The truth about infertility and struggling to build a family is that it can feel like you are being pruned, like a plant. It alters your world view and the direction of your life. It can feel painful, but the growth might just be worthwhile.

Having graduated college and married the most wonderful man, we were in no hurry to start our family. However, just a year into our marriage, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, and we were told conceiving might be difficult. We didn’t stress about it, but we did quietly get off birth control.

After six months, and with increasing pain due to the endometriosis, nothing had happened. After another six months, I had surgery to remove my endometriosis and hopefully increase our chances of conceiving. No longer in pain, but still desiring a family, we began testing and medical interventions.

A diagnosis was not helpful. After many years, surgery, and tests, doctors still did not know why I could not get pregnant, aside from the endometriosis. I have “unexplained infertility” and am not a good candidate for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). We were left with childlessness, surrogacy, or adoption as our future choices. The one thing I’d wanted most, something I’d worked for and done all the right things to achieve, and my body just was not up to the task. And worse, no one could determine why. It seemed like a painful dead end, but one ending was just the start of a new direction.

One of my best friends growing up had a younger sibling via adoption, and it had impacted me greatly, so much so that adoption was considered during our premarital counseling. When we realized that conception was unlikely, we began considering if adoption was right for us. To make a long story short, it was. We are blessed with two beautiful children via adoption. We are a mosaic of a family, each of us with different broken pieces that together make something beautiful.

Over a decade after our infertility diagnosis we are happy, complete (if not perfect), and cannot imagine our life any other way. There has not been an “end.” We ended our journey to conceive, yes, and we have finished building our family via adoption, but the lessons of infertility and struggling to build a family have not ceased. I’ve learned so much about myself in the process, and I’ve become more aware of the world around me. I’ve leaned on my faith, and I’ve found that it was strengthened during the years of hardship and difficulty. My experiences have made me more compassionate, more caring, and more open-minded.

Infertility is life-altering, but I now understand that my life is richer because of these experiences. The difficulties endured will never go away, but I wouldn’t want them to. The growth is – and was – painful, but the fruit from the new direction is beautiful.

Kristen VG.