We are halfway through National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).
And honestly, it is kicking my butt.
Kicking my butt both as a survivor, and especially thriver, of the infertility journey but also as an advocate. This is living in the tension and the complicated gray of life, I teach this every day to my clients and life reminds me of it myself often.
As an advocate, I always shine the light on infertility and educate whoever will listen. I shout at the top of my lungs when it comes to spreading the healthier messages of infertility like: we must be more than this heartbreaking journey, the detriments of the 'never give up' message and that there are many versions of the happy ending.
This advocacy requires incessant sharing on as many platforms as possible this week. Because just maybe my story will reach the person who needs it most in that moment and they will know they are not alone. Because maybe my story will reach the person who needs to tell someone their story and ask for help. And because maybe my story will reach the person who needs to give themselves permission to embrace the complicated gray; to feel lost and confused while at the same time trusting that they do actually know what is best for them on this journey.
But, as the survivor and thriver of infertility, I am also a childfull mother who infertility treatments did not work for. I am the childfull mother who will be forever changed and have to work on always healing the scarred losses of her three never to be babies.
And, this survivor is honestly struggling, and ironically struggling with the theme of this year's NIAW: You are not alone.
Hope is a huge theme in the infertility world. But, as a mental health therapist and a survivor of infertility, I also know hope needs to be balanced with the work of active acceptance. Many of the stories being shared this week are stories of hope and therefore success. They are posts with the long laundry list of infertility treatments and ultimately with the socially accepted, most desired and traditional happy ending of a baby. All accompanied by the adorable and complete family picture.
My story feels nothing like these success stories; my family picture does not include babies, infertility treatments did not work for me, I am not adopting and am finding other ways to parent.
If I am not careful those differences can make me feel like I do not belong and feeling like I am alone. But I know and choose to believe that is nowhere near the truth. I know this isn't true because all of these success stories have also been difficult for some of my clients. Especially the ones who are embarking on what will be their last treatment and they are left feeling alone too.
And, this is where the advocate rears her brave heart.
This is why our messages in infertility must change and be healthier. We must stop comparing our numbers. We must speak that there are many versions of the happy ending. We must practice active acceptance. We must be more than the infertility journey and the quest to become parents.
And we must fight this together; not abandoning those still in the trenches, not casting out the ones who treatments work for or who choose adoption and not forgetting the childless.
We are in this together. And we are in together forever, because these scars last a lifetime.
I am not alone and neither are you.
Let us thrive and rise ever upward together.