National Infertility Awareness Week – April 23-29,2017
I have infertility. In the beginning, those first 3 years of our marriage, I was a mess anytime a friend told me about their pregnancy, especially if they didn’t mean to get pregnant. I felt so much guilt that my body didn’t work the way it is supposed to. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of the amazing husband I have because I am “broken”. In the culture of my religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) the emphasis on families is one of the greatest aspects, but for those with infertility it can feel alienating. Having a family is filling the measure of our creation, and it’s the one thing you can’t make happen despite the invasive tests and procedures you have heaped upon yourself and the tens of thousands of dollars you have spent. It inevitably leads to heartache and frustration. I spent many mornings crying in my closet holding a negative pregnancy test. Even after years of tests and procedures, I still thought maybe there would be a chance that it would be positive.
Where Do I Fit In?
You might know that I am raising three of my beautiful children. That is one aspect that is tricky with infertility, having success with a certain infertility treatment (In Vitro Fertilization in our case) doesn’t end your infertility. To add complexity, when you become pregnant, you carefully tiptoe out of the infertility support groups you have been a part of for years and where you have found so much compassion and support. You see, they don’t want you there anymore. You now represent what is breaking their hearts. So, you exit only to enter a place that is empty and alone. You are not really a part of the traditional mommy groups where they get pregnant each time they try for a month or two. It was only recently that I found a group on facebook for parenting after infertility. It is the first “home” feeling I’ve had in 6 years. Those in that group understand where I’m at right now.
Mother’s day was extra difficult for several years. I don’t think it is any coincidence that the National Infertility Awareness Week is just a couple of weeks before Mother’s Day. It’s our chance to wave a banner that says, “Look at me, I matter too!” Because Mother’s Day, as wonderful as it is, is an entire holiday focused on what we want most, but are unable to have. It’s incredibly painful. I wrote a bit more about Mother’s Day and infertility here and still, the quote that I share there is my favorite infertility quote. I believe it and it has brought me so much comfort.
Resolve To Be Happy For Others
It wasn’t until I resolved myself to be happy for others that the healing began. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “We are not diminished when someone else is added upon”. He explained that God does not have a finite number of blessings to hand out which means there is less available for us when someone receives one. Really believing that has helped me so much. I can be happy for others in their happiness. I have had to repeat that to myself numerous times, often through tears. I’m totally serious, even now 10 years into this I have to repeat it to myself often.
I’ve learned that it is only through our relationship with our Savior, and seeing ourselves as we truly are to Him, that we can face life’s challenges with true perspective and hope – hope that comes through the grace of the atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ. One thing I know for sure through all of this is that Heavenly Father knows and loves each of us more than anything and is there to help bear our burdens. He may not move the mountain in front of you, but he will most certainly help you climb it. Don’t give up. Keep your focus on what matters most and what you want most and move toward it the best you can step by step.
Elder Bednar said, “You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, ‘No one understands. No one knows.’ No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor – literally run to us – and strengthen us.”
Having Patience With Others
It will be difficult for your spouse to understand just how crazy and crappy the medications and shots make you feel. You will have many days where you and your spouse will feel so alone in your discouragement. You may question, as I did on occasion, if you are being punished for something since the language, “We’ve been BLESSED with our children” is used so commonly. I choose to say that I am fortunate, humbled and grateful to be a mother. Divine favoritism is inferred by saying that one is “blessed” and that just doesn’t sit well with me.
People that know of your struggles will comment to you that you are so strong, or such a great example of faith in trying times. What they may not see is how weathered to disappointment and sadness your heart is and the many times you have cried out in pain, “I can’t take it anymore!” It will be difficult for those without infertility to fully understand your heartache. Have patience with them as they do their best to find appropriate ways to “mourn with those that mourn.” I know it is hard to smile through the well intended comments of others. There are too many that start with “at least”. “At least you get to sleep in on the weekends”, “at least you and your husband can travel when you want”. As if you wake up on a Saturday thinking, “boy, that extra hour of sleep really soothed my broken heart and empty arms.” I’ve had to realize that most people are just trying to minimize your pain, and are saying anything they can – because they don’t know what else to say. I have found myself in their shoes many times regarding other issues.
Helpful Infertility Quotes
Last spring as we approached doing In Vitro for our 5th and final time I found the quote pictured above. I felt so much anxiety about doing it again. I was scared of being hurt again. It felt like getting back in the line that only served disappointment and grief. I knew there was a chance that I could fly. I have felt that before, and seeing this quote each day on my fridge gave me courage to move forward. I hope it is helpful for you. That 5th In Vitro was successful. We became pregnant with twins and felt so much joy anticipating their arrival. Unfortunately, on Mother’s Day last year as I walked into the church foyer I knew something was wrong and turned around and spent the day in bed having a miscarriage of one of our babies. That our daughter Claire survived was a miracle that I am ever grateful for, but it just illustrates further that “success” in infertility comes at a very heavy price.
Wow, if you are still reading this you should get an award. I had a lot of feelings to express apparently. Hopefully something was helpful whether you experience infertility yourself or are looking to support someone you love.
I also love these 20 Infertility related quotes.
Lastly, if you have infertility i want to say to you, “I’m so sorry, be gentle with yourself and others. Be brave and kind. Have hope and reach outward and upward for healing.”