Infertility: Having an Advocate When You’re Too Weak to Be an Advocate

Since it’s Infertility Awareness Week, I’ve had our struggles (past and possibly future) with infertility in mind a lot. I’ve read some incredible posts already that have moved me, often to tears. I just want to say one thing to the kind souls making these posts: Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

All of this has really brought to the forefront of my mind recently just how badly women and men suffering from infertility need advocates in the world. We need our friends, fertile and infertile alike and in every variation in between, to be a voice, to remind the world that we’re there.

Infertility is so often a silent, invisible cross that we bear. Maybe our closest friends and family know something about it, or maybe it’s just between us and our spouse. But it’s oh so very rarely that someone in the worst of it puts it all out there for the world to see and doesn’t keep it from anyone. And that is just fine, because we’re vulnerable. We’re already in one of the most painful positions imaginable and since people tend to be accidentally hurtful when they’re trying to be supportive, it can be that much harder to share a burning ache that most people, thankfully, have never had to experience.

But that doesn’t mean that we’re not desperate to be heard, to be seen.

I know that I always wanted (and often still do) to wave my arms and jump up and down screaming, “I’m here! I’m here! I’m here! I count too, and my vocation to motherhood is a real thing!” But I was always terrified of not being able to control the information once it was out there.

That’s the thing, for many of us, I think. We’re already in such pain and so much of what should be such a private process for us (just us, our spouse, and God) has already been picked apart and laid bare before our doctor’s eyes, our NFP instructors perhaps, and anyone who thinks they should have an opinion about our family size (specifically its lack thereof.) We’ve already been told when we need to be intimate, on what medications, and how. We’ve already had more trans-vaginal ultrasounds and blood draws than you can shake a stick at. They don’t even phase us anymore. But still, we feel vulnerable and raw. And it’s scary to share that and risk being under a microscope again.

That’s why we desperately, desperately need you. Most of us are too tender right now to be an advocate for ourselves, but we would give almost anything to have an advocate. Someone just to occasionally remind the world (especially as Mother’s Day draws near) that we are here.

We are all around you, even though we might be hard to spot between the cultural norm of waiting nearly a decade to have children or choosing to have “just one or two.” There are so many of us that have been waiting and hoping for motherhood and fatherhood since day one. We’ve been open to life in every way possible and we’ve sacrificed so much to adhere to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and sanctity of human life, despite our yearning to become parents however we can.

So if you can, whatever your fertility status is, say something. Acknowledge us–our presence and our struggle–this and every week. Share one of these amazing articles, a picture, a prayer. Just be a voice if you can be one.

Now that we’ve been given the gift of our miraculous pregnancy, I’ve been feeling called more and more to become that voice. As some of the intensity and utter rawness of our infertility begins to scar over (it will never leave us entirely, I know,) I feel the Holy Spirit asking me to step out one toe at a time and advocate for my sisters and brothers. I’m still scared, and scarred, but I’m trying to learn.

Will you join me, if you can?

Advocacy and Infertility

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Finally Back (An Update On Our Miraculous but Complicated Pregnancy)

Hello, friends, if I may still call you all that after having vanished into the abyss for another 2 months. I have some other posts that I’ve been meaning to/needing to write, but I feel like I owe you a little context/update/explanation first.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anujraj/3518252658/

Sorry to have been gone, but it’s just been the sort of season of life that requires your full, active attention (not the kind of attention that writes posts in your head during showers and then forgets about them afterwards.) Originally, it started with just being busy at work since First Communion season was approaching fast and we had a lot of weekends and late nights to work. And I was just exhausted and burned out.

But shortly after all of that, we were diagnosed at our 20 week ultrasound (which actually took place at 18 weeks) with a placenta previa (the statement that alcohol increases the odds of previa is is mis-citation of the scholarly article–ignore it. I put in a correction request.) Which is NOT super uncommon at all for that mid-point ultrasound. From what I’m told, about 10-20% of women are diagnosed with it at the point and for all but 2-3% of THOSE, it clears up all on its lovely own. No problema.

But when have you ever known me or mine to ever do anything by the book? Yeah. You guessed it–it hasn’t moved! Most ladies start having bleeding episodes sometime during the 3rd trimester, usually close to term, when there’s a lot of extra pressure on the cervix/placenta area and the BH contractions start. Rebel that I am, however, I started with the bleeding at just 23 weeks. Which is a terrifying time to bleed because most hospitals won’t perform serious interventions until you’re at 24 weeks (viability.)

Thankfully, the bleeding stopped and baby has been good as gold the whole time (I’ll say that now before anyone starts to really stress–no matter what’s happened with this placenta nonsense, he’s been blissfully unaware with a beautiful heart rate, movement pattern, and continued growth.) We were put on home bed rest, which was unpleasant and difficult with so much chaos happening at work, my desire to do all the things, and no serious internet at home (as in no streaming options available,) but we were making lemonade.

Hear me roar! (Please tell me someone gets this. I’ll hide in my corner if no one does.)

For 10 days. And then the second bleed, which was worse and even more terrifying (except for the relief of knowing that we were past 24 weeks), happened. Thankfully that also stopped itself after about 8 hours off-and-on, but they kept us here at the hospital (which we keep accidentally calling a hotel–our standards are high, yes?) for the next 3.5 weeks. And that’s been rough–but we made lemonade again as best as we can. They have wifi here to stream netflix and the staff COULD. NOT. BE. MORE. AMAZING. Seriously, I’ll never be able to thank all of the nurses, techs, and even the cleaning ladies here enough.

We got to go home on Thursday, which was both scary and wonderful since we knew that the bleeding was only going to pick up. But since I hadn’t bled in several weeks, our doctor really wanted to give us a chance to go home. It was lovely to try out our new bedroom furniture and mattress that had been delivered while I was gone. So lovely.

For 2.5 days (three nights!) I woke up yesterday morning to more bleeding which meant–back to the hospital! We’re not sure how long we’re going to be here for, although it’s quite likely for the duration of the pregnancy (which we pray will be until mid-June or early July and not earlier.)

It’s not quite like this.

Bed rest is not nearly as fun as it may sound (imagine having people chastise you every time you get up to pick something up off the counter on your way to the bathroom,) but we’re just SO unfathomably grateful that we’re here, in a safe place, still pregnant, and pregnant at all. This little miracle baby is just trying to earn his title again and again. I’m so grateful for all of the blessings that God has given us. I know so many of you, dear friends, would trade places with me in a heartbeat (I know I would have–and may again, infertility is a lifelong battle for most of us–without a moment’s hesitation.) So while I want to be real about the struggles of this season of our lives, I want you to know that I don’t take the gift of these struggles for granted. And that I’m offering them up for each and every one of you.

If you’d like to email me or leave me a comment with specific intentions that you want me to pray for, I’d be more than honored to do so. That way, every lonely day, every IV stick and blood draw and weird steroid shot that makes your butt numb, every baby shower I’ll miss, every time I’m utterly exhausted and confused about when or if we’ll ever go home, every time I long to be able to set up our nursery but can’t, every time I’m exhausted from not sleeping in the hospital and an unexpected “visitor” from some department or other just walks on it, all of those will be offered up for you and your needs. Because all of that–it’s SO, so worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for where we were this time last year for anything.

Despite all of the unpleasantness, my heart is SO full of joy and gratitude for the gift of this life. Thank you, thank you, thank you, God!