What could I possibly say about infertility that has not already been said? It sucks. It is awful. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. Infertility consumes you, chews you up, cloaks you in a layer of depression, guilt and shame, and then buries you deep in her belly, in a dark abyss, that you feel you may never escape. But there are always success stories. There are those who clawed and scratched their way out. But despite the success, they are still covered in a layer of depression, guilt, and shame, that they just can’t quite clean off.
I battled infertility for 10 years. I did everything right. I got my degree, started my career, met the man of my dreams, bought a home, and wanted to start a family. But I couldn’t get pregnant. I had a history of endometriosis and only one functioning ovary. We got help from a reproductive endocrinologist early on and tried all the basic steps of temperature monitoring, tracking my ovulation, clomid, and then 4 unsuccessful IUIs. We had to try IVF next. We took out a second mortgage to be able to do it but we were all in. This is what we needed to do to have a baby. And what do you know, my first pregnancy test was positive! We did it! And then my next lab draw showed the numbers didn’t increase like they should have. Then they got worse. I was told I was likely having a miscarriage. It was a punch in the stomach like I never felt before. I don’t know if I ever cried that hard in my life. It felt like my world was ending. I didn’t know what to do, where to go, how to feel. No other women in my family had a hard time getting pregnant. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get pregnant? Was I not meant to have children? I told myself so many lies. Everything was my fault. I wasn’t worth it. I could never be a mother.
Years passed. We tried other natural methods. Every period I had was another gut punch. I was falling deeper and deeper into the abyss. I went back to school and started a new career. We finally had enough money to try IVF again. And by some miracle, it finally worked. I had my baby boy. We tried again 16 months later and I got pregnant with my baby girl. We lost a twin at 10 weeks which was quite a devastating blow. But here we were 10 years later with our little family. And I felt I finally had everything I ever wanted. But for some reason I still felt depressed.
It wasn’t until after several months of counseling that I understood what infertility did to me. I got pregnant. I had two babies. I was a success story. But I was still veiled in the thick layering of depression, guilt, and shame that infertility gave me. I was cynical. Everything in my life I had a hard time enjoying because I was always just waiting to have the rug pulled out from under me. I had to work through so much in counseling. So much digging and revisiting things I never wanted to feel again. But I needed it. I needed to accept that infertility left a huge scar on my body that would never go away. I still can see it, I can acknowledge it, and now I am on the path to accepting it. And while infertility changed me in many ways, some of those ways are good. I never knew I could ever have so much resiliency. It takes a very strong person to go through infertility. I have a deeper empathy for those who are going through infertility. I have a deeper appreciation for my children and I know every day how very lucky I am. There are always going to be hard days. But I can look back now and see what I went through, how I scratched and clawed my way out, and how to take care of the deep and everlasting scar that infertility left behind.