Did you know that 1 in 8 couples will have difficulty conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy? That statistic is HUGE and a statistic that has drastically affected my life. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and I wanted to take a minute to share a little bit about what this week means to me. I have rewritten what I wanted to say or share about 4 different times because this topic can be really tough for me. And as open as I have tried to be it has seriously impacted my life and my marriage and is still very much a struggle we continue to face.
This year feels very different to me and my feelings about our own infertility journey have really changed over the years. Last year we were riding the high of the birth of our little girl and felt like this was just the beginning of FINALLY having answers and being able to build our family. We had a long and hard road before finally starting IVF, but we had success with it! Success followed by a very incredible and smooth pregnancy. And all of that pain from an infertility diagnosis in 2014, to where we were now seemed to disappear the second I looked into Finley’s eyes for the first time.
It was the first time I openly talked about our struggle to get pregnant. It is also a lot easier to share about something difficult after you finally make it through the darkness. But our baby journey doesn’t end there. We still want a bigger family and there was no doubt in my mind that when the tug to build our family came back, that our results wouldn't be anything less than successful. It worked before, why wouldn't it work this time? What I wasn't prepared for was how to cope with a failure. Or how to accept the intense feelings of guilt and disappointment in myself like maybe I did something wrong, or ate something I shouldn't have, or didn't prepare enough, or didn’t get healthy enough this time around. I was also not prepared for all of those painful memories and emotions and doubt that I thought I had overcome suddenly resurface again. But this time throw in the feelings of shame because well we have such a blessing with Finley and how dare I be so greedy that I want another kid. This may sound crazy, but I cannot even count the times I have been told “at least you have Finley". Hearing this is like a punch in the gut because of course I am thankful for her every single day. But that doesn’t take away my pain or hope for her to experience a sibling and it certainly doesn’t make the disappointment of feeling like your body failed you any easier. It also doesn’t take away the giant pile of cash we just threw into the fire with nothing but anger and sadness to show for it.
There are so many tough conversations I have had play over and over in my head and for the first month after our attempt I really didn’t want to be around anyone. I was angry, and upset, and really just felt extremely resentful of the fact we had to deal with this all over again. I was never worried about adding another kid to our family, but now what if that doesn’t happen? How do I find peace in that and how do I become ok with that? Then of course you wonder how your spouse feels about it all. Because it wasn’t something that only affects me, he too is emotionally invested in this. I really tried to push away the things I was feeling because I wasn’t ready to answer these questions. All I wanted to do was hug Jeremy and Finley and cry and feel sorry for myself.
And I did that. For weeks. I had too, I had to let it out so I could move forward. Because one thing I have learned about being forced to deal with infertility is that this is not something I want to let consume my life anymore. For so long I lived and breathed the pain and anxiety of that diagnosis and it put our marriage into some of its darkest days. I felt like we paused our life and forgot what it was like to enjoy the little things. Jeremy and I have worked so incredibly hard on building up our marriage to a place where we can tackle any serious life event and only grow closer. We hit rock bottom emotionally in those early years of every month not getting pregnant and it sucked. I truly believe infertility has the ability to make your marriage or end it. And we made a choice and promise a long time ago to fight to the bitter end for each other and to choose each other every single day regardless of what we go through. So being the most incredible partner he is, he hugged me, bought me some champagne, and told me it was going to be ok. And we would get through this like we have gotten through everything else that has come before it. We have come so far together as a team and I needed to find a way to make peace with this failure inside myself so I that I could push on and be stronger for my daughter and for my husband.
So how did I snap out of this sadness? The first thing I did was join a Resolve Support group. And i took the toughest step of actually going to a meeting. I needed a place where I could cry and talk about how I was feeling but among people who understood the toll this road can take on you. From this group I connected with others who share in this pain of building their family but more importantly I found a group that understood what I was going through it because they too are in the thick of it with me.
I also really started journaling and when I get negative I have tried to turn each thing into a positive. Jeremy and I have been through some really tough life events in the last 8 years of marriage and I am trying really hard to focus on the positive that came from every single one of those things. Because I refuse to believe it’s all just random back luck. This exercise has really changed my mental well being and really made me feel much better about things not always working out the way you think they should. I have been able to unload a little baggage and most of the heartbreak so I can move forward and continue living.
I also threw myself into my business. I work my butt off every single day but I really just needed to be around clients who shared in this joy of celebrating their family. From day one that has been the most amazing way to cope with infertility. Some say I am crazy to focus on maternity and newborn because it’s a constant reminder of my struggle but honestly it just makes it that much more special for me to document. Because I know how priceless every photo I have taken of my family is and to give someone that gift is the greatest feeling of all. It is also the thing that brings me so much joy and inner peace. And every once in awhile I meet a mom and dad who also had their own infertility struggle and whether we have more kids or not I feel so incredibly lucky to continue to meet people who fought their fight to build their family in the way that was meant for them.
So during this week I ask everyone who may not directly be affected by infertility to take a minute and learn a little bit about it. Here is a great resource to gain a little understanding. Because the more infertility is talked about the more it doesn’t seem so terrifying or feel so shameful. It’s a road that is hard and looks so different to every person it affects and it should not be fought alone! And If you are someone who is dealing with this I would love to hear your story. Because you are not alone and I promise you will get through this.