Last day of NIAW

I’m going to make this post short and sweet.

Today may be the last day of ‪#‎NIAW‬ but that doesn’t mean we should stop spreading awareness. Instead, we should continue talking about this openly and honestly, continue reaching out to others going through infertility, continue sharing our own struggles (if we are able), continue educating ourselves and others, continue asking those tough questions and continue being the voice behind this disease.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my posts this week, comment, send me a text, call or PM me. Your support means the world to me! If you are reading this post, and haven’t yet hit the follow button and would like an email notification every time I write an entry, please feel free to follow me so you can continue to stay updated on our journey.  Your love and support is appreciated more then you’ll ever know. 

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”-Unknown

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Help Be the Voice Behind the Disease

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning I was a bit saddened by the fact that there is little to nothing about ‪#‎NIAW‬ or information being shared about infertility. I see on a daily basis so many other diseases being discussed on Facebook openly and honestly multiple times a day, but why is there rarely ever anything shared about this disease? Is it because of the stigma attached to it? Is it because people are hesitant to open up? Is it because many feel shame or embarrassment? Is it because it’s misunderstood?

If you choose to stay silent about your struggle, I by no means want to put any pressure on you to feel forced to share.  It is such a personal struggle and I for one know that it takes the right time to open and to be able to be vulnerable enough with friends/family to share such a private part of your life, let alone the entire world. For me, it took about 1.5 years to get to that point.  We all struggle and grieve in our own way and that’s is perfectly fine.  More of what I am talking about is that infertility always seems like something we have to whisper about or it get sidelined completely.  Because of this many individuals going through it don’t know where to go for help, they are uneducated about the topic itself, feel alone and like they can’t talk about it.  

It’s time to ‪#‎StartAsking‬ those important questions and start helping to spread awareness about this disease that affects more then 7.3 million Americans. If you have never experienced infertility, likely someone in your life has-someone you may not even realize that has. Today, I challenge everyone, both Men and Women, to help be a voice behind this disease and help break the stigma that surrounds it. This could be sharing a fact about infertility on your Facebook page, reaching out to someone you know struggling with the disease, or even having courage to share your own personal struggle, even if it’s starting out by telling a close friend or relative. Below is a wonderful article about reasons why Infertility isn’t talked about more.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/09/living/feat-infertility-why-people-dont-talk-openly-about-it/

 

 

Infertility Is…

I wanted to share what some of these words associated with infertility mean to me,

 

Unexpected:  I never in my life expected to struggle with Secondary Infertility.  Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of being a mom and I knew I wanted a big family.  It was just something that God placed in my heart at a very early age.  When we had E, it was the best day of my life and it was one of the happiest days in my life.  From the day I had her, I knew I wanted to have another baby but when it just wasn’t happening and we were diagnosed with Secondary Infertility it hit me like a ton of bricks and just seemed to come out of left field.  I couldn’t help but think, Why me?  Why us?

Difficult:  The reality of our circumstance was difficult in and of itself to accept, but the real difficulty came after months had passed and then years and still we were not pregnant.  All the things we tried a long the way had failed and that brought a lot of hardships into our life.

Challenging:  Infertility has been one of the most challenging aspects of my life.  There are some days I just can not grasp that this has been the cards I’ve been dealt.  It truly makes every day hard because of how deeply my heart aches for another child and even on my “good” days in this there are still triggers in this that make my days extremely challenging to get through.

Life-Shattering:  When we were told our best option at having another baby was IVF and that we only had a 10% chance of conceiving on our own it truly felt like my life fell apart.  I did’t know where we were supposed to go from here and I certainly didn’t know what my future would hold because my dream was to always have a big family.

Testing:  There is something everyday that tests you in the infertility world.  You are tested to hold it together when most would understand if you fell apart.  Going through something like this makes you question your faith and God.

Soul:  Every part of my soul has ached during our struggle.  It’s soul sucking.

Common:  7.3 million Americans suffer from infertility.  It is crazy to think I didn’t even know Secondary Infertility existed until it happened to me.  It’s so much more common then we’d ever imagine.

Debilitating:  There are some days I just have felt so incredibly weak or like I don’t even want to get out of bed and face the day because the emotions and triggers of infertility are just too much to bear.

Perseverance:  My motto in this has been to never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about.  There hasn’t been one day that has went by that I haven’t though about expanding our family and I’ve been so determined, no matter how rocky the path, to make our dreams come true.

Changing: It seems while everything and everyone around you is changing and growing, I have just been standing still.  It’s insane how much infertility begins to consume you.

Heavy:  Daily, my heart has been heavy and aching for what my heart so badly desires.

Shattering:  When you are dealing with infertility it is life shattering.  Many days in the last two years my husband and I have spent in distress and tears over how this circumstance has robbed us of so much and has changed our life forever.

