National Infertility Awareness Week 2020
Disclaimer: I don’t share this journey for attention, or pity or advice. It would be easier to stay quiet, but that doesn’t help anyone. The truth is, infertility can be isolating because there’s a stigma around it that makes it uncomfortable to talk about (hence this disclaimer). 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. struggle to conceive, which means someone you know is probably in the thick of it without you even knowing. Or maybe it’s you yourself and you feel like you’re the only one. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that I’m not alone and it’s ok to acknowledge your feelings, even the not so positive ones. So in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week this week, I’m sharing what it’s like for many people going through infertility.
It’s a cycle of hope, dread, anxiety, more hope, and tears, that always leads back to hope.
Hope at the start because you think, this could finally be the one that brings you your baby.
Then you dread the thought of fertility meds and the side effects they bring, like headaches, hot flashes at such a young age, nausea, fatigue, light headedness, the list is never ending, but you push them aside because when it works, it’s absolutely worth it.
Anxiety is elevated during the two week wait, analyzing every symptom that could just be from the shot(s) of hormones you gave yourself.
Hope is always there in the background. Although you try not to get your hopes up too high, it seems inevitable.
Then test day comes and you get your period. You cry. You pick yourself back up and you try again because there’s still hope.
This repeats every 28-32 days if you don’t see those two pink lines and that’s if you’re lucky enough to have a regular cycle. You start counting days and instead of a random Tuesday, you now refer to it as cycle day (insert number).
If you’re like me, you’ve had surgery, and multiple painful procedures. You’ve had more internal ultrasounds and blood draws than you can count. Some go well and others lead to cancelled cycles. You develop a strength you never knew you had because let’s face it, there is no other choice. Even stopping would take strength.
It’s a waiting game filled with uncertainty. Again, if you’re like me, you keep the faith by remembering that God is in control and he already knows the ending. His plans are far better than yours alone could ever be. You believe He keeps His promises, you just don’t know when or how.
You learn to trust (in God and in your doctors) because no matter how many times you google it, you don’t have the answers. Even though you have trust, guilt and doubt tend to creep in. Are you doing the right thing? Is treatment a way of God sending a life boat to his plan or is it not His plan at all? Should you “just” adopt like people say? As if it were that easy.
You receive unhelpful advice like “just relax”, “it will happen when the time is right”, “maybe if you just stop trying”, from people who are full of good intentions and just want to say something, anything to feel in control of the uncomfortable conversation they find themselves in. It makes you question if you should speak up at all or does it make people too uncomfortable? You decide it’s worth it though, because it breaks the stigma around the subject that many are afraid to talk about and every now and then you find someone who has the right words, like “this sucks”, and “I’m sorry” or even, “I don’t know what to say, but I love you.”
You dream of the day you’ll get to be the one announcing a healthy pregnancy. Keyword, healthy. You’re fully aware that not all positive pregnancy tests lead to a healthy pregnancy and a take home baby in the end. What should be an exciting time, can be filled with fear and doubt. You know, because you’ve experienced it firsthand.
Even a worldwide pandemic and indefinitely cancelled treatments (because they aren’t considered essential) can’t squash hope completely. If anything you’re more prepared to deal with uncertainty because you face it daily. Infertility teaches you to celebrate every small victory and have hope even if it’s as small as a mustard seed because someday, some way...
YOU will be called mom.