by Michelle Mallon, Practice Liaison with Shady Grove Fertility

Where I work is always a topic of conversation, because let’s face it that our American culture steers us to immediately inquire about our job status versus asking questions geared toward the human condition. Not sure why, but that’s how it is. So I’ll casually respond with, ‘I help make babies’ and that usually peaks enough curiosity for people to double click and discover more. For those of us that live, breathe and work in such a sensitive field, I can delicately break the ice with a little humor, then begin to advocate for those who silently struggle on a daily basis.

Recognizing that infertility is not a laughing matter and affects one in eight couples is a serious concern and high on my radar. Knowing that some of us have a stronger voice impart because of my fortunate role working at Shady Grove Fertility, I felt compelled to gather voices from different view points willing to share what they think are important messages during National Infertility Awareness Week.

When asked, what is an important message that you can share with people during National Infertility Awareness Week, this is what they said:

“Building a family is one of life’s milestones that most people take for granted. Discovering that you face the challenges of infertility is incredibly frightening without a reference point or knowledge base. No one is born as a fertility expert and you have to become an advocate for yourself. In my personal infertility journey, I found the search for information to be comforting, empowering and life-changing. Three lovely children later, I now work as a fertility nurse, giving back to and educating women much like myself, hungry for knowledge and hopeful for their families.” – Kim Blackwell, RNC, BSN, Fertility Nurse Coordinator, Shady Grove Fertility, Columbia, MD Office

“Be sure to take care of yourself and acknowledge that this is a stressful and emotional process. Continue to make plans to do the things that you enjoy on a regular basis – you will need distractions. Do not hesitate to seek professional help in coping with the stress involved. Do not spend all of your free time on the internet, and instead go for a walk, do yoga, meet friends or whatever else brings you happiness and relaxation.” Amy Banulis, OB/GYN, Kaiser Permanente

“We are living with infertility: we are your friends, neighbors, cousins, and/or co-workers. We are everywhere: except we are not all living out in the open. This journey we are on is full of shame, guilt, sadness, anxiety, and fear. We experience these feelings daily on our own or through interactions with others.

“When you get informed, you are learning about how this devastating disease affects 1 in 8 couples. You understand that sometimes there is nothing to say besides, “I’m here for you.” You see when others go through illnesses, we most often say, “You can beat this,” or “Get well soon.” Yet with infertility, there is often no hope to “beat” this. Couples go through so many ups and downs that it is hard to even imagine unless you too have experienced it. Being infertile is considered by some to be a blessing: you do not need to ‘worry’ about kids and have more freedom to ‘live your life.’ But heartache and sorrow command far more attention and support for someone going through infertility. You can make their day a little bit brighter by just being present and letting them get thoughts off their chest which is a huge service for them in general: letting them understand that it is okay and you will help them get through this.

“We are living with infertility and are not defined by it. We are loving women, smart businessmen, doting pet mommies and daddies, and amazing people in general. The more you get to know “us,” the more empathy you gain and lessen the chance of passing judgment on others. The societal norm of men and women following a traditional path of love, marriage, baby, and baby carriage is not for everyone: either by choice or not by choice.

“Help us and others beat the financial barriers in having a child: contact your politicians to support acts for getting insurance coverage for infertility. Your friend, neighbor, cousin, or co-worker is afraid to bring out what they are going through, for it is a taboo subject and once out of the ‘fertility closet,’ often are subjected to possible insensitive comments and/or questions. Rather than risk humiliation or judgment, for some it is just easier to stay behind the closet doors. I won’t do that. I won’t stand back and let others jump to conclusions.” – Julie, Shady Grove Fertility patient, Frederick

If you have questions about fertility or are ready to schedule an appointment at Shady Grove Fertility, please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755.