In recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are seeking to raise awareness about this struggle by sharing stories from local moms and a dad who have been in this difficult place, as well as additional local resources to help parents along this journey. Through this series, we hope to provide encouragement for women and men who are facing infertility and perspective for those supporting them in the battle. Thank you to our sponsors, UAB Women & Infants Services, and to each of the contributors to this series — especially the courageous parents who have shared a painful piece of your journeys.
My dreams have always been vivid. I’ve dreamt of flying more times than not, and I have this ongoing dream series in which I’m besties with Jen Aniston. I’ve managed to meet the entire cast of Friends, thanks to Jen Jen. Matt LeBlanc has the best personality out of all of them, if I do say so myself. I promise I don’t do drugs. I just have this amazing creative piece of my brain that kicks in right about midnight, along with REM. I’ve had Patrick Swayze come back to life in my dream, and that one shook me upon waking. RIP Patrick.
But nothing shook me as hard as the dream I had July 4th of 2014. My husband and I had been trying for a child for more than a year at the time, and we weren’t being very aggressive, because well, it’s supposed to be easy, right? I had actually reached a point in the process where I was mentally listing all of the reasons that I probably shouldn’t have a child anyway – crazy work schedule, too much travel, too late in life, too expensive, too selfish, etc.
But that night I held my daughter in my dreams. She had dark silky hair and pink skin. I was sitting in a hospital, rocking her. And, I was happy. Happy in a way that I’d never felt in my life. Happy in a way that you don’t forget. I woke slowly, trying to grasp these feelings. I wanted to climb back into the dream to feel them again. I was forever changed. It was then I knew. I didn’t just want to be a mother, I was MEANT to be a mother.
I guess my infertility journey began the minute we started trying for a child, only I didn’t know that I was on a journey when we began (again, with the “easy” assumption). After having that dream, however, I had to find a way to get to this little girl — the girl with the silky hair and pretty eyes. The girl whose skin felt like velvet. The girl who belonged to me. What I didn’t know is that it would be another three years before I’d meet her.
Infertility hurts. Especially when you’ve spent most of your life telling everyone, including your husband, that you don’t want children. When you’ve got the world convinced that you would be the last person on earth to have a child. When you aren’t sure it’s something people even talk about.
I’m here, as your encouraging (and slightly crazy) redheaded BFF, to tell you that it IS worth talking about. I opened up about our infertility journey while we were knee deep, trying to decide whether we wanted to go the IVF route or not. I had buried myself in a world of fear and doubt. It felt so hard and so impossible.
One morning my husband asked why I hadn’t shared my experience with others. After all, I freely talk about EVERYTHING else. I hadn’t even felt that talking was an option. Infertility struggles seemed to be something we don’t discuss in the daylight.
I’m the first one in a room to overshare, but this was the one topic I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about. Why?
I remember the day I decided to go public: random Friday morning alone at the office with a free moment to myself. I was done with feeling alone in my struggle. Done with the monthly letdowns and the unanswered questions. So, I did what any oversharer does in a moment of desperation. I spilled my heart on social media and immediately wondered if I should delete the post. After all, my mother-in-law was one of my Facebook friends, and she had no idea we’d been trying!
When I looked at my phone again, I was shocked at the positive responses. Not only that, but I had a ton of messages in my inbox from women who’d been going through THE SAME THING. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone. Instead of being filled with fear, I was encouraged. And, I immediately had a tribe of women who had my back.
These women prayed with me throughout our journey, experiencing my lows along with me. And, when the day came to finally announce that we were 12 weeks pregnant, I felt like I had a stadium of supporters to celebrate in our joy.
Shortly after Teagan arrived, I found myself in the hospital, rocking her and touching her soft dark hair. She opened her big brown eyes and looked up at me in a familiar way, and it felt perfect. The happiness unbearable; the moment unmistakably like that in my dream.
Grateful doesn’t begin to describe my feelings for the people who wrapped us in prayer. I’m so thankful to have gained the courage to talk about our journey. While sharing may not be the most comfortable thing to do in a moment of hurt, I can’t imagine going through our experience silently. And I encourage all women (and men) to do the same. Whether infertility, loss, or another struggle, your story has the power to heal someone else’s hurt. And, you’re surrounded by more supporters than you realize. You just have to call them from the sidelines.