Monday, April 27, 2009

National Infertility Awareness Week

Okay, I'll admit: the title totally sounds wordy, pretentious, and overdone.

But it's an awfully important issue, and one that gets very little attention. Now, I'm probably preaching to the choir, knowing my (verrrrrrrry small) readership as I do, but I'd like to mention a few things about subfertility, a term I much prefer to infertility. It seems much more accurate - and hopeful. These are just my feelings, but I'm just opinionated enough to shout them from mountains if I thought it would do any good.

1. Infertility isn't a curse -- and I'm not helpless.
It took me a long time to figure this out for myself. And (like most things) it might not be true for everyone. But I learned so much about myself and my body through taking charge of my fertility. It also helped me feel more in control and less like a victim. It's so easy for my inner-drama-queen to spiral further and further into crazy-land. But charting and reading up on fertility really gave me confidence in myself -- and (lovely segue way) helped me appreciate the wonder-creation that is my body.

2. Our bodies are of heavenly -- celestial -- design, even in our fallen and earthly condition.
If there is one thing I've learned about the gospel, it's that the most beautiful, saving parts of our religion are always the simplest. Sacrifice leads to love. Obedience is always rewarded. Service makes you cheerful. Happiness is a decision. Likewise, our bodies aren't meant to be so sophisticated no one could truly understand them until the last days. Just as other religions have limited light and understanding, so too do other forms of medicine. (And, I think it's worth noting, at no time has God said that 21st century Western Medicine is the "only true and living medicine.") We are prideful and narrow-minded when we assume anyone with a differing opinion must be wrong.
This doesn't mean I endorse your local crackpot. Just a small number of crackpots who personally helped me get pregnant and become healthier.

3. People will sometimes be thoughtless about infertility. It's usually just ignorance.
In the two years of treatment it took before we finally conceived Betsy, I don't think we once went to a party at Scott's aunt's house without somebody saying something dumb to me. One time we went to my SIL's baby shower and this woman who had never even met me asked when it would be my turn. It shouldn't have been a big deal, and hardly qualifies as an act of cruelty. Nevertheless, I ran out of the room, in a race with the flood of tears I knew were coming. Didn't quite make it; looked like a total fool.
Another time a woman (another stranger, this time her ward's Primary president) asked why we didn't have any kids. As the situation was far less emotional -- baby showers were always the hardest things ever -- I could just look at Scott and give him the "Why-does-this-always-happen-at-Leesa's-house?" look. He almost burst out laughing.
"Oh, I get it," she said, "She doesn't want any yet. Right?" This comment did qualify as thoughtless.

I could go on for quite a while yet. Luckily for you, it's infertility week, so I don't have to post it all tonight. What joys! More infertility posts to look forward to in the coming days! (If I actually get around to blogging again.)


Amanda said...

I have to admit, I have never been in this boat. However, knowing many friends who have gone through similar things, I have learned to keep my comments and questions to myself. I have also learned to love non-Western medicine, actually resulting from having babies. (Who knew I could be allergic to the hormones my own body produces? And, who knew I could better deal with and overcome those allergies with treatment? Amazing blessings!) It really is interesting the many ways the Lord allows us to learn the lessons that we need in our lives. I can't wait to read more of your posts!

Chelsea said...

I know so many people struggle with this, and feel so much shame that goes along with it. You are amazing to share your story and experience.

Mickelle said...

Amanda, I don't think you necessarily can't talk or ask questions... a lot of times I really needed someone to talk to about things -- it just had to be in the right setting, you know?

There's a big difference between talking to someone when you know they care about you and trying to have a casual conversation before RS starts about something that literally brings you to tears before the words are even said.

I know you -- you've always been so tenderhearted and kind. I'm SURE you'd talk about it in the right way -- and that can bring a girl so much hope, healing, and camaraderie.

LaCee said...

I should post about our struggles as well! Great idea! I went through the same situations as you! By the way, your story about the baby shower brought back lots of my memories! I had a friend laughing at me very hard about a month ago when we went to a baby shower and as we were leaving I said, "this was the most fun I've ever had at a baby shower!", the shower was actually very boring as they did nothing but give the mommy gifts and talk about life for about 10 minutes and then go home. It just happened to be fun for me for the first time ever because I am finally expecting and was able to enjoy watching the mommy to be open gifts and actually, truly be happy for her and at piece with my life situation!

Bethany said...

Now that I'm in that boat... okay I really jumped to the other side of that boat, I've learned to curb my curiosity and be more sensitive to anyone about the issue of kids. You never know who might be struggling with that. I'm so glad that you finally got Betsy. There is always a listening ear here.

Anonymous said...

You know, I think "subfertile" and single women have a lot in common, at least when it comes to stupid comments. I know that people often make comments and ask questions when it isn't any of their business.
Today in church, for example, a man turned to my roommate and said, "When are you getting married?" Completely stunned, she simply gave the first answer she could think of: "Uh, I don't know." Yeah, like she has any control over it. Just like like women don't have much control over their fertility. Gah. People just need to mind their own business.

Gosh. Sorry. I didn't mean to hijack your blog.