Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NIAW Don't Ignore Each Other

There is so much educating and activism happening during National Infertility Awareness Week aimed at making sure the voices of the infertility community are heard by those who have not experienced our struggles and that our concerns are not ignored. While this is a very important part of NIAW, it is also a good time for us to take time to reflect on the infertility community as a whole and be sure we are not ignoring any part of it. 

The online infertility community has grown by leaps and bounds since I stumbled upon it nearly three years ago, and with that growth a certain amount of mainstreaming seems to have happened. I am not saying anything against the "traditional" IFer, I myself fall into that category in many instances, but with this year's NIAW theme "don't ignore", I think it is a good opportunity to not only raise awareness within the general public, but among ourselves as well. I have too often heard from IFers who feel left out because their current circumstances don't look like everyone else's. So here some things that both the world around us and the infertility community itself should not ignore:
  • Don't ignore that going through IVF, IUI or any form of ART is not what defines infertility. These are methods of attempting to resolve infertility, not the disease itself. Many people will find resolutions without ART but that doesn't make them any less infertile.
  • Don't ignore that infertility resolutions are not one size fits all and not every path is for everyone. Likewise, just because there are choices that aren't right for you doesn't mean that it's not the best option for someone else in their journey.
  • Don't ignore that choosing adoption is not an indication of "failure" at biological conception. It is a choice that everyone makes for many different reasons and due to their own unique circumstances.
  • Don't ignore that choosing to live child-free is just as valid a resolution to infertility as any other and not a worst-case scenario or last resort. Our child-free sisters and brothers are a vital part of this community.
  • Don't ignore that secondary infertility is real and it hurts. Having a baby easily the first time does not change that.
  • Don't ignore that becoming a parent is not a cure for infertility. Most infertility survivors still struggle with their journey and will face the same as well as new struggles if they choose to attempt to have another child.
  • Don't ignore that the ability to get pregnant doesn't mean someone is fertile. Losing a child or a pregnancy leaves people with the devastating hurt of infertility in addition to the loss of their child. 
  • Don't ignore the many men struggling with infertility that need our support too.
  • Don't ignore that non-traditional parents face infertility just like every other group and being young, straight or married does not make anyone more deserving of our support than anyone else.
  • Don't ignore that the pain of infertility is not a contest. There is no winner for who has been trying longer, who has done more cycles or who has spent more money. We have all been through our own version of hell and we should all be here to support each other regardless of the differences in our experiences and outcomes. 
I know that I am preaching to the choir for the most part, but I still think it is worth taking the time to remind ourselves of these things. It is only natural and expected that we gravitate toward people who's journeys look more like ours, people that can we can relate to and share with when discussing IVF protocols or adoption agencies, but that doesn't mean we don't still have something valuable to offer those whose stories are different from ours and that they don't still want our love and support.

For more information of Infertility and National Infertility Awareness Week visit


missohkay said...

Great points. I needed to be reminded of the top few myself - thanks :)

SRB said...

Excellent points! And very much needed this year.

Thank you for reminding us that as we widen the circle, we must not forget to hold hands (both new and old) just as tightly.

Courtney said...

This is a wonderful post! I can see myself coming back to this when we ramp up TTC #2 this summer. It's a great reminder of how to treat one another, and ourselves!

Beckie's Infertile said...

Great post! It is so easy to compare and judge one another. I have been blessed by this community and it is important to extend the love to everyone!

BTW Snow Pea is adorable!

Three Cats and a Baby said...

Great post, Holly!

sweetone624 said...

Wonderful Post :)


Jess said...

Fabulous post--I want to forward it to a group I used to be a part of. (So many times people would write in email that so-and-so "didn't belong" on the list because they "weren't infertile enough" -- it hurt my heart and I went to bat for one woman in particular who was a RPL person and was downright slammed behind her back. Not cool.) Thanks for honestly sharing the not-so-pretty side of the IF community and inspiring better attitudes, inside and out!

Jessah @ Dreaming of Dimples said...

Congrats on your Hope award. Great post!

Tippy said...

This is a great post!! So many great point here that should help us all better support each other. Congrats on your nomination! I'm honored to be nominated with you.