This topic is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while, but felt like I wasn’t suffering enough, or brave enough, to comment on the struggle of infertility. But I came to the realization that my hesitation to write about it, is the exact reason I should push myself to do so. Because this world of infertility is full of shame and disappointment, self-hate and loathing. Yet you are expected to hide your struggle from the world; expected to be strong, patient, brave, to find solace in the phrase ‘what is meant to happen will happen’ or ‘It will happen soon’. Every day is filled with stories and advice to help you feel comfort, because watching infertility sucks too. You are expected to take all these surface level solutions with a smile and grateful heart-even though deep down you want to scream ‘This sucks! I’m sad, and that’s fine’. This is infertility, for me, this is secondary infertility. Which, if you’re like me, you had no idea this event existed; because no one ever talks about infertility. Which is something I am about to change. My infertility is not something I chose; it is not something I am ashamed of and if you are out there fighting this battle with me you shouldn’t be ashamed either!
When my husband and I decided, it was time to grow our family again we genuinely believed it would be as immediate as the first time. We planned our life around getting pregnant right away. The first handful of negatives were easy to swallow. I could blame it on a stressful event, or the timing of sex that month. Then it became harder to accept when we hit month six. I had changed my habits, we were both taking the supplements that were suggested, we were having sex every other day between periods (yes this was exhausting), we’d both seen doctors-and yet still I get my period every month like clockwork. My husband and I had a vacation planned with my family for around this time. We were sure this would be the magic ticket to getting pregnant. We brought out all the tips and tricks we had found on this trip and were sure this would be our golden ticket. When we returned home and I once again got my period that month right on time. I remember feeling so defeated. In the back of my head I think I knew that this was the beginning of a journey, when I was hoping we were nearing the end. After yet another disappointment my husband and I decided to move forward with the next steps in actively fighting our unexplained secondary infertility. Something we knew was likely going to be a long, expensive, painful and extremely emotional road. We were both dedicated to growing our family and doing whatever it took.
Our next step was a flush of my fallopian tubes, to clear any possible blockage that could be holding up an egg. It was at this appointment, where I went in feeling the most hopeful, that I left feeling the lowest I had felt. When we decided to go forward with this very expensive procedure we had hope that in the months following I would get pregnant because of the increased fertility the flush gave you. We planned the procedure around my ovulation and we were hopeful this would be the only procedure we would have to endure. This was one of the last times I remember genuinely believing I would get pregnant soon. I’ve hit a point in my journey where hope is replaced by numbness to avoid the heartbreak each month. The results of this flush showed that one of my fallopian tubes was either blocked, or closed-slicing our chances of conception and explaining the previously unexplained infertility. I was devastated by this news. I now knew for certain this would be a long path that we were just beginning on. I remember crying on my way home from that appointment, feeling like I had not only failed my husband and myself, but my son too; I wanted so badly to give him a sibling. I was facing a challenge I never saw myself having to face. This has been the struggle of secondary infertility for me. Each month is a roller-coaster of hope and disappointment, acceptance and anger-something I had previously never associated with pregnancy and conception. The first time we were trying to conceive we were prepared to wait, I had read up on fertility and knew that the average time it took to conceive was six months to a year. We were both prepared to wait and were surprised when we found out we conceived Karson the very first month we tried.
The entire time we discussed having a second child we assumed we would get pregnant right away again. I had never even heard of secondary infertility, or unexplained infertility-two conditions I am now acquainted with all too well. When my son was born my husband and I dreamt of a family structure we thought was our choice. We thought we had the luxury of deciding when we were going to conceive our children. Something I knew was not a gift everyone received. I had known women close to me growing up who struggled with infertility. I was excited to get to grow our family, and when the time came to try to conceive again-there was no doubt in my mind it would happen again right away. For me this has been the hardest struggle of secondary infertility, accepting that this is MY reality. I wasn’t prepared for this. I was in no way ready for this fight, but it has reminded me what a miracle children are. And now, it has empowered me to share my struggles and my story. To stand up and speak about my infertility, to say-Hey, this freaking sucks. We are sad, we are angry, we blame each other, we blame ourselves, we are struggling silently to get through this-but I’m done being silent. I’m done having to hide my disappointment with a fake smile. I am allowed to be sad, I am allowed to be angry. I can feel these emotions and still understand that I am beyond lucky to already have my son; I am beyond lucky that I still have a chance to get pregnant at all. I understand this isn’t the end-but I’m here to say that doesn’t mean it’s not hard, or sad, or frustrating beyond belief and I am not less of a person because I don’t want to pretend it’s all okay. It’s not okay, but it’s what we are going through, its real.
The world of infertility shouldn’t be one of shame and silence. We should not have to suffer in silence or pretend there are not low moments. Infertility is not an indecent topic, or something we choose. I am not ashamed of my infertility, yet I feel like I must hide my disappointment and sadness. I feel pressure to put on a brave face and act like I am at peace with it, when I’m not. I’m not ashamed of my infertility-I’m mad at it. I was hopeful the first four months we failed, then the next six I was sad, and now I’m angry. I have been on the emotional roller-coaster of infertility for over a year. After seventeen months of disappointment it’s impossible for me to blame it on anything but that looming idea of infertility. Something I thought was far from my life, something for the movies or a magazine article. But as I’ve walked my path of infertility I have been floored to realize there are women all around me struggling every day with this issue. Something I thought was so far from home was actually surrounding me. Infertility was something being experienced around me silently, isolated in the hearts of so many. Women all around me that I knew and loved had suffered in ways I never knew, and it left me feeling angry at myself for not supporting them. This alone has motivated me to bring my infertility out of the shadows. Because I deserve to be supported through one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced. No matter how long you have been battling the invisible beast of infertility you have no reason to be ashamed. I know that in the world of infertility a year is nothing and I have a long time to go before I truly understand the struggles of infertility. But I am here saying that I am battling this silent beast, and I don’t think I should have to fight it alone. I’m just at the start of this journey and I know for a fact I can’t face it alone.
So, next time you are talking to your friend who’s trying to conceive, and has just gotten her period for the 18th month in a row-or the 50th, just give her a hug and say ‘I’m sorry, I know this sucks.’ Because it does, it really REALLY sucks-and I’m not a weak woman for admitting it’s a hard pill to swallow.