So, we get our own week to celebrate being infertile, right!! Just kidding. This week is all about AWARENESS. So many women suffer from infertility for so many different reasons. Some choose to keep it quiet, while others are more open and vocal about their struggles. I respect both choices immensely. It’s up to you how to deal with what you are going through. I just thought I’d share some facts about some of the reasons i’ve dealt with personally, or seen loved ones go through, some thoughts with you about why i’m so open about it, how it’s affected my family and friends, and hopefully some tips for you and those you love who don’t know as much about what living the infertile life is like.
Here are some basic facts about infertility, just to give you an overall glimpse of how many women are actually affected by this: Infertility means after one year of trying, women are still unable to get pregnant. If the woman is over 35, it’s reduced to 6 months. About 10% of women ages 15-44 have difficulty getting or staying pregnant. That is 6.1 million women, y’all. I didn’t just make these stats up. Go to https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/infertility for some more interesting facts.
PCOS: The reasons behind infertility are also vast. 1 in 10 women, like me, suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Some, like me, have cysts covering their ovaries. I’ve seen my ultrasounds, and it literally looks like a string of pearls lining both ovaries. While it is a “treatable disease” just like anything else, treatments don’t always work. It calls for medicines, shots, more medicines, and total life overhauls. We have been treating and trying for 5 years now. I don’t ovulate. I’ve tried medicines to make me ovulate, which according to my bloodwork, one actually worked, but after 8 months we still hadn’t gotten pregnant. Not to mention all the other lovely things that come with a PCOS diagnosis. Here are just a few: Irregular menstrual cycle (I average about 6-8 a year), too much hair in places that normally only men grow hair because of the testosterone given off by all the cysts on our ovaries, acne (i’m 32 and STILL suffering with acne), some have thinning hair and male pattern baldness, weight gain and difficulty losing weight (raising both hands here), diabetes, high blood pressure (check), unhealthy cholesterol (check), sleep apnea (check), depression and anxiety (double check with both hands raised which also means, you guessed it, more meds), migraines and headaches from the hormonal imbalances (raising both hands and feet here, and again, more meds), and can even lead to endometrial cancer. These aren’t even all of them, on top of being infertile. It’s not easy, y’all, and 1 out of 10 women suffer from this.
Endometriosis: It’s a common health problem in women, affecting more than 11% of women of childbearing age. Endometriosis happens when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of your uterus and on other areas in your body where it doesn’t belong. Some symptoms include immense pain during cycles, pain during and after intercourse, intestinal pain, pain during bowel movements, and intestinal problems. In short, it causes lots and lots of pain in a lot of different ways. Pain, y’all. Plus, it can make getting pregnant extremely difficult. I’ve seen first hand with a loved one what it can do to you, and it’s not something to write off and dismiss. It has real and lasting effects, and can lead to multiple surgeries to remove it, because it keeps coming back.
These are just two of so so many reasons, people. Two that i’ve dealt with personally either by having it myself, or watching one of the closest people in my life deal with. I’ve also had dear friends that have or are dealing with Secondary Infertility. Just because, by the grace of God, you had one child, does not mean you can easily have another. People have such misconceptions about this and it is so hurtful for those dealing with secondary infertility. First of all, you don’t know what they might have gone through to have the first child, and secondly, don’t make rude comments like, “Well you had one, why haven’t you, can’t you, don’t you, or why wait so long to have another?” Nobody needs to hear that mess. You don’t know everyone’s story. That goes for all women who may seem like they’ve waited a long time to conceive, or haven’t done it fast enough for society’s standards, or have miscarried and not gotten pregnant again yet. You. Have. No. Idea. So, just don’t make comments like that to people, it’s just rude. Some men deal with infertility too, not just their wives, but they may be part or all of the reason a baby hasn’t happened yet, so just keep that in mind. OK, i’ll get off that soapbox 🙂
Infertility affects a lot of women, as I’ve said many times so far. People you know may be dealing with it, and they just aren’t open about it. I chose to be. That was based on decisions made by me and the Hubs because we hope that our story can help someone not feel so alone, or lacking because they can’t, or just seeing that the range of emotions are not abnormal. We all feel them. I have a wonderful support system in my Hubs, family, and friends. They know what we have and are going through. They respect us and are sensitive to how it feels. I’ve mentioned in posts before, I may be considered slightly emotional/dramatic, but just slightly :), so hiding my feeling about certain situations was difficult for me. It just made things easier for us both to be open with those we love about it, not only so I wouldn’t have to feel like I was holding so much in at times (you can only hide so much crazy), but because we now have the specific prayers and support we need from those that love us most. They know they don’t have to tiptoe. They know a hug, or and I love you on certain days are just what I need, and we know we aren’t in this alone.
