Sunday, April 19, 2015

Infertility Awareness Week 2015

She hasn't ever seen a positive pregnancy test, despite years of trying.

She got pregnant on her honeymoon, but never got a baby in her arms.

She gets pregnant several times a year, but at this point she can hardly tell the difference between a period and a miscarriage.

She has never had a period because she doesn't have a uterus.

He sees a child playing in the distance and is instantly gripped with sadness over his own loss.

He tries his best to comfort his wife, but he feels empty and broken inside and doesn't know what he has to even offer her anymore.

There are so many ways to live with the cross of infertility. Many of them are silent. Most of them are lived in the private moments away from the rest of the world's view. And for those who struggle with infertility through the lens of their faith, it can seem an endlessly lonely journey. Lonely...but yet when you reached out to all of those surrounding you for the Sign of Peace at church this week, several of those people had a personal connection with infertility themselves. The statistics tell us that in a room full of just a handful of people...even those who have children... you will be in a room with someone who is struggling (or has struggled) with infertility.

Infertility is a constant undercurrent of pain beneath an otherwise tranquil surface, 
for most who struggle with it.

The women and men who live through these gut-wrenching realities are your close friends. They are your family. They are your coworkers and acquaintances. And they are not nearly the minority they seem by how little infertility is spoken about. You have at least one person, if not several people, in your life right now who are actively struggling with infertility.

Actively Struggling. That's a big phrase, but what does it mean when it comes to infertility? We're going to talk a lot about actively struggling this week on the blog, so make sure to check back for some expansion on that phrase, what it means, and what you can do to help. And rest assured we'll offer you solid answers when we present the struggles of infertility to you this week.

Defining the Beast. Infertility is lived in many forms. We have to understand and define what it is and what it isn't before we can build context for how to deal with it. This week, you'll read about those who struggle with primary IF (they've never had a child), secondary IF (they are infertile after having a child), miscarriage (they conceive, but lose their baby), ectopic pregnancy (they are faced with ethical dilemmas involving medical treatment, with the baby's life and the mother's health simultaneously at risk), recurring pregnancy loss (they conceive over and over, but never get a living child), stillbirth (their baby doesn't live to natural birth), and premature infant death (their child dies soon after birth). It's not just one thing in one solitary form, as you can see.

Awareness of Infertility. This week is considered to be Infertility Awareness Week. You're not going to find us talking a lot about awareness though. As far as we're concerned, infertile couples are plenty aware of their infertility already. And for everyone else (those not experiencing well as those experiencing super fertility)...we're pretty sure you understand that some people aren't living your situation and that infertility is the opposite end of the spectrum. In fact, many other Catholic IF bloggers tackle the topic of spreading awareness - and they do it well - so we're going to stick with what we can offer the topic. You are guaranteed to be aware if you follow along with this blog series, so don't feel like you are missing out!

Litany of Platitudes. You can find refuge from every struggle in the Bible, including infertility they say. Yes, and you will also find that every Biblical figure who struggled with infertility was eventually given a child by God at the end of their trials too. How much solace is that for a woman with no uterus? We're going to explore the litany of platitudes that make infertility more difficult. And we're going to talk about how Scripture can be helpful if we approach it the right way. Similarly, you might be meaning well as a Christian in how you approach others with God's Word (but simultaneously be causing excruciating pain for a friend or family member of yours) follow along this week and we'll share ideas on how you can stop hurting and start helping.

Choosing to Thrive. You'll not find any perfect end to this blog series. And you can rest assured that you won't find an ultrasound photo at the end of it either. Instead, we'll be talking about marriage and what God calls us to be to our spouse, with or without children. We'll talk a little about how that intersects with our lived faith, day to day. And we'll talk about the stages of infertility that don't involve crossing over. If the entire journey is juxtaposed as "stuff to sort through until you get a baby", then the pain we feel from infertility isn't purposeful. There is purpose to suffering and God's plan can be found amidst even this awful reality for so many couples.

Good IntentionsYes, yes, the path to hell is solidly lined with them. We all know this. What does carrying the cross of infertility have to do with any of that? We're going to talk about that this week as well. Infertility is not a journey of finding solace in other things. It is not a journey to be lived through the trite advice of others, as they try to make sense (out loud, most often painfully) of things that don't make sense. Infertility is a symptom of something that is wrong and no amount of trivializing, redirecting, or trying to diminish the pain a couple experiences with it will make it better. Good intentions can be turned on their heel into what Christ really asks of us...but they more often get turned into IVF rounds for those experiencing infertility. We're going to share a few truths on that vein.

Just by taking the time to read, share, and talk about this topic, you are helping to drive the conversation towards healing. When infertility stops being the painful undercurrent, couples will find the courage to speak about their own experience with it more. Let's have the conversation this week - in posts, in comments, in shares across social media. Let's ask questions. Let's be willing to listen. And let's be willing to not have answers when we are faced with the struggles of infertility. Compassion will lead us through this together. I'm convinced there is no other way.