Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What does infertility feel like? #NIAW

Before having to deal with infertility myself, I had never even thought of pondering this question.  I knew that there were some people in the world who had trouble getting pregnant, that some of them needed medication or procedures to get there, and that some ended up childless or adopting.

Before having to deal with infertility myself, those facts were impersonal and emotionless. Honestly, I probably would have struggled to understand "what's the big deal?" if someone told me they were devastated by infertility.

I know better, now.  I know, for me at least, what infertility feels like.  

It's like being half a person.  My body may never swell with new life.  Even though all of our testing has been "normal," I still feel that something is wrong with me, that I am somehow broken or defective.  Am I still a woman, if I can't do what women are biologically created to do? 

It's like a constant shadow, slippery and elusive.  Multiple versions of my future continually morph and change before me.  I hesitate to make plans for 6, 9, 12 months from now. What if we actually do get pregnant?  What if we don't?  Will we need to plan around a cycle of IVF, or will we have given up?  Cruel hope persists, though despair returns with every unsuccessful cycle.

It's like the death of a dream.  I fight to avoid grieving for the child we may never have. Would that child have had my husband's hazel eyes?  My stubborn chin?  Played a musical instrument?  A sport?  Been a doctor, like us?  Or might that child have had some talent neither of us could have imagined, making it all the more miraculous?

A few weeks ago, as my husband and I struggled to deal with the end of another unsuccessful cycle, some part of me began to rebel against these thoughts.  As spring began to make itself known here, I realized that I was making the stakes too high with each cycle.  Failure was becoming too devastating.  I had to accept, truly and deeply accept, the possibility that we will be unsuccessful - that we will not have a biological child.  The battle between hope and despair was sapping my soul, and I was tired of feeling so paralyzed about the future.  And, somehow, by the grace of God, I decided to stop fighting the grief and embrace it.  

I still want a child, and my husband and I are not ready yet to stop trying.  Accepting that it may not come to be, though, has greatly reduced my emotional exhaustion. Don't get me wrong - it's still a challenge.

But it's time to widen my focus back out to the innumerable blessings in my life.


  1. Very well said. The phyical and psychological toll infertility has on a couple is immeasurable. Thanks for sharing yuor innermost feelings.
    Marielaina Perrone DDS

  2. Thank you for your delicate and humble self disclosure. It will be heartening to many who share your situation. Your depth of understanding of the science is balanced with the depth of your humanity. I look forward to more of your compelling narrative.