This morning as I was dropping Miss A off for school, I became lost in thought (this doesn't happen very often, so I was intriged). I helped Miss A out of the car and assisted her in getting her backpack on. I watched as she ran into the building, along with many other children. This is nothing new. Its a five-day-a-week process. But for some reason, this morning, I paid more attention to my surroundings. I loved watching her run into school. Watching her cute little feet pitter patter on the wet ground and her large backpack bounce opposite to her body movement. Gazing at her semi-wet pulled back pony tail sway. Realizing just how small she was compared to those around her. She's a little body (full of wonder), in this big, huge world. As first, it made me anxious. Then, it made me so proud. This little body, with her zebra stripped backpack, could one day change the world. If anything less, influence it. I was overwhelmed as to how much I loved being her mommy, and how extremely blessed I am.
Now I say this all the time, but I can't even express the gratitude I feel towards a loving Heavenly Father to allow me to be a mom. I never realized just how fortunate I would be to be able to have the title of mom.
All of this pondering this morning got me thinking, how many couples out there are experiencing the lack of parenthood due to infertility? I started feeling sadness. Lots of it. Many emotions overcame me. Many of them I have felt myself, and some of them I will never experience.
I have moments when I feel very guilty. Guilty in the sense that, even though we are struggling with infertility, we do have a child. And there are many wonderful people in the world who are unable (for whatever reasons) to bear children. It burdens me with the thought that they will never experience all of the emotions that come with parenthood.
My chest is tight as I type.........
Then my thoughts turned to a conversation that I had with a fertility doctor. As my husband and I sat in his office, he explained some interesting facts to us. First off, he made us feel that WE ('we' meaning those struggling with infertility) are, in fact, the 'norm'. And those who do not struggle with infertility are, indeed, the 'abnormal'. I was a little puzzled. It seems as though there are more people WITH children, rather than those WITHOUT children. So how were we the 'norm'?
*According to the CDC 10% of women (aged 15-44) have difficulty getting/or staying pregnant. That might not seem like a high number, but that is 6.1 million women!
And no, not all infertility problems are due to women:
*1/3 of infertility cases are due to female issues
*1/3 of infertility cases are due to male issues
*The other 1/3 is due to male/female shared issues and other unexplained problems
*Up to 75% of women have self-aborted pregnancies before the women even knows she was pregnant. So yes, those who claim to have never had a miscarriage very well could have experienced at least one during there reproductive stage.
*One in eight American couples will experience infertility and 1.1 million women will undergo treatment(s) this year.
The doctor went on and on with more statistics. I began feeling that I was no longer alone. Struggling with infertility can seem like a very 'in the closet' issue. Although, yes, it is indeed a very private matter, you shouldn't feel that you need to bare the burden alone. Because you are NOT alone.
I was very surprised at the responses I receive after I started blogging. I had many women come to me (in person and via the internet) and tell me their stories of infertility, and most of these women had more than 2+ children (conceived naturally)! Needless to say, I was very surprised. I applauded these women for coming forward and talking to me. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude towards them and thank them for helping me feel, as though I was indeed, not alone. My eyes were opened up to a whole new world. I became even more aware of those around me and their possible struggles.
So, I write this post to YOU. Yes, YOU! The one reading this who wonders if a child is in their future. If they will ever receive a positive pregnancy test, or wear maternity clothes. To the man who wants nothing more than to hold his son or daughter in his hands and give them his last name. To the wanna-be father and mother who would give up anything to have a child of there own. To paint a nursery. To pick out a 'going home from the hospital' outfit. To research what diapers are the best and what diaper rash cream has the best reviews. To be able to purchase a crib and put it together. To be able to experience the unexplainable emotions of labor and the birth. To hold a birth certificate in their hands. You, who imagines late nights rocking your little one in the chair that's been put together for over a year. The next time you sit there, take a deep breath, its okay to cry, to imagine, to be angry and confused. You are not alone.
Don't be afraid to speak out. I know personally that it can be difficult to talk to someone. Josh and I hide it from our family and friends. And the more people asked when we would have child or when we would be giving Miss A a sibling, the more and more it hurt. Infertility IS a very private matter, but it doesn't have to be a secret. It can eat you up inside. Do not hold it in. You will begin to see (like I did) that you are not the only one. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Something that I have started looking into is making infertility a known issue. Hoping one day that it will no longer be an 'in the closet issue', but indeed be a very open topic. I found this article on NBC news titled 'Struggling with infertility in silence' (click here to read the article). It talks about how infertility needs the kinds of awareness effort that brought cancer out of the shadows decades ago.
"Breast cancer has its pink ribbon. AIDS has its walks, multiple sclerosis its bike-a-thins."
We need a ribbon. We need our walks, run, and bike-a-thins. We need to have money raised. We need more and more research. We need to have awareness efforts just as much as AIDS and cancer does. No, infertility is not cancer, but it is indeed debilitating.
To the person(s) reading this who are struggling like we are. We love you! We feel your emotions and your pain. We are here for you, a well as many other couples. We applaud your courage and will help wipe your tears. Don't feel alone. Don't be afraid to talk. Make yourself aware. Do your research and take action. Humble yourself enough to fall to your knees in prayer. If there is anyone out there who understands struggles, it would be our Savior. You're always in my prayers!