National Infertility Awareness Week During a Pandemic

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is April 19-25, and boy does it look different this year. In this piece, Fruitful’s founder Elyse Ash shares what makes this year’s NIAW different and why it’s more important than ever before.

This might sound weird, but National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is my favorite week of the year. 

Firstly, it marks the anniversary of the launch of Fruitful (this Thursday, 4/23 will be our three year anniversary!) More importantly, it’s the one week a year our cause gets national media coverage…where we see people from our community sharing their stories on Good Morning America and The Today Show. It’s powerful stuff.

While no one wants to be the Debbie Downer or Awkward Oversharer by spreading bummer statistics about infertility and child loss, it’s important. Our cause is a deeply personal one so unless people hear real stories from real people and are able to ask their questions about IVF, insurance coverage, surrogacy and adoption, they’ll never understand what we’re facing or what we’ve been through.

But this year NIAW looks a lot different.

Every year fertility-focused organizations like Fruitful look forward to spreading awareness this week. But this year, the world is deeply preoccupied with a public health crisis…which is appropriate and the correct priority when thousands of people are sick and dying. 

And yet, even though COVID-19 *should* be the public health priority, it doesn’t mean that all our other healthcare needs have stopped. And even though it *feels* like the world has come to a complete halt, it hasn’t. Our schools, work schedule and activities may have been put on hold, but our feelings and healthcare needs have not. 

Our community is still struggling with infertility every day. 

We are still reeling from the gutting news of losing a pregnancy. 

We are still experiencing the pain of endometriosis. 

We are still waiting for cycle day 1.

We are still having physical and emotional reminders of where we are and where we want to be.

In fact, I’d argue that the challenges we face going through infertility have only been more intense with this new normal. Feeling isolated at home. Disconnected from our providers. Separate from our usual support networks and happy distractions. Not to mention the loss of control and semblance of a plan. And even though we are all unfortunately ‘used to waiting,’ things are even more up in the air these days and that struggle is real. 

We need to remember our community members out there waiting to get that first ultrasound or hear back from their clinic about scheduling. The people who are still wondering about egg freezing or curious if they can still use the meds they ordered before this pandemic. If they still have insurance after being laid off from their jobs.

We see you. We hear you. And we’re HERE for you. The world has not forgotten about your struggle. You are not alone.

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