Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"If You Just Stop Trying, It Will Happen."

It is officially National Infertility Awareness Week. For the most part, I have chosen not to involve myself in all of the awareness-making, because quite frankly everyone that knows me knows I'm infertile, and I don't think that it's my job as an infertile to educate the masses.

Does someone with breast cancer necessarily feel the need to educate the public about their disease? No. But some choose to. My position is similar to that. Except that I write this blog, which is about me, and therefore a lot of it is also about infertility.

So instead of educating the masses about what it's like to be infertile, I am choosing to share with you (my readers, whoever you are) one of the best pieces of advice I've ever read, in response to the lovely fertile-given advice: "If you just stop trying, it will happen."

I figure the knowledge I've gleaned is best passed on to people in the trenches with me, as opposed to those who (at the end of my diatribe) will still have no idea what I'm talking about. I hope this helps you as much as it helped me.

"Despite the all-American "winners never quit" attitude, people in this country love to offer the advice of "stopping" as a cure-all for infertility: "I know someone who quit treatments, and the next month she became pregnant--with twins!" Or: "Just stop thinking about it so much, and it'll happen." Or, one of my all-time-favorites: "What you really need is a vacation." As if the entire medical community were participating in a massive conspiracy to make innocent people undergo ICSI, when all they really need to do is go scuba diving.

The "stop trying" mentality is the same sort of magical thinking described by "a watched pot never boils". But, as we all know very well, a pot--whether watched or not--will never boil if the stovetop isn't working. The most insidious aspect of this kind of statement is that it places the blame squarely on your shoulders: Instead of a low sperm count or polycystic ovaries, your inability to have a child is now due to your ridiculously overwrought neurotic tendencies. Nice."

(To read more, check out: Navigating the Land of IF. This book changed my life.)

And from one infertile to another: This diagnosis and the problems that you face are not your fault. These are obstacles that you have to overcome on a path that you didn't choose. Stay strong. Keep fighting. Raise awareness if you feel compelled to do so. Or don't.

But if you only do one thing for yourself today, my advice is to let go of the guilt.

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