Since I have started to openly share my infertility story, I have had various encounters of individuals saying that I am brave, strong, or courageous for sharing our struggles that we are still in the midst of. I don’t feel strong. Or brave. Or courageous. More than anything, I just feel this overwhelming need to just share our story. So that people know the impact of infertility on a whole perspective. Infertility affects you on a deeper level than anyone can know. It tears you apart. I need to share this so all you infertility warriors know you aren’t alone in your craziness.
I haven’t even always been this open. The first year we were trying, I probably told less than 10 people, none of which were even family. Most of those were friends, some even on their own infertility journey themselves. The reasons I never told anyone varied from wanting to completely surprise or families with news of our pregnancy, fear that something was medically wrong with us, not sharing because our infertility journey wasn’t as long or severe as others, not wanting to hear opinions on how we weren’t “doing it right,” not wanting to feel people pity us, and simply because I was ashamed of how my body, despite all the love and wellness I have poured into myself, didn’t work. Then when we got diagnosed with Low Ovarian Reserve I was scared people would walk on egg shells when telling me when they were trying or were pregnant. I didn’t want people to cautiously tell me, I wanted them to beam with excitement, like a giddy school girl. The exact way I would want to blurt it out to the world when it’s my turn.
The darkest part of our journey came from about 8 months TTC to approximately just after our second IUI failure. Its a part of my story that I have really only shared with my husband and my friend, who was in a very similar position. During this time I felt angry, bitter, and jealous. Angry that everyone around me was pregnant, bitter that I wasn’t, and jealous of every one who got to have these beautiful, loving, and tender intimate (AND FREE) moments with their spouse to start their family, and I was feet up in the stirrups, injecting myself with hormones, and getting catheters placed in my cervix to inseminate me.
Everything made me cry. Pregnancy announcements brought me to my knees every time, as I sobbed uncontrollably how it wasn’t fair that I wasn’t pregnant. About how easy it should be and it was for others but it wasn’t for us. Every birth made me think of how in that time that someone got pregnant, they managed to go nine months, growing a human, and relish in joys of being pregnant and planning for their sweet little babies arrival, and I had nothing. Every period I got felt like a slap in the face, that the universe was laughing and making me a pawn in some sick, twisted game it created to break me.
Oddly enough, general life events from others can somehow bring you down too. Its neurotic really. Oh you just got a engaged? Well now I am only a wedding and a house ahead of you. Everything was one step closer to being where I am and than surpassing me by having a family themselves. I realize how crazy that is but that is how it felt.
It feels like everyone gets to move on with their life and I was stuck. In the same damn place.
Everything felt like a personal attack. I became so obsessed over my own problems, it was hard to focus on the amazing milestones that were happening to my dear friends and family, who deserve all the good things that have and will come their way. Infertility makes you a petty, self-absorbed person.
Or at least it did for me.
Everything triggered me. I sat watching from my window as my neighbor had her fellow “Mom” friends over, and their kids played in the front lawn. I so desperately longed for that, to be included. I put my life on hold, waiting for a positive pregnancy test that would bring life back into me. But it never came.
Summer rolled around, I watched husbands and wives out taking an evening stroll with their baby, people out walking their dogs. I felt envious. I wanted that to be me and my husband. I even started to get angry that people at least had two dogs and I only had one (in all fairness, we only have one because Buck is petrified of other dogs). But I was envious of that. Well they might not have kids but at least they have two dogs, which is more than me, I would think to myself. Cue another breakdown, which actually led to us getting our cat Hemingway. If I couldn’t have a baby, or another dog, I should at least have a cat. I call Hemi my quarter life crisis because that’s how I truly felt. Like I was in crisis. Its the infertility irrational logic you just cant argue.
My emotional and mental well-being continued to spiral out of control. I was once so sweet, innocent, and had few worries to concern myself over. I felt like I wasn’t even the same person. I was envious, and my confidence and self-esteem levels plummeted to levels I have never experienced. I became so insecure, I cried daily, often crying myself to sleep about how lonely and incomplete my life was without a baby. Eventually, every time I looked at my husband I thought, you would be so much better off without me. You could go find someone who could give you the family you deserve. I began to worry that maybe one day, my husband would wake up and realize I couldn’t give him what he wanted in life, and maybe he would leave me. That he could find someone who was smarter, prettier, made more money, and someone who wasn’t barren. I kept these thoughts to myself, almost scared that if I admitted them out loud, that maybe they would come true.
One evening before bed, I asked what would be the most exciting thing about watching me be pregnant. His response was so simple – to watch me grow our baby and to see how my body changes. Do you know what insecure, shattered self-esteem me took away from that? That maybe my husband wanted me to be pregnant so that I would have a bigger chest. In all my years, I have never wanted to change my chest size, and Robbie is the first to say that he would never want me to get a breast implant, nor would I ever want to. This alone just proves disconnected I was from who I really am.
I broke down to my friend at work. I cried so hard I am not even sure if she could even understand anything. I told her I wasn’t worthy of my husband, that he was to wonderful, that he deserved more than what I could give him, how I was scared he would leave me to find some big chested, fertile woman. I have never had anxiety in my life, but this was the first time I ever experienced it. I couldn’t breath. Everything had amounted to too much, and I couldn’t seem to get a grasp on reality. It seems so utterly silly to write it out now, but during that phase in my life, it left me crippled with fear. All while my mind was diving off the deep end, my husband went above and beyond – he held me while I cried, he made our dreams stay alive. He never let showed any signs of frustration, more than anything I knew he wished he could take away all the pain I was feeling.
That night I went home, we hoped into bed and I told Robbie everything that I was feeling. He held me so tight, kissing my face, wiping away my tears, telling me over and over again how much he loves me and that if he ever said or did anything to make me feel this way, he was so sorry (he never did). That even if we ended up with no children, he couldn’t imagine his life without me, that there was no one else in this world that he could love as much as he loved me. He wrapped me up close in his arms, and for the first night in a while, I drifted off to sleep feeling like I had nothing to worry about.
In all my life, I can’t ever recall a time in my life where I felt so insecure, so unworthy, so fragile that anything shifting around me was enough to shatter me like glass hitting a cement floor. I had even contemplated going to counselling, that if I couldn’t get myself back to a healthy place naturally, I would seek out help. Thankfully after telling Robbie everything, I slowly began to get back my confidence. He carried me through the darkest times of our infertility journey. I started to feel like my self again, and that’s a feeling I hope I never lose again.
No matter where you are in your life, I hope you always know that you are so worthy of love, of happiness, of a family, of a career, or whatever it is you are pursuing. Know that its human to feel sad and disconnected at times, but that you need to talk about it. Have someone to confide in, communicate, and if all else fails, go seek out additional help. You are not weak for getting help or talking about your problems. When you know you can no longer carry those burdens alone, THAT is when you are strong, brave, and courageous.
So be strong, brave and courageous my friends,