I realized during a conversation recently that unless you’ve experienced infertility, you really can’t understand it. And that’s no one’s fault. This post is by no means meant to make anyone feel bad or to make anyone feel sorry for me. The purpose of this post is just to share what I lost to infertility.
One thing I’ve learned through our journey is everyone has their own hardships, pain, and losses. We may not be able to understand what someone else has been through, but we can always support them.
What I’ve lost to infertility:
- The chance to tell my husband we are pregnant and see the look on his face. I always imagined what it might be like to tell my husband we were pregnant, even before we started trying to get pregnant. I’ve always wanted to be a mom and that’s the moment the excitement all starts. We also lost the dream of telling our families we were expecting. And that’s gone, infertility took that away from me. Instead, I got negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test. Then I got to share with my husband, friends, and family that again we weren’t pregnant. Every month you’d imagine what it would be like if it was positive: who you’d tell first and how you’d tell them, but I never got to do that.
- Feeling a baby grow inside of me. I will never get to experience a baby growing inside of me, feeling their kicks and movements., watching my belly grow. I see my pregnant friends holding their hands to their bellies and feeling their babies move, and it reminds me I will never have that experience. Now I watch them and think of how much I hope they truly treasure their experience. They are bonding with their baby and feeling them before anyone can see or hold them.
- Wondering who our baby will look like. When you think about having a baby you think about who will they look like: mommy or daddy. After they are born you pull out baby pictures to see if baby looks like mommy as a baby or daddy. You talk about how baby has grandpa’s nose or grandma’s eyes. Infertility took that away too. When we adopt we may or may not meet our baby’s birth family. We may never know who our baby resembles.
- The ability to plan out our future. When you’re pregnant you get a due date. Now, I know babies don’t come right on their due date, but it gives you an idea of what to plan for. You know when you could go on a vacation, you know when you’re going to need that stroller and carseat, you know when your whole world is going to change, you know when you’re going to get that first Christmas or Halloween. Infertility leaves your whole life sitting like it’s on hold. When you’re doing fertility treatments you feel like you can’t make plans because you don’t know if/when you might get pregnant, or if you might have to be close by for a procedure or monitoring appointment. With adoption you’re left feeling like you can’t plan too far in advance. You don’t want to plan a vacation because you could miss that call from the agency or you might have a newborn by then. You also feel like those firsts are so far away, like they’ll never happen.
- Our privacy. Whether you publicly share your infertility journey like we have or you choose to keep it between you and your husband, you lose all privacy when you choose to pursue medical treatment. Between the questions about intercourse and medical history, and the exams and tests there isn’t much your medical team doesn’t know about you.
Though infertility may have taken a lot from me, I have gained so much too.
- Strength I never knew I had. There’s the saying “You’re stronger than you think you are” and through our journey I’ve found it to be true. Somehow I’m still standing. After so many no’s, so many let downs, having to give up on something I’d always dreamed I’d have/do; I’m still here and hopeful. I wake up everyday and know that one day we will get our baby. I’ve let myself buy baby things. Having a room set up is me telling myself that this will happen. We might not know when, but it will happen.
- Confidence. For almost the first year that we were trying to get pregnant I was always scared or worried that someone would ask when we planned to start a family. How do you explain to someone that you’ve been trying for quite a while? How do you make someone understand you have a medical condition and you can’t just relax and it’ll happen? Those things are so hard to hear. Then when we started working with the fertility office it was all a lot to handle and process. How do you explain something to someone else that you are still trying to understand yourself? Before we started our second IUI I finally decided I wanted to open up and share our journey. Being open and sharing took out all the scary parts from not sharing. I wasn’t worried about someone asking, I was ready to talk about it. I’ve found that most often people are curious because it’s not something they’ve experienced. When they ask a question they are really just trying to connect with you and learn. I am always happy to share about our infertility and adoption journey.
- A stronger marriage than I had before. Infertility is hard on everyone. We had to learn to be really open about how we were feeling and what we wanted. We’ve always been pretty good at communicating, but it has become more important through this journey. All those no’s and negatives are hard, and you have to be able to talk about them or they really tear you apart. We also had to be able to talk about if we were ready to move on to fertility treatments, what we wanted to do if/when they didn’t work, if we were okay with never having any biological children, and those aren’t easy conversations. When we were completing our home study binder we had to complete a really long list of questions about ourselves. We each had to do our own. These questions included what was it like growing up in your family, what do you admire most about your spouse, what do you want for a child growing up. As much work as it took to answer all of those questions, I loved getting to read my husband’s answers. There were many questions that we answered similarly. One question asked your desire to adopt, and we both talked about how we had talked about adopting way back when we first started dating. We actually felt sorry for people that don’t adopt and don’t get to read their spouses responses to these questions. We had great conversations started by these questions.
- An amazingly strong support system. I’ve always known my friends and family were there for me when I needed them, but I never imagined our support system was so big and strong. We recently attended a family event and everyone told us they couldn’t wait for us to bring a baby home and they pray for us every day. Last week I had meet the teacher night at school and one of my student’s parents was asking me if we had any news on our adoption journey. This baby will be so loved, by so many when they finally join our family! I also recently found an online adoption community and it’s amazing. It is so good for the soul to find other people who can really understand what you are going through and they are right there supporting you too. These are families thinking about adoption, starting the process, waiting just like us, and families that have adopted. Seeing that there are other waiting families out there with cribs set up, carseats purchased, and trying to keep patient while waiting reminds you that you aren’t alone. Then when you see these families get matched and bring babies home it reminds you that it really does happen; the wait will be worth it and one day you too will bring a baby home.
So much has changed in the almost three years we have been on this journey. We’ve lost many things we’d dreamed about but we’ve gained so much too. This journey has made us stronger, built a greater circle for our family, and will make me a better mommy. One day this journey will feel like it was short and it was just the beginning, but right now I remind myself to have patience and that one day we will hold our baby in our arms and forget all that we lost.