This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. I always feel a little weird about awareness weeks, because I feel like I'm personally just reaching those who already know my husband and I struggle with this (in which case it makes me feel like I'm just calling attention to myself and crying for attention), or I reach readers who are also going through these struggles and thus don't really need to read how hard it is, because they know. I can't attend the advocacy day in DC this year, and I feel like the people who most need to hear about the difficulties surrounding infertility are those people who have a million people lobbying in their ears every day. But even then, the frustration I feel about the process of diagnosing and treating infertility is mainly due to the financial burden. I feel an immense about of frustration that our healthcare system is callous towards any type of family building that falls outside the norm. For a country so adamantly pro-family, the US seems like anything but to me right now.
This blog post won't reach the people who make decisions, but I wish it would. I wish I could tell them that simply mandating coverage for this disease would make so many people's lives better, as it would narrow the class gap between those who can afford to treat their illness and those who cannot. I wish I could explain to them that if coverage can be mandated for medications that prevent a pregnancy, it makes sense to cover medications that encourage one. I wish I could explain that these are not easy elective procedures and nobody in their right mind would go through them if they didn't feel the innate biological drive to parent. I'd even play the "moral society" card and argue that in a society that prides itself on its morals, it seems pretty wrong to create a healthcare system that shakes its head in a collective "NO", a system in which people feel that they have to essentially "buy" a baby.
I guess what I want to write here is that I rail against these things in my mind every day. Every day I'm acutely aware of the fact that there is a series of walls ahead of me which are largely constructed not by my body, but by my healthcare system and country. If I lived in Maryland, I would have coverage, for example. I wouldn't even have to daydream about what my life might be like if I'd been born outside the US (I mean, I'd have a cute accent, for one, dammit). Instead I find myself daydreaming about moving to freaking Maryland. I feel like my dream of having mandated coverage for all states isn't too big to dream of.
And maybe next year I'll be able to make it to DC to say these things and more to the people who randomly get to help decide the fate of what family will look like for me and my husband.
For now though I just keep saving my pennies, hoping eventually I land on the magic number that will push me into the camp of people who can afford to treat their diagnosis. And this is what gets me about the US -- nobody should have to fund-raise their healthcare. Every time I see a lemonade stand for paying someone's medical bills I want to cry. Every time I see a plea for donations, I feel rage towards this system that reduces people to that. I guess my point is, if people aren't angry, why aren't they angry? Why do healthcare lemonade stands not fill everyone with rage? I see balloons and grins and I just want to say, this is not RIGHT, you shouldn't HAVE TO DO THIS!* Why do IVF bake sales not make everyone who's trying to afford it angry? I should not have to bake muffins or squeeze lemons for my health. Nobody should.
And that's not a rage I ever want to lose. I want to always feel angry when I see something that I feel is systematically unjust and cruel. I hope this experience continues to make me feel mad, if I can funnel that anger into something productive. I feel like the biggest shame in my particular struggle would be if it didn't fundamentally change me. I hope I continue to evolve because of this illness/disease/medical condition, and my only hope is that I can use it for good, and not just for griping.
So during this Awareness Week, I'm just trying to be conscious about thinking about ways in which I could funnel my anger and frustration with our healthcare system into something productive. I want to raise awareness about this struggle, but I hope if infertility coverage ever becomes mandatory, that it becomes mandatory with other things too. I am angry not just about infertility inequalities in healthcare, but about the innate inequalities in our healthcare in general.
Please change, America.
*(Obviously research is a little different; I'm talking about direct funds-to-care situations here.)