Every year I write a post for National Infertility Awareness Week. Here are posts from the past: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.

Whew. I’ve been at this a good long while.

Somewhere along the way Resolve started adding themes for bloggers to write about. This year it is You Are Not Alone.

Let’s say that again: YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.

But I know you feel alone. Even if you know you’re not.

And instead of me trying to articulate why we all feel alone despite knowing that we are not, I am going to turn you over to some other bloggers who have already expressed it.

Jay, aka The Two Week Wait, sums it up nicely here: You Are Not Alone…Even Thought It Sometimes Feels That Way.

As does Angela, aka Rad Kitten, in her post: You Are Not Alone.

And Jess over at It’s Just A Box of Rain in her post: My life raft #NIAW.

And then there’s Jen who wrote: NIAW: You Are Not Alone. Then Why Am I So Lonely?

And one last one, a blog I just discovered because of NIAW, titled waiting for baby bird wrote this post that totally made me cry: You Are Not Alone: Flying Together with Broken Wings.

See the theme yet?

There are two.

One is simply to let others know that YOU.ARE.NOT.ALONE. To all those suffering in silence that if you can find the courage to talk about it and find your tribe it will get a little easier.

But the other theme I see in all these posts is a bit darker. For those of us who do talk about it. For those of us who have already found our tribe. For those of us who intellectually know that we are not alone.

We still feel alone.

Every story is unique. Every path has its own debris to clear that is not exactly like the debris on someone else’s path. And every path finds its own end. Some end with a pot of gold. Others a rainbow. And some paths…just keep going.

You are not alone. But it’s OK that you feel that way.

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Alienation

June 20, 2010

Last night I went out to a party with Right Guy’s work friends. I haven’t been going out much lately and when I have we’ve mostly hung out with my friends and/or mutual friends. Almost all of them know about what’s going on with me and most of them know we’re trying to get pregnant because of it. But his work friends… I doubt it. Unless he’s told them – and why would he? – I’m sure they don’t know a thing about it. Most of that crowd is slightly younger – late 20s & early 30s – and single. The ones who were still at the party at 11pm anyway. Most of the marrieds (with or without kids) had cleared out by the time we got there. Except one couple. And they had their toddler with them. Before you get all outraged that someone had a toddler out at a party at 11pm let me just remind you that this was a party of pediatricians. There were probably about 5 of us there who were not pediatricians. So if they want to keep their toddler out late I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

I hadn’t seen this toddler since he was a breastfeeding baby so I was surprised at how much he’d grown. And of course, those feelings of jealousy started creeping in. And I thought I had them under control. It was just the one couple and one kid. I can handle that, right? Well then I started feeling jealous of all the other women there. They’re all fertile and woe is me, poor little me, I am not. But then it occurred to me [light bulb over my head moment]. They might not be fertile. None of them have kids. Maybe they’re not fertile. People are presumed fertile until proven otherwise. So maybe I wasn’t the lone Infertile in the group. And then it hit me [Wile E Coyote getting hit with a ton of bricks moment]. I wasn’t jealous of them for being fertile. I was jealous of them for being normal and still having more or less flat tummies. It wasn’t the infertility that was making me feeling alone and different. It was the POF (premature ovarian failure, a.k.a early menopause).
Wile E Coyote
I think the odds are decent that someone else at that party will experience some level of infertility at some point. The stats on infertility are like a moving target – I keep seeing different numbers. But 1 in 8 (or 7 or 6) couples experience infertility. And there were certainly enough couples there for those odds. But I think the odds of one of those women going through menopause early are much, much less. 1 in 100 women in their 30s and 1 in 1000 in their 20s. It’s a lot more common than you would think but it’s still a low number. I was feeling alienated because no one else there could know what it’s like. It’s not just the infertility. It’s the feeling old. Feeling like I’m 50 when I’m only 36. Having to worry about osteoperosis. Having to be much more conscious about my health overall. Having that old lady belly fat that is IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of. If my cousin is right, there’s no diet or exercise that will get rid of it. He says I need testosterone for that.

Anyway, what to do about these feelings of isolation? I think that’s what motivated me to tell my friends (and a few coworkers). I hate pretending to feel OK when I don’t. And, although, they can’t relate they can be there for me. So I don’t feel so alone with my close friends. But I feel like a freak and so alone in a crowd of strangers or acquaintances. Last night it had me in the bathroom crying. OK so the alcohol didn’t help. But I’m still trying to figure out how to not feel isolated/alienated/alone when I’m around people who don’t know. If I shout from the rooftops “I have POF!” then I’m just defining myself by that diagnosis. That’s not what I want. I know that’s where I am right now – I’m still struggling to not let this diagnosis define me. I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.

But I’m not sure I’m ever going to not feel alone. 1% of the female population in their 30s. Where are they? I’ve met a few on twitter (actually several of my POF tweeps are in their 20s). And most days, I don’t identify specifically as a POFer but as an IFer and there are a TON of helpful tweeps out there for general infertility support. But I’d like to meet a fellow POFer IRL. I think. There’s a fine line between getting the support I need and letting this define me.