Since it’s now National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to write a blog post centered around the topic of grief and infertility. Both of which I think are extremely sensitive topics, but that goes directly together. If you’re new here, then it might be helpful to read some of my other posts about my experience with PCOS and Endometriosis and ultimately what led to my own infertility diagnosis.
When Grief Is A Part of Your Journey
Grief is probably going to be or has already been a part of your story if you’ve experienced Infertility. For me, I grieved differently for different parts of my journey. Sometimes it was denial, other time it was anger and depression. For me now, I’m grieving, but I’m also accepting the life that I’m choosing to live. While NOT having children was not my choice, I refuse to let Infertility defeat me as a person.
I grieved for the children I’d never have. I grieved that my body wasn’t “normal.” I grieved for the losses I experienced. I grieved for the negative pregnancy tests over and over. I grieved for the baby showers I had to attend and suffer in silence. I grieved every time I saw a pregnancy announcement and knew I would never experience the happiness they would. I grieved over the medical bills that piled up that we couldn’t afford. I grieved over the person I was and would never be again
becauesof Infertility. I grieved that I’d never get to see my Husband be a Father. I grieved that I will never be a Mother.
1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. (2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth, CDC)Resolve.org
Infertility is a Rollercoaster of Emotions and Grief
I sometimes sit back and think back to when we started this whole process. I was so naive. I’ve always been around people who easily had children and heard people say (actually out loud) inappropriate things like “I just sneeze and get pregnant” “There must be something in the water because we’re pregnant again” “We’re just a super fertile family” “Every time he looks at me, I end up pregnant.” Honestly, that’s what I was used to. I didn’t grow up hearing stories of women in my family (or friends) struggling to get pregnant. It wasn’t talked about. I had no idea.
No one can really truly understand your experience and what you’re dealing with unless they’ve been through it themselves. Your mom, your sisters, and your best friends will tell you that they’re sorry, but they can’t really understand everything you’re dealing with. How could they? Hell, I couldn’t at times understand what I was going through myself.
Month after month, seeing every negative pregnancy test does something to you. No matter how hard you’ve tried, no matter how many medications or testing you’ve put yourself though, no matter how much money you spent (that you didn’t have) to have a baby, Infertility doesn’t discriminate. Month after month of hopelessly praying and doing everything you can, getting your period or seeing another negative test is literally exhausting. It’s an endless cycle of ups and downs. It’s hell.
There’s a lot of screaming. A lot of praying. A lot of silent tears in bathrooms at baby showers, gender reveals, or the family members who never stop asking about it. There’s a lot of time spent at doctors appointments. There’s a lot of cash. out of pocket. happening to the point where you begin to apologize to your partner for what it’s doing to your finances and marriage. There’s charting. There’s a lot of expensive prescriptions and medical supplies. There’s a lot of invasive testing. There’s a lot of injections. There are even losses. There are surgeries. There’s pain like you’ve never experienced before. There’s a lot of anger and a lot of sadness. There’s jealousy that you don’t understand. For each woman and couple, it’s different.
Not being able to start a family is probably the greatest loss I’ve ever experienced. It’s hard to put into words what Infertility can do to a person’s life, relationship, and personality. For me, it’s been a lot of ups and downs. Grief is a process! Took me a long time to understand that.
I’ve battled severe depression and had days where I was convinced of what a failure I had become. I’ve had days when I question if I did everything that I possibly could have done. I have moments where I lose it because of a Facebook post. I have moments where I walk in a store and see pregnant women
The thing with Infertility is that once you think you’re over the whole grief thing, it starts right back up. It shows up when you least expect it. It’s when a friend or family member tells you that they’re pregnant again. It’s when you see your husband playing with children and you realize that he’ll never be a father himself. It’s watching women experience motherhood and you realize that you will never be able to understand that.
When I had my last surgery to remove my endometrial lining, I cried and cried over it. I had put my body through more than I probably should have, but I wanted to be a mother more than anything else in life. When the time had come where I had to make the decision to remove my lining because of health reasons (hysterectomy brought up also) I sobbed.
Before they took me away for the actual surgery, I remember telling Rob how sorry I was. This was it for us. There would be no miracle from heaven “accident” that somehow got us pregnant anymore. After this surgery, we’d forever be child-less and I struggled with that so much. I’d never felt so alone in my life than laying on that hospital bed. I felt like such a failure. I felt like a sorry excuse for a woman.
That was it for me……
Finding Yourself Again After Grief
It’s funny what having something that you have zero control over will do to a person. I struggled physically as well as emotionally. You’re essentially mourning the loss of something that you’ve expected since you were a little girl. Only now, you realize that it’s not as easy as it seems. You lose yourself in all of it.
Infertility is the biggest loss I’ve ever experienced without ever really actually “losing” something. I thought I knew pain and grief before all of this, but I realize how different this experience was from everything else I had experienced before this.
It’s been years since my Infertility journey started and just two years since my last surgery. I’m still grieving. I always will be. I grieve for the woman I was. I grieve for how hopeful I used to be.
Living Life As A Child-Free Woman
The biggest thing I learned going through Infertility is that silence is deadly. I understand that not every couple will go public with their experience. That’s why I’m using my voice and my platform to speak up for everyone silently going through their own grief.
Know that you are entitled to mourn. You are entitled to feel numb and angry after a failed cycle or seeing yet another negative result. Your miscarriage is a loss and it’s ok to feel devastated. It’s ok that you feel isolated, I did too. It’s ok to avoid situations that are painful for you. It’s ok to grieve and to continue to grieve.
Also, it’s been an exhausting process. I realize that this grief is overwhelming. Making peace with all of this isn’t easy, but I’m trying to perfect it. I don’t want Infertility to break me any more than it already has. I want to love myself again. I want to be proud of my accomplishments and not always compare them to motherhood. I want people to realize that I do have a family. Rob and I are a family and we don’t require children to complete our family. I want people to stop telling me that we are lonely because we have no children.
I’m a childless woman who is trying to accept the life that I’m living in. Some days are easier than others. Some days it still hits me like a ton of bricks. Like I said before, grief is a process. I’m finally starting to be ok with my decision to have surgery so I could finally experience relief, even though it took the experience of being a mother away from me forever.
My infertility is circumstantial but my life is not barren. And to the women who are on the other side of hope, know that you are more powerful than your womb. You are maternal whether or not maternity ever comes. You are a woman and your love and how you choose to offer and receive it, is a gift.Melanie Notkin
And you’re not alone.
Truth is, I’m still angry. I’m pissed off and irritated what Infertility has done to me and to so many other women and couples out there. I’m pissed off about the lack of coverage. I’m still mourning the losses. I’m angry at the conversations we still have to have about this topic.
However, I’m also hopeful. I’m hopeful that women like myself, who have experienced Infertility and have made it to their “plan b” and are doing ok, that we’ll be the voices for the women who are still in the thick of it. My situation has changed me, but in some ways, I’m happy about it. It’s proven to me how powerful I am and what I can go through and survive.
I will always grieve, it will just be different. I know how strong and powerful my voice is and that is something that I will continue to use to fight against Infertility and everything that it has done to me and to everyone else fighting their fight.