Yes, I am talking about infertility. It is #NIAW, national infertility awareness week again. Infertility happens all around us and it is highly probable that someone you know is silently struggling with it. Infertility is a painful journey that affects 10-15% percent of couples. Knowing more about it, sharing our stories will help break the stigma, the taboo, make us all more empathetic.
Maybe you have already heard the statistics: 20% of the couples under the age of 35 trying to conceive will succeed after 1 month, 70% after 6 months and 85 % within a year. It's the remaining 15% that are classified as infertile and advised to seek medical help. Some infertility causes are known, but sometimes, after months and months of trying, after blood tests, surgery, needles, echographies, after waiting and hoping, and crying, and being crushed, and starting all over again, and again, and again the causes remain unknown.
Infertility has changed something fundamental in me. I am, and forever will be, grateful beyond words for our miracle (ICSI) daughter. But I am afraid infertility is not going to go away, ever. I am not proud of this, but there are times when I hear someones' pregnancy news, and even though we had our breakthrough, I still get the feelings. The monster is still inside me, and I find myself thinking: "But they had it so easy, did we do something wrong? Did we misinterpret my fertile signs all-those-months?" I am very aware that if baby number two ever comes, it will be another huge, enormous wonder. But I feel greedy/selfish for even hoping for that already, like maybe I had my miracle share already and I shouldn't want more. I am enjoying every single instant with our daughter and I am constantly aware and at awe that she is here with us, that she is such a beautiful reality. I feel guilty when walking with the stroller at the park or at the supermarket, because I know, if not bitter, the sight of 2014-me would have made 2010, 2011, 2012-me very sad, and inspire all kinds of green-witch-envy-why-not-me-already feelings. But I "don't want to pretend it hasn't changed me" And so I tell our story to everyone and their mother. Maybe it's Too Much Information and maybe I will make people uncomfortable (particularly in some very religious circles in my hometown), but so be it. I want this to stop being a taboo, a silent, isolating battle. If we all share our stories, we can understand and help each other out even if we don't necessarily have the same life experiences.
Accepting it, embracing the journey, losing the fear and continuing on the path where we found ourselves, not knowing where we'd end was what got us through it. It made me learn to be in the moment, to find the joy even in the darkest days, to let go of the why, to accept that not understanding, not knowing is also OK.
A short text by Angeles Mastretta, part of the story "Ninguna eternidad como la mía" and the song "Cuando llegaré" by Natalia Lafourcade capture well these feelings (in its original Spanish).
<< Me comprometo a vivir con intensidad y regocijo, a no dejarme vencer por los abismos del amor, ni por el miedo que de éste me caiga encima, ni por el olvido, ni siquiera por el tormento de una pasión contradecida. Me comprometo a recordar, a conocer mis yerros, a bendecir mis arrebatos. Me comprometo a perdonar los abandonos, a no desdeñar nada de todo lo que me conmueva, me deslumbre, me quebrante, me alegre. Larga vida prometo, larga paciencia, historias largas. Y nada abreviaré que deba sucederme, ni la pena ni el éxtasis, para que cuando sea vieja tenga como deleite la detallada historia de mis días.>>
<< A veces pregunto si lo que me dieron tiene sentido algún motivo, sé que al final este es mi destino, mientras lo acepte lo lleve conmigo. Cuándo llegaré? Cuándo llegarás? Cuándo llegaré? Cuándo, Cuándo llegarás? Esto es lo que soy, esto es lo que doy esto yo seré por nada lo cambiaré>>
-Click here to know more about infertility, and here to know more about NIAW.
-Surgeonlady has compiled a couple of infographics that explain well the disease;
-WeeHermione has written about (some) of the feelings associated with this journey, about what not to say to someone going through it; about sharing, and empathy and bringing the egg-rolls and the six-packs; finally
-Kirsty also has a good guide on the do's and don'ts when telling the internet that you are pregnant.