Infertility, motherhood, parenting, self help, ttc

Thankful.

“Thankful for infertility? How in the…? Really, who in their right mind is thankful for something THIS heartbreaking?”

It’s been awhile since my last post.  I have determined I suck at consistency but with school, work, doctors appointments for my husband, my dad and myself, life gets crazy. Sitting down to write a thoughtful and often times emotionally draining post takes a lot of time, time I don’t always have. I am trying to get better at prioritizing the time I do have though. Hopefully in the near future you will see a lot more of me, a lot more often. Anyways, I’ve digressed, that’s not what I wanted this post to be about.

“I find something to be positive about and to be thankful for”

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and we are headed into the Christmas season; emotions are high. The holiday season is one of the hardest times of the year for me on this journey to motherhood. I try to find comfort in many things; friends, traditions, baking, gift giving and more. Often, the last few months of the year end in lots of tears and a heavy heart despite all my efforts to fill my world with joy. I find myself waking up everyday excited for the future and by the end of the night I am sad and unsure about this journey. I question how much longer I can do this? How much longer we can do this? How in the hell do people do this for 10+ years!? In spite of the doubt and the heartache I am able to turn it around and I find something to be positive about and to be thankful for. I am starting to get involved in the TTC (trying to conceive) and infertility communities. Social media is a wonderful thing and it has connected me to a ton of ladies who are also on this journey. Recently I’ve started seeing “thankful for infertility because….” posts and they got me thinking. Thankful for infertility? How in the…? Really, who in their right mind is thankful for something THIS heartbreaking? Well, to tell you the truth; I am! Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I ran across a blog post about making it through the holiday season while struggling with infertility. The author talked about these thankful posts quite a bit. She focused on how the women who post these are now on the other side, they’ve made it through the heartache and they are walking through life as a mother, instead of being childless. While many of us in the throes of infertility are far from thankful there are plenty of things we can take from this journey, while we are still on it, and be thankful for.

thankful

“Dealing with infertility myself has given me a reason to be vocal about an issue that affects so many people but is so taboo amongst our culture. “

I started to run through everything I could possibly be thankful for and I was shocked at how much positivity has come from this heartbreaking journey. Now, I can’t pinpoint one single thing I am the most thankful for so my list is in no specific order.

I am thankful for infertility because:

  • Of the friendships I have gained: Throughout this journey I have grown close to a handful of wonderful ladies. If it weren’t for my struggle with fertility I wouldn’t have the friends I have right now. Being open on social media has allowed me to rekindle friendships with high school friends and even some old best friends. Not all of them are on this journey, but they encourage me through the turmoil.
  • I have helped people: I started being open about our journey to parenthood shortly after our wedding nearly two years ago. Now, I was never quiet about our struggle I just didn’t post about it in a public manner. Since I began being transparent I have had so many ladies reach out and tell me about their private struggles. I have been thanked by so many friends and strangers for my honesty. I have had people reach out and be open about their struggles when they haven’t told anyone about their journey. If it weren’t for infertility these ladies would likely still be holding in the pain they carry.
  • I have a platform: Infertility has allowed me to spread awareness about a very common issue. 1 in 8 couples have trouble conceiving. It’s likely someone you know and are very close to is suffering silently. Dealing with infertility myself has given me a reason to be vocal about an issue that affects so many people but is so taboo amongst our culture.
  • It’s taught me about my body and my health conditions : Before we began TTC, I thought I knew all there was to know about being a woman. Ha! Was I wrong. I now have a deeper understanding of the role hormones play in everyday life. I understand my PCOS far more than I ever have and because of my infertility I uncovered my Hashimoto’s. Infertility has allowed me and forced me to take control of my health and the well-being of my family.
  • It’s showed me a side of my husband I never would have known: A lot of times we hear about how awful infertility is on a marriage or relationship. For me, infertility has strengthened our marriage. Think about it, going through tough times is, well, tough. You can either get through it together or fall apart. My husband understands the pain I am in constantly and he has been my rock throughout it all. I get to see a side of him that I would never have seen if it weren’t for this journey. I know that in the face of pain my husband will help me through it. I know I can count on my husband emotionally in different ways. My husband also knows that I am here for him and he sees me in a different way because I navigate daily life all while being heartbroken. My husband and I communicate on an emotional level that wouldn’t be possible without infertility.
  • I appreciate my future pregnancy and child: Obviously, I have never experienced pregnancy or being a mother. Longing for something and doing everything humanly possible to make the dream come true, really makes you appreciate it that much more. I know that once it’s our turn, we will cherish every.single.moment.
  • It’s taught me to be thankful: Even when the days, weeks and months drag on. Even when my heart breaks into a million pieces with every failed pregnancy test. Even when I feel like it will never be “our turn”, I am thankful. I can find a silver lining through the tears and my infertility has given me this. Being able to find hope and positivity in sorrow is something that I wasn’t able to do before.

“Living with the pain is something we have to do if we want to become parents but if we can be thankful for what it has given us in this very moment it may make it a little easier to bear.”

