So, why does National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) even matter? If you’re part of the 1 in 8 couples affected by infertility like me and my husband, or 1 in 4 hurt by miscarriage and loss, then you understand why. Like me, you probably want others to become educated about infertility and aware of this diagnosis (or lack thereof) that overtakes women and marriages for months, years, and sometimes a lifetime. Infertility awareness matters deeply to those of us who have faced or are facing this reality, and we desire for those around us to better understand how they might offer support us in our struggle.
This week is also about opening up the lines of communication, being transparent, and being unashamed to share stories of brokenness in order to see the goodness that can come from our vulnerability. Let’s work to help each other eliminate the stigmas that too often follow those who don’t “just get pregnant.” For more information on NIAW and how to support those walking through infertility, check out the official website, National Infertility Awareness Week sponsored by the infertility advocacy group Resolve.
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? I usually giggle a little inside since my last 8+ years have included this word, and I feel like 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 the statistics with him: 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?" I kept going: "If this statistic is accurate, then at least one or even two 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. What you are doing is needed!" Yes, sir, it is indeed.
Waiting in Hope is a biblically based infertility support ministry aimed at supporting women and couples walking this road through purposeful local support groups and meetings. It is estimated that in the United States, about 12.1% of women ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of that same age group, 7.3 million women have ever used infertility services.
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 5 years. What did all those years include in your life? A lot has changed, right? To those of you supporting someone in this season who is reading this, thank you for caring! You might be astonished to hear the number of stories of couples who have been waiting 10 or more years to have children.
This is why NIAW matters, and why we must do what we do at Waiting in Hope. Every day, my heart breaks for the women and couples who struggle with infertility. I know this lonely road all too well. During the first year, my husband and I walked alone through infertility and still have pains from our isolation. That’s why I am so passionate about the 1 in 8 and the 1 in 4.
Couples that are struggling through this deserve more. They need to be reminded that they matter. They need to be reminded they are not left behind. They need to be reminded they are seen.
Yes, their story is not what they expected. Yet, there can be beauty from these ashes. True, life-giving water can flow in and through this wilderness to replace where they have felt hopeless. Where YOU have felt hopeless.
I have experienced this personally in my own story. I have experienced it walking alongside hundreds of couples whose stories have been redeemed with hope, love, and unexplainable joy.
Don't hear me wrong. Infertility is not solved overnight. It is a process. A process that involves hearts healing and walking in a community with others who love us and desire more from our waiting, sorrow, and brokenness. This road can be hopeful. We can be better from the waiting – better than before this season began. We have more profound hope 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 in Jesus.
Kelley Ramsey - Founder + Visionary - Kelley@waitinginhopeinfertility.com