"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:24b-25

14 February 2011

Wait, You Mean It's Not Just Us?

When I first started this blog, seven years into our journey of infertility, I had no idea how many other blogs and websites there were devoted to the subject of infertility.  Believe it or not, I actually believed I was launching something "new".  Sure, I figured there were some blogs out there, but infertility is not something that's talked about regularly in most public venues.  I've actually been surprised at the amount of press infertility has received this month.

I will admit, I'm fairly new to the world of blogging in general.  I've heard about blogs for years and have been reading personal blogs of friends and family for a while.  It wasn't until I googled the word "gluten" the day I found out I had to be gluten-free that I discovered there were blogs out there with a purpose beyond updating friends and family about life.  (No, I haven't been living under a rock, I'm just a bit slow to embrace some things about technology.)

I began this blog with the intent of reaching out to others on this journey, hoping that somehow they would stumble across it and be encouraged that they are not alone.

For the first few years of this journey, my husband and I felt like we were the only ones in our age bracket struggling to have children.  I knew couples older than us who had been unable to have children, but none our age.  Sadly, at the time, I wasn't willing to accept comfort from the older couples I knew in our situation because I was determined that we would not be in their shoes at their age.  I've said it before, but it's interesting how we think we have so much more control over things than we actually do.

Regardless, it would have been nice to know at the time that there were others our age going through what we were going through.  A shoulder to lean on, an ear to vent to, another couple to hang out with that didn't have kids already, or the promise of one on the way.

We were surprised three years ago when our paths crossed with three other couples on this journey in the same town, at the same church.  I chalked it up to God's divine hand bringing us together with others in our circumstances so that we could all encourage each other.  While I have no doubt that is truly the case (seriously, we could have ended up NOT meeting anyone in the same circumstances), I realize now that the reality of infertility is much different than I perceived.

Imagine my surprise when, having finally learned how hash tags on Twitter work, I came across a plethora of blogs written by women on this same journey.  Imagine also my surprise when I came across statistics in several different articles that indicate that the number of couples struggling with infertility is 1 in 8.  One in eight!  That's staggering!

Here we were, on this journey for seven years and I only just learned of that statistic in the past month.  How is that even possible?

I have never been one to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, so I would talk about our infertility with anyone that was interested, provided I was in an emotional place to handle it.  I was surprised to discover that there were people suffering through the emotions silently.  Now, although I shared our situation, I still felt extremely alone and isolated because most of the people I shared our story with had no idea what it was like to walk in my shoes.  

It makes sense to me now why people going through this are hesitant to share with others what they're dealing with.  I have experienced judgement from others, not only regarding our decisions, but also about our circumstances as a whole - believe it or not, there are people out there that think a lack of children is a sign of judgement from God.  I've been advised and counseled by well-meaning individuals to the point that I can finish their sentences when I encounter other well-meaning individuals.  I've been misunderstood, misheard, had my statements completely ignored, experienced pity (which can be a pitiful thing), and been told that what I had decided to do was ungodly.  I've had questions asked of me that if I had been the one doing the asking might have gotten me a slap in the face.  I've been the recipient of looks, stares, sneers, and had friendship withheld because I walk down this road unashamed.

So, yes, I can imagine why some people choose to remain silent.

I discovered, roughly two weeks ago, as I was reading an article about the silence of infertility, that there is an annual awareness meeting in DC for infertility.  The organization that arranges this gathering is disheartened by the lack of attendance each year, and was even chastised for it by a congresswoman who was there to support them.  I think that an awareness gathering could be a great thing for the many suffering through these circumstances.  A problem I see is a lack of awareness among the very people they are trying to help.  

I find it strange that a couple, actively engaging the culture around them, with access to the internet, savvy about the latest in politics through the news, could walk on this road for seven years and never hear one thing about an organization dedicated to helping infertile couples, never know of one blog or website available with resources to help them through this journey.

I am thankful to have stumbled across these resources and this information.  It has caused an upheaval in our lives on this road, but it has been good.  It's as if a deserted road we've trudged along, taking each challenge head-on by ourselves, suddenly has call boxes, mile markers, and informative billboards and road signs along the way. 

I've linked to the articles I mentioned in this blog post.  I advise that you read them with a grain of salt.  I'm still mulling over some of the points, but they're worth reading to be informed.

It is difficult to break the silence, and it's something that should be done with caution.  But I believe it is worthwhile to do so.  Not only can it help in dealing with the myriad of emotions  and decisions we face, but it can also be very helpful to others.

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