What I Wish I Knew Before Infertility:
This question was asked during a webinar for the recent release of the anthology: Infertilities: a curation. https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/infertilities-curation
The event was hosted by Literati bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI. Here are my thoughts, some of which were informed by the discussion:
- Fertility is NOT a given. It is a privilege not everybody has. Reproductive rights and infertility are intrinsically connected. Learn about Pronatalism and the intersections of privilege and power here: Intersectionality
- You are stronger than you realize, and will make it through this; and you will gain valuable life skills and perspective.
- This phase of your life is time-limited. At some point, it will change, because change is a constant in life. You may decide to change what you are currently doing, take a break, or your circumstances may change.
- Not making decisions is a form of decision-making.
- The experience of infertility can be traumatic, is high stress, and can lead to clinical depression and/or anxiety. There are many experienced professionals, and support groups out there. Seek those out. Resolve has a provider directory, and many other search engines let you filter for ‘infertility’. Certified perinatal mental health professionals (PMH-C) receive some training in Infertility and there is a provider directory here: https://psidirectory.com/
- Pursue or discover your passions when you can. Creative outlets are vital tools to help process your experiences and make meaning out of suffering. Organizations like the Art of Infertility provide community and a forum for a variety of creative expression around Infertility. https://www.artofinfertility.org/
- Find what centers you. This may include creativity, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, massage, exercise, etc, or some combination of those.
- Find a mantra. Mine was Que sera, sera, Whatever will be will be.
- This may be hard to hear if you are in the throes of it, but know that parenting is challenging, and requires so much energy, dedication and patience. Infertility extracts those same qualities, so if at all possible, don’t completely empty your ‘tank’ before you reach the finish line (whatever that may be).
- Lastly, know that we are somehow all intertwined and connected. So many people have stories around the desire to become parents to children, whether or not they are able to do so. Our stories may differ, but there are universal themes of love, longing and loss that are bigger than all of us.