Welcome to the final installment of comparing Olympics athletes to women going through infertility. I have to admit that comparing the two and what they have to go through is an uncommon comparison, but it also might help others to see how committed we are as women to building our families. It′s not that different of a commitment than an athlete training for the Olympics. Part I and Part II explain lightly some of the similarities and today we will add a couple more and then differences.
3) Isolation is common
Athletes are so focused on their goal and practicing sometimes 6 hours a day, that there is not much time for social activities. Few people understand their commitment, drive, and why they are never available. This happens less in team sports and more in individual sports.
IF′ers are also flying solo in Infertility. Not many ladies want to reveal the fact that they are not able to conceive. Most people in their circle of trust are offering advice that is unwanted and not helpful and the only solution the IF′er sees is to Not tell anyone her struggles. Each loss adds to the isolating feeling.
I′m not an expert on this but I′m guessing that most sports are underfunded. Unless you′re Michael Phelps or a NBA player you have given every cent to have a chance at winning at your sport. Look at Gabby Douglas (gymnast) who moved in with a host family to practice at the best gym with the best coach possible. Her mother gave up so much to give her daughter that chance and that is a huge price to pay for a chance at the GOLD.
Infertility procedures are outrageously expensive in the US (average IVF is $15K-$20k). It was too expensive for us here in the US, so we were willing to go to Holland to find the same treatment for less than a ¼ of the cost. I′ve heard of other′s mortgaging their homes to pay to have the chance of a baby coming into their lives. It also is expensive of the time it takes. Some have been trying or over 5 years.
There are also some Major differences that are obvious and then some that us women with infertility could learn from starting with:
1. Sport vs. Disease
Yes it′s obvious; Sport is a fun activity that you get to choose how committed you are to it. Infertility is a disease. This disease is often compared to having cancer in how emotionally draining it is. I can attest to how “not” fun infertility is. It sucks actually.
2. Proud feelings Vs. Shame feelings
We are generally very proud of our athletes that are so committed to their goal of doing their best. As an Athlete, we are proud of ourselves as we forge forward. As a woman who has infertility, feeling shame is a common emotion. The woman feels as if she is broken, that something is wrong with them, or that they caused their own infertility. So untrue and this leaves room for healing those feelings of shame into something more positive.
3. Failure vs. Opportunity
It′s part of the culture or habit of sports to win, lose then repeat. It′s all about failing fast in order to try again and get on with it. Although if your goal was to win the Gold, then you must wait four years to try again. Look at the Para-Olympics that has just started. Athletes that are challenged with physical, visual and/or intellectual impairment are not considered failures, but instead Olympic athletes. They don′t have the same ability that the rest of us have, and yet they are able to Xperience a unique opportunity of being in the Olympics.
It′s the same with the infertility journey, because we also, don′t have the same working body parts other couples have. Our eggs, our den or our swimmers are not working like we thought they should. We take it personal when we have a failed cycle and we focus on the failure instead of looking for other opportunities. Feeling hope to grief in 28 days and repeating becomes exhausting as the years wear on. What if we were to think of ourselves as IF athletes and we are in training to win the gold metal baby? It seems to me we could bounce back faster to try another round or change our strategy. I′m not sure it would actually work, but it′s an idea.
No matter how much we practice, how much we spend, now matter how committed we are in our lonesome shell, this infertility disease is a different level of difficult for everyone. Xperiencing our own lost dreams and being able to regroup, pick our heart off the floor and try again compares to the athletes I have been watching on TV. Some made it to the finish line in first place, while the rest of the pack tried their best and yet still came up short. I keep thinking of a friend of mine that was successful on one round of IVF, that′s the Gold metal baby. We were left behind as the losers. Then there was the woman runner that tripped, fell and collapsed on the track in tears knowing that this was her last try at a metal and she had failed. Lost dreams are Xperienced in the Olympics and with infertility. Focusing on the opportunity rather than the failure will help us live a more fertilicious life.
The Dutchman and I have chosen child-free living, yet it seems like the man upstairs keeps showing us possibilities elsewhere. Recently we had my sister′s foster daughter spending a couple of days with us. It has opened our eyes to something we had thought about but now we get to experience it first hand with the Dutchman′s heart to being open to the possibilities. Are we are ready for what comes next? I feel our gold metal moment is yet to come. In the meantime, we still practice for shits and gold metal giggles with the mindset of an Olympic infertility athlete.