I love to advocate about infertility. Really! I do! I run my blog to spread awareness. I give university lectures for free because I want to spread awareness. I am out to all my friends and family so they hopefully appreciate the struggle. Advocating is something I feel very strongly about. As a result of this passion I spend a lot of time talking about it. In fact, I spend so much time talk-yelling about advocacy that I wonder if people even hear me anymore. I also wonder if so many people scroll right past any advocacy posts or challenges because they aren’t ready to publicly disclose their infertility. And that’s a shame because advocacy does NOT have to be all about yelling from the rooftops that you are infertile. There are some smaller, more discreet, ways that you can still advocate while infertile. I feel it’s important to acknowledge all different levels of advocating so that people will hopefully do more of it!
See, advocating is so important when you are dealing with a diagnosis that is not well understood or visible. Infertility is both. You wouldn’t know I was infertile by looking at me. There is nothing about my appearance that gives it away. There’s also a great deal of stigma that comes with infertility and the want to pursue treatments in our society. Unfortunately, our silence, due to shame, can make this worse. But that doesn’t mean YOU have to out yourself! Not everyone wants to be known as the ‘Unpregnant Chicken’, I get it!! So, if you’re not willing to publicly disclose your infertility make sure you at least…
Advocate for yourself:
- Learn about your particular brand of infertility. It’s so important that you become a bit of an expert in your own issues. You want to know what the doctor is talking about when you go into the RE. You want to know that they aren’t overlooking something. You want to know that you fully understand anything you could be doing to improve your situation. Knowing about your potential pitfalls will help you speak to your doctor with an informed outlook. Advocating for yourself to your doctor is something everyone with infertility can be doing.
- Make sure you are looking into self-care when dealing with an infertility diagnosis. You will need to make sure that your partner knows how to support you and that you have things set in place to help you through each new month or treatment cycle. Being kind and making sure you have support will allow you to stay more sane during your ttc days. Voicing what you need is important and cathartic.
- Tell people close to you, when you’re ready. It is important that you not only receive support but also that the people around you understand what you are going through (to the best of their ability). Infertility is not a shameful secret. It only feels that way when you keep it hidden. Most times telling the truth shall set you free.
Feeling a bit bolder? Try advocating on a community level:
- Support FMC, donations are not publicly disclosed and the contribution you make go towards helping those of us who understand what it’s like.
- Write to an MLA or public figure in your area. They don’t know you, they won’t disclose your secret, but you may open their eyes to what the people they represent are going through.
- Lead a support group. Not ready to tell your friends and family what you’re going through? No problem! Running a support group doesn’t out you to anyone except those other couples who are going through infertility and looking to find a little solace in hard times. Hosting a group does not mean that you are feeling amazing either, you do not need to be fine with your infertility to host. Supporting others is a wonderful way to play the advocate.
- Join a forum for infertility on Facebook or Twitter or Reddit or what-have-you and support those who seek support where it’s safe to do so. You will be one of those people too, by joining these communities, and much support will be garnered to you in return!
And, of course, you can always advocate publicly, but only if it suits you:
- State on your personal social media accounts that you are infertile. Demand it be recognized by those around you. The perfect time to do this is during CIAW when you will have an easy in. But really any time is a good time to share! I was amazed how many close friends and family told me their own personal stories once I had opened up.
- Walk in an advocacy walk, if there is one in your area. Be one of the visible throng of walkers so that your community has a visual representation of how many and who is affected. If there isn’t one in your area, consider starting one!
- Start a website about your journey. I never thought that blogging would open up so many avenues to discuss my infertility, but it has! I also never expected I would love that, but I do! It has been amazingly freeing and I have certainly raised awareness and supported others on their journey. For me the disclosure has been worth it.
- Talk to schools and universities about infertility. Believe it or not, many schools would love to have a guest speaker about infertility. I have spoken to rooms of over 200 students and all my talks have gone over very well. I know not everyone wants to speak publicly to hundreds of people about their disease. But, if you do, know that most schools would welcome the opportunity. Find a course where infertility fits within the curriculum and reach out! It typically won’t be paid, but it’ll make you feel amazing.
These are all varying ways to advocate and really none of them are very hard to do. You don’t have to like all the suggestions, or do them, but they aren’t difficult.
The definition of the word advocate is two-fold:
- to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly.
2. a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause,
All of the suggestions above would fit under the umbrella of these definitions. So, don’t overlook forms of advocacy just because they aren’t obvious. In all honesty, you don’t need to be a public figure to do it! Advocating can be very rewarding. I hope you’ll give it a try!
Kaeleigh AKA: The Chicken