So, why does National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) even matter? You may be asking yourself this question if you are one of the fortunate women or couples who have not been touched by the devastation and heartache of infertility or extended waiting. If you are a part of the "1 in 8 couples" like me, affected by infertility, or "1 in 4" hurt by miscarriage and loss, then you know deeply why others must become educated about infertility and become aware of this diagnoses (or lack thereof) that overtakes women and marriages for months, years and sometimes a lifetime.
Infertility awareness matters deeply to us within the struggle and we need those around us to understand— how to be our support and become aware of when we need more. This week is also about opening up the lines of communication, being transparent, being unashamed to share stories of brokenness and seeing how our families may look different. Let’s work to educate each other and eliminate the stigmas that too often follow those who don’t “just get pregnant”. For more information on “What is National Infertility Awareness Week” and how to support those walking through infertility, click this link for the official website, National Infertility Awareness Week.
As the founder/visionary of Waiting in Hope National Infertility Ministries, I often hear the questions, What is infertility? Why is Waiting in Hope needed? For which, I usually giggle a little inside—since my last eight-plus years have included this word as I've become "infertility lady." It’s part of my every day. On a recent trip, my uber driver and I got into the usual “get to know you” questions. I shared with him, the statistics of 1 in 8, and 1 in 4. He was surprised when I told him to picture his couple friends who were at his house for dinner recently, "How many of them could have been enduring infertility, or a miscarriage? How many maybe didn't tell you?" Then I continued: "If this statistic is accurate or even close, then at least 1, perhaps 2 of your friends went through this silently and alone." He then said, "Wow, I had no idea because it was easy for us, but that must be heartbreaking. Okay, what you are doing is needed!" Yes, sir, it is indeed. Waiting in Hope is a biblically-based infertility support ministry aimed at supporting the woman and couples walking this road through purposeful local support groups and meetings.
It is estimated that about ten percent of women in the United States, ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s 6.1 million women in our country.
Most women and couples I meet, along with those in our Waiting in Hope communities are in their season of infertility for an average of 3-6 years. Can you imagine? Think about your last five years. What did all those years include in your life? Quite a bit, right? To those of you who are reading this, thank you. I believe you would be astonished or surprised to hear about the numerous stories of people I hear from who have been waiting for ten years or more.
Now, do you see why? This is why NIAW matters and why we must do what we do at Waiting in Hope. Every day, my heart breaks for these women, or these couples. I know the people walking this lonely road; We walked this road alone for just a year and still have pains from our isolation. These women and couples deserve more and need to be reminded that they matter; they are not left behind. They are seen. Yes, their story is not what they expected. Yet, there can be beauty from the ashes, true, life-giving Water that flows in and through this wilderness to replace where they have felt hopeless.
I have seen it personally in my own story, heart and life along with hundreds I've walked beside in their redeeming stories of hope, love and unexplainable joy. Don't hear me wrong; this is not solved overnight, (although it could if God so desired) but is typically more of a process—A process of hearts healing as we begin walking in a community, with others who love us and desire more in and from our waiting, our no’s, and even our sorrow and brokenness.
This community is hopeful, knowing we can be better from the waiting, better from our lacking than before our diagnosis or season began.
We have hope more profound than the answers or the solutions, for we have a hope rooted in more than our infertility.
Let us be your guide. We will walk beside you, hand in hand friend, to lead you through this journey, helping to point you back to our greatest Hope.
Kelley Ramsey - Founder + Visionary - Kelley@waitinginhopeinfertility.com