Dream:  Everyday, I wondered when I would wake up from this nightmare of my life?  It seemed that it was just that-a dream that may never come true.

Never-Ending:  Day in and day out the struggles of infertility are all around you.  Even the days you try not to think about it something triggers you and you get right back in that mindset that is soul crushing.

Lonely:  Never in my life have I felt so alone.  However, I am grateful for the few friends and family who have reached out and the women in my support groups that have been my sounding boards.  No one knows the song in your heart though and how badly I desired a baby and how sad it’s been for me to not have this happen-that’s the most lonely part.

Unfair:  Something that should just happen so naturally that isn’t happening is just unfair.  To have make the decision to spend $20,000+ on treatments that may help but come with no guarantee is not something I wish upon anyone.  It’s also not fair how misunderstood this disease is, and yes it is a disease.

Hell:  When you are going through infertility you feel like you are living in some sort of daily hell.

Frustrating:  It seemed like for ever step forward there has been a step back for us which has always been very frustrating.  People in my life who don’t take the time to understand where I’m coming from or have the empathy to see what I’ve been through frustrate me.  Wanting a baby so badly and doing everything you possibly can to make it happen and it still isn’t happening is frustrating.  Spending money you don’t have to make your dream come true with no 100% is frustrating, especially when it’s money we shouldn’t have had to spend when it is something that should just happen naturally.

Cruel:  There wasn’t one day I would say to my husband, “This feels like someone is just playing one cruel joke on us.”

Painful:  Infertility hurts.  It hurts mentally.  It hurts emotionally.  It hurts physically.

Real:  Infertility is real.  It’s not something that is in our control entirely.  No amount of relaxing or eliminating stress will help make a baby.

Exhausting:  Infertility is tiresome.  It’s wearing.  There have been days I just want to punch it in it’s face.  You get to the point where you just want no part of it anymore, but it just doesn’t go away.

Faith:  “Hope is an Anchor to the soul.”-Hebrews 6:19.  Without my faith and without a little hope, it would have made each and every single day more difficult.

Disappointing:  Infertility in and of itself is disappointing.  What is even more disappointing is to get your hopes up time and time again and have failed treatment after failed treatments…so heart wrenching.

Expensive:  When insurance covers no part of infertility it’s expensive.  It makes going forth with treatments harder when it comes down to money all of the time.  I will never regret trying and spending our money on this but it’s so unfair that we had to.  I just think of all the other things we could have done with that money-put into E’s college fund, take a family vacation and make lasting memories, pay off our debt, invest more into our house, etc-that’s where the guilt comes from.  When you put money into a treatment with no 100% it’s like gambling every time.

Suffocating:  The in-your face reminders of what was not happening for us was what was most suffocating.  This is why baby showers are hard for me.  As much as you are happy for another person and want to celebrate in your joy it truly is suffocating.  Anyone going through this is allowed to step back and do what you need to do for you because it isn’t easy.  Little things make it easier though, you just have to recognize what triggers you and what doesn’t.

Disease:  Infertility is a disease.  Most do not acknowledge it as such.  A big misunderstanding surrounds the topic because of this.

Relationship:  Infertility affects your relationship and it will either make you or break you.  I’m lucky to say that my relationship has been strong enough to withhold our struggle and I am so grateful we’ve made it this far together.

Empty:  The longing for this child in your heart and it isn’t happening creates such a void and empty feeling.

Humbling:  Although this journey is hard, it’s also very humbling and has been a huge eye opener for me.  This is why I’ve gotten to the point in my journey where I can be thankful for my struggle.  It’s taught me so much and I’ve connected with so many amazing people along the way and for that I am eternally grateful.

Overwhelming:  From accepting what is, to appointments, medications, treatment options, decision making, etc-it’s all just so much to take in.

Heartbreaking:  Infertility is heartbreaking.  Even if you are able to overcome your infertility in the end, I always hear so many women who say it’s something that will forever stick with you and you will be forever changed because of it.

NIAW Day #4-Insurance and Infertility

“No one expects to receive the diagnosis of infertility. Yet more than 6 million Americans will. No one expects that their insurance company will deny them coverage for this medical condition, but most do.”-Resolve: The National Infertility Association.

For us, this has been a very hard aspect in making decisions about moving on with treatments. As soon as we were diagnosed with Secondary Infertility, our insurance stopped covering all our medical expenses regarding infertility-which included medications, office visits, testing, lab work, and the treatments themselves. Also, because it was infertility realted, most clinics expect payment up front or they will not be able to help you-they do not work with you on monthly payment plans. This made an already stressful situation even more stressful on us and made decisions along the way more difficult because it always came down to money. Many days in the last couple of years we’ve spent in distress and tears over this. This longing in your heart for another child is just something that doesn’t go away and the heartache of not being able to make it happen is very frustrating. Currently, we have exhausted our entire savings that we’ve worked so incredibly hard for and then some, in the hopes to expand our family-something that should just come naturally. The sacrifices we’ve made have been great and it’s come at a very high cost, not only financially but emotionally, mentally, and physically as well.

