Friday, August 17, 2007

Letter submitted to the editor at People Magazine

Your magazine is titled, People. The title suggests that it actually represents just that, however, the multitude of stories you plaster on your cover aren’t about REAL people. They are about this superfluous group of the upper-echelon of our society that most of us have no real attachment to or understanding of. I applaud the magazine when your do focus on stories which tell about a true cross-section of the real world and give us a glimpse into a life that could very well be our own. Sometimes we want to escape, but other times we desperately want to relate.

So many recent issues focus on the celebrity pregnancy phenomenon of late. Everywhere you turn a new celebrity is sporting a baby bump. The media makes it seem like getting pregnant and having a baby is so easy and that we all should celebrate along with these stars. You have recently touched on the fact, though, that it is NOT that easy for everyone. The story you shared regarding Martha Stewart’s daughter reveals a harsher reality that a large number of women (and couples) face every day, the reality of infertility. I do respect the fact that the article did shed some light upon the hardships involved, but I still feel that it only began to scratch the surface of what infertility is really like. Martha Stewart’s daughter expresses how lucky she is to be able to go through treatments without dire financial consequences. This is sadly not a luxury most people can easily afford. I also know of all the coverage involving Brooke Shields and her journey through infertility. I do not take anything away from Brooke. She truly did suffer and knows the heartache involved in this process. She represents the situation well. However, she also had the financial freedom to continue pursuing her dream for as long as she wanted or could. She also received her miracles and happy endings. So many do not. If you want to know what infertility is REALLY like, I would love to introduce you to myself and a small group of amazing women that I am blessed to know.

I write to you because I am one of the suffering. I am one that looks at the pages of magazines every day and wishes so desperately that I could experience the same joys of pregnancy and motherhood that are displayed in every corner of the print and broadcast world. I listen to the lyrics of the song “I Would Die For That” by Kellie Coffey and think….that is exactly how I feel. I (embarrassingly) internally cringe, wince, and feel sad every time I see a pregnant woman on the streets, at the store, or at the gym. I am happy for friends that achieve this dream with or without effort, but also grieve for myself every time since I am not able to share in or relate to their experiences. At this point in my life, it is not in my cards to join that special club.

I am relatively young (33). I am in excellent health. I have an amazing relationship with my husband. In all of this I am blessed. But, part of me will be forever empty without being able to create and bear a child with the man I love. I suffer from mild endometriosis, but outside of that, there is no explanation for my inability to conceive. I have been through every test under the sun to no avail. I have been through a total of over two years of trying to conceive the natural way. I have been through almost two years of treatments as well. My husband and I have tried 3 rounds of Clomid, three IUIs, one fresh IVF cycle, and two FETs. The amount of shots I have received or given myself is too numerous to tally. I have managed to become pregnant three times through treatment, but have devastatingly lost all three chances at motherhood early on. Suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss or recurrent miscarriage is an added complication to our situation. I have been through all the tests related to miscarriage as well, but once again, there is no explanation for my situation, except for bad luck. Becoming pregnant in the future sadly does not guarantee us a happy ending.

I cannot even begin to put into words the roller-coaster of emotions that have accompanied our journey thus far. At this point, my husband and I no longer have the proper insurance coverage to pursue more attempts, and we do not have enough rainy day cash to pay for the treatments all by ourselves. And, although we are strong, we are not sure that we have gained back enough emotional strength to try again. We are in limbo. We do not know our fate at this time, but we have to hold on to the belief that we will be given our blessing in time.

I have to remind myself every day that I am nowhere near alone in my suffering. This sad but simple fact is what keeps me from feeling too sorry for myself, even when the proliferation of what I am feeling at a certain moment can seem suffocating. I am one of a countless number of women or couples who have similar stories. Infertility does not discriminate, and it is surely not kind. It affects people of all races, ages, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds. Look at ANY face that you encounter in your life on any given day, and that could be the face of infertility.

I have survived my journey to this point by gaining strength through each step and failure, and by knowing that I will be okay in the end, no matter the outcome. I try to hold onto the thought that I was faced with this challenge because I could handle it, where others could not. My marriage is stronger today because my husband and I have a faced all of this together. We share a bond that many others could not truly understand. In our grief and our perseverance we have grown closer.

My husband is not the only reason that I have come through this with my dignity, my sense of humor, and most of myself intact. I also attribute my “survival” to a special group of women whom I have never met face to face. We were all brought together by our similar circumstances, and by our need to reach out to others who could understand. We have been “by each other’s sides” throughout various parts of our journeys, and we continue to support each other every day. We have all found each other on the Fertility Neighborhood website on a posting thread entitled “Anyone in 2ww – 2007”. We share the good and bad times, and through it all have become great friends. We bring levity to our situations by talking about everyday topics in addition to the common link that brought us together. We come from NJ, MA, PA, IL, MI, CO, CA, Trinidad, Greece, and Australia. Some of us have realized our dreams, while others are still pursuing them. It is an amazing thing that we have found….true friendship and understanding.

This friendship and understanding is what is bringing some of our group together in person for the first time. We have decided to meet in what we are calling a “reunion”. At least 8 of us will be meeting up in Mystic, CT in October this year. Others are not able to come at the time for various reasons. Some of our friends are continuing treatment and cannot travel. Others do not have the financial means to join us given that they are saving up to pay for their next attempt. Others are living in foreign countries, and it just isn’t feasible for them to make the trip at this time. HOWEVER, we will ALL be there in spirit.

We come together because we all know what it is like to be asked every day… do you have children? We can share in the sometimes uncomfortable responses, trying to nicely shout out “CHILDLESS NOT BY CHOICE!” We understand members of our group who have a child, but who have suffered for them, and who are currently suffering to have another. We know the realities: you will not automatically get pregnant if you “relax”, you will not be granted a pregnancy just because you have now chosen to adopt, you will not be blessed just because you stopped caring. In other words, we have all experienced the same insensitivities put upon us by others who have not walked in our shoes.

Some people think we are crazy or too trusting to pack our bags and hop on a plane or drive to a destination to meet a bunch of people we only “know” from the internet. But, I can guarantee you, nobody knows me better than this small melting pot of women. Nobody understands my good days and bad days in a more profound way. I guess if I never get to realize my dream of being a mommy, I can at least say that I found the silver lining in my dark cloud: my other infertility warriors. I would have never known them had it not been for my struggles. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find our purpose in life or to find the meaning of our fates, but this group all believes that we have found those things through each other. We were brought together by misery and struggle, but we triumph through the unwavering support that we give and receive on this special board every day.

We all hope that by sharing our stories (whether through the support boards, through the media, or just through our interactions with each other) that we will help other people out there who feel they are suffering through this alone. We hope to educate in order to facilitate a better understanding with our “fertile friends” out there. We wish for peace for all of us in whatever form it comes.

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