It’s National Infertility Awareness Week. In honor of that, here is what being infertile means to me.
Infertility affects 1 in 8 people (couples). I am one of those eight. Infertility means I am part of a widespread sisterhood–larger than most people can comprehend because, fortunately for them, it’s not something with which they ever have to be concerned.
But I am concerned, because I’ve seen what infertility can do to a person. I’ve seen what it can do to relationships. I’ve seen how isolating, mind-boggling, earth-shattering, faith-questioning, bank account-draining, and all-consuming infertility can be. It’s one of the most difficult things a woman (a couple) can experience, because we’re told our bodies are made to do something, yet despite giving it the old college try (again and again and again), it refuses.
Some never get pregnant, some can’t stay pregnant. Some have diagnosable conditions or illnesses that cause it, while others have “unexplained” infertility (do you have any idea what a slap in the face it is to tell a Type-A woman like me that her infertility is “unexplained”? It’s the medical version of a shoulder shrug! Argh).
IT SUCKS! IT SUCKS! IT SUCKS!
And all the while, the expectation is that you keep on keeping on, plugging right along, when on the inside you feel like you’re crumbling to pieces (again and again and again). You question what you did to deserve this. You struggle to figure out how you can fix it. You Google. You research. You cry. You pull up your big girl panties and you make it work.
For all of you going through it now, giving it the old college try (again and again and again), and wondering if you’ll ever be a parent…
Here is what I know…
And even though you cannot know or believe or feel this until hindsight shines its beautiful light directly in your face, I’m going to tell you anyway.
Ready? Here goes…
If you don’t give up on your dreams of parenthood, then INFERTILITY IS JUST A STEPPING STONE (sometimes it’s many stepping stones laid out to the horizon beyond the point where you can see its end), but it’s just part of the path that is leading you toward your inevitable endpoint. If you stay on it, and trust in the journey, you will be rewarded…handsomely.
Sometimes that path leads to having a child biologically. Sometimes that path leads to adoption, or foster care, or maybe even becoming a step-parent.
Like infertility, parenthood takes on many forms and while there are commonalities, each is unique.
Anyway, whatever your path’s destination–it is a beautiful place to find yourself (what, after that long journey of a million infertile stepping stones)… because that I have seen, too. You’ll stand there looking back at how long you traveled, back to where your starting point vanishes into oblivion, and you’ll recall how arduous the journey was, and it will make that moment, that place you find yourself, all the sweeter. Because you know, you wouldn’t have done all this journeying if it wasn’t worth the struggle. Oh, but it is. It so is.
It’s hard to believe sometimes, I know. But listen for the voices of those who have gone before you. They are cheering you on and helping to guide you along your way.
And I know this, because I’m there. I survived to tell the tale. I am stronger for it. I am blessed because of it. I am mommy. I am a parent.
Infertility did not win. It did not beat me. It tested
and challenged and dared me to keep stepping forward. And in the end, it lead me to where, I think, I was always supposed to be.