About a month ago, I offered to work the Resolve table at the 2010 Paths to Parenthood conference here in Orlando. Our local leader was going out of town on a family vacation, and I was eager to kick off my journey as an official Resolve volunteer. This was my first solo adventure. I’ve shared my story at meetings before, but this was an entirely different ball game. It was an exciting ball game. I looked forward to bringing more couples into our support group and letting them know about the other resources Resolve has to offer.
I assumed most of the conference attendees had probably heard of Resolve. After all, you don’t exactly attend a fertility conference after two months of trying to have a baby. Most of the men and women at the conference, I imagined, were gearing up for treatment or weighing their options between IVF and adoption. Therefore, they should know all about the fact that there is a national organization out there to support them and advocate for them throughout their journey.
Turns out, I was a little bit “off” in my assumption.
When the first few couples walked up to the table and I asked if they knew about Resolve, they said no. I thought, “Surely this is a fluke, right? Maybe they are at the beginning of their journey. Yes, that’s it. That’s why they don’t know about Resolve.”
But the morning went on, and more often the answer was “no” rather than “yes.” A lot more often. I would say 90 to 95 percent of the couples who approached the table never heard of Resolve. By the end of the third hour, I got ballsy during conversations and started fishing for more information (which, for the record, everyone was just as eager to talk about their personal stories as I was to hear them): “If you don’t mind me asking, where are you in your journey?”
Four failed IVF cycles
3 failed IUIs and onto a laparoscopy
No uterus or ovaries
These were women or couples who were not on the first leg of this hike up the mountain. Some of them were nearing the peak and they didn’t know about Resolve! It blew my mind. How is it that there are organizations out there to help us through the most difficult life crisis most of us have ever encountered, and people still don’t know about them?! It angers me how some of these women have suffered silently for years without knowing there are groups and people to turn to. I’m not angry at the people or the organizations. I’m simply angry with the situation. It shouldn’t be like this. People shouldn’t have to sit broken down on the side of the road, waiting for help to arrive.
How can we change this? How can we make things better?
We can start with this: no more assumptions. I am making it my personal vow not to assume that other infertiles are getting the help and support they need and deserve. I will not assume that others suffering through infertility know about the groups, Web sites, and books that are out there to walk them through this difficult time. And I want all of you to take on this challenge with me. If you know someone who is going through treatment, waiting to adopt, or struggling with loss (of either a child/children or their reproductive organs), please reach out to them. Let them know that there are hundreds of resources out there, not just Resolve, to help carry them for the rest of their hike.
Point them in the direction of Conceive magazine. Send them a link to Mel’s site, or talk about Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. Make sure they know they are not alone in this ocean of pain.
This isn’t all we can do, but it’s a start.
To be continued . . .