Infertility is a common problem many people face, so why don't we talk about it? One woman opens up about her struggle in a letter to her baby-to-be.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 12% of women between the ages of 15-44 struggle with infertility and being able to carry a baby to full term, which means, if you're one of these women—like me—you're not alone. Dealing with the emotional side of infertility is challenging, and unfortunately, something not many people like to discuss.
April 24th-30th marks National Infertility Awareness Week. This powerful week began in 1989 to raise awareness about the disease of infertility, while encouraging individuals to take an active role in understanding their reproductive health. Resolve, a non-profit organization, spearheads this campaign, with the mission to promote equal access to the variety of family-building options available. This year, the theme "#StartAsking" is used to bring the issue of infertility to the forefront of discussions at the individual, community and national level.
Let's erase the stigma surrounding assisted reproductive technologies available in this era and embrace them as opportunities instead. I've decided to #StartAsking with this letter to by someday baby-to-be. Will you join me?
Dear Sweet Baby To Be,
I can already tell you're going to beat to your own drum! We thought you might show your face last month, but you decided it wasn't your time just yet. Your daddy and I were anxiously awaiting your arrival, and after secretly sneaking two pregnancy tests (yes—Daddy was adamant about mommy not taking these, he said it'd drive me nuts), I found out we were going to have to wait a bit longer for you.
Daddy helped me with the nightly medication that would help prepare my body for you. Of course I am the toughest of the tough, but I'm also a little sensitive. That's when your daddy stepped up to the plate. He was a champ, though I'm sure it wasn't easy for him. Each night, after he helped with my injections, he held me as I cried. I heard him sniffle a little too, which made me somewhat relieved in a strange way. It just means your daddy loved the thought of you as much as I did!
After the most trying two weeks in our marriage (making a baby is hard work!), I found out that the medication didn't work. It turns out, you were holding out for the right moment to make your debut and it hadn't come yet. So it was back to the drawing board for your daddy and me. We knew we had the option of giving this method another shot, but didn't know if that was the right choice for us, for you.
I cried a lot. I was jealous of new and expecting mothers. I felt incomplete and like less of a woman. But mostly, I ached for you. I had this hope that if I believed, prayed, and wished hard enough, you'd find a way to "magically" appear. Daddy, wise beyond words, had to remind me our "magic" wasn't going to be any less magical, it was just going to be different: "Liz, we want a baby. We know what odds are against us. Let's make this baby in whatever way gives us the highest odds of success."
So here we are, moving one step closer to meeting you (hopefully!) via IVF (in vitro fertilization), since we're told that increases our odds to 64% of bringing you into this world.
Now, Daddy and I are savers. (You'll recognize this one day when we teach you how to invest your money.) And, luckily we had already started funds for your college. But, we decided it's probably more important that we bring you into this world first. We're digging into our pocketbook and praying with everything we have that you're finally ready to make us a trio.
As we embark on this journey, we want you to know that we love you so incredibly much already. Regardless of what society says, research reveals, or your future boy- or girlfriend thinks, you are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are as much a person as anyone else. You were conceived in love, and you are absolutely perfect. You will be the most wonderful blessing in our lives, and we can't wait to welcome you into our family!
All My Love,
If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, join the conversation in a new series started by Elizabeth Shaw called Fertility Friday's.