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Archive for November 10th, 2007

To begin, I need to thank my friend, Emilie, for pointing out to me that this was National Infertility Awareness Week. Her reminder is not only an indication of what a kind and sensitive friend she is, but also remarkable in that she gave birth to her second child just ten days ago! I’m so fortunate to have a friend in Emilie, who not only understands my situation and feelings regarding infertility, but shared my journey through every step. And by sharing, I mean that she also suffered the traumas and stresses of two very difficult years while of her own infertility experiences as she struggled to get pregant via ART. If you want to hear more about her story, be sure to check out blogservations.wordpress.com to read her blog.

Because today is the last official day of National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to close out the week by thinking about what infertility awareness really means, and how it is observed. I had a long drive in my car last night, from Macon back to Atlanta, and so I had plenty of time to think about it.

First, I think that, admirable as it is to have a National Infertility Awareness Week, the first week in November may not be the most appropriate time to bring attention to our plight. How about the first week of May, as we approach the agony and indignity of Mother’s Day? That’s when women inflicted with infertility wish and pray that people would recognize that all women who wish to be mothers aren’t. That when the minister preaches a sermon on the blessings of motherhood, and how children are a gift from God, the infertile women in the congregation can’t help but cringe inside and wonder, “why wasn’t I blessed with children? Why didn’t God grant me children? Was I bad? Did I offend Him? Does He not trust me with children? Does God think I would be a bad mother?”

Another appropriate week for National Infertility Awareness Week would be the first week of June, leading up to Father’s Day. This is the time when infertile women feel particularly guilty and inadequate, and often angonize over how their husbands feel, if they grieve and feel a sense of loss, as the calendar approaches that day that celebrates fatherhood. “He deserves to be a father, to not have a broken wife. He would be such a good father. Would I have had sons that look like him? What would he have looked like holding an infant child in his strong and loving hands? Does he blame me for not giving him children to rough-house with, to throw a baseball with, to teach to ride a bicycle? Has he forgiven me for failing him in this?”

Halloween is another time when infertile women are particularly aware of their loss and their invisibility. No children to dress in cute costumes, but watching an endless parade of children laughing and running happily across our lawns. Yes, we know we can turn off the light and refuse to open our doors to them, but we are drawn to them and desperately want to have children in our lives in whatever way possible, despite our pain.

Finally, the week that for me would be most appropriate as National Infertility Awareness Week would be the week leading up to Christmas. How painfully aware is the infertile woman of her status during this time! Everything about the holiday season revolves around children. Santa Clause doesn’t come to our homes. There’s no reason to get up early and rush to our presents. There’s no excited eagerness, cookies left on plates next to a glass of milk, no working late at night as a parenting team to assemble toys. Even the life of the extended family revolves around children. The families with children get to make the decisions regarding when and where the extended family meets to celebrate the holidays. And the infertile women smile, and whither a little a little inside while trying to comply and not seem like a “whiner”. Afterall, we have no weight in the argument; we haven’t provided the grandchildren, we haven’t any stock in the Christmas get-together.

So, after 700 words, here’s my point: National Infertility Awareness Week is obviously scheduled for the convenience of those who don’t suffer from infertility, so as not to interfere with more child-friendly observances. For the rest of us, we observe Awareness of Our Infertility Week at multiple times throughout the year.

[Postscript: I do not intend for this blog to be a blog about infertility, but a blog about me and my thoughts in general. No doubt, my struggle with infertility have influenced my thoughts and continues to have an impact on my life. But, I try not to define myself by my infertility – I am more than an infertile woman. And this is more than an infertility blog.]

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