Infertility: I am one in six
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."
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
I have heard the first and second part of this quote, but sadly I have never heard the last part.
For far too many years I’ve lived in either the past or the future. Recently I’ve learned to live in the present. I have never felt peace like I do now.
Fight or Flight
I’m participating in a meditation study. I’m excited to see how this will change my life.
The last time I had an appointment with my therapist, I told her “I can handle the anxiety, it’s the depression that kills me. I cannot imagine being 50, 60, 70 and still living with this” I'm paraphrasing here.
Although thoughts still swirl around a million miles a minute, they are no longer negative (well most of the time). But when depression hits. It’s a ton of bricks hitting me in the chest after I have just climbed out of the valley. I look back one last time hoping to celebrate, when I realize there are bigger valleys on the horizon. I am too fatigued to even cry. I feel nothing.
After a while I remove the bricks that half cover me like a blanket protecting me from the elements. It takes some time. I begin to feel like myself again and go on to tackle the next valley, looking forward to summit the next mountain.
At our first mediation session we each shared our reasons for being there. My heart sank as I listened to everyone. Especially a few (older) women. I saw that I will never escape this. I saw too, there are ways I can mitigate the pain, rewire my brain to not always be in a state of fight or flight, and bring my body back into balance. mnd xo
I am a daughter, sister, auntie, wife and friend.