“Just relax, it will happen when it’s time!”
“Have you tried _____??”
“Oh, it took us 3 whole months to get pregnant, I know exactly how you feel!!”
If you’re like me and have dealt with the physical, emotional, and even psychological turmoil that is infertility you have likely heard those statements…along with about 100 more. It is estimated that 1 in 10 couples struggle with some form of infertility, or the ability to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to full term. Unlike other struggles in my own life, I’ve been more open about our struggle with infertility. Infertility looks different for every couple. Sometimes it’s issues for the woman. Sometimes the man can have the issue. Some couples will spend years trying to figure out why they can’t conceive and never get that answer. Some couples can resolve their infertility relatively quickly while others will spend thousands of dollars and years trying to have a baby. Some women will even suffer from secondary infertility and struggle to conceive after having their first child. We always knew I had the issue. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) when I was 20 years old. I knew before I even met my husband that it was going to be difficult or even impossible to conceive. Unfortunately, not everyone knows that years before they are even thinking about having children.
Just like miscarriages, infertility can be a hush hush topic.
Infertility isolates you. It is so hard to listen to people talk about planning pregnancies when you know first hand that it’s not that easy for everyone. It is so hard to listen to people talk about being pregnant and having a baby when you want to be in that place but can’t get there. It is so hard to be that couple that has been married for years and doesn’t have kids when most of your friends either have kids or kids on the way. And then having to respond to endless questions about “when are you going to have children?”, “what are you waiting for?” Sometimes it seems like being open about your infertility struggles isolates you even more because people sometimes don’t know what to say/can’t relate/feel guilty that they don’t have trouble trying to get pregnant.
Infertility is exhausting. Your life becomes a series of waiting. Waiting for your period. Waiting for the next doctor appointment, next ultrasound, next blood work. Waiting to take the next pill, next shot. Waiting for ovulation (or at least the shot that makes you ovulate), waiting for the next procedure, next test, next decision. Waiting to either see one or two lines. Waiting to repeat.
Infertility is physically hard. It’s an unnatural process. The medications, the hormones, the procedures. I had bruises on my stomach from injections for years. I tacked on a solid 5-10 pounds before I even got pregnant with my first child. My skin looked like a hormonal teenager again. I had mood swings that would scare PMS. I had minimally invasive procedures done to better diagnose my issues or help resolve them.
Infertility is emotional. It’s hard to describe the feeling of failure when your body can’t do what it was naturally made to do. It is so hard to go month after month taking at least 3 different hormone based medications to even have the slightest resemblance of a “normal” cycle, keep a daily log of what cycle day you’re on so you know when to take what, when to pee on what, and when to do what, all while going to your doctor to have 3-6 ultrasounds a month to time things down to practically the precise hour that your over medicated ovaries decide to release an egg to wait 2 long weeks to be told, once again, it didn’t work this time. Then sit in amazement that teenagers get pregnant in the backseat of a car. Even after having two, perfect babies, it’s still a deep wound in my soul. Having a baby didn’t erase the pain we went through for years.
Infertility is financially draining. Some states have great laws that mandate insurance coverage for infertility diagnosing and treatment. Many states unfortunately do not. We were somewhere in between. We had coverage for some things but not others. Some people will say “you should just adopt”, but it’s spending a lot of time, money, and resources either way.
It was such a feeling of relief when we opened up about our struggles to our family, closest friends, and Bible study group. It can be a huge weight off of your shoulders to let others understand what you’re dealing with. To have someone else to talk to, and have others pray for you and with you makes you feel less alone. I’ve often found that when I open up about our struggle I quickly find that there are so many people that have walked in my shoes. Finding and connecting with other individuals who struggle with infertility can be some of the best medicine. Talking about infertility also spreads awareness. It’s the only way the insensitive questions and comments will stop! You truly just never know what someone is dealing with!
A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problems in one of three ways:
- They will eventually conceive a baby.
- They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
- They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.
Everybody’s battle with infertility is different. Everybody will choose a different path to take to overcome it. Whatever path you choose, don’t go at it alone. Find a support group. Open up to your family and or friends. Don’t keep it all inside. We just weren’t meant to go through the hard stuff alone.