For nine long, painful years, my husband and I attempted to conceive. It was the most heartbreaking journey I have ever been on. I lost friends. I lost hope. Somewhere, I even lost myself. When you are so desperate to conceive and are unable to, it can become a very lonely journey. Everyone wants to say the pretty things, such as “In God’s time” and “When you stop trying – you’ll just get pregnant!”. Everyone has a story of hope to share about their friends cousin’s nephew next door neighbor or that girl from their church that tried for 22 years and suddenly got pregnant- not even trying, with triplets, and now they are living happily ever after on a farm with chickens. Of course, they all want to make sure that you know that “that will happen to you too!!!!” because it’s “Just like what you are going through” (Side note: NO IT WON’T.) Others want to remind you that you can “always just adopt.” Naturally, adopting is for everyone that can’t have biological children. You know, until they can have their own and abandon that t-shirt sales and pancake breakfast fundraiser and throw their gender reveal parties!
I’m sure they all meant well, truly I do believe that. While the words didn’t always sit well, I was always super grateful for the kind words. Fine. I’ll be honest. When you are in the depths of infertility, and you are going through month after month after month of medications, raging hormones, blood work, ultrasounds, and negative pregnancy tests, all of those cliche positive expressions make you want to scream and throw punches. It’s ugly and its not appreciative of me but its honest. I was going through it and it’s brutally honest how I felt. I spent years with my reproductive endocrinologist. It was a love hate relationship. I hated the way they make you feel, especially when they start to act different. It’s like they know it’s never going to happen without IVF and write you off. When they realize that you aren’t willing to spend $25,000+ for IVF then they act as though you just don’t want it badly enough. When you walk away and the nurses that you’ve talked with weekly, sometimes daily for years don’t even bother to reach out. You realize that you were just a number.
Then you begin to tell people that you’ve stopped trying for children of your own and they still push you to have hope and tell you to “don’t give up!!”. When we stopped trying for children of our own, people got angry with me when I said “It’s not an issue up for debate. This is our choice.” They didn’t know how to respond when I said-“No. We’re done.” FYI- the best response is simple. “So what’s next?” Few people are able to comprehend that though.
The end of your infertility journey doesn’t always stop at pregnancy. Sometimes it just stops. Brace yourselves for this one. Sometimes, dreams do not come true. Whew. Read that again. I know it my take a few minutes. Are you ready for the biggest shocker of them all now??? IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY! You’re life- it isn’t over!
Choosing to end your fertility journey doesn’t have to be sad and you don’t have to be bitter. You can actually celebrate that you get to live a different life. You can grieve for the life you thought you were going to lead, frankly you need to. However, you can also celebrate an unexpected path. It doesn’t mean that you are destined to adopt. Or foster. Sometimes you get to be a great aunt, an amazing teacher, or none of the above. Sometimes we get to choose to be childless. That last one is a doozy for some people to comprehend.
Not every journey battling infertility is a battle that ends with the “joy” we expected. However, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t end in joy. It simply means there are other paths and this one… just wasn’t the one for you. And that is okay.
***I originally wrote this post several months ago and just reposted it. “”””