National Infertility Awareness :: Lessons I Learned From Infertility and Loss

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Yesterday, I shared my personal story of how my life has been marked by infertility and pregnancy loss. In the years since I went through it myself, several people have reached out when they find themselves going through a similar heartache. It has been a tender honor of mine to be any source of comfort to them in their pain or a listening ear to their frustrations and doubts. 

Odds are that you know someone who is struggling (or has struggled) to get pregnant, but you may not be aware of it. Or, if you are aware of it, you may not know quite what to say or how to support them. There is no simple thing I could say that would cover all aspects of the topic, but here are a few things I have taken away from my own personal experience.

I do not know anyone’s story.

I am now acutely aware that there are so many people going through things that are left unseen. Because of this, I try to avoid saying things that might unintentionally hurt someone. There have been quite a few times when strangers have said to me, in reference to my twins, “I bet you’re glad it wasn’t triplets!”

Obviously they have no idea how that stings in a very specific way. As a general rule of thumb, may I suggest it’s best to just make zero comments about the size of anyone else’s family?

There is no guilt or shame in this.

A lot of what keeps people from openly sharing their struggles has to do with feeling there’s some element of shame or guilt surrounding infertility. Here’s what I know to be true: we can make our bodies do a lot of things. We can train for endurance events, we can learn a craft or skill, we can master a new language, we can change our hair, and we can learn how to play an instrument. This is just a small list of the things we have control over. These are things we can do if we are disciplined enough or have a strong enough desire to accomplish it.

Being unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term falls under the list of things we are not able to control. There is no shame in that, just as there is no shame in my inability to have a golden tan in the summer or grow to be six feet tall. It just is what it is.

It is important to have a support network.

This should go without saying, but everyone needs a group of people with which to share the nitty gritty of life. I’m lucky to have this in my husband, an incredible group of friends, and a supportive family. Find your people. Know them well and make yourself truly known to them.

My body is amazing.

My experience with fertility treatments taught me so much about how complex the human reproductive system really is. I have known the basics for as long as I can remember, but it was fascinating to learn all of the intricacies of it. For as much flack as I’ve given my body over the years, and for as much as I have been angry at its inability to easily handle the task of achieving and keeping a pregnancy . . . the fact is: my body is amazing. Yours is too. 

Scars are not always a bad thing.

I am not a believer that “everything happens for a reason.” I do not think that any terrible thing we experience had to happen in order to make us into who we were meant to be. If you believe that, I support your belief. It is yours to have. I am, however, fully aware that the hard things I have gone through have molded me into who I am today.

We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us, so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. We always have the choice. -Dalai Lama

The scars are there (literally and figuratively) from all I have endured. I embrace them. They remind me that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I have been through the wringer, and I have stood up time and time again. I have chosen to move forward. My pain taught me that terrible days aren’t always the end of the story. What’s fresh and raw at first can heal into something softer and less intense. The ache of things from my past can make me acutely more aware of my present joys.

I wish I could write something to ease anyone’s discomfort around infertility. Unfortunately, there is no easy “one size fits all” answer of how to address the topic with someone in your life (or navigating it for yourself). As I said in my previous post, the most important thing is to listen to each other. Open yourself up to truly hearing what someone may be going through, and/or be vulnerable and trusting enough to share your truth with someone close to you. The way through infertility is forward . . . and it is easier when you do not walk it alone. 

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Hannah Pruitt never thought she would find herself living in Alabama...due to the unbearable summer temperatures. Her love for her husband, John, apparently overrides her desire to know what winter actually feels like. They live in Pelham, where she homeschools their five year old daughter, Adelaide, while also chasing one year twins, Edith and Vera. Hannah can be found wandering in the woods most days, because hiking means she’s not at home to face the mountains of laundry and unwashed dishes. Her hobbies include playing outside, kayaking, needlework, cooking with John, starting quilting projects she never finishes and answering the question “Are they twins?”. Hannah is the local branch ambassador for Hike it Baby, and loves to empower families to get outside with their kids. If you see her around town, tell her she has her hands full...she’s never heard that one before.