Sunday, April 24, 2016

#StartAsking About #NIAW

Today kicks off National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). While many of us try to raise awareness all year, this is a special week dedicated to getting the word out even more. It's about sharing our stories. It's about letting others know they aren't alone. It's about educating the world around us. It's about awareness. 

Infertility is, in fact, a disease. 
Infertility comes in many different forms, most that you can't even see. Many forms of infertility are not easily detected. Many go unexplained. It can affect both men & women, and in different ways.  No matter the cause of your infertility, it affects the couple as a whole. It's devastating and difficult. BUT YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

This post is for everyone, not just those trying to conceive (TTC). This post is for those trying, in hopes of giving support and inspiration. This post is also for those who have never had to struggle, aka the lucky ones. This post is to raise awareness for you too, to help you understand those struggling. Chances are, you know MANY people struggling, whether they choose to share that fact or not. 

Photo from @thescientificstork 

This year's theme for NIAW is "StartAsking. 

Start asking how you can help those of us who struggle. 

Start asking about what we go through. 

Start asking how we are feeling or what we need in terms of support. 

Start asking about different kinds of infertility. 

Start asking about the process of fertility treatments, and how much of a toll it takes on us emotionally, physically, and financially. 

Start asking in order to learn more.

Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. That's A LOT of people. With those odds, many of your friends and family are likely struggling (or will struggle). Whether they choose to talk about it or not, we all need to be sensitive. You never know who is silently fighting a major uphill battle. 

Here are some links/tips that may help others understand more about infertility. 

25 Things to Say (and NOT to Say) (Click the link to open)

What is Infertility? (Click the link to open)

Support others... in any way you can.
Support comes in many different forms. We were fortunate to have received a lot of support from family & friends over the years. But there were also those who weren't as supportive or showed they didn't care. Sometimes friendships are lost (and made) because of these struggles; it's life, it happens. Don't make that mistake if you don't have to. Here are some ways you can support family & friends struggling with infertility...

-Show support in any way you can/ any way you're comfortable. Anything is more than nothing. 
-Ask how we are; Ask if we want to talk about it; Ask if we need anything.
-Ask how we feel (infertility is emotionally AND physically exhausting & painful)
-Ask what you can do to help during treatments (Do we need a distraction? Do we need some encouragement & someone to cheer us on? Do we need a hug? Do we need someone to keep us company on the drive to Dr appointments at 5am? Do we need to get out of the house? Do we need takeout because we can't get off the couch to make dinner?)
-Listen; Offer a tissue or a hug.
-Just be there... being there in any way is better than not being there at all. 

We've all had the friends who never asked how we were, never showed concern, and never really cared. Don't be that person. 

Men need support too... sometimes even more than us women. 

As I said earlier, infertility affects both men and women equally. In our experience, we have yet to come across couples in our boat... and understandably so. Men are often more fearful to open up and discuss their struggles, especially if it affects their manhood. We hope to be here for couples in our shoes and be a voice for them if needed. But we also need support from others in our shoes, too. Going through this for 4 years and only just recently coming across ONE couple in our exact situation (male factor infertility only; no sperm; can only conceive with donor sperm) makes it hard for us, too. I didn't have anyone to pull from when going through cycles because no one else was in our situation and that makes it more difficult. If we want to make a difference for the future of infertility, we have to speak out about it. Others won't know we need support if we don't ask for it.  

How can you help raise awareness this week?
Wear pink & blue. 
Paint your nails pink & blue. 
Read up on infertility & attempt to understand it a little more for yourself.
If you know someone struggling, ask them how you can help. Show interest & concern. Just be there for them. It's better than not being there.  
Share this blog post or one of the links above. 
Talk about it this week. 

If you wear  pink/blue this week,  or paint your nails pink/blue, email me a pic- I'd love to see it! 

Thanks for listening! Get out and read up on infertility this week. 

I'll be posting more frequently this week & participating in a few different projects put on by fellow bloggers who continue to inspire me to keep going. 

As Ellen DeGeneres always says, "Be kind to one another." 



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