Another Canadian Infertility Awareness Week (CIAW) has come to a close and I must say I am proud to be Canadian and infertile, never thought I would EVER say that. The use of social media to engage people in a dialogue around infertility awareness was fantastic. There were many touching stories, blogs and not to mention videos shared that really captured the joys and struggles so many of us face. Listen, if I can be 100% candid with you, I used to admire those willing to share their journeys over the course of the CIAW, so much it almost weighed on the side of jealousy. They had so many things, which up until recently, I didn’t think I possessed: strength, courage, passion, confidence and the list could go on. They did it, they ‘came out’! They were ballsy enough to reveal the harsh reality of infertility. I wanted to be able to share my journey too but felt for some reason that I could not. I used to envision a ‘coming out party’ for myself. Full of colour… Diana Ross’ “I’m… coming…. OUT” playing loudly in the background, big smile on my face and oh confetti, lots and lots of confetti. I had imagined the coming out party of all parties. Loud and proud, hands in the air, celebrating that I am unapologetically infertile. But needless to say, it never happened that way…
I always wondered why was it so easy for others to stand stall and confidently label themselves with infertility. I would constantly compare myself and my journey to theirs. I didn’t think I could get the courage to start talking about my challenges with becoming pregnant. I quickly learned that it was foolish to compare my hopes, dreams and even outcomes to others. Doesn’t it sound like one of those lessons your mom always tried to teach you when you were younger? But she was right, it wasn’t fair to compare myself. If anything I should allow the stories to inspire me along my path, to do what I felt was right and in my own timing. I realized that sharing my journey didn’t have to be about the glitz and glam of social media… it was as simple as having one conversation!
Now I get it, there is a lot of pain, hurt and so many other emotions surrounding your journey. It can be hard to share with people, especially the ones we love the most. They can sometimes be misguided in their attempts to understand or even show compassion. Living through disappointment in front of others can also be hard, even humiliating at times. But I have also learned that you can get some of the best support from where you least expect it and you won’t find out until you engage in that one conversation. Having this one conversation does not include your spouse/partner. They are in the trenches with you daily so it’s a good idea to seek outside solace and perspective. It could be a parent, friend, colleague, or relative. It could also be a member from your religious practice, a doctor or even a counsellor. I’ll even go as far to say this… a lot of people talk about the negativity around social media but I am here to tell you it saved my life (specifically private Facebook groups and Instagram). I uncovered a world where I no longer felt alone, no longer isolated by my inabilities and could proudly celebrate my destined path of infertility with women and men much like myself. I was welcomed into a club, a sorority or frat of sorts with likeminded individuals… bonded by a teeny thread, a common goal of wanting to grow a family.
Sharing my journey did not happen overnight. But once I started talking about it and at my own pace I felt more comfortable in my journey. I realized that I do possess the strength, courage, passion and confidence to share my infertility journey… but at my own pace… and with whom I choose. At the end of the day you control the privacy settings on your story, you choose how, when and if that dialogue is supposed to happen.
So why am I writing this now, after CIAW? Well simply, because it’s still time! We use CIAW as an excuse. It’s seen as the one time of year we should feel empowered and ready to share with the world our story and that’s simply not the case. Just because CIAW is over doesn’t mean your time to share is not NOW. It is the proverbial here and now. The time that feels right to you and in a way that feels right for you. You need to share – for your own sanity. Now I am not trying to tell you to scream it off the mountain tops, but hey if you are comfortable, feel free to do so. But for the rest of us, we need to start talking about it. Most importantly do it with someone you trust – maybe even someone you may normally confide in. Some of us can stand tall and mighty in the face of society on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and many of us, if not most of us, will choose to share on the small stage, in face to face dialogue and that’s ok. We all play an important role in infertility awareness and bringing awareness to this disease – one person’s efforts are not greater than the next. SO the next time you envy someone’s ability to share their journey don’t, it’s your personal choice.
So here I am now, sharing… it’s taken me years to get here. Am I no longer ashamed of my diagnosis? To be honest, I don’t think I ever was…. I think I was more afraid of failing in the public eye. Not being able to achieve what comes so naturally for others. However, I have learned this – the rarity and exclusivity of my diagnosis is very much a part of me and who I am and it’s something I will never apologize for. Infertility is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a diagnosis, it’s a disease but by no means does it define me or you. In order to reclaim your sanity and maybe even strip away some of the preconceived stigmas you can start and have just one conversation. Taking the first step is the hardest but then you’ll be able to put one foot in front of the other and soon my dear you will be running. Running with your heart open wide full of pride, ready to take on infertility, ready to take on the world.
Latoya aka infertilesoil