“Just relax, it will happen when it’s time!”
“Have you tried _____??”
“Oh, it took us 3 whole months to get pregnant, I know exactly how you feel!”
If you’re like me and have personally dealt with the physical, emotional, psychological, and financial challenges that is infertility, you have likely heard those statements…along with about 100 more. Insert eye roll and silent tears.
It is estimated that 1 in 8 couples struggle with some form of infertility or the ability to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to full term. Infertility looks different for every couple. Sometimes there are medical issues for the woman. Sometimes it’s the man. Some couples will spend years just trying to figure out why they can’t conceive and never get that answer. Many couples can resolve their infertility relatively quickly while others will spend thousands of dollars and years trying to have a baby. There is even a whole other side of infertility that some women will suffer from called secondary infertility in which they struggle to conceive after, often easily, having their first or second child. You never know the journey each mother is on.
Unfortunately for those who suffer in silence, we don’t often talk about this issue openly.
Infertility isolates you.
It can be so hard to listen to people talk about planning the “perfect time” to get pregnant when you know firsthand that it’s not that easy for everyone. It can feel utterly isolating for you when people talk about being pregnant and having a baby when you want to be in that place so badly but can’t get there. We were once that couple who had been married for several years and one of the few without kids. Then there is having to respond to the endless questions about “when are you going to have children?” and “what are you waiting for?” and “you’re not getting any younger!”.
Infertility is exhausting.
Your life becomes a series of waiting. Waiting for your period. Waiting for the next doctor appointment, next ultrasound, or next blood work. Waiting to take the next pill or the next shot. Waiting to ovulate, or at least take the shot that makes you ovulate. Waiting for the next procedure, next test, and next decision. Waiting to either see one or two lines. Waiting to repeat the whole process again.
Meanwhile, the world is still turning, life keeps going, and all romantic notions of having a baby with your spouse slowly fade.
Infertility is physically hard.
It’s simply an unnatural process. The medications, the hormones, the procedures. I had bruises on my stomach from injections for years and the scars still remain three years after we conceived our second child. I tacked on a solid 5 to 10 pounds before I even got pregnant with my first child from all the hormones. So. many. hormones. My skin looked like I was a teenager again.
I had mood swings that would scare PMS. Nobody dreams that their precious babies would be products of modern science, artificially placed in your womb.
Infertility is emotional.
It’s difficult to describe the feeling of failure when your body can’t do what it was naturally made to do. Going month after month taking so many medications; constantly checking a calendar to know what cycle day you’re on, so you know when to take what and when to pee on what; being acutely aware of your cervical mucus all while going to your doctor to have what feels like daily ultrasounds; timing things to practically the hour that your over-medicated ovaries are ready for the next step… to wait two long weeks to be told, once again, it didn’t work this time.
You’ll sit in amazement that teenagers get pregnant in the backseat of a car.
You can’t fathom how people have “oops” babies.
How can it be so easy for some, and so painfully difficult for others?
Even after having two babies now, it is still a deep wound all the way to my soul. Having a baby didn’t erase the pain of infertility.
Infertility is expensive.
Some states have great laws that mandate insurance coverage for infertility diagnosing and treatment. Many states unfortunately do not. We were somewhere in between. We had coverage for some things but not others. When we conceived our first child, we were eight hours away from our reproductive endocrinologist and were three hours away when we conceived our second. The expenses added up fast. People will say “you should just adopt.” While adopting is a fantastic option for many couples, it is still spending a lot of time, money, and resources with the same emotional roller coaster.
A couple will eventually resolve their infertility in one of three ways:
- They will eventually conceive a baby.
- They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
- They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.
Everybody’s battle with infertility is different. Everyone will choose a different path to overcome it. Whatever path you choose, don’t go at it alone. Find a support group. Open up to your family and or friends. Don’t keep it all inside. We just weren’t meant to go through the hard stuff alone.
And please, if you know someone struggling to conceive a child, don’t offer advice, offer support.