Today I am dedicating my blog to National Infertility Awareness Week and to the launch of Justine Brooks Froelker's latest book The Mother of Second Chances, based on her blog Ever Upward releasing on . For five weeks 25 amazing women will share their stories of infertility and loss as part of this incredible blog tour, because together we can shatter the stigma.
Friday, Erica shared her story, and we will hear from my amazing and dear friend Candace from Our Misconception.
We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We’d especially love to see your own broken silence by sharing your own infertility story using the hastags: #NIAW, #infertility and #EverUpward.
I love living by the ocean! There's just something about breathing in the salty air, with your toes in the sand and looking out at the waves rolling in that will bring a sense of peace and calming over your whole body. I find myself sitting in the sand and staring out at the ocean a lot more lately, needing that calming feeling I'm so desperately trying to hold on to. During my latest TWW (two week wait), a little over a month ago, I found myself here often just thinking about everything and focusing on staying calm. I sat there trying to read my book but found my mind wandering. Thinking about my life and how it didn't go according to my plan. I always knew I wanted to have kids one day, but I kept changing my mind on exactly how many. Never in a million years did it ever cross my mind that I wouldn't be able to have any. You see, unfortunately, infertility treatments never worked on me.
In the infertility world (and in my own math-geek mind) everything is about numbers. How many follicles? How many embryos? What is your LH? What is your FSH? How many ml of each injectible medicine will I take? How many times a day will I need to inject myself? So many numbers. Here are some of my important numbers:
40, 14, 13, 9, 5, 3, 3, 2, 1 and 0.
40: How old I will be this year.
14: The number of wonderful years I have been married to my amazing and loving husband.
13: The number of years we have been trying to conceive.
9: The number of years we were silent about our infertility.
5: The number of failed medicated IUIs we have tried.
3: The number of cancelled cycles.
3: The total number of beautiful embryos we transferred.
2: The number of failed IVFs.
1: The number of lines I see on every pregnancy test.
0: The number of babies I have in my arms.
I could also add the numbers 10 million (the number of tears I have cried throughout the 13 years) and one thousand (the number of pregnancy tests I have peed on).
When I look back at these important numbers, I can't help but focus on the number 9. We were silent for nine whole years. NINE! I try not to play the whole "what if" game, but I can't help it. What if I wasn't silent? What if I found my wonderful Resolve support group sooner; would we have had the time to try more treatments? What if I talked about infertility during those nine years; would that change my outcome? Would I have a child in my arms now if I talked about it? The honest answer is: I don't know. I don't know if talking about infertility openly would have changed my outcome, but I do know that if I would have talked about it instead of being ashamed of it, I could have been empowered so much sooner.
The numerous infertility treatments we endured may not have ended the way we hoped for, but I am glad we tried (even if it meant we drained all of our savings because insurance didn't cover anything). We decided together that we are not going to pursue adoption, or foster or even surrogacy, not at this point in our lives and no matter how many people try to guilt us into it. I may try another IUI again, but I don't know how much more I can take...physically and emotionally (not to mention financially!). I know deep down that I have to face the facts, but I also don't know if I'm ready to take that step. I still have a little hope left, but I also must be realistic.
I know I have to be thankful for what I have in my life right now, and I am. I have an amazing husband, 2 crazy and wild labs, a house, a career and so much more. So many wonderful things. I know I should just try and focus on all the good, but part of me can't help thinking about that missing piece and the plan I had for my life. The plan that included children and grandchildren. The plan that did not include infertility. This isn't the life I planned, but it is the one I was dealt. I just need time to grieve. Time to mourn the life I wanted, the life I planned and for the child I will never have.
Talking about our infertility is helping me move on. So I will continue to talk about infertility, advocating for infertility rights and supporting others going through it. Not just during National Infertility Awareness Week, but all year long. I want to help other women and couples feel empowered and not feel ashamed. I want them to know that they are not alone.
I don't know what the future has planned for me, so for now I will spend a lot of my free time soaking up the sun, breathing in the salty ocean air, feeling the sand in-between my toes and watching the waves roll in. I will stare out into the ocean and be thankful for the life I have and the people in it. I will take time to grieve, but I will also make sure I take time to focus on the future and what lies ahead. I will not live in my grief, but instead soar above it. I will be okay, and I will live a full life even if it isn't the life I hoped for or planned. I will not let infertility define me or destroy me, but instead, I will let it remind me of how far I have come. I am more than my infertility. I am strong.