When we decided to grow our family, neither of us thought anything about it. At 21 and 22, we assumed that fertility was on our side. But after a full year of trying to conceive (with nothing happening), we headed to the doctor, who promptly slapped us with the ‘unexplained infertility’ label and sent us along to a fertility clinic. It took another six months to finally get a diagnosis, and then several months more to get pregnant with Miss K. Explaining infertility to friends and family was incredibly difficult…and there are things I wish people knew about the disease that is infertility. In honor of Resolve’s National Infertility Awareness Week, I’m resolving to know more (and help others know more) about what infertility is, how it affects people, and when to seek help.
Though high school health class would lead us to believe otherwise, there is actually only a tiny window in which a woman can get pregnant each month/cycle. Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler is the best resource I’ve found to explain exactly what goes on in the body (hint…chances are, you’ll learn something new). Statistics show that about 30% of couples get pregnant their first cycle trying, 80% are pregnant within six cycles, and 85% have conceived within a year. Once you hit that one year mark with no success, its smart to head to the doctor; a fertility specialist can run some tests to make sure everything is okay. If you’re 35 or older, doctors recommend only waiting 6 months, so you don’t waste valuable time. About 90% of all couples conceive naturally (a number that gives immense hope when you’re in the throes of infertility), while the remaining 10% will seek help.
So what exactly is infertility? At its very core, it is the inability to get (or stay) pregnant. Different time limits are placed on a diagnosis; most doctors agree that one year of trying without success is the starting point. All manner of syndromes, diseases and hormone imbalances can come in to play; males and females are affected equally, and over 25% of infertile couples have more than one factor contributing to their infertility. 25% of women’s infertility has to do with cases like mine, where ovulation is either irregular or absent. Infertility is much more common than we are lead to believe (and it gets swept under the rug all too often).
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week; a week where women (and men) all across Canada and the US call attention to infertility and advocate for themselves and others. Though I sit on “the other side” of infertility, I will always carry the memory of that pain with me. I have no idea what will happen in the future when we look to expand our family again, but I do know that I will never take for granted the wonderful gift we have been given in Kennedy.
To all of you still in the trenches, know that I am praying for you and thinking of you often. To those who have had an easy time conceiving, please remember that its not so simple for everyone. Your careless words and offhand comments can be painful and cut deep. And to those, like me, with miracle babies…keep on keeping on. We’re a tight knit community even still, and I love you all.