I asked Charlene, the author of "A Divine Walk" blog to write a guest post about her struggles with infertility. Please take a moment to read Charlene's heartfelt story, and afterwards, check out her blog!
Hi, my name is Charlene Hertzberg, Gena asked me to do a guest post today for National Infertility Awareness Week. I'm so grateful that people like Gena are taking the time to help educate everyone about infertility. This year's theme for national Infertility Awareness Week is "Don't Ignore". It's such a great theme because infertility is definitely one of those issues that many people try to ignore. Those who are going through it often try to ignore it's impact on their lives. Those who are not dealing with it, often just don't know what to say. Our family has been dealing with infertility for nearly 10 years. It's been a struggle no doubt. We spent 2 1/2 years trying to conceive our son. We lived through the frustration and pain of trying and trying before I was diagnosed with PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome.) Then, we went through all of the tests and treatments to try to conceive. We did months of Clomid, a round of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), and a round of IUI (intra-uterine insemination) with ovulation induction medications. All of these treatments cause havoc on the body. The closest thing I can compare them to would be PMS on steroids. Both IVF and IUIs involve daily shots, lots of blood work, and lots of ultrasounds. Not to mention that they cost thousands and thousands of dollars (anywhere from several thousand for a medicated IUI cycle to 10s of thousands for IVF). There are no guarantees, but it's still worth it when what you want more than anything is a child to love. After our son was born, we soon began working on conceiving child number 2. My son is now 7 and we have yet to have any luck. Life has changed some, and we don't have the finances to do the medical treatments again now. Most insurances, including ours, do not cover any infertility treatments, so we are left on our own to come up with the money. Recently we have chosen to take an alternative approach to infertility treatments, taking advantage of the fact that PCOS is known to respond quite well to acupuncture. During our time dealing with infertility, we have learned a lot. One of the things I have noticed is how much people do not like to talk about infertility. It's an awkward subject for many people. Those who have it are afraid of being judged or afraid that people won't understand. Those who want to be supportive, don't know what to say and what not to say. Here are a few tips for talking about infertility: If you are dealing with infertility: -Confide in a few trusted friends. -Let those supporting you know what kind of support you need (don't expect them to read your mind.) -Let those supporting you know where your tender spots are emotionally, so that they won't say things that hurt. -Consider joining a group like RESOLVE that will give you a chance to talk with others going through similar issues. -Be open and honest as much as you feel comfortable. Don't be afraid to tell people what is going on. At the same time, if you are not comfortable with someone knowing, remember it is totally up to you to make the choice to share. If someone you know is dealing with infertility: -Ask how you can help support them. Do they want to talk about it, or would they rather not? -Find out if there is a time that is particularly hard for them, and if you can support them during that time with an extra hug, some time to talk, whatever they need. -If you are available, ask if they would like you to go some appointments with them. Husbands can't always take off for every appointment, and the emotional support is more valuable than you can imagine. -Listen and understand that every month the wound will be reopened when they find out that they did not get pregnant. Be understanding and let them vent about it. It's easy to wonder why we get so upset each month, but they are not just griping. Every month brings new hope, new fears, and can bring new sadness when it passes. There are a few things that you should avoid saying to someone who is trying to deal with infertility. Here's what NOT to say: "Why don't you just adopt?" Not everyone is called to adopt. My husband and I are big fans of adoption, yet the more we prayed about it, the more we felt it was not the way we were being led to go. There are many reasons people choose not to adopt, and some families haven't even ruled out adoption, but still want to try to have a child naturally. "It'll happen," "I know it'll happen," "You'll get pregnant soon," etc. The fact is, you don't know that it will happen and neither do they. These may sound like reassuring words, but they sting. Instead things like "I hope you get pregnant soon," "I'm praying for you," and "I'm rooting for you," are much kinder words that really convey what you are probably trying to say anyways. "Maybe you just aren't meant to have children" or "Maybe God just doesn't want you to have children." Even if you believe it's true, don't say it! This is one of the most hurtful things you can say to someone who is struggling with infertility. You don't know what they are "meant" to do or what God has planned for them. Choose to be supportive of their choice, and trust God to guide them to do what is right for their families. Whatever you do, don't hide infertility in the closet. 1 in 8 families deals with infertility issues. If we talk openly about it, those of us dealing with it get the opportunity to see that we aren't alone. To read about my infertility journey, visit my blog. Charlene Hertzberg A Divine Walk