Friday, October 01, 2004

National Infertility Awareness Week & Crocus Cardigan

Last Thursday, while I was up in San Francisco with an out-of-town friend, we went to trivia night at the Mad Dog in the Fog pub. I cast on my Oat Couture Crocus cardigan that night and did some good knitting on it over the weekend. By Wednesday night, I was ready to split for the armholes. Yesterday I worked on the seed-rib Yoke portion, which brings us to this photo:


I was working on the fronts last night at an infertility support group at the Stanford REI clinic. Which turned out to be a bad idea, because I forgot to do the button holes in the right front. So I ripped out 24 rows of the right front and reknit it with the button holes while watching the Presidential debates on Tivo last night. And *that* turned out to be a bad idea, because I'd forgotten the decreases required right before the yoke begins. This photo is pre-frog... I took out both fronts this morning & actually did the decreases.

Moral of the story: Do not mix "thinking knitting" with politics or infertility.

That's the end of today's knitting content.. and now... on to a lengthy, non-edited soapbox discussion of infertility. Stop here if you don't care to participate.

<begin soapbox>

Sept 26 - October 2 is National Infertility Awareness Week - something I learned at last night's group. I picked up some NIAW pins from the support group. I had been telling the group members how I had snapped about 3 months ago and started telling everyone about my infertility issues. I've decided to be a poster-child for why we need to talk about infertility instead of hiding it behind embarrassed silence. No one else at the support group seemed comfortable about being "out" about infertility, which I have to respect even though I regret it. I'm still a little uncertain whether I'm strong enough to keep talking about infertility issues in public, but it feels more right than sneaking around like I was before.

I really wish other infertile women had talked to me before I got to the ripe old age of 38 about age-related infertility, endometriosis, and getting on with your child-bearing, already. Especially endometriosis. It's been pretty hard to realize, retroactively, that I've probably been full of endometriosis for 25 years and blew my chance at having my own biological children long, long ago. There's no way to tell, of course, what Might Have Been, but I keep feeling like I would have had a better shot if I'd known about endometriosis before and gotten it treated surgically. But who talks about this stuff? In my life, no one did until I was 35.

So here's where I am now: 2 surgeries for endometriosis in the past year have really improved my quality of life (no more painful menstrual cramps...) but left me with no hope that my trashed ovaries will produce viable eggs. One round of IVF stimulation produced a single egg follicle in March... which I honestly could probably have done without all the injections. On the advice of our IVF physician and the endometriosis surgeon, we are now exploring ovum donation and hoping to try that in the next 6 months. If it doesn't work, I don't think we will adopt, but who knows. I know I can live a happy and fulfilled life without children, since that's what I've been doing til now. But I will pursue the options I have available to bear a child in the next two years.

If you are someone I know who suspects you might be infertile - I am open to sharing what I've learned so far in one full year of treatment. If you are someone dealing with infertility and you are strong enough to talk to your friends, I urge you to be brave and talk about it. You can help make others aware of the issues, treatments and pain associated with infertility. Just like breast cancer, prostate cancer, mental illness and other formerly-hidden medical conditions, the world needs more awareness of infertility. And a hidden grief like infertility is just not healthy. If you can share it and get some support, it just might help you as well as your friends.

Oh. One last thing. If you know someone who is suffering from infertility, please please please avoid asking them "Have you considered adoption?" When someone is committed to treating infertility, they need your support in that treatment path, not the implied criticism of their desires hidden in this question. Infertile couples are generally well aware of adoption. Infertility is not just about the inability to get a kid. Even if an infertile woman bears a child, she is often still infertile and that grief stays with her for a long time. Asking "Have you considered adoption" denies the fertility patient's desires to attempt to have a biological child, something we assume everyone can do, something tied up with our definitions of self and gender roles. When we seek treatment for infertility, we are coping with those issues every day and we aren't yet ready to give up on those dreams of having a child "of our own". If you don't want to talk about the weird, scientific, emotional world of infertility treatment, just offer your best wishes for their successful treatment and keep quiet about adoption until they bring it up. Thank you!

<end soapbox>

Have a great weekend, everybody!

[Edited 19-Oct-2004 to spell endometriosis correctly and add link to endometriosis info - spinnity]


Blogger Bill Walker said...

Just you listen to what my wife is saying! It's all true.

October 07, 2004 10:45 AM  
Blogger Wiz Knitter said...

Good for you, sweetie! I am tempted to forward this particular entry to many of my friends who say they will "eventually" have children, including the guys! Your body does not understand "eventually"!

October 21, 2004 1:26 PM  

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