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  • Annie Warshaw

    Annie Warshaw

    How to survive infertility, sanity intact

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    How to be a good friend to couples or women experiencing infertility, and how infertile women can advocate for themselves.

     

    “She defied the odds” is usually associated with heroic tales. He beat cancer. She won the election. Her business thrived despite ________ (insert natural disaster here). 

    When you are infertile, beating the odds is the most deflating, depressing and difficult pill to swallow. I have now officially defied all odds, hooray! Just another badge to put on my IVF vest.

    I am 29 years old and have been actively seeking infertility treatments for 1 year and 8 months. I have unexplained infertility, which basically means it's all a crap shoot. Doctors try some drugs on me, hope it works and, if doesn’t, throw a new slew of meds my way.

    To date I have had 1 IUI, 4 retrievals (1 of which failed, the other 3 resulted in 72 eggs), 4 failed transfers, 1 hysteroscopy and PGD testing. If the odds were in my favor, I would have been pregnant two transfers ago. But alas, even with a thick uterine lining and genetically perfect embryos, I am still not pregnant. Instead, I am waiting to do another test. 

    Two years ago I would have never expected to be a part of the IVF world simply because I didn’t know it existed. One in eight women experience infertility. That is an insane amount of people, Considering it is such a large population, why aren’t we talking about it more? There is shame associated with infertility due to strict gender binaries, lack of information regarding women’s health...the list goes on.

    We should not and cannot suffer in silence. Those who are infertile and fertile need to work together to ensure all women and men feel included and heard. April is Infertility Awareness Month and so I offer a few ways to help.

    Commandments of being a good fertile friend:

    • Do not tell your friends how to feel. 
    • Do not tell your friend to relax/ it will happen when it happens/ if they adopt they will get pregnant/ etc. etc. etc.
    • Do not complain about being pregnant.
    • Do not complain about how annoying it is to have kids.
    • Do not talk about your hormones like we don’t know.
    • LISTEN.
    • Be empathetic.
    • Be understanding when your friend can't attend your bris, baby naming, baby shower, etc.
    • Advocate for legislation that will help ensure insurance covers IVF.

    Resources for infertile friends:

    • Join a support group
    • Find a therapist who specializes in medical issues (specifically infertility).
    • Feel all your feelings and do not apologize for it.
    • Treat yo’ self—get a massage, buy new clothes, get a mani/pedi.
    • Talk to friends.
    • Do not blame yourself.
    • Check out resolve.org, a non-profit that provides support and resources to infertile people.
    • Check out theivftimes.com, my light-hearted blog about infertility.

    Infertility is hard. There are days where your brain doesn’t work, you can’t function, you cry, you laugh, you cuddle and visit the doctor. You are doing all of the right things and you are not doing them alone.

    Related articles:
    Women struggling with infertility: You will get through this
    Adopted kids aren't 'lucky'
    Your childless friend wants to help

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