Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

My mother (f***ing) journey

posted by Leila Z. on ,

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If you were to see me on the bus, or out running, or at work, you might see me as lots of things. Tall. Smiley. Generous. Nose in a book. One eyebrow cocked about some odd thing I notice. You might have noted my laugh, or my mothering spirit. One thing you probably wouldn't guess is that I'm infertile.

It's a label that I avoided for a long time. Officially, it takes a year of unsuccessfully trying to conceive for a woman under 35, and 6 months for a woman over 35, to earn this designation. Both of those landmarks are unfortunately but a distant memory for my husband and me. When I was eventually diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), it came as a huge shock. I am healthy, active, educated (which really has nothing to do with anything, I know, but felt like it should be good for something), and come from a family of 4 children. Despite all those advantages, I have never been pregnant, to date.

It's an intensely private issue, and perhaps because of this, many women (myself included) feel extremely isolated when they encounter infertility issues. In fact, I didn't really want to write this post, and have found endless ways to postpone writing this. However, this week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and 1 out of every 8 couples struggles to have biological children. I had zero idea of any of this until I was living that reality, and I guess I'd like there to be a little more sensitivity and awareness around this issue in the world.

Now that I've said that I'm infertile, what more is there to say? Well, lots. But that's for another day. So for the time being, I'll just say this: be kind. The grief of infertility is like none that I've ever known. So, unless it's a close friend, don't inquire about family planning. Don't tell them to relax. Don't complain about your own pregnancy. And please don't say "you can always adopt" or talk about God's plan. I have found this website to be a pretty stellar summary of infertility etiquette (and a wealth of other infertility information and education), if you're interested.

For my husband and me, the journey continues. We are doing what we can to get pregnant and stay sane, and beyond that are just trying for serenity. It's hard fought, but it's coming. In the meantime, if you see me out and about (and heaven forbid if you should see me on that Yom Kippur of infertility, Mother's Day), give me a smile, a wave, a wink of solidarity. Talk to me about the wide, wonderful world out there, and please don't ask how many children I have.  

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