To explain what it’s like to be faced with infertility is difficult, but allow me to try from the heart.
It’s constantly living in a state of fear, but with a smidge of hope. You can’t let the hope go, because why else would you keep on trying?
It’s countless days, weeks, months, years of waiting. For something that you know might not ever happen.
It’s tests. Lots of tests. Pee sticks, needle pricks, ultrasounds. Pokes and prods. Each a physical reminder of what you’re enduring.
It’s people saying to you, “Just try not to think about it!” Their intentions are usually good. They don’t know any better and they are trying to help and to give you great advice! But with each of those unsolicited suggestions comes a surge of anger, sadness, and pain.
It’s thinking that if you just follow THIS diet or do THIS meditation, it’ll finally work for you. But it doesn’t, and you find it even harder to hold onto that thin thread of hope.
It’s watching your partner move through the motions too, and even though you’re connected in this master task, sometimes there’s a disconnect and you wonder where they are or if they’re really as ok as they say they are.
It’s driving into the Wegman’s parking lot when you’ve already been crying in the car (because sometimes that’s the only place you feel like you can cry in peace), and accidentally pulling into the spot that’s “Reserved for expectant mothers”, and deciding to park there anyway because you just want to stick it to the universe like the universe is sticking it to you.
It’s walking around in the world and seeing pregnant women and new babies everywhere you go. And you know that the magnificently pregnant “mother earth” woman who just walked past you very well could have been on the tail end of her own journey of infertility so you can’t be mad at her…but still you can’t push the desperation down. The desperation to be her.
Infertility is watching friends and family get pregnant and being happy for them and sad for you all at the same time.
It’s staring down at pregnancy tests time after time again. Thinking if you just stare long enough at it, that second line will appear. But it doesn’t.
It’s getting pregnant, finally, and then being terrified for the duration of the pregnancy that something, anything could go wrong.
It’s having and meeting that baby. And it’s all so surreal. And amazing. And yet, you continue to think of those who you’ve connected with who also battle infertility, and they haven’t gotten pregnant yet. And your heart aches for them.
It’s thinking that once you’ve had this baby, maybe it’ll be easier to get pregnant the next time around. Except it isn’t. It’s actually harder, and takes longer this time. And there’s no medical reason the doctors can come up with. You feel guilty for feeling sad that you can’t get pregnant again, because you were so lucky to get pregnant and actually have that baby the first time. You feel almost greedy for wanting another.
It’s hearing your 3-year-old daughter say, “I wish I had a little brother”, and responding with, “I know baby. I’m working on it.” And your heart aches.
It’s finally getting pregnant again, being terrified again, making it through again, and then holding your new living, breathing baby in your arms. And yet again thinking of all the beautiful mamas…those who lost a baby and/or those who haven’t been able to have a baby, and holding them all in your heart as you wrap this little amazingly bright gift in your arms.
It’s being exhausted from parenting these little ones who are finally here, living and breathing under your care. And feeling guilty for complaining about the exhaustion because of how long you hoped and prayed for them. But you ARE tired, and it IS ok to vent about it. And so you do complain, and you also hold that little extra bit of gratefulness in your heart for these amazing reasons to complain.
Infertility is so many things
I wish I had words of wisdom for those who are walking the brave and tiresome walk at this moment. I wish I had real actual “baby dust”…that such a thing really did exist (!!!) so I could shower it on you. But it doesn’t and I can’t.
What I can say is that you are not alone. And that you’re doing amazing.
Don’t forget to breathe. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Lean on those that love you and on those that are and who have walked this walk. And then breathe again. And again.
Since I am now 6+ years out of my infertility journey, I’ll share that I was called to write this post as a dedication to all the parents I’ve met as a young nurse working in a fertility clinic many years ago, those I met on my personal journey of infant loss and infertility, those who never found support or who suffered alone, those who never were able to have a baby of their own, all the medical/mental health professionals who help us navigate this bumpy road.
And to all four of my babies: my beloved Marco whose body was too sick and left us shortly after birth at 29 weeks, my intuitive and creative 10 year old Lucia preparing for her field trip tomorrow, my little “Flicker” who I lost at the very beginning of pregnancy but nonetheless was a bright burst of light and hope, and my earthy 6 year old Annabelle with such a joie de vivre who can’t wait for her after-school play-date with her friend tomorrow.
I’m forever and a day humbly grateful for each of you.