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.