The experience of infertility has been on my mind a lot lately. There are a number of reasons for this – a big reason is that I am on the verge of stepping up my involvement in the infertility community in a big way through a volunteer role with an organization whose mission is to educate people about infertility, and advocate for, and provide support for people who are infertile. Needless to say, I am super excited about this opportunity.
Something else that I am super excited about is that I am pregnant again! I haven’t blogged since I found out (on either of my blogs), for all of the usual reasons, but at 21 weeks along, I am more than halfway through this pregnancy (I just updated the details on my “TTC Journey” page). Once again, I am enjoying an uncomplicated, fairly symptom free pregnancy, and am looking forward to welcoming Baby Boy’s little brother into our family.
While my husband and I are not committing to “never again”, the reality is that in all likelihood, our family will be complete once this baby arrives. This means that after six years where trying to conceive, infertility, and pregnancy were such a big part of our lives (at times overshadowing everything else that was going on), we will be closing the door on our reproductive years.
This is, of course a wonderful place to be. After having lived through the anguish and uncertainty that infertility brings, both personally, and through the stories of the hundreds of infertile people I’ve connected with (online and also in person), I know how incredibly lucky we are to get the “happily ever after” ending.
And yet, the last six years are so imprinted in my mind, that it’s still hard for me to see ahead to the time where something that was so front and center in my life will no longer matter. I cannot get my head around never again worrying about the ins and outs of my menstrual cycle, never buying another ovulation prediction test, nor needing any more fertility clinic appointments. Even something as matter of fact for most people as taking birth control after this baby arrives has me torn and confused, as it is diametrically opposed to everything I’ve been working towards these past six years.
For better or worse, infertility (and everything reproduction related) seems to have seeped into my identity and affected my world view to such an extent that in order to move forward beyond infertility, I find myself fighting a version of stockholm syndrome now that I will soon no longer be a hostage.
Before I wrap up, I feel the need to point out that I have seen posts similar to this one be misinterpreted by those still in the trenches.
What I have touched on here is the coming need (and hopefully) eventual ability for me to move beyond MY infertility. I do not wish to forget or erase the past, nor do I plan to ignore what infertility means to millions of other people who continue to live with that reality every day. Moving on personally does not mean that I will stop supporting other infertiles (and in fact, as I mentioned at the start of this post, I hope that in the coming years I will be able to make a discernible, positive impact on the lives of people who continue to struggle with infertility). Arriving at a healing place, and continuing to be supportive of others are not mutually inclusive.
Lastly, despite all the negative aspects of infertility, the experience has taught me a lot:
– it has opened my eyes to the many amazing advances in science and medicine that have taken place just in my lifetime, while also teaching me that all of our advanced knowledge and tools can still only go so far;
– it has tested me in a way that nothing else in my life has, and as a result taught me about my level of resilience;
– it has increased my empathy towards others who are dealing with hardship (including any number of medical conditions) in their lives; and (more to the point)
– it has taught me to never, ever take for granted the ability to conceive, carry a pregnancy, deliver a healthy baby, and be able to build your family in the way that you had planned.