Except, of course, that the Friends group isn't a bad boyfriend.
I live in a small town, and we have a small town library, which--oddly enough--isn't really affiliated with the larger county system around us. We are our own little island, with our own storytimes, our own programming, our own collection of historic Native American arrowheads in the conference room. It's walkable from my house, too, which makes it a good destination for rainy days. There's a children's corner full of worn, well-loved stuffed animals and puppets and puzzles. I love our library because it's a secret: no one knows about it, and sometimes when I'm looking for a book that is out of the county library, my little library has it. It's my secret resource.
On the other hand, it's not always a good idea to keep secrets secret. Which is why we have a Friends group in the first place.
You see, if no one knows about my little library, no one will help it out. No one will help to rebuild when its historic facade starts to crumble. No one will make sure that we have some new furniture for the conversation nooks. No one will attend its programs and become regular patrons. And eventually, it will die, like the mom and pop stores that succumb to the economy created by big box stores on the highway. It will cease to be a community hub, a place to hang our hats.
I am, by medical standards, infertile. My two beautiful children do not negate my lost pregnancies (see my NIAW post "Bust a Myth: Infertility Isn't Bad for People with Children" in 2011), nor do they negate the diagnosis that my ob/gyn gave me when when, after those losses, we seemed unable event to concieve another child. But my living children do make it a little bit more challenging to interact in the ALI blogging community, where most of the bloggers are undergoing treatments, or sorting out their options, or coming to terms with living a life that is very different from the one they imagined for themselves.
Which is, strangely enough, also exactly why I still feel like I belong here. Because even if I'm not experiencing the same thing as everyone else is, the ALI community needs a Friends group. Without Friends, people who can advocate and speak on its behalf, people who can support it in times of crisis and need and joy, people who have "made it" to the "other side" and can offer--if not a promise--hope, it will struggle. National Infertility Awareness Week isn't just about the people who are currently childless and trying to conceive talking about infertility. It's about creating a conversation about infertility, about making it a less taboo topic, about helping people to become more sensitive so they don't ask questions like "isn't it time you had a baby yet?" or "when are you going to have your second child?" It's about remembering that people who experienced infertility are not done experiencing infertility just because they've been able to have a child, or because they have decided to end their quest for parenthood or for another child. It's about cultivating a group of Friends, who aren't even necessarily members.
So here's my request for National Infertility Awareness Week: Join the Movement. Because 1 in 8 is someone you know.
- http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)