Personally, we decided to come off meds for a while and just live without the pressure of tracking ovulation and worrying about all the doctor visits, test, and you guessed it, medications. Since my sweet Mama passed a year ago, we really felt I needed time to process and get myself in order before we added the extra stress back in to the mix. People may not understand. I’m 32, 33 in November, and yes I know I’m not getting any younger, but we felt this was just right for us right now, and I don’t regret it. It’s been good for us to just getting back to life and finding my new normal without my biggest supporter by my side. Honestly, we have prayed and questioned whether we are meant to have kids at all, and if we still want to go back to trying soon. God, hears our prayers, and we have no doubt he’ll lead us to that answer when the time is right. Until then, i’m going to be the best, coolest, favorite aunt and godmother to my babies that I love like my own.
People don’t realize the emotional, physical, and mental stress this puts on people dealing with infertility. Sometimes, I see a pregnancy announcement, and it’s a literal kick in my stupid cyst covered ovaries before I can feel happy for them, and other times, I can scroll right past and feel just happiness for them. Sometimes I feel like I still have plenty of time, and other times I think i’m going to be the team grandma when my kids grow up because most of the mothers will probably be in their early twenties, or younger, and i’ll be in my late thirties by that point. Sometimes, I see these precious babies out and about and want it so bad it hurts, and then I go down the next aisle in the store and see a kid laying on the ground pitching a big one because they want the chocolate cereal, and i’m secretly relieved that isn’t me. It’s a crazy, messed up, whirlwind y’all. Please don’t judge me. I just want others dealing with this to know they aren’t bad people or crazy for having mixed emotions and feelings about what they’re dealing with.
If you know someone who is dealing with infertility, or even if you don’t know they are, just be mindful of what you say to women in general about pregnancy. Don’t remind them they aren’t getting any younger. Don’t tell them to relax and it’ll happen (you might get throat punched, just warning you). Don’t tell them some people just aren’t meant to be parents (yes, i’ve been told that). Don’t ask every week at church if they’re pregnant yet, or what they are waiting on. Don’t expect that everytime they show up unannounced or call you out of the blue that it’s because they’re pregnant. It could be other great news for them that they want to share, and you just blew their happiness about it out of the water by saying what you thought it was. Just be mindful, be respectful, and be loving.
Some do’s for all those who truly want to support their loved ones: Give them a hug on hard days. Tell them you’re praying for them. Tell them you love them. Give them a little extra support through text or calls when you know they’re down. You don’t even have to mention or know exactly what’s wrong or why you’re doing it. They’ll know, and appreciate your thoughtfulness. If they open up to you about how they’re feeling, they’re not expecting you to have all the answers or great advice, they probably just need you to listen and empathize with their struggle. Just be there for them.
Since it is National Infertility Awareness week, i’d love to get video or written testimonials from any of you who are dealing with infertility, in whatever form, and share them this week. Just message me on my facebook page, and we’ll come up with a plan. I’m going to go deeper into my story one day this week, either by video on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/jesusandcoffee30/, or another post. I’m typically better at writing than speaking, but we’ll see what I feel led to do. Let’s make this not such a secret or embarrassing thing for women to deal with. Let’s spread awareness, and hopefully, love for those who are dealing. If you need someone to talk to privately, don’t hesitate to message me. I’m no expert, i’m just along for the ride myself, but i’d love nothing more than to be there for you.