In a society where we Americans obsess over convenience and instant gratification, infertility is a scary thing. Sure, there are clinics and specialists and surgeries, but here’s the thing: sometimes A and B just don’t make C. We are taught to follow our dreams, write our own stories, listen to our hearts, and create our own destinies. We love to feel in control and have a PLAN — at least I do — and if we work hard enough, dang it, we can make our American dreams a reality. We can land that job and buy that car and marry that guy and start our families…
Oh, wait … we aren’t as in control as we thought.
It’s a nagging thing, infertility. It’s like there’s someone you’ve never known but desperately need to meet. Someone who is a part of your very core, someone you love so much it hurts, and you ache for the chance to get to them. Trying to deal with these feelings is a curious thing. Can we grieve someone who hasn’t been born? Someone who’s not even a someone?
I say yes.
There were never any indicators that infertility would be a part of my story. I have always been healthy and had normal cycles. I was very active in high school, college, and beyond and thought for sure it would just be a waiting game, post-birth control. My OB was certain my body just needed a few months to get “readjusted” and start having a cycle. But weeks turned to months, and still no cycle came.
I was shocked to be referred to a fertility specialist — I never thought we’d get to that point. What was the deal?? I had always been a healthy eater, had a love for being active and working out, and felt “normal” when it came to health and my monthly cycles. I had never dealt with anything being wrong with me. But there I was in the waiting room of the fertility clinic, with my navy blue “New Patient” folder. On the bottom right corner was a silver-embossed baby. My optimistic self felt so hopeful looking at that shiny baby. But I had no clue what was really going on inside my body.
It only took one visit to discover I had PCOS, which stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. I’m no doctor or scientist, but through all my googling and research, I discovered that PCOS is basically a hormone imbalance. Your brain isn’t communicating correctly with your endocrine system so you don’t ovulate. The cause of PCOS is unknown and there is no cure, only treatments.
Our doctor recommended four to six tries using ovulation inducing medicines. After three attempts, hundreds of dollars spent, and much disappointment, we decided to do a fourth and final try. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to happen. But still, I hoped and prayed a few more million times. I’ll never forget the look on the face of my sweet ultrasound tech. We were both looking at the same screen showing three little sacs, and I wasn’t saying much because of my utter disbelief (and excitement). She calmly asked, “Are you ok? Because I would be falling off of that table!” Those of you who have successfully conceived after dealing with infertility know that I had nothing but excitement for all three of those little babies. Of course there were days when I wondered how it would work, but to receive three when you’re just hoping for one — sheer joy.
That’s the simple version of my story. As moms, we thrive on sharing stories with each other. They offer insight, humor, encouragement, and different perspectives. For those of us who have experienced infertility, we know the power of hope found in these stories. Through them, we assure each other it’s ok to grieve — it’s a peculiar grief, but grief nonetheless. We also remind each other there is purpose in the midst of pain. I really do believe that. We are not less of a woman if we do not bear children, and our lives are just as precious. I remember scouring the internet for infertility success stories. They were mostly people I didn’t even know but I didn’t care — it felt good to my heart and gave me a little more hope that day. I hope my story plays a small role in doing just that. And I also hope someone reading this might feel empowered to share her own story.
“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark.” – Kate DiCamillo
In recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are seeking to raise awareness about this struggle by sharing stories from local moms who have been in, or are currently in, this difficult place. Through this series, we hope to provide encouragement for women who are facing infertility, as well as perspective for those supporting them in the battle. Thank you to the courageous women who have shared a piece of your motherhood journey as part of this series.