Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Infertility Update: Why go public with something so private?
If you’ve read my blog lately, you know that I have started being really open about a very personal part of our life. I’m talking about that word that I never thought I would use to describe me, INFERTILITY. Honestly, even a few months ago, I would not have used that word in a description of myself. It wasn’t until Christmas time, when my OBGYN transferred all of my files to an RE and put me under his care, that it really hit me….that word…that ugly word “infertility” now describes me.
While I haven’t put together a post about our entire infertility journey, I have been open, honest and even vulnerable about parts of our journey in recent posts. Some might wonder, “Why be so public about something so private?” I understand why some would ask that question. For awhile, I didn’t think that I would ever talk to anyone about this subject, with the exception of my doctors, my husband and my mother. Infertility is all too common in many women, and many prefer to be silent about their struggles. I completely understand that, because seriously, how do you even bring something like this up with friends, family and acquaintances? I mean, it’s not like we go to church fellowships and say, “So….we’ve been trying to get pregnant….and we haven’t been able to…..and I’ve been going to doctors…..and nothing is helping….and it really sucks.” In fact, if it wasn’t for my blog, I would probably still be silent about our journey.
When I first brought up infertility on my blog (Looking Back on 2012 andLooking Forward to 2013), I was simply giving a brief overview of our year. I brought up infertility, partly because when I looked back on 2012, it was the first thing I thought about. Also in part, because sharing some of my feelings on my blog was like a free therapy session for me. It was around that time that we were told that we would need to try IUI or IVF to get pregnant. I was devastated. Probably the only time that I have ever felt completely defeated throughout this entire journey was on the day that I left that doctor’s appointment. As we entered the Christmas week, I remember telling my husband that I was seriously considering seeking some sort of therapy to help me deal with the constant disappointment and frustration of not being able to get pregnant. When I thought about why I felt like I could benefit from some sort of traditional therapy, it wasn’t because I felt like I needed direction or counsel through our struggle. It was because I really hadn’t talked about our struggle. I really hadn’t said the things that I was feeling out loud. My husband, God bless him, is a very quiet man. He doesn’t always understand my hurt, and that is by no means his fault. He doesn’t know what I’m feeling, because he’s not me. He admits that when I talk or cry about our disappointment each month, he has the tendency to want to make my hurt go away, so he’ll hold me for awhile and then quickly try to change the subject or distract me from my reality. I’m not saying that my husband has not been there for me, because he certainly has. I’m just saying that there is something very comforting about the idea of sitting across from a complete stranger and telling them your story in a very honest and vulnerable way without any interruptions. For me, the few posts that I have written on my blog about this subject have helped me be honest and vulnerable. It’s helped me to express my feelings and deal with what has been put before me. I’m not the most verbose person. I express myself when I write. Writing about our struggle has become my therapy.
If I need to write my feelings down, why not just journal my feelings and keep them to myself? Well, I have surprisingly found that there is also something very therapeutic about making others aware of my situation. There were a few reasons I wanted to bring awareness to others. For one, I didn’t think that I could handle many more people asking me that dreaded question. You know the one I’m talking about. “So when are you and Matt gonna have kids?” I know that it is a common question to ask a couple once they’ve been married for a certain amount of time, but my situation has taught me that it is probably not the best question to ask when getting to know someone. You never know why a couple has or hasn’t started a family, and that question can lead to some awkward conversations that a person may or may not be prepared to talk about. I know that people always ask that question with the best intentions, but there were times that I had to fight back the tears and simply look down and say, “oh, someday hopefully” and then purposefully change the conversation. Since I’ve made our situation known, not one person has asked me that “dreaded question”, and that in itself is a relief.
Other than avoiding awkward moments, I wanted to make people aware of our struggle as we began to pursue the possibility of an IUI, so they would know how to pray for me. I expressed this in the following post: Infertility update: IUI scheduled forFebruary. I believe that prayer is powerful; it does have the power to change. There are numerous people I know who desire to know how to pray for me. How will they know if I don’t tell them? I wasn’t necessarily asking them to pray that we get pregnant. It was more or less requesting that people pray that God gives me the grace to accept the situation He has given us no matter what the outcome.
Lastly, I found that making people aware of our situation had the potential to help others going through the same thing. Whether it is someone that I don’t know contacting me through my blog or someone that I do know reaching out to me in confidence through other forms of communication in my real life, I have learned that there are plenty of others walking a similar journey. A journey that has its ups and downs, full of heartache and can often feel very lonely. Some women have reached out to comfort me and in return have found comfort by simply sharing their story with me. I have found that everyone’s infertility story is different. Whether it is someone who has journeyed through rounds of IUI or IVF without success, or someone who is trying to get pregnant but has been told by doctors to try for a full year before having tests done. I’ve learned that hurt is hurt and frustration is frustration. In all cases, a woman is desperately trying to do what her body was designed to do….get pregnant and sustain a pregnancy…..yet for whatever reason her body is not cooperating. Sharing our stories with one another doesn’t take away the hurt, but it does lessen the loneliness. The very possibility that my few personal blog posts have perhaps lessened the lonliness of others walking through their infertility journey is more than worth being public about mine.
Other than using the blog as my free therapy session, I’ve also decided to blog so that I could educate others about some of the medical aspects of infertility. I have several fertile friends who had no idea how much goes into finding out that someone can’t get pregnant on their own and how much more goes into doctors trying to help get someone pregnant. I find that people are just in general curious about the process once you’ve gone public with it. For example, once we announced that we scheduled our first IUI, I later decided to explain our IUI on my blog (InfertilityUpdate: Explaining an IUI), rather than explaining to thirty different people, thirty different times.
So that pretty much sums it up. I’ve gone public about a private matter to express my feelings and bring a little therapy to myself as we journey through infertility, to encourage others who are walking or have walked similar life journeys and to educate people who have never had to walk this journey. There will be more posts to come on this subject, I’m sure. I’m less than a week away from finding out if our IUI was successful. I know I’m really putting myself out there by sharing the outcome of the procedure on my blog, but I’ve come to accept that it's just a part of my story….a story that I am realizing is mine to embrace and share.