It's been several months and countless rounds of doctor's appointments since we found out we were the 1 in 8. It still seems surreal most days and I still have a hard time talking about it (cue all the tears). But a little over a month ago a friend connected me with a wonderful, loving community of women who are all struggling on different parts of this same journey and that connection has made all the difference. This community made me realize that there was an opportunity in this season of struggle to help others, but in order to do that, I had to be willing to share my story so here it is.
Last summer, Ory and I decided that we were ready to grow our family. Little did we know that almost 11 months later it would still be just us and our two dogs. But we were some of the lucky ones.
Yeah, I said lucky, which is crazy right? To talk about infertility as something to be lucky about.
We discovered this was going to be hard for us early on thanks to some intuition and confirmation from our lab results. Somehow, I found comfort in knowing where we stood.
And y'all I don't talk about God very often, but He honestly works in some of the most mysterious ways. In early February (#firstavailable) we went to our first Reproductive Endocrinologist (or RE for short). You quickly start to learn all the lingo when you live in this world, but that's for another time. During this appointment, we learned that our insurance had started covering infertility treatments as of January 1. Had we gone any sooner, we would have been paying out of pocket like so many couples who struggle with infertility. Hearing this silver lining felt like a blessing.
Even in the what feels like the darkest of times, there is always a silver lining.
And here's the thing - I'm not going to pretend like this journey hasn't been hard. That it hasn't been a complete emotional roller coaster because it definitely has. Seriously, cue all of the tears.
But despite all that, I know I am exactly where I need to be and that's what keeps me putting one foot in front of the other on the days when it gets hard. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason and that finding a community who understands you can be one of the best things you do for yourself in this journey.
One of the biggest challenges with facing infertility is that so many of us don't talk about it, which means this path can be so lonely. For me, it's been a combination of guilt, shame, not wanting to admit that this is all real. And FEAR. Fear that I would jinx myself. That others would judge me. That struggling with this would somehow hurt my job. Seriously y'all, the things we tell ourselves...
It is in time like these that we need to be most kind to ourselves and give ourselves grace.
Finding a community has helped me become more brave. It helped me face my fears. It provided a safe space to share my feelings and most importantly, it affirmed that I was indeed not alone.
Perhaps you're wondering what prompted me to share my story now. Well, one of the things we promised each other in our community is that we would wear these Give Grace tattoos (which are part of the Give Grace Campaign) as a means of creating conversation and spreading awareness during National Infertility Awareness Week (Apr. 23 - 29). And since we are almost at our one year anniversary of trying to grow our family these things things aligning felt like a sign that it was time.
So where does this leave us and what can you do to help?
- Support the Give Grace Campaign or my friend Nikki's collaboration with Scarlet & Gold, Still Wander Prints. Each of these efforts supports a small business owner, helps spread awareness about this important topic and most importantly, helps couples achieve their dream of becoming parents.
- Reach out to a friend that you know who has struggled with infertility - check in with them and be willing to listen. Active listening has become such an antiquated practice in our daily lives with all of our distractions, but it's still one of the most powerful gifts we can give one another.
- Share your story. Even if it's just with family and friends. Putting your story out there can be such a cathartic and important release in this journey.
And if you or someone you know is facing this journey alone, send me a message (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would love to connect you with this community of women that has helped me find peace and patience in this otherwise difficult journey.