July 27, 2010

A Belly Full of Fire, Part Four: In a Perfect World

This is the fourth post of my five-part series on infertility advocacy. Catch up on Part One: Advocate or Abdicate, Part Two: The Wounded Healer, and Part Three: Which Direction Do We Swim?.

The lights go on the lights go off
When things don't feel right
I lie down like a tired dog
licking his wounds in the shade.

When I feel alive
I try to imagine a careless life,
a scenic world where the sunsets are all

-Beirut, A Scenic World

A Belly Full of Fire, Part Four: In a Perfect World

This is one of my favorite songs I've been playing over and over again on my iPhone. I only discovered Beirut last year ago and I'm in love. What on earth does this quirky little indie tune have to do with infertility advocacy?

Let's play a game - Imagine. Let's imagine our careless life, our scenic world.

In a perfect world,
what would the fruits of infertility advocacy look like?

In a perfect world, we could all afford infertility treatments.

Better yet, they wouldn't cost a penny out of pocket. But if treatments still cost money, there would be state and federal grant programs for infertile couples; treatments could be counted as deductions on our taxes. And all insurers in all states would be required to cover treatments that fall within the latest medical guidelines. In a perfect world, infertility treatment would be regarded as a proactive health approach as opposed to elective and burdensome.

In a perfect world, it would be okay to talk about infertility openly. Oprah and Ellen and Tyra would have regular programs highlighting both the celebrity journeys of people like Celine Dion and Sarah Jessica Parker and Padma Lakshmi as well as real people from all walks of life.

In a perfect world, the racial disparity gap in healthcare would be closing. Conversations about infertility would transcend cultural and religious lines. Lesbian and gay couples would not be left out of the conversations either, because yes, even same-sex couples face infertility crises too.

In a perfect world, primary care physicians would pursue reproductive issues with an aggressive and proactive stance. Women and men would be taken seriously in their doctor's office. There would be widespread support groups in every community: more counselors and therapists who solely dealt with infertility issues. And couples wouldn't be afraid to be as honest as possible with one another instead of hiding behind quiet femininity or forced machismo.

In a perfect world, men are no longer an afterthought in the infertility community. The longing for fatherhood is just as valid as the desire to experience pregnancy and birth.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't be asked when we're having kids the day we get back from the honeymoon. We could complain about being infertile the way pregnant women complain about being pregnant. And if we do get pregnant, it's okay for us to complain and celebrate and do all of the things that would otherwise annoy the infertile community, because we've earned that right too.

And when we do resolve our infertility, we won't forget about the ones who are left behind. In a perfect world, we will proudly tell our friends and family the miracles it took to conceive our children.

In a perfect world, millions of dollars are devoted to research and clinical trials and comprehensive support networks and resources for women and men diagnosed with infertility. Our children will grow up with even greater access to care than we have now. In a perfect world, there is widespread dialogue about the importance of men's and women's reproductive health from an early age; we wouldn't be afraid to talk about the reality of fertility preservation in the context of sexual health education for teens.

In a perfect world, we will find an explanation for unexplained infertility. A miscarriage at six weeks is treated with no less support than a loss at six months. A stillbirth carries the same weight as the loss of a young child. In a perfect world, we will not forget about or ignore pregnancy loss, and instead elevate all loss with greater care and compassion.

In a perfect world, choosing not to resolve your infertility is not a sign of failure or giving up. Living childfree will not be regarded as lack or less than, but instead valued as a way for couples to redefine richness and fulfillment in their lives, and to bring themselves closure. In a perfect world, we will not be defined by our status as parents or otherwise.

In a perfect world, we will no longer be ashamed of or silenced by our disease. We will stop judging ourselves. We will be confident in who we are and where our journeys take us.

In a perfect world, we will
conquer infertility.

My G-d, our perfect world is beautiful isn't it? Can't you just see it, taste it, feel all that weight and doubt and worry slip right off your shoulders and out of your mind?

And now our game of Imagine is over, for we do not live in a perfect world. That's why our advocacy efforts matter that much more.

Every act of advocacy brings us one step closer to a careless life, a scenic world where the sunsets are all breathtaking. What does your perfect world for infertility look like?
. . . . .

Tomorrow I conclude this series with a post that inspires a committed call to action. Stay tuned Wednesday for the final chapter of A Belly Full of Fire, Part Five: Millions of voices calling for change.


The Infertility Doula said...

You have covered every aspect of this perfect world -- and beautifully so, as always. Thank you.

considering adoption said...

In a perfect world, adoption would not be considered "giving up", but simply another alternative to childfree or further treatment.

Mrs.Tiye said...

I loved this entire post Keiko...and still what just hit me like a ton of bricks was one of the comments!
"In a perfect world, adoption would not be considered "giving up", but simply another alternative to childfree or further treatment."


Sonja said...

Wow. Beautiful.

MPF said...

There are few times nowadays that I get that sensation where you gasp for breath and need to swallow to force an intake of air, but that is how I feel reading your words. I am a UK national and well, I am pushing for better education of fertility issues. I started out from a slightly different angle to you - it was about how we dont educate about fertility and age properly. But gosh this whole thing is such a mess. In the UK they criticise payment of IVF on the National Health Service. Anyway, my blog is fertilityandage.blogspot.com but really the remit isnt just age - it's fertility awareness period. I am no way the activist that you are - just a blog and letters to MPs, official bodies etc. But there is a real movement here - I will be working with Infertility Network UK soon and well, there is so much cross learning and help we can do so please, let me know what I can do to help!

I have tried to push friends to be advocates but you know, they will praise you for trying, tell you there should be more people like you, but they still dont want to take action. I had chase most of them to sign a petition supporting IVF on the NHS. The key is to not give up I think!

Angela said...

Amazing post. Thank you for sparking a conversation about how the world could react toward infertility. Your perfect world would cause much less heartache. Thank you for your strong voice.