This week was the week of my retrieval. It is also National Infertility Awareness Week. Ferring pharmaceuticals held a campaign this week to spread awareness about infertility with the hashtag #talkingabouttrying. I wanted to speak to this because I also believe it is important that women talk about trying and it is a huge part of why I started this blog.
Opening up about my infertility has been such a blessing for so many reasons. Below are the top 5 reasons I #talkabouttrying in no particular order.
1) To help people find the right doctor
This really was, in the beginning, the top reason why I started speaking very loudly about my experience. I finally found the right doctor for me, Dr. Braverman, but it was a long path to get to him. And I felt that I had been misled away from him by many of the doctors I met through this journey.
Dr. Braverman practices Reproductive Immunology. Unfortunately, at the time I was trying to have my first child, a lot of doctors at top clinics would speak negatively about treating immune issues in pregnancy. They would say things like "the immune system does not affect pregnancy" and some would even say reproductive immunology was "quack medicine". Looking back, knowing what I know now, I believe it would have been more honest of them and helpful for me if they had simply admitted that they do not understand reproductive immunology and how the immune system affects pregnancy.
In many ways listening to what these doctors said about reproductive immunology kept me from getting to Dr. Braverman, who helped us finally have our son after two miscarriages.
I am still so mad that I was misled by my doctors and I hope to help other women not feel this way. It's important to me that women who are suffering from repeat miscarriages or failed IVFs because of immune issues know that Dr. Braverman is a valid option for them.
Luckily, reproductive immunology continues to be more accepted. Also, I am ecstatic that through #talkingabouttrying, I have helped countless women find Dr. Braverman and I am so proud to have played a part in their ability to finally have their miracle baby.
2) To hold doctors accountable so that we receive proper care
Word of mouth is how many businesses are held accountable. But, since so few people talk about infertility, fertility clinics (aka businesses) don't suffer the consequences as readily for their patients/customers bad experiences. Instead, many women suffer in silence. I believe this leads to a lower standard of care for fertility patients.
To expand on this consider what one of my managers always told us while I was working in the service industry at a restaurant. He told us to make sure customers did not leave unhappy. That if someone was unhappy to get a manager involved to make sure they were happy with their experience. He said that if someone left unhappy on average they would tell something like 100 people and if they left happy they would only tell about 2-3 people. Those negative reviews would certainly impact the business negatively.
Before moving to Dr. Braverman's care, I felt that the standard of care at fertility clinics was very low. I believe a huge part of the issue is that women are not talking about their negative experiences to their peers as often as they would an experience at a restaurant. When no one talks, no one is held accountable and the bad behavior does not change and does not need to be remedied.
I absolutely believe #talkingabouttrying will improve the quality of care infertility patients receive.
3) So we don't feel alone
This journey is uniquely difficult and because of the stigma many have had to walk through it alone. To feel connected with others makes this difficult journey more bearable.
Since I started writing this blog and sharing on Instagram, I have had many people reach out to me in private thanking me for sharing my story. It is so wonderful for me to give back this way to others. And their thank you's mean so much to me as well. It is heart warming.
Additionally, this struggle is often times jarring and not easily processed. So, to continue to reach out and be in the trenches with women who are struggling helps me process my pain while also helping them not only connect to and process theirs but also hopefully help them know they have someone by their side as they pick themselves up again and keep trying. We both benefit from this human connection in so many ways.
4) Meeting the most amazing, strong & beautiful women
I describe women struggling with infertility as warrior goddesses trudging through the depths of hell and I truly believe it's an accurate title, especially for those in my reproductive immunology groups. Many of these women have been struggling for years and/or have had repeat miscarriages and/or still births. I have seen women go through nightmarish circumstances and get back up again and fight and build the family of their dreams. They endure these experiences with such grace and I admire them so.
These same strong women have also helped me so much with their example, knowledge, support, generosity and love. I am most grateful for #talkingabouttrying because of these beautiful souls I have been able to experience, admire and learn from.
5) Teaching our communities how difficult it is to struggle with infertility
When we share our stories, hopefully some people will better understand the struggle of infertile women. The pain of infertilty and in some cases losing our children in utero that we want so badly is often misunderstood by our peers who have not walked through this darkness. This misunderstanding from the community can make our healing even harder. There is a term for this in psychology "disenfranchised grief." I speak more about disinfranchised grief in this article. http://www.nataliesnuggets.com/blog/2017/10/17/infertility-is-miserable-how-to-dis-disenfranchise-your-grief