Infertility. It is perplexing how one single word can bring about so many emotions. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t exist, as every couple who wanted to have a child would be able to have a child. In the next best scenario, the word would be part of the phrase “we overcame infertility.” Again, every couple wishing to have a child would have one, even if they encountered struggles along the way.
Unfortunately, there are too many of us who instead use the phrase “we are struggling with infertility.” And let me tell you, that struggle is real. Every. Damn. Day.
Each day you have to get up and prepare yourself for battle. A battle that has emotional and physical tolls. A battle that will test your faith and leave you raw and exposed. You will fight your body, insurance companies, schedules, medicinal side-effects, and even at times, your partner. You will put up your emotional shield and wear it as battle armor for your extended family, friends, and co-workers – many of whom do not know the extent or details of your struggle.
At home, however, when it is just you and your partner, you let your shield down. The tears fall, the “why’s” get asked, and you hold each other as if your lives depend on it, because in a way, they do. Your partner walks into the battle with you. They are your lifeline, counterweight, and biggest supporter. They understand the daily struggle to stay positive, they remind you to take your medications, and they are there with a calming hug when your hormone-infused emotions try to get the best of you.
The emotional burden is heartbreaking in the most genuine sense of the word. You each lose a part of your heart with each miscarriage, negative test result, and month that passes without carrying the child you desire more than anything. Sadly, it doesn’t get easier the longer you battle infertility. Your heartbreak grows, your body breaks down, and the list of “why’s” is slowly whittled away by an ever-growing list of medical explanations.
Day in and day out, the battle rages on, regardless of your emotional or physical state. Its always there lurking in the background when someone announces their own pregnancy, people share stories or pictures of their kids, and when you are waiting those ungodly two weeks for your test results. Test results, which once again, are negative. There is a never a reprieve from testing, even on a weekend or holiday. Instead, those are often some of the worst days because without the day-to-day tasks of your job, your mind has time to wander.
And don’t even get started on the questions at family and friend gatherings. They can be so awkward at times. However, most ask because they care about your health and happiness. So, yes in our case it is okay to ask how things are going with our infertility battle. We have a canned answer we are happy to share with you, but be warned, it’s rare these days that we will go into detail. While sharing our journey can be cathartic at times, it also brings the added burden of having to keep people up-to-date throughout the process.
While most of these inquiries are good-natured, sometimes you will run into people who are just downright rude or condescending. Unfortunately, these are typically the same people who place a high amount of personal importance in being a parent and/or think we are too invested in our careers to really “make an effort” to overcome our infertility battle. To those of you like this in our life, don’t be surprised if one of us drops a “Bye, Felicia” on you the next time we see each other. We don’t have time for your intrusive questions or bad attitude.
After a while, however, battling the emotional and physical burdens gets easier to accept into daily life. You adjust your hours at work to allow for endless doctors visits. You learn not to place all your eggs in one basket. You learn that life can be magical and fulfilling without children. You share your journey with more and more people. Heck, you may even start blogging about it. Most importantly, however, you learn that there is no one more supportive than your partner and that their love will carry you through the battle, regardless of the outcome.