The pictures shared throughout this, are all pictures I took during our 1st IVF cycle. That cycle was canceled and was turned into an IUI, our 4th IUI to be exact. Unfortunately, as you can tell from the picture above, it was not successful. We are currently in the middle of our 2nd round of IVF. It’s hard to remain hopeful after so many letdowns but we are trying! If you are still here, thanks! I know this is a long read and most people can not relate to anything I discussed in this. So thank you! I hope this taught you something. Whether it’s how to speak to someone going through fertility, or just getting insight as to just some of the things us fertility warriors go through!
Writing this and sharing this is something that I never would have done a year ago. I wouldn’t have been brave enough to be so vulnerable. Infertility is extremely personal!
I feel so compelled to write this because of the vast amount of sheer ignorance I have witnessed and personally encountered from friends, family, acquaintances, and complete strangers over my 21+ months (and counting) of walking this path that I didn’t choose to walk. I have completely lost count of how many times I’ve found myself in an uncomfortable and tear-inducing situation from hearing pregnancy news that caught me so off guard that it resulted in me excusing myself to the nearest bathroom to go cry my eyes out while forcing myself to pull it together long enough to make it through whatever event I am attending, only to leave and immediately lose it again behind closed doors. But what I do know is that.. it’s happened A LOT!
It comes as no surprise that the majority of people will never truly understand how cruel infertility is, so until we start talking about it…those people will never even 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘯 to understand how it feels to not be able to do the one thing your body was designed to do. I feel shame and embarrassment and desolation and grief and confusion on a daily basis surrounding this topic, but I also feel liberated and empowered and also very much convicted to share.
Just to be clear, I don’t use the term ignorance as meaning “stupid”; I use the term as meaning “uninformed” or “unaware”. We are all guilty of being ignorant to topics that don’t necessarily pertain to us, myself included, so this is why I feel the need to share; simply to “educate”. Clinical research has proven that infertility is as stressful and traumatic to a person as cancer is…so, let that sink in. It affects 1 in 8 couples and so I am choosing to be a face and a voice on behalf of men and women everywhere who are also battling infertility right beside me.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹𝘀 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲…
At times it’s paralyzing. At times it’s debilitatingly painful. It’s feeling so out of touch with reality because you’re completely consumed with your own thoughts and grief that you simply can’t muster up the energy to focus on anything else.
It’s setting boundaries for yourself and walking away from conversations when people start talking about their pregnancies/babies/kids.
It’s feeling like it’s a chore to actually spend time with people because you’re forced to put on a fake brave and semi-happy face for the world while feeling completely shattered and devastated and heartbroken inside.
It’s then forcing yourself and trying your hardest to make it through X, Y, Z event without completely breaking down.
Oftentimes it’s wanting to apologize to those people in your circle that you’ve completely disappeared from but can’t bring yourself to share your grief and pain with them because the vulnerability in itself is too painful to talk about. Yet at times, it’s not wanting to have to apologize for what you’re going through and all you really want from people is some compassion and grace. Furthermore, you know you can’t be there for them in ways that they probably need you to be right now because you’re suffering from your own intense grief and misery. How do you pour yourself into other people’s cups when you don’t even have the energy to fill up your own?
At times it’s completely avoiding people who are pregnant or not attending certain events where you know there are potential triggers. It’s saying “no” to your friend’s baby shower or kiddo’s birthday party if you don’t think you can handle it, only to feel like a bad friend for not being there.
It’s being on the brink of tears at any given moment.
It’s self-preservation at the expense of 𝘢𝘭𝘭
of your relationships.
It’s feeling like you want to completely isolate yourself so that that you’re not hit with yet more pregnancy news and baby announcements.
It’s at times feeling so depressed and lonely and isolated that you contemplate what the alternative would be.
It’s suffering from PTSD and depression to all of the loss and trauma.
It destroys your soul and your mental health and your self-esteem.
It’s questioning why God would give you such a strong desire to be a mom and then wondering why He’s not following through on His promise. It’s wondering if He’s forgotten about you.
It’s wondering what you did to deserve so much heartache and pain.
It’s unfollowing certain people on social media or completely getting rid of your social media accounts altogether.
It’s knowing most people have the best of intentions, but also unintentionally taking some things personally because you just can’t understand how someone could possibly be so insensitive, especially when they are well aware of what you’ve been, and are still, going through.
It’s choosing to ignore texts or messages from people that don’t serve your well-being. It’s also avoiding those people that can’t help but constantly tell you about other people’s babies/pregnancies/kids.
It’s watching everyone around you get pregnant and start their families while you’re stuck watching and waiting and trying to feel happy for them, yet feeling incredibly sad and heartbroken for yourself.