It’s my hope that one day insurance covers infertility to lessen the financial burden it puts on couples struggling to get pregnant on their own. It’s sad because for some it does come down to money as to why they are unable to try treatments. Treatments that could quite possibly make all their dreams come true. It’s truly heartbreaking. This is happening to lots of people struggling with infertility and I guarantee it’s happening to someone you know. Please help to be a voice and spread awareness during ‪#‎NIAW‬.‪#‎IAm1In8‬ ‪#‎StartAsking‬

http://www.resolve.org/about/insurance-coverage-of-infertility-treatments.html?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F?referrer=https://www.facebook.com/

NIAW Day #3-Impact of Infertility

The psychological impact of infertility is very distressing. If you ask couples what their biggest stress in their relationship is, most likely they will say money. However, if you asked my husband and I what our biggest stress is in our relationship, we would without hesitation reply, Secondary Infertility.   This crisis in our life has been by far our biggest trial and hardship in our 6 years of marriage thus far.  The feelings off loss, grief, and worry have been evoked in us time and time again over the years of trying to expand our family.

With the constant uncertainties, financial obligations, and medical decisions, it has made coping very difficult for us, as it isn’t something that just goes away.  Instead there are triggers in our everyday and something that is with us month to month and year to year.  The constant stress weighing on our shoulders day in and day out feels like the heaviest burden we have ever carried.  This has also caused us to experience depression and anxiety during our struggle.

This circumstance has certainly turned our lives upside down and all around and is a roller-coaster ride I never thought my husband and I would experience.  Here we are though, apart of the 7.3 million Americans who are experiencing infertility (secondary).  Although there have been many days my husband and I feel alone in this, the number of other individuals who are also experiencing infertility is astounding and we are far from alone.  That being said, it always makes me wonder why there is still this stigma surrounding this topic?

When I really stop and think about my thoughts of infertility before secondary infertility came into my life, I have to admit that I truly misunderstood what it actually was.   I honestly didn’t even know there was a such thing as Secondary Infertility.  I  didn’t think infertility was a real disease.  I didn’t understand how much infertility can impact someone’s life or how my words and/or actions could either.  I thought infertility was only a women’s health issue, not a man’s health issue.  It’s misunderstandings such as these which is why there is still such a stigma built around the topic of infertility.  Society’s negative attitude in regards to this also makes people feel shameful of talking about it.  Even small comments made by others can be extremely hurtful and very insensitive to a person struggling with infertility, but the person saying them thinks their comment is helpful (ie: Maybe God doesn’t feel this is your time to have a baby right now., Well at least you already have one., Just relax and it will happen., etc.).  These types of things shut down a person with infertility very quickly and trigger such an array of emotions.  Sadly, however, the reason other people don’t understand infertility is BECAUSE we don’t openly and honestly talk about it.

It’s time to find our infertility voice and start talking about it.  Not only do we need to talk about it, but we need to start asking those hard questions about it as well.  In my struggle with Secondary Infertility I found myself, oftentimes, just cutting people slack when they had said or done something that hurt me and triggered my deep root feelings with infertility.  I would even just shake my head and agree just to move the conversation along.  I used to think that because they’ve never walked a day in my shoes, they just don’t understand and truly didn’t know any better.  Now, I see that it was wrong of me to stay silent.  How will people truly ever know or learn or become educated on a topic we stay silent about?  Nothing will ever change, and others struggling will continue to feel the psychological impact infertility has on us because we feel we can’t talk about it.

I know that I’m only one voice, but it’s truly my hope that one voice leads to two and two to three and three to four and so on and so forth.  One word at a time, I hope we can start to make a difference in this.  I hope we can start nourishing others with help, hope, and empathy instead of fueling them with shame.  In a world where infertility is becoming more and more prominent, I have faith in humanity that things will start to change.   #NIAW #StartAsking #Resolve #IAm1In8

NIAW Day #1 & #2

 

 

Yesterday was the first day of National Infertility Awareness week (NIAW). Words can not express my gratitude for this week.  I am so incredibly thankful for this time to help break the stigma the surrounds infertility.  This week allows so many of us to help spread awareness and to help reach out to others as well as encourage others to do the same. I love the fact that it also allows an open and honest discussion about infertility to happen, which is a topic that I have become extremely passionate about.  This time also can quite possibly give another person the courage and motivation to speak out and share their story too, as this is what this week did for me just one short year ago.  Hearing another person say “me too” was quite an eye opener for me because I had felt so alone in this for so long.

