Archive for November 9th, 2007

Before I start with this, here’s a bit of background. I struggled against infertility for about six years, and have stuggled with infertility for the last two. I think there is a wide distinction between the two states.

The first, struggling against infertility, is that period during which you give your all, and I do mean all, in order to make it not so. To become fertile. To win the war against the bitterness and frustration of infertility. For some, this struggle ends with adoption. Others, such as my friend Emilie, actually emerge from the struggle having achieved pregnancy against great odds. For myself, the end of the struggle was the decision to stop trying, and to resign myself to childlessness.

The struggle with infertility is what comes later, when you stop striving to reverse it, and struggle with the realities and daily living of your life beyond the crisis of infertility. It’s the feelings that stay with you. It’s the way you live with the many recurring pains of infertility, knowing that you won’t really ever escape it.

I don’t think one ever completely heals from the wounds inflicted by infertility. Instead, I feel as though the struggle has left me as a kind of amputee – my dream for my family has been severed away. My wound is healed over, but has left me incomplete. I have phantom pains, in which my inner “fertile imagination” forgets the reality, and whispers to me, “when you have children…..”

So here is my summary thought on Infertility Awareness Week: I appreciate that RESOLVE and other organizations are working to bring the struggles of the 15% of couples that suffer from infertility to the attention of the general population, and particularly to our policy makers. Infertility treatment is too often perceived as a lifestyle-choice, or an elective-medical process, or worse, not perceived at all, but treated as a private shame.

But infertility awareness is not just for the fertile world. I need it too. I need to be aware of how infertility, and the struggles against and with infertility, have shaped me into who I am. I need to be conscious of how a dozen decisions each day determine whether I sit in a corner and define my life by my infirmity, or whether I win the race, even as an amputee marathon runner.

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