National Infertility Awareness Week
For the past few years I’ve had the honor of sharing my heart with others as we’ve journeyed through infertility. Not only is it something I’m comfortable sharing with anyone willing to listen in person, I’ve also had an outlet on Twin Cities Moms Collective. I love connecting with others who find themselves in my same shoes, either as a fellow sufferer of infertility or someone wanting to know how to best help a loved one going through it.
This upcoming week is National Infertility Awareness Week. I’ll admit it: it’s harder and harder for me to come up with new topics for this week. There is usually a theme each year, but there are only so many ways you can bring awareness to a cause without becoming redundant. But alas, here we are; another week to honor those who have been through or are going through infertility. And another year to educate those who want to better love those who are. Despite the themes each year, my one goal has always been to connect others. To provide support. To offer resources.
National Infertility Awareness Week is a movement that began in 1989, with the goal to raise awareness about infertility and educate the public to have a better understanding of their reproductive health. In 2010, it became a federally recognized health observance by the Department of Health and Human Services.
One in eight find themselves unable to grow their family without the aid of medical intervention or adoption. If not you, then it’s likely someone you know struggling to conceive. Infertility sufferers often feel isolated and alone when walking this path. I remember feeling completely out of touch with several dear friends when we first got diagnosed. At no fault to anyone, our lives went in polar opposite directions. They went on to have babies. My husband and I did not. I needed to find others who could relate to me, and I beat the internet pavement in search of like-minded people.
I struck gold.
I already had a blog when we were diagnosed with infertility, but I found myself shifting from writing about silly, generic newlywed life to deeper topics like affording the high cost of infertility treatments and adoption, my antral follicle count and my husband’s sperm counts. I found other bloggers who also wrote about their path to parenthood in very candid, and often hilarious ways. I was hooked. It’s been four years since I found most of them. It warms my heart to see that so many have moved on and are parenting after their battle with infertility. Some aren’t. Some, like myself, still find themselves in the throes of it.
If you find yourself in this place, consider starting a journal of your own. Write simply for you and share it with no one. Or write to connect with others while also educating those who don’t understand infertility. There are people out there. In this day and age, it’s commonplace to connect with virtual strangers on the internet. I’ve known people who haven’t gotten the support they desired from family, friends, or co-workers, but then found endless amounts of support from kindred spirits online.
Sometimes you need the kind of support you can only receive in person. Resolve: The National Infertility Association has several peer led and professionally led in-person support groups throughout the country. I’ve attended a few of the local ones over the years. I imagine the camaraderie one feels after one of these meetings is akin to a group of new moms who find solidarity after discussing the lack of sleep they get those first several months (or more) after their baby is born. Both similar in that we all feel empowered, understood and validated when we connect with like-minded people. Here is a link to the several groups in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota. Not from this area? There are Resolve support groups all over. Check out this link for groups throughout the country.
In a similar way that a local support group helps, I’ve also had the opportunity to take part in a Mind and Body class through a local therapist. I took Dr. Jeanette’s class in 2013, and through it, I met some of the sweetest friends. In addition to that, I learned coping tools to manage anxiety brought on by infertility, to restructure negative thoughts, and improve self-care.
Another fabulous resource for me has been practicing yoga. I don’t make nearly as much time for this as I should, but every time I go, I feel so connected with another group of women who are battling the same thing as myself. If you’re local and looking to connect, check out Fertile Grounding Yoga at Yoga Center Minneapolis. One of the instructors, Jen, is an infertility survivor herself, and brings such a beautiful dynamic to the yoga practice. She also has a phenomenal eight-week fertile grounding workshop. I’ve known several people who have gone through her teachings, and have found it to be so beneficial to their overall health and well-being. Each week there is educational teaching, conversation, and practicing yoga. Everything learned not only applies to fertility, but also to living long, healthy lives and raising healthy children.
Infertility sucks. You don’t have to go through it alone.
This article was originally published on April 25, 2016, but the hope remains the same: to support one another within this beautiful community of women through the journey of infertility.