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.
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.
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.