In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to type my thoughts on Sadness, Joy and Infertility. I originally posted this on my personal Facebook page and Instagram. I received so many PMs that I wanted to write this as a blog post. ~Liza
My sadness doesn’t take away from your joy. I heard this quote on the Today Show when Jenna Bush announced she was pregnant with her 3rd child. Just two hours prior Dylan Dreyer (another newscaster on The Today Show) announced she and her husband were experiencing secondary infertility. When Jenna told Dylan that after learning of her infertility she was hesitant announcing her pregnancy, Dylan so eloquently responded, My sadness doesn’t take away from your joy.
For some reason infertility is a taboo subject. 1 in 8 couples experience infertility. That means most of you know someone who is either openly or quietly struggling with infertility. We’ve been blessed to have so many wonderful people around us who are thoughtful. Everyone (except one or two couples) that we’ve known who struggled with infertility now have biological children of their own. We are one of the last openly infertile couples standing. I’ve had friends call me crying to tell me they are pregnant because while they were so happy, they felt so bad for us. I’ve had friends send thoughtful and well worded texts and messages. For the most part, we have been surrounded with sensitivity and empathy. Through it all, I have truly felt “my sadness doesn’t take away from your joy.”
One of the interesting things is that some people assume that because I can’t have kiddos, I am upset when they are pregnant. That’s never been the case. Because this topic is so taboo, people make assumptions. The initial moment of learning their pregnancy news may be bittersweet but I have always been excited when our friends have kiddos. I have also been truly thankful to our close friends who have shown incredible sensitivity towards us when sharing their great news as they gave us a minute to pause, regroup and then celebrate.
I’ve had some people pointedly tell us that we’ve adopted two wonderful kiddos and thus, our infertility and past pains should be a nonissue. I tend to shut down when I hear that for two reasons 1) adoption should not be the remedy to the sadness of infertility. That’s a heavy burden to put on children who have experienced greater trauma and greater loss than I ever have. My kids are blessings and I am so incredibly thankful for them. But they do not soothe the sadness nor should they. I am thankful for my kids. They have allowed me the opportunity to be a mother. I don’t take that for granted. But they are not a cure. 2) People who diminish our loss by pointing out how blessed we (and thus we should be “fine” that we are infertile) are doing this because they simply can not handle our pain. And that’s fine- that shows us how close they truly are to us.
1 in 8 experience the bittersweetness of experiencing personal disappointment while also rejoicing in the good news and excitement of friends.
1 in 8 go to bed deeply hurt by insensitive comments from well meaning but greatly misinformed people. Let’s be honest, sometimes people are not well meaning and instead are just self absorbed. But even then, their joy does not and should not take away from our sadness.
1 in 8 keep the faith that someday they will have a family of their own.
1 in 8 spend tens of thousands of dollars on testing, treatment and specialists that are not covered by insurance.
1 in 8 suffer the horrible side effects of hormones and fertility meds while working with specialists. They are poked and prodded countless times a month as their doctors prepare their bodies for another attempt at pregnancy.
1 in 8 experience the high of a pregnancy only to then experience the low of a miscarriage.
1 in 8 open their eyes to their disappointing normal. Once they come to grips with their normal, they explore other options such as fostering, adoption, remaining childless, having fur babies.
1 in 8 live this day in and day out. Some of us are deep in the trenches of shock and grief. Some of us have accepted our situations and are learning and taking advantage of our options. Some of us have moved on and stopped trying for a pregnancy. All of us have felt loss and while our lives will move on, that loss will be there.
1 in 8 mean what they say on April 1st when they ask you to not post April Fools jokes about being pregnant. We’ve learned pregnancy is sacred and it hurts when we watch others diminish its sacredness.
During National Infertility Awareness Week, maybe take a minute out of your day to be thankful for your fertility. Also take a minute to be more aware and more sensitive of the couples around you who are in the trenches of infertility. There is always hope and sometimes, the 1 in 8 need to be reminded of that.