This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. And as I suspected, I am not aware of anything that the Archdiocese of Detroit is doing to “celebrate” this week. (Although, is there really anything to celebrate about infertility?) Ironically though, if one was interested in sending their children to Catholic schools in the area, the Archdiocese has designated today as “Open House” day for all the Catholic schools. Hmmm… if I HAD any children, I would probably be taking part of this event. But alas …
So knowing that my faith wasn’t doing anything to promote this week, I went online to see if there was anything locally going on this week. What did my search yield? That there was absolutely NOTHING happening in and around the great city of Detroit. Actually, I didn’t find anything within the whole state of Michigan. And I EVEN checked the Resolve website. Pretty darn sad, if you ask me. So it’s no wonder why infertility as a chronic disease is just not something that many people are willing to discuss. (And I DO mean a chronic disease, like diabetes or cancer. In my humble opinion, infertility is a disease that requires a lifestyle adjustment.)
That’s why I decided to rename this week “Pomegranate Week” instead.
Why Pomegranate? In a movement started via blogging, the idea of having a symbol for those who have experienced or currently experiencing infertility evolved. This led to a lengthy discussion about a symbol that would identify other “infertiles” from one another as well as perhaps a catalyst to discussing infertility to those who might question what the symbol was about. Eventually what this group came up with was a simple thread, the color of pomegranate. This thread, which was to be tied along the right wrist as a bracelet, could be as simple or as ornate as the wearer wanted it to be. And thus this movement became known as “Infertility’s Common Thread.”
I could go on and on about the history of how this came about and all the symbolism to it. However, I think the original statement that was written by a fellow “infertile” says it best:
Pomegranates, a longstanding symbol of fertility, serve as a strong analogy to those suffering through infertility. Though each pomegranate skin is unique in colour and texture, the seeds inside are remarkably similar from fruit to fruit. Though our diagnosis is unique — endometriosis, low sperm count, luteal phase defect, or causes unknown — the emotions, those seeds on the inside, are the same from person to person. Infertility creates frustration, anger, depression, guilt, and loneliness. Compounding these emotions is the shame that drives people suffering from infertility to retreat into silence.
In addition, the seeds represent the multitude of ways one can build their family: natural conception, treatments, adoption, third-party reproduction, or even choosing to live child-free.
The pomegranate thread holds a two-fold purpose: to identify and create community between those experiencing infertility as well as create a starting point for a conversation. Women pregnant through A.R.T., families created through adoption, or couples trying to conceive during infertility can wear the thread, identifying themselves to others in this silent community. At the same time, the string serves as a gateway to conversations about infertility when people inquire about its purpose. These conversations are imperative if we are ever to remove the social stigma attached to infertility. Tie on the thread because you’re not alone. Wear to make aware.
So a few weeks ago, I went out and bought my pomegranate colored thread (DMC embroidery floss # 814). And yesterday, I finally made my bracelet. Today, I wear it proudly and if anyone should ask, I would gladly share a discussion with them.
For my fellow Infertility Friends, Happy Pomegranate Week!