Being pregnant – finally! – after a long stretch of infertility is a roller coaster of emotions. You’d think it would be nothing but happiness, but there’s a healthy dose of other feelings, many unexpected. Surprise, shock, joy, relief, worry, fear. Confusion.
Don’t get me wrong, the happiness is a big part of it, a huge part. But that doesn’t mean the other feelings just cease to exist.
Some of these confusing questions I know I’ve struggled with include: Where do I fit into the topic of infertility now? Am I an inspiring success story? A harsh reminder of the fact that others are still waiting and wanting? Do I have any business talking about infertility with others who are still struggling? Am I still infertile?
At the moment, that last question is somewhat irrelevant. Likely it always will be from now on. I’m halfway through carrying these little ones after all, and have no plans anytime in the near or far future to try getting pregnant again. So does it really matter if I can or can’t get pregnant again? Probably not. There’s a little bit of a tree falling in the forest-esque quality to the question:
If I’m being totally fair and honest, I never really considered myself infertile to begin with. “I am infertile” sounds, to me, so absolute. I preferred to think of it as struggling with infertility. Battling infertility. Conquering infertility. In my mind, labeling myself as infertile sounded like it was a part of me I would never escape instead of something I could eventually, hopefully, overcome. In my case, especially, since I had a daughter already and was actually dealing with secondary infertility that made it even more complicated in my own mind. How can I be infertile if I have a child? That doesn’t make any sense. Calling myself infertile didn’t make sense.
Is that an accurate way to look at it? Not necessarily, but it’s how I felt about it the entire time I was fighting that battle. Which was a long time. At least 10 years, though pinpointing a more precise length of time is a little complicated due to various personal factors (a story for another time perhaps,) so I usually just simplify and leave it at 10 years. 10 years is a long time to be dealing with anything. That’s 120 months, which is an important measure of time when trying to get pregnant.
120 chances to get my hopes up, only to have them crushed not long after. At least 120 chances to feel like a failure (although let’s be honest, the feeling like a failure part happens a lot more than just once a month,) and who can even begin to guess how many tears shed.
The sad thing is that spending that long with something as a prominent part of your life, it does become a part of you whether you want it to or not. I may have preferred to avoid certain labels that made it seem as though it was an inescapable part of my identity, but it still often felt like it was. And now it’s not, and that does take some getting used to.
This recap of my experience is all to make the point that while my journey with infertility has seemingly come to an end, it still happened and it was a significant and often hurtful part of my life. The fact that I was finally lucky doesn’t erase any of the pain of those years.
So back to my original question which was where does that leave me now?
I’m very much aware that my presence may be unwelcome among women still currently fighting their infertility battle. I remember all too well the way it felt as my friends got pregnant while I…didn’t. How it hurt even though I was happy for them. How watching them experience something I wanted so badly would break my heart over and over again. I don’t want to make anyone else feel that way.
I’d like to think I can provide some value for Infertility Warriors still fighting that battle, even though I’m aware it’s likely not true. What do so-called “success stories” really mean with a topic like this? The harsh and uncomfortable truth is that just because I finally got lucky doesn’t mean they will. I hope they will, but I can’t help them get there. I can offer encouragement and support but what is that worth? I could make a list of the various remedies and things I tried that may have been the tipping point, but who’s to say what made the difference or if it was just time? Is it obnoxious to tell others the things that I tried that could have helped? We all know how annoying it can be when people try to solve our impossible problems for us with heaps of useless advice that isn’t actually applicable to our situation, don’t we? And I obviously have no business offering medical advice.
I will continue to do everything in my power to offer emotional support for anyone struggling with infertility. For me it’s still such a fresh wound, I don’t think I’ll likely ever forget the way it felt, or the things I wished someone would have said to me at the time, especially in the darkest moments when I felt like there was no hope.
If I can help give someone a tiny fragment of hope or comfort, I want to do that.
My at-the-moment approach to this topic is that I won’t hide my experience, but I also won’t claim that it’s still something I’m struggling with. I won’t speak over those still in the thick of the fight, but I’ll make sure they know I’m here if they need a shoulder to cry on or someone to vent to. I’ll try my best to remind them they aren’t alone and they aren’t to blame. I’ve got their back in any small way that I can.
Let me know your thoughts with a comment below! I’d love to know if anything in this post really resonated with you, or if it’s something you’ve experienced on either side of the subject.