These are just a FEW of the many reasons I am thankful for my infertility. Sure, I could walk this journey in anger and sadness but what good is that? I don’t say these things to make it seem like I’ve got it all figured out or that I am happy about any of it, because I don’t and I’m not. I share this so maybe, if you’re reading this, you can look at your journey a little differently. We don’t have to cross over to the other side to appreciate infertility. Living with the pain is something we have to do if we want to become parents but if we can be thankful for what it has given us in this very moment it may make it a little easier to bear. If you aren’t thankful for your journey to motherhood just yet, don’t worry about it! One day you’ll look back on this time and your heart will be filled with all of the positivity that came from the sorrow.

Recently I had a moment, I was struggling with the unknown and I was just plain sad. A really amazing friend told me “you’re one month closer to meeting your baby”. This hit home and it helped me continue on. Now, as we enter the Christmas season I keep telling myself, “I’m one thanksgiving and one Christmas closer to meeting our baby”.

 

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Infertility

Waiting for a baby.

RitaJames1yr-274

“Where there is Love, There is Life” A quote that has been keeping me going lately. This photo is from our first wedding anniversary and I couldn’t think of a better quote to use to celebrate our first year as husband and wife and our first year struggling openly with infertility.

I have never been shy about my struggle with infertility. I often post about it on my Facebook and Instagram. When we started diagnostic testing and created a treatment plan in January I was open about the process. I regularly put on a brave face and walk through life with a positive attitude. I try extremely hard to stay positive, even when life keeps knocking me down. I’m not going to lie, staying positive is far from easy. This post is going to get deep, maybe too deep for some. If you aren’t comfortable with topics like periods, hormones and pre-marital sex, this one is not for you. Feel free to go read over my wedding posts and look at my life through the fairytale lens that is wedding photography. Throughout I’ll be talking more about a singular experience with infertility, I’m not touching on the men’s perspective or what it does to a relationship, that’ll come later. Also, this post is going to be long. I tried to keep it short but it’s just not possible so please accept my apology before hand, if you finish the whole post I appreciate your dedication and I hope you have a slightly better understanding of one of the many perspectives on infertility.

Growing up, NO ONE talks about getting pregnant. We hear about people accidentally getting pregnant and how NOT to get pregnant. We all know those ladies who got pregnant on a one night stand or have child after child. What we don’t hear about, is the woman who struggled to get pregnant, the woman who suffered loss after loss, the woman who required medication to get pregnant or the woman who was never able to conceive. I have always wondered why the conversation around getting pregnant is such taboo. We celebrate pregnancy and we call the baby a miracle or a gift from god. Everyone is always so excited for the expectant parents but no one cares to hear about the story that leads up to it. I can confidently say that each and every one of you reading this personally knows someone who has suffered the loss of a child or a pregnancy. It may be surprising to know that 1 in 4 woman will unfortunately experience miscarriage. So, how is it that 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage yet, it’s never talked about? Well, society as created this environment that makes these types of conversations uncomfortable. Rational or not the large group of women who suffer from infertility and infant and pregnancy loss feel guilty. We know it’s not our fault and that there’s nothing we can do about it. Trust me, we are doing everything within our power to become a mother. There is this ideal that a woman just gets pregnant, it’s what they do and if you can’t they are some how less then.

I am 24 going on 25 and my husband and I have been trying to conceive for 3 years. This is nothing compared to the lengths that other women and couples go to, to become parents. My struggle is just that; it’s mine. I am not comparing myself to other women who are struggling to become moms. We all have our own story and we all cope with it in a personal way. I just want the conversation around infertility and loss to be more normal. We should be able to talk about trying to conceive as easily as we do about conception. No one should have to lie or feel embarrassed when answering the question “when are you going to have children?” Think about it, if you asked me when I was going to have children and I responded “we are trying but I’m struggling with infertility” you’d be uncomfortable, you wouldn’t know how to respond or you’d say something like “oh, it’ll happen when the time is right” (please, don’t ever say that to anyone by the  way, it’s insulting and not at all comforting) Now, if I responded “one day, we just aren’t ready yet” you would likely feel better and we would move on in our conversation. This is what I want to change. These conversations should happen. They should be open and honest and we shouldn’t just over look them. A woman trying to conceive and struggling could use a soft place to land, PLEASE try to be this person and don’t lose interest in their conversation if the answer is not something you expected to hear.

Over the last few years I have felt more emotions than I thought humanly possible. I knew early in my adult life that having a child or even becoming pregnant would be a struggle. I have had hormonal issues since puberty and as I’ve gotten older, they’ve gotten worse. I went from 5 or 6 menstrual cycles a year to 1 or 2 and then none. I saw doctor after doctor and not one of them cared to find the reason why. Being a teenager, no one cares about your reproductive organs. I even had one doctor tell me that 1 period a year was “normal” for me (incase you were wondering, it’s not normal or healthy for anyone). The thought that I would never become a mother began weighing on my mind earlier than it would for most. When I was younger I was always standoff-ish about my hormonal issues as I’ve grown up, that’s changed.