During NIAW last year, it was seeing all the men and women openly talk about infertility and sharing their own personal struggle with it, that gave me just the courage I needed to break my silence about my own struggles with Secondary Infertility.  It was then, that I decided to “come out of the closet” so to speak.  The first baby step I took in sharing openly was by sharing on my Facebook page.  By sharing and putting myself out there,  it allowed me to share a glimmer of my struggle to those who didn’t understand Secondary Infertility and really had no clue what I had been going through. It also allowed me to share about the stress and heartache that Secondary Infertility evokes in a person and that it’s not as simple as “just relaxing” or “stopping thinking about it” and it will happen.  I quickly realized then that the infertility community has a lot work to do on teaching society as a whole about infertility.  I also learned it would take others sharing their personal stories to help clear up some of these misunderstandings surrounding infertility.

Most did not understand that Secondary Infertility is a real disease and a lot of the time it is simply out of our hands no matter what we do or try.  By sharing, I was by no means trying to gain sympathy or a “poor me” card, instead I was trying to bring more awareness and understanding to the table.  I was so proud to be able to do this for the first time without feeling embarrassed, shameful or fearful.  This time during NIAW truly changed my life and I never looked back or regretted becoming open about my struggles with Secondary Infertility.

The outpouring of support and love from friends, family and complete strangers has been astounding. My struggle with secondary infertility has been life changing and has opened my eyes to so many different things. This struggle has been far from easy, but through the hardships of it I have learned to be grateful for my struggle in more ways then one and I surely don’t take things for granted like I once did.  I have also learned so many things along the way and some very big life lessons.  It’s my hope this week to continue to share about my struggle, continue to spread awareness, and reach out to others!

With today being the second day of ‪#‎NIAW‬, my primary focus of spreading awareness will be on ‪#‎SecondaryInfertility‬ because this is what I have first hand experienced myself. If you are like me, I didn’t know anything about this term as it’s rarely talked about and because it wasn’t openly talked about. There was also a pretty big stigma surrounding the topic so I didn’t know where to turn for help or who I could confide in. I was naive to think that because we got pregnant and had a healthy pregnancy the first time around, that pregnancy would come just as easily the second time around too and would happen when we wanted it to. Boy, was I wrong!

Surprisingly, Secondary Infertility is almost more common then Primary Infertility and it can easily happen to you. If you are trying for baby #2 or #3 even and it’s not coming as easily to you as it did the first time or second time, please do not feel embarrassed or ashamed as it’s a lot more common then you’d think. More then likely someone you know is struggling with this very thing too.

If you are struggling and don’t know what to do next, it’s important to ‪#‎StartAsking‬ those important and tough questions (ie: When do we need to go to the doctor and seek help? How can doctors help us? What may be wrong with me and/or my partner? What are our chances of success? What if we never find out what is wrong? Will changing my diet and lifestyle help? Where can I get further help?). No one knows your body like you do and no one can take charge of your situation but you, so start speaking up! One of my biggest regrets in this is waiting so long before seeking help and when we finally did it was one of the most relieving feelings I had, although we still had a very long road ahead of us.  My advice to you, if you think you are struggling to conceive is don’t wait, seek help today.    

The following link is a short but good article about what Secondary Infertility is and talks about some of those tough questions. Feel free to click the link and check it out:

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a563459/secondary-infertility-what-is-it

Lets Spread Awareness: NIAW is April 24th-30th

I just wanted to remind everyone that National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is coming up quickly on April 24th -30th.  Last year, I used this week as an opportunity to openly share my struggle with Secondary Infertility on Facebook and also used it as a chance to educate others on a topic that is so often misunderstood and not talked about enough.  It truly amazed me how much support I received, how many asked me those hard questions or wanted to just know more about secondary infertility, and also the amount of people I had on my ‘friends list’ who confided in me that they too struggle with either primary infertility, secondary infertility, or who have experienced a miscarriage.

By finding the courage to openly talk about a tough subject, we open the lines of communication about it and help others learn more about it in hopes that changes can be made as well as allow others to feel supported in a world where they may feel alone or like support is non-existent.

It is my challenge to you this year during NIAW to help spread awareness about infertility. You may be experiencing infertility yourself and are looking for a way to “come out of the closet” so to speak or you may never have first hand experienced infertility yourself, but chances are someone you know has and you may not even know it.  Spreading awareness is easy and if you are looking for ways to help, Resolve: The National Infertility Association has some wonderful ideas of how to get awareness out there on social media on the following link:  http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/social-media-ideas.html?referrer=https://www.facebook.com/.

Together we can help spread awareness!  Please consider participating in NIAW!  Your help could make a huge difference!