You Are Not Alone: National Infertility Awareness Week

Infertility is a lonely road - or at least that seems like the way it has always been in our society.

Don’t announce your pregnancy until you are sure it is viable. Don’t talk about things like miscarriage because this word can make people uncomfortable. Don’t be angry - everything happens for a reason.

Have you heard this bullshit before? I’m sure you have.  

Listen, the way we talk about and treat infertility in this culture has to change. One in eight couples struggle with infertility. Did you see that number: 1 in 8. If this is not you, then I guarantee it’s someone that you love and care about, so you should also care about this issue. Infertility is not just an inconvenience - it is a disease of the reproductive system and affects women and men alike at any age.

This year National Infertility Week happens during the last full week of April, April 21-28, and is an opportunity to spotlight an issue that definitely needs spotlighting.

If you are one of the 1 in 8 that is struggling with infertility, we want you to know:

You are not alone. So many couples are walking this road with you. The internet might have its pitfalls, but one of the best things about it is the way it can bring communities together across borders and time zones. There are lots of resources available online, including support groups where you can connect with other couples fighting this same fight.

Some of our favorite infertility resources include:

NIAW, a nonprofit group working to raise awareness, share people’s stories, and help communities get involved with this issue.

Resolve, a fantastic online support community that exists to link people together and provide advocacy and access to education on infertility.

Dreaming of Diapers, a tell-all infertility blog that chronicles in detail the author’s five-year long journey with infertility.

Carolina Conceptions, one of the leading fertility clinics in the Raleigh-area.

If you know someone who is going through this struggle, think about the following things:

Be a good listener. If your friend or loved one trusts you enough to open up about their infertility battle, the best thing you can do is be a listening ear and a safe space for them to land. There are SO MANY feelings wrapped up in infertility - anger, hopelessness, depression - that are hard to process. Trust me, your friend has been inundated with advice, both solicited and unsolicited, and it’s the last thing they need. But a nonjudgmental friend, who can listen and hold space, that is hard to find. Be that person.

Stop the platitudes. Saying things like Everything happens for a reason; You can always try again; or God won’t give you more than you can handle are NOT helpful. In fact, these empty expressions hurt more than anything else. If you don’t know what to say to someone struggling with infertility, say nothing. Really, it’s okay to sit with your friend in silence and hug them as they cry.

Don’t take offense if your friend has to pull back a little. If you are blessed enough to have a family of your own, it can be hard for someone dealing with infertility to share in your joy. Invitations to baby showers, gender reveals, or the never ending baby announcements that appear in their mailbox can just be too much. Give your friend grace and know that they will share in your happiness when - and if - they are able.

Infertility should not be something people have to struggle with alone. Not in this day and age.