In 2010, when my husband Noah and I began trying to create our family, we took up residency on what I refer to here as IF Island. We weren't hitting the developmental milestone of parenthood in the same way our friends were, and we began to feel more and more isolated. By 2012, I was diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve, and we started various assisted reproductive procedures-- IUI, IVF, IVF with donor eggs. The divide between us and our peers increased and Noah and I felt like it was just the two of us, with our RE floating in deep waters. It was a lonely place to be.
I started writing this blog as a way to process our efforts and share our experience, and what I found was an entire community of people-- warriors who were going through the same struggle, and I realized that we really weren't alone. I started learning more and more about infertility and assisted reproduction and found stats that made me understand how prevalent infertility really is.
- 7.3 million Americans and millions more around the world suffer from infertility.
- As of 2012, approximately five millions births have been aided by modern reproductive technologies.
- According to an LA Times article published in 2012, more than 1.5% of babies born in the U.S. were conceived in a lab.
That’s a lot of people and a lot of babies, and yet a common theme while living on IF Island is isolation. I've done what I can to build a little community here and have a few new friends to talk to, but wanting something so badly and not being able to get it somehow can make a person feel totally alone. Maybe it's the sense of longing that creates a distance between us and the rest of world. Maybe it's the sensation of feeling misunderstood. Maybe it's the gap that's created when someone says "Just relax," or "Stop trying so hard and it will happen," or "Why don't you just adopt?" Often it takes a lot of effort not to slug these people, but we need to find ways to just let those comments go and quickly try to find people who understand us.
There are so many people who are struggling to make a family. While that doesn't necessarily make it better for any of us, it is a reminder that our situation isn’t unique to us. We are not being singled out or punished. We are not any less worthy of being parents. It is just harder for some than others. There are medical conditions that negatively impact fertility, and there is technology that can often help in many cases. And if not, there are other ways to become parents.
Noah and I finally became parents via embryo donation/adoption last month, and we truly feel that our success was a group effort. So many people were involved in helping us finally create our family, that in the end I realized that we were the opposite of alone.
Many people struggling with infertility are living out a slightly different version of the same story, and regardless of what works in the end, the emotional experience is very similar. We can relate to each other's sadness and frustration. We know the disappointment of a BFN. We know the very specific feeling of having to grieve the loss of something that could have been but never was. And we know how to pick ourselves up off the floor, get grounded, and stand tall again, ready to face the next hurdle head-on, with grace, dignity and determination. We know we need to appreciate all that we do have in our lives, and we know we can never, EVER feel ashamed to be hopeful.
Noah and I have met some incredible people and made some good friends here on IF Island. We interviewed many of these IF "survivors" for our film documentary,One More Shot, in order to explore the many different ways a family can be created, and to build a sense of connection. Here's a short montage of a few of the people we've spoken to that proves IF Island is a very populated place!
For more info on infertility, check out:
- http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility/ (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)
- You can also support RESOLVE'S advocacy day but clicking HERE