Thursday, April 29, 2010
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.
I’m posting this a little late in the week because I’ve been struggling to figure out how to approach this on the heels of my recent pregnancy announcement and musings on what this development might mean for my blog.
If you’ve read our story as outlined in the announcement post, then you know that infertility is still very much a part of our experience and our pregnancy.
I’ve written about the complexities of chronic illness and infertility several times over the past several months/years, but still many of the specific details of our journey remain offline. That’s just what works for us. But over the last few years, I’ve found myself reading infertility blogs more regularly than I’ve read chronic illness blogs. The humor, grit, empathy, and authenticity I’ve discovered in so many women’s stories have been both informative and inspiring.
I never wanted to turn my blog into an infertility blog. Rather, I wanted to discuss infertility within the context of chronic illness and explore the overall challenges of building a family despite illness, whichever path that entailed. I’ve always been a strong champion of the idea that specific symptoms and disease labels are less important than the universal issues we face as patients: acceptance, guilt, or control, etc.
I’ve realized the same holds true in the infertility community. We all have different stories and different reasons for our struggles. In my case, it was easy to feel a little isolated: unlike so many women (and men), I don’t have reproductive problems aside from those caused by my lung disease. I mean, how many people are out there writing posts about a genetic lung disease making them infertile? The precipitating issue and the ensuing pregnancy challenges my illnesses pose are indeed rare, but the overall experience is similar: we all have to fight really hard for something that is natural and automatic for other people, and the avenues we ultimately take to build our families often differ from most of the people in our lives.
As I processed all of these thoughts this week, the link between what I wanted to say about the future of this blog and National Infertility Awareness Week suddenly became clear: it’s all about transition.
People who experience infertility transition from thinking pregnancy is a given to realizing it will be a struggle. Often, the question moves from when pregnancy will happen to when parenthood will happen, because so many of us who go through this do not end up with a viable pregnancy. It’s a transition in the expectations we had for our families and for the process we thought would be involved.
A colleague and friend of mine remarked that “the waiting makes it all the more precious” and I could not agree more. If there’s one thing we all share, it’s the waiting, the excruciating, mentally and physically exhausting waiting. For those of us fortunate to have some sort of a happy ending, hopefully the preciousness of it is universal, too.
I hope I never take a second of this for granted, knowing the four years of difficulties that went into it and knowing there are women who are not as fortunate, women who have to transition into totally new realities for their lives, ones that may not include children.
So while we’re discussing transitions, I so appreciate all the warm wishes and support as we transition from infertility to high-risk pregnancy and impending parenthood.
I do plan to discuss our pregnancy, but within the context of chronic illness and, again, the more universal issues of parenting with chronic illness. This won’t become a pregnancy or motherhood blog, and for many reasons: the privacy of our expanding family; my readers still living through infertility; adhering to the main purpose of this blog, which is to discuss chronic illness in young adults. I’m not a belly-shot person, and if I write letters to our child, they, like a lot of this personal journey, will remain offline. When I do have pregnancy stories and moments I think will resonate with the community of young adults living with chronic illness, I will definitely share them.
In fact, I’ve got a bunch of posts in mind already, tidbits I’ve been storing up for a few months now.
But this week? This week is about transition, so I will hold off. I’m getting there, and I’m so grateful to have you along for the ride, and so grateful to have learned so much from so many of you as we’ve progressed.