Looking at me now, toting a 20-month-old toddler on my back, holding hands with my 4-year-old, and sporting a six
pack month pregnant belly, I seem to be the very picture of fertility.
What that picture doesn’t show is how very different things looked six years ago.
There was a time, depending on where I was in my cycle, when that picture of blooming motherhood might have caused me to smile wistfully and enviously, positive this month would be the month for us. Or it might have sent me running in the opposite direction, choking back tears.
I don’t think of it often, but when a friend opens up about her difficulty conceiving, I flash back to my struggles with infertility, to the cycle of pain, frustration, hope and despair.
There was the pain and envy I felt when a good friend called to tell me she was pregnant; how I literally lost my breath when I heard the news, holding back the well of sorrow and despair until I was off the phone and could collapse into sobs. Then there was the endless waiting for the doctor’s call, obsessively checking my phone to make sure I didn’t miss it; the charting of temperatures and physical signs of ovulation, the supplements, the hormone shots, the planning of intercourse and deep exhaustion it all produced. I would overanalyze every twinge, ache or pain … was the cramping implementation pain or just PMS?
I would read stories of child abuse and neglect and want to scream and weep for all the sweet babies who needed a good home, and all the parents to be who just wanted a baby to love. I remember looking into adoption and feeling immensely overwhelmed with the expense, options and details.
I remember trying to stay patient with well-meaning advice from family members and friends. And most of all, I remember trying to take that advice; to enjoy the time together with my husband, to take advantage of our kid-free time.
When I am reminded of that period of our lives, the pain is muted and distant. I can recall it now without tears and despair, talking matter-of-factly about the highs and lows with friends in the same boat. For me, the joys and exhaustion of motherhood have extinguished the anguish of infertility.
I wish I could go back and reassure my struggling self that we would be all right.
I would tell her that there will eventually be an end to the cycle of hope and despair. I would tell her that it will quickly fade away with the late nights and early mornings and that time will bring big changes, positive and negative, and eventually, healing. I would tell her that life will never be the same again.
While I can only hope for the same positive end result for everyone dealing with infertility, I can say that your own journey can take you to unexpected and unfathomable places, whether it’s with children or another dream that fulfills you. Time brings changes for us all, and just know that if you are struggling with infertility or some other silent pain, you are not alone.