility is expensive. My husband and I were lucky to "only" need ovulation medications to conceive which are on the low end of the price scale. We were also lucky to have many of our ultrasounds and blood work covered by insurance, but not everyone has that luxury. I have heard so many stories of women taking out loans, emptying their savings, or borrowing from relatives just to have the chance to conceive. Remember, treatments are not a cure for infertility. Treatments are just the way to give the couple their best chance of conceiving. Success rates depend on so many things (age, diagnosis, etc.) but typically IVF only has a 50-60% chance of working.

7. There are ways for you to help. You can write letters to your government, asking for mandated infertility coverage in your state. If you know your friend is struggling with paying for treatments, approach her about the possibility of having a fundraiser. (Note: please approach her before doing any sort of public fundraiser. Some women are very private about their journeys and do not want their community to know.) If you know she's just had a failed cycle, take her out for a drink, or to a movie, something to get her mind off of her loss. Purchase gifts from Etsy shops that are raising funds for treatments (So Damn Charming is an example.) And, as always, let her know that you're there for her in whatever way she needs you to be.

Aislinn is a Missouri girl living in Mississippi due to her husband's job. She works in an art gallery, and has two cats, Mika and Carbon.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jennifer. I am so touched by this blogging community, and also by the brave ladies willing to share their infertility journey. And I have to apologize because I haven't been following your blog since I transitioned over to Bloglovin. Changing that right now. :)

  2. Great post - and when I got pregnant and we had our first child, I wondered if I was too much of an outsider to represent the infertility community - but we're not. In a lot of ways, we might be able to talk about the experience in more depth, or more openly, since we aren't in the midst of the emotional and physical drain the process produces.