Talking About the Taboo

When I first learned of my Infertility diagnosis I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the information.   Do you tell your family and friends?  Do you keep it a secret since it is a private matter? Would people closest to you even want to know or get all wigged out by the subject? As I attempted to cope with the news, i looked online to group discussion boards, stories,  and blogs of other people’s situations that were similar to mine.  To my surprise, they helped.  They inspired.  They gave me courage.  They gave me faith. The tears of sadness slowly turned into tears of determination.  So with that in mind I decided I wanted to tell my story. 

I’d like to start off by saying that I am not sharing my journey for pity, attention,  or sympathy.   I am telling it because like it or not-it is now a huge part of my life.  And there seems to be this huge taboo with talking about infertility.  I think a large part of that is because people aren’t informed enough about this disease.  I want to change that.  I want to inform and educate.  I want to inspire others who may be facing the same obstacles I am.  And more so I want to give people the hope and faith that they are not in this battle alone. 

I also want to preface this blog by saying I will try to be as positive as I can throughout this journey.   This part is going to be hard as I still have some really “bad days”.  However I truly believe that having a positive mind set and trying to find the silver lining in every situation has a major impact.  But I guess I should start from the beginning huh? 

I’ll give you all the details in a nut shell.  When I was 13 my appendix  ruptured.   As you know, your appendix is one of the vestigial organs that is filled with poison.  When it ruptured, it caused severe scar tissue to build up in my fallopian tube.  This was detected thru a HSG test.  An HSG test is a glorified X-ray that inserts blue dye thru the tubes.  If there is no damage to the tubes the dye should flow thru.  The dye stopped completely on my right tube.   From this test my dr concluded that I needed to have a laparoscopy surgery performed.   Her plan was to go in and remove the built up scar tissue inside. 

On February 25th I was admitted into Good Sam Hospital for my laparoscopy.  

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I had prepared myself for the worst case scenario: she was not going to be able to repair the damage to my right tube.   However as I awoke in the recovery room, there was no amount of preparation for the news I was about to receive.   As my husband Paul and mom came to each side and grabbed each hand, my heart dropped to the pit of  my stomach.  This was bad, worse than I imagined. The damage was too extensive and to BOTH tubes.   Despite my doctor’s attempt to cut out what she could, the dye wasnt able to make its way thru either side.   To say I was devastated would be an understatement.  I was barely able to choke out the words “will I ever be able to have children?” Paul explained that my dr felt I was the perfect candidate for IVF.   However I would probably never be able to have children without the help of IVF.   This was the day that my world momentarily stopped spinning. 

Infertility is a medically diagnosed disease that effects 1out of every 8 couples.  There are approximately 7.3 million people in the U.S. that are diagnosed with the disease.   Infertility is 1/3 attributed to the male partner,  1/3 attributed to the female partner,  and 1/3 attributed to both partners or are cases that go unexplained.   85-90% of these diagnoses are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures.   Fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies (ART) like IUI or IVF.  Infertility is much more than a disease-its a loss.  Its a loss of a dream. Its a loss of hope. Its the loss of an assumed future-this belief that you grow older, get married,  and have children.   Its a loss of a genetic legacy, the parenting experience,  and grandparent experience. And like any other loss, it should be grieved. 

Since infertility involves so many personal life issues it is often not talked about.  It becomes the taboo.  This is where we are failing! Before my journey began I was uneducated about infertility. I was ignorant.  It’s simply not talked about enough for the public to be able to understand the full effects. People think they are being supportive when they offer phrases like “well they didn’t say you could NEVER have kids”. But those who are diagnosed often have to deal with the fact that despite the world’s best technology-they may NEVER be able to have children. Or more importantly they may never have the MEANS to get the scientific help they need to obtain the dream that seems to be disappearing from within their grasp.  A typical round of one month of IVF is approximately $15,000.  And not one dime of this is covered under typical health insurance. Which is why for many people the journey is over from the minute they are diagnosed.   Medically it could be possible for them to have children, financially it is impossible.  

Since there seems to be such a taboo with talking about infertility, most people don’t know how to respond and they often unintentionally end up saying the wrong thing.  So instead of doing the best thing possible-(being supportive),  they end up causing more pain.  So why aren’t people talking about it? The most common reason is the feelings of inadequacy,  embarrassment, shame, and lowered self worth that come along with infertility.   The feeling that because you are struggling to have children, you are somewhat less of a man or woman than Sally or Timmy who are able to conceive on their very first attempt.   What people need to understand is that it is a disease! In fact April 20-26 is National Infertility Awareness week.  Cities around the US even put on a sponsored walk called The Walk of Hope.  I truly believe the more awareness that is raised on the subject, the easier it could be for couples experiencing infertility to cope with. And society as a whole would be better equipped on how to treat the sensitive issue.

Writing has always been an outlet for me to handle and cope with my emotions. If I can also help to raise awareness on the issue and  offer inspiration or hope to at least one other person, then I would consider this blog a win-win situation.   My journey is just beginning and you can be sure I am not going to quit before I give it one hell of a fight!!!!

“Whatever life throws at you,  even if it hurts, just be strong enough and fight through it. Remember strong walls shake, but never collapse. “

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