It’s being mad as hell at God for allowing the pain and suffering to continue.
It’s constant blood-draws, endless doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, poking and prodding, extreme emotional lows. It’s constant crying and feeling unstable. It’s depression. It’s anxiety. It’s feeling hopeless and worthless and full of shame. It’s feeling completely betrayed by your own body. It’s receiving unfavorable diagnosis after unfavorable diagnosis. It’s feeling like a failure. It’s desperately wanting something so badly that you’re willing to try all sorts of weird vitamins and supplements, and spending thousands of wasted dollars. It’s diet changes, and cutting out caffeine and alcohol. It’s doing round after round of IUI and taking oral medications that make you feel like an emotional lunatic and doing abdominal injections that leave bruises on your body. It’s trying every trick in the book to make it happen, all to have your soul crushed and your dreams squashed every month when aunt flow shows up. It’s ending up with scars on your body and all over your heart, and still having no baby.
It is 𝙎𝙊. 𝙈𝙐𝘾𝙃. 𝙇𝙊𝙎𝙎.
It’s the loss of hopes and dreams and joy and happiness and the anticipation of starting a family the old-fashioned way. It’s the loss of surprising your partner with joyous news. It’s the loss of surprising your friends and family because everything has become so pre-meditated. It’s the loss of feeling happy and excited about a potential pregnancy because there is hurdle after hurdle to jump through to achieve success. It’s the loss of feeling happy/excited even if pregnancy is achieved because the fear of miscarriage is so real. It’s a complete loss of control. It’s the loss of self. It’s the loss of a future you saw so vividly. It’s the loss of a pregnancy. It’s sadness and feeling loss over a “should’ve been” due date/Birthday/holiday celebration that never happened. It’s the loss of so many more things not included here.
It’s all-consuming stress and fear and anxiety over the possibility of never becoming a parent to a biological child.
It’s feeling like simply existing is exhausting.
It’s the perpetual feeling of fatigue from the mental, emotional, physical and financial burdens that we carry from infertility.
It’s the added stress of “should I get” a part-time job on top of your full-time job to help cover the insane cost of fertility treatment because your insurance covers nothing.
It’s feeling like you are no longer yourself but a shattered and broken shell of the old you.
It’s feeling completely numb.
It’s feeling helpless and hopeless and that nothing excites you anymore.
It’s day after day, month after month, year after year of the agonizing “wait”.
It’s completely missing out on life at times.
It’s exhaustion from so many nights of not sleeping because it’s all you can think about. Other nights you cry yourself to sleep and wake up with a headache that lasts all day.
𝙄𝙣𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙒𝙀𝘼𝙍𝙎. 𝙔𝙊𝙐. 𝙊𝙐𝙏.
It is so many hard and ugly and painful things and it’s not fair that some people have to endure this pain and suffering while most others don’t.
It is arguably the most painful thing a woman can experience (aside from losing an actual living & breathing child).
In the chance that you’re still reading this and wondering what can be done or said differently… I would encourage you to try these tactics instead…
Be considerate. Don’t just assume that everything is okay because it appears that way on the surface. As Taylor Swift so elegantly states: Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes. What we want and need from you is grace. We don’t want you to ask us about any of it; we will bring it up if we want to talk. What you can do is simply ask “how are you doing?” or “I’m here if you need anything or want to talk” or “I’m sorry you’re going through this”. Stop asking couples when they’re going to have kids or have more kids, etc. Stop telling people to just “relax” and take your mind off of it, or go on a vacation and it’ll happen. It’s simply not possible when your heart wants something so badly and your medical diagnosis says otherwise. Stop giving us suggestions of things you truly know nothing about. Stop sharing baby news and pregnancy announcements with those suffering (albeit in silence) unless you absolutely have to share (aka a sibling or a close friend). If it’s someone close to you, share your news with them 1:1. Do not.. under any circumstances.. bombard them with your news in front of other people. Maybe ask them if it’s okay to discuss certain topics with/in front of them, etc. Let them know you’re thinking about them. Send up a prayer or two on their behalf. Whatever it is, just be considerate. Think before you say things. And give us some compassion and grace.
Lastly, I want to quickly touch base regarding IVF. There seems to be an overwhelmingly incorrect assumption that IVF is the miracle cure for infertility and that once you start IVF, you’re guaranteed a baby. Let me just tell you, in the infertility world, there is absolutely NEVER!!! a guarantee that it will work out how you want it to. A person could do 100 rounds of IVF and still end up with no baby. All of the 10s of thousands of dollars and time and everything that goes into IVF, is still NEVER a guarantee for a take home baby. I could go into a lot more detail, but I’ll spare you. Let me just say… let’s stop making that assumption because it’s simply not true.