Infertility Doesn't Have a National Holiday, Neither Does My Sister's Birthday
Life doesn’t stop because you’re in fertility treatment.
When I was in fertility treatment, that really felt confusing to me. To have this major life crisis; on-going, relentless crisis and still have to get up, go to work, speak to friends. Act almost normal, no matter how I actually felt.
Today’s my sister’s birthday. My older sister. She died about a year and a half ago.
I was thinking that it would be ok for it to be a national holiday on her birthday. Take the whole day off and reflect or rejoice. Or sleep in. Or something besides pretending that the world going on makes perfect sense.
With infertility, that was how it felt every day. I was distracted. I was unengaged. I was irritable.
I was annoyed that simple day-to-day routines still called for my attention.
I wanted it all to stop.
And if not stop?
Just slow down.
How many projects, events, tasks was I seriously supposed to manage when all my brain cells were whirring around trying to make sense out of the non-sensical? It didn’t make sense, at all, infertility. Seriously? Baby showers? Uh, really?
I wasn’t too old, too young, too seasoned, too raw, too ill, too big, too small, too diseased. I wasn’t unsure or ambivalent. I wasn’t still considering babies, I was ready. Completely and utterly ready to have a baby. How could it make sense that now was the time I couldn’t get pregnant?
How in a just and fair world did it make sense that I wasn’t getting pregnant? Did I mention that I was ready?
And if I had to deal with infertility, who arranged and thought it was a good idea that everything else still kept keeping on? Shouldn’t the world at least slow down?
Slowing down made the most sense.
So I turned to yoga. I turned to walks instead of dinner parties. I turned to shorter conversations and longer books. I turned to less responsibility, not more. I slowed down.
The world didn’t have to send me a sign or write me a note excusing me.
I just gave myself permission.
I slowed down.
I said no thank you.
I said maybe another time.
I said not right now.
I slowed down.
I breathed in.
I breathed out.
And I repeated.
Friday is not a national holiday. My sister’s birthday doesn’t get that kind of attention. But in my universe? That’s what September 25th will always be. A national holiday, in my world. In my universe.
I won’t start any movements. I promise. No flags to fly. No colors to wear. Nothing you need to post or repost or respond to.
If you want to say happy birthday, whisper it in the wind. Blow a kiss up to the sky. Cherish the colors of the leaves as they softly fade and fall to the ground. Enjoy the cooler temperature as fall creeps nearer. Close your eyes and wish my beloved sister a happy place to be.
On Friday, September 25th, I will slow down. I will remember my lessons from infertility.
I will not wait for permission.
I will simply breathe.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.