I have debated many times whether to share this story. It is not something commonly talked about and yet one in six women/couples will be faced with this reality. Like depression (or other mental illnesses) there is shame and isolation. You feel no one will understand. You hide behind a smile, because what else can you do.
I process my feeling internally, and journaling has always been a source of reflection for me. My notes app is filled with daily thoughts. What follows are personal reflections of the last few months.
October 30, 2022
I waited as long as I could this morning before doing a pregnancy test. I set the timer and walked away. I walked back into the bathroom, examined the stick and put it in the garbage.
I went downstairs and fell asleep on the couch. I didn’t tell Kevin.
I have one more refill at the pharmacy, if we continue this would be our sixth round. I do not have the energy to do anymore.
After breakfast I decided to clean the spare room. Then I had another nap. Sleep has always been a coping method for me, a way to avoid feeling.
I woke up and started putting together the bike trainer I had bought a couple of weeks ago. Kevin came upstairs to help me and said “I’m sorry, baby.” I replied, “I don’t want to try anymore.” We sat on the floor and cried. And cried. And cried some more, knowing our dreams of having a baby are over after 10 months of trying, including five failed IUIs.
We decided a long time ago we would not do IVF or adoption. Those that do have much more strength than me.
I can finally grieve.
November 25, 2022
Psalm 113:9 has provided much comfort over the years. In a dark time in my life a women at the church I used to attend reminded me of the many children I have.
When I got my tattoo on my arm years later, it was the serve as a daily reminder that I have been blessed. At the time I don’t know if I truly believed I was barren. I was single and thought a family would be possible if/when I met someone (Kevin and I started dating a few months later). I’ve been told so many times I look young that I took my reproductive health for granted.
Although we may not have a family of our own. We have a full and happy life.
January 12, 2023
I’m in the anger stage of grief. I have Kevin and my therapist for support, but I feel so alone. Isolated and unsure how to express myself, I am a full of rage.
February 15, 2023
I think I have reached the acceptance stage. That, or I’m just apathetic.
March 15, 2023
... I'm constantly behind on podcasts and while listening to an episode of A Slight Change of Plans, called "Lessons From a Grief Therapist", it struck me that I may never really truly "get over this." You just learn to live with the love lost and the life you thought you would have. It makes me incredibly sad.
I can't truly tell you how I am doing. Sadness comes and goes in waves. It hits me when I least expect. But also in expected ways - when I hear of other couples who happily announce their pregnancies or the birth of their child or when someone I haven't seen in months, even years asks if I have kids. I'm hit with a wave of emotion in those moments and choose my words carefully, "No I do not have kids."
Today ends one heck of a year. I started out feeling low in January. It was a familiar, but unwelcome feeling. As with many of you, the days felt long, but the weeks and months were short. Before I knew it I was leaving a job that no longer fulfilled me, I moved in with Kevin, and was completing an online class I had started in May.
The second half of the year and especially the last two months have been filled with anticipation and excitement. Kevin asked me to marry him on October 11, 2021 and we wed on December 17, 2021. Navigating work and wedding planning did have its up and downs, but we wouldn't have had it any other way. Early on in our relationship I told him I didn't want an engagement ring and he obliged. We wanted a small wedding of just family and a few friends (luckily we could make this happen - even with COVID restrictions). It was small and intimate and perfect.
We had selected a few passages to be read and reflected on during the ceremony and to be honest I had forgotten what they were until Chet, our pastor, read them aloud.
"I have found the one whom my soul loves." Song of Solomon 3:4 (unsure which version) and
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
There was an audible agreement among our family and friends as Chet read these and meditated on what they meant for our lives. To me this affirmed the love they see between us and it was a symbol of their blessing as our relationship deepens.
These passages make perfect sense when I think about my past. If you have followed my journey at any point, you will know I had given up on love a long time ago. I did not feel worthy and when I sought it, it was not there for me. I had to start believing I was worthy and he had to take a risk for the chance of finding something so special as our love. Our souls were waiting for each other.
We were fortunate to have my nephew, Liam, read for us as well. Although this passage is often used at weddings and can feel inauthentic at times, it really fits who we are as a couple.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. 6 It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8 Love will last forever... 13 There are three things that will endure‑‑faith, hope, and love‑‑and the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:4-8, 13 (NLT).
Two weeks into our marriage we have a lot to be thankful for and so much to look forward to. We close out 2021 full of love after spending time with family and friends. And although I cherish these memories dearly, I remember a time when the Christmas season was hard to bear.
It may be hard for you to bear right now.
I hold you in my heart, you who may be struggling to find joy in the little things, you who is full of despair as I often was, you who lost a loved one this year. I hold you in my heart.
At the beginning of 2021, I learned what languishing is (first hand). I had a hard time explaining, even to myself, what I was going through. It felt different than depression, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then, when I read Adam Grant’s article in the New York Times months later, it confirmed what I had been feeling.
Something needed to change and I set out to make that uncomfortable feeling go away (before it led to depression). In searching for one thing, I ended up doing a lot of things (all within a few months of each other).
If I have been slow to respond to emails and texts, this is likely the reason why.
These things done separately bring about their own level of stress. These things are all positive. These things brought me out of my comfort zone. But together (especially for someone who does not like change or taking risks) it may have been too much for me to handle. Hello anxiety. That said I do not regret any of these things.
Now a few months removed from all of those things I have learned a few lessons firsthand:
I am a daughter, sister, auntie, wife and friend.