My husband and I began TTC (Try to Conceive) before we were married *gasp*. This made my struggle a very private one. Some think I just began my journey with infertility but that is sadly not the truth. Although I have held a decent paying job and have been financially supporting myself since I was 18, I knew many would judge two people who were not married trying to have a baby. Now, if we ended up pregnant on “accident” no one would have batted an eye at it. We would have been told congratulations and it would have been celebrated. But tell people you are struggling with infertility when you are 21 and not married, your suffering becomes less serious and you are instantly judged. For about 2 years only my best friend knew I was trying to have a baby and that we were struggling. Even with her knowing the topic was hardly addressed. It wasn’t until this year that I spoke publicly about my health issues and my struggles. I decided to take the plunge and start visiting a fertility clinic, sadly this was not an option that worked in our favor. We are still not expecting and the dream of a baby seems to be getting farther and farther away. I have a million and two things running through my mind to write about, to talk about or to address. It’s not humanly possible to cover them all in one blog post so I’m going to talk about how I feel, right now in this moment.

pain

Generally, I have a positive outlook on life. One day I know we will become parents some how. It may not be this year or next year or 5 years from now. It may not be biologically my child or our child but we will become parents, someday. Sometimes though, staying positive is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Last night as I sat on the floor with tears streaming down my face talking to my husband I realized feeling sad and hopeless is part of our journey. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry every time a friend announced their pregnancy or that the sense of jealousy didn’t eat me up inside with every baby photo that pops up on my timeline. There are a lot of raw emotions involved with not being able to conceive a child. Every time I learn of a new pregnancy I go through stages of emotions. I go from ecstatic to devastated, from smiling to choking back tears. There are days that I truly want to give up, not on life; but trying to create a life. I get angry with myself when I envy my best friend for being a mother. Or when I compare myself to friends who are pregnant. Why are they more deserving than I am? When will it be my turn? Will it ever be my turn? I blame myself. Maybe if I would have spoken up earlier. Maybe if I wasn’t over weight. Maybe if I wouldn’t have slept with this guy or that guy as a teenager. What if this is punishment and I don’t deserve to be a mother? What if that one time I had a chemical pregnancy at 18 and felt relief when the test went from positive to negative, is the only time I ever see two lines on a test. Maybe the plan B I took being an irresponsible 18-year-old caused my heartache today. These questions run through my head on a daily basis. When I attend baby showers I have to prepare myself emotionally. You may never notice it but I am holding back tears, I promise I am trying to enjoy this moment in your life but it’s just not as easy some days. When I attend birthday parties for your children and I sit there quietly, just let me be. I promise I am there mentally, I’m just trying to hide my pain. Every month that goes by I feel like I have failed my husband. My heart breaks that he picked me, out of everyone who walks this earth and I may never make him a father. Just the thought of that takes the air from my lungs, thinking about my dear husband, never fathering a child is earth shattering and knowing that it is my fault, is one of the hardest things I have ever had to cope with. My father may never meet my children, my children may not have grandparents. The guilt runs deep and it’s something I can’t turn off. I know that the guilt is irrational and I know that I can’t control this situation but that knowledge doesn’t make the dark days easier.

agony and hope

With all the negative that comes along with TTC, there is a world of good that comes from it. I have hope. I hope, one day to carry a child in my womb. I hope, one day my husband will be a father. I hope, one day there will be someone calling me “mommy”. I look forward to the future with anticipation, with positivity. I wake up everyday trying to better myself. I day-dream about what my child will look like and how they will act. I picture my life different from now. One day, all this pain will have been for something so beautiful. Something amazing WILL come from this pain, I just know it will. Preparing for the future and envisioning my life on the other side of this struggle keeps me going. It may seem over dramatic to some but coming to terms with the reality that you may never be a mother to your own child, is numbing. I don’t wish this reality on anyone. I tell myself that we will get though it, that it’s worth it. I have to belive this or the pain would be too much. I refuse to give up on the hopes of a baby. Today, this month, this year, may not be our time but one day….one day a miracle will happen and we will become parents. In the mean time we are waiting for a baby, impatiently at best.

I hope to continue this conversation and shed light on my struggle. One day infertility and pregnancy and infant loss will not be taboo. Woman suffering from the loss of a pregnancy should never have to stay silent, that baby, that pregnancy, is not forgotten. Woman trying to become a mother should never feel guilty or embarrassed because their bodies don’t work the same as others. We should never feel embarrassed talking about reproductive health. If you know someone who has suffered a loss, don’t shy away from them, they need their friends and family now more than ever. If you have a friend who skips out on your baby shower, don’t hold it against her. Sometimes missing the baby shower is better for. During this storm in her life being selfish and putting her feelings first may be the only thing that keeps her breathing. It’s not easy watching other people live your dream time and time again while you sit on the side lines.

our babies nursery decor

To cope with my infertility I began ordering custom pieces for our someday baby. Photo Cred: @BohoBabyHeaven on Instagram and Etsy. Inez has been a wonderful friend I have made over the last year and a half.

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