National Infertility Awareness Week 2017
Last week was National Infertility Awareness Week in the USA. I’m Canadian, so technically it doesn’t apply to me. But, I have always provided my voice to this movement because I’m pretty sure no-one cares about my geographical location when it comes to infertility awareness and advocacy.
I planned to write something last week, then Friday rolled around and I still hadn’t really found my words. So, please accept this post a few days late.
This year’s NIAW theme is Listen Up! I think I’ve struggled with this topic because essentially no matter how often I’ve voiced my experience of recurrent pregnancy loss in real life, it feels as though no-one has truly listened. Instead, we were constantly told things like:
Just relax, it’ll happen.
At least you know you can get pregnant.
Stress can cause miscarriage, you need to de-stress your life.
Have you tried pineapples and pomegranates? They are great for pregnancy.
I cannot count the times I’ve told people that relaxing doesn’t help, and stress doesn’t cause baby loss. In fact, after our fourth loss I quit my high stress professional job to try one more time “stress-free” and in a “relaxing” state. Guess what, we still went on to lose our 5th pregnancy. To chalk baby-loss and infertility up to things like relaxing, stress and consuming pineapples is nothing short of infuriating. And as someone who has adopted, I also feel the need to state that that adoption simply is not a cure for infertility/baby-loss or take away the years of pain and suffering.
In fact, I have medical reports from a highly respected Doctor who specializes in recurrent pregnancy loss to prove the likely cause of our losses, and we know without a doubt that our losses are due to a medical condition within my body. No, I don’t have to explain this to everyone I meet, just as no-one with any other medical condition has to explain their medical reports to everyone they meet in life. And, honestly, I prefer not to explain to everyone that my body has killed 5 babies, it’s not a fun thing to discuss. But people do need to understand and respect this illness for exactly what it is, a medical condition.
Infertility is a life long medical condition. Just like stroke, heart conditions, diabetes, etc. And leading a healthy lifestyle is important for all medical ailments, but no amount of pineapples is going to cure pregnancy loss. Just like no amount of kale is going to fix a heart condition.
I guess, if I had one thing to say today, it’s be respectful of infertility as a medical condition. If you are talking to someone who has experienced infertility don’t pry for details and also don’t offer half-hearted advice. Instead, admit you don’t know that much about what they are going through, but you’d like to learn so that you can be supportive. Offer a listening ear whenever they need it. And if someone is going through a miscarriage, ask them how you can help but only if you really mean it – simple things make all the difference because miscarriages can take weeks and are all consuming. Offer to take their dog for a walk, bring over a fresh cooked meal, send flowers to let them know you care, and let them talk even if what they say is hard to hear (remember as hard is it is for you to hear their story, they are actually living it day in and day out).
The friends who stood by us and showed us patience through our losses will always have a special place in our hearts. So, if you can, be that person for your friends.
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