In case you didn't know, this is National Infertility Awareness Week. I kicked it off with a serendipitous conversation with a woman in the parking lot of a Babies-R-Us. We swapped stories about our experience with IVF and egg donors as we each proudly showed off our 3 month olds. My young prince, Brady—named after a quarterback. Her little princess, Fiona, named after, well a princess. And each of our tales ending with the phrase, "and they lived happily ever after."
Why did strangers so easily start story-telling in between the parking stalls? Because for the last few years—seldom did a week go by—when I wasn't telling someone, something, about infertility. I guess you could call me a one-woman-awareness campaign. It's not that I intended to be the poster child… it's just that I was fed up with the magazine covers of older celebrity moms with their ‘miracle babies' who made no mention of infertility struggles.
Why so secretive? I would often wonder. Certainly there is no shame in having a medical issue that makes getting PG not so EZ. And no woman should bury her head just because she stepped forward to have a career. It's true: Mother Nature can be cruel; time has a way of slipping away; and not every relationship fulfills its promises. But isn't it wonderful that we live in a day and age when medical science gives us options that our mother's couldn't even dream of ??
Once I started opening up about my own infertility… I received an outpouring of encouragement. After showcasing my struggles in a series of television reports (which required me to publically admit my age) my Facebook was flooded with comments, people started bragging about my blog, and I would be stopped in the frozen food aisle to have heartwarming conversations.
If you would have asked this reporter 5 years ago if I knew anything about National Infertility Awareness Week, I would have said, "Say what?" But here are the facts: National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW) is a movement that began back in 1989. It was started by the people at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Foundation. They wanted to raise awareness about infertility and encourage the public to better understand their reproductive health. In 2010 National Infertility Awareness Week became a federally recognized health observance by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Now, we are far from having our own parade (although I imagine our floats would come in very creative shapes). But RESOLVE is hoping more of us will march forward with the banner, "You are not alone" (which just happens to be the theme for the week). After all, Infertility impacts 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age.
Do we need a National Infertility Awareness Week? Yes. Why not? If there can be an Annual Ice Cream Month (which is July, by the way)—then why not give the ‘fertility challenged' a week? But I say, why limit ourselves? Let's make Fertility Awareness a day-to-day operation. Talk to your girlfriends. Open up to your family. Encourage your company to include fertility treatments in their insurance plan. Talk to your 20-something niece about freezing her eggs. Tell your 30-something co-worker there is never going to be a perfect time to have a kid. And if you don't have something to say? Well… then, just listen when a friend opens up to you about her issues involving infertility. No need to be judgmental. Just be genuinely interested.
And while I never intended to be the poster child for infertility awareness, RESOLVE should know I'm available (and genuinely interested).
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