Each year, National Infertility Awareness Week is held in April. For some, it is the chance to give their struggle a voice. Infertility is defined by the CDC as the inability to conceive a pregnancy after a year of trying (2020). Infertility is physically grueling, but many do not understand the emotional impacts it can have on someone. Grief, anger, jealousy, resentment, and exhaustion are all common emotions when struggling to achieve pregnancy. Each month can feel like a mini grief cycle – waiting for ovulation, trying to conceive, the two week wait to see if pregnancy was achieved, and for many, the arrival of a period.
Raise your hand if someone has told you something like, “You’re young, just be patient! Just do IVF or think positive and it will happen.” The reality is your thinking has nothing to do with the fact you are not pregnant yet. Infertility is a medical diagnosis. The most well-meaning friends and family can struggle to find the right words. Comments like these can leave us feeling dismissed or misunderstood. Finding support in our relationships can be tough but not impossible. Help others help you. Try being more direct about what kind of communication you would like to keep through treatments. Giving people guidelines can help them understand how to support you. Is checking in once a week helpful? Do you prefer not to talk about your treatments at all? Do others need a reminder that you need the space to process both the positive and negative outcomes you face?
Caring for yourself is a necessity during infertility. Cling to the things that bring feelings of comfort. Understand your triggers. Is the thought of attending that baby shower overwhelming you right now? Consider sending virtual support instead. The stress of failed treatments can be heartbreaking. Allow yourself the extra rest you need on these difficult days.
To the one hoping for a baby, I see you. I know that your strength and resilience are not a choice right now. May you find the strength of community through your infertility.
“I think it’s brave that you get up in the morning even if your soul is weary and your bones ache for a rest.
I think it’s brave that you keep on living even if you don’t know how to anymore.
I think it’s brave that you push away the waves rolling in every day and you decide to fight.
I know there are days when you feel like giving up, but I think it’s brave that you never do.”
Written by: Erin Barry, LPC, PMH-C
Please visit the following resources for additional support:
Resolve: The National Infertility Association