If you are in the circle of IF bloggers, you probably already know that today marks the first day of Resolve's National Infertility Awareness Week.
This is a special week for me, personally. It marks the anniversary of when we first started TTC. This weeks marks 3 years of trying to begin our family. It is also special because it falls the week before Mother's Day - a very difficult day for those women who are experiencing infertility and childlessness and want nothing more than to be a mother.
Mother's Day is a day when an infertile can't go out of the house without being attacked with advertisements, Facebook messages, emails, and happy mother's bearing huge smiles of appreciation. The infertile woman wants nothing more than to join these mothers, to have happy children wake her up in the morning bearing breakfast in bed, to have a husband look at her in awe of appreciation, and to be honored at church when all of the mothers are asked to stand and be recognized.
Part of Project IF is to dedicate a blog post to "What IF?". This is my What If post. The category I chose to write about is, "How infertility impacts your relationships - spouse, partner, fertile friends, parents, work."
I would be lying if I said infertility hasn't changed my husband and I. We are very much changed people since we first began our unfulfilled journey to parenthood during the month of May 2007.
My husband, at first, did not want to accept that we were infertile. I remember it was around March of 2008 that I began to contemplate going to a reproductive endocrinologist and that something must be wrong. We should have been pregnant by now! My husband did not want me to go to the RE. He asked me to wait. He told me that we should just eat healthier. Exercise more. Take more vitamins. He began ordering fertility vitamins for himself and for me online. He started making "fertility blend tea" and put it into lemonade.
He wanted to have sex every other day. If my period came a few weeks later, he would tell me it was because we "missed the window." He would pray over my stomach during each cycle and he would look at me with a huge smile and say things like, "I know this is the month."
But our month never came. Each cycle that went by, each BFN, I could feel the truth begin to set in. We were INFERTILE. Even though my husband did not agree to see an RE, I went anyways. I began taking our fertility issues into my own hands. Even though I felt we had no control over our situation, I felt empowered to research and know everything there was to know about our fertility issues. I remember the day when my husband got a phone call that his first semen analysis came back with a motility number that was less than average. He felt defeated in thinking that all our issues in getting pregnant were on his shoulders. It was not long before we found out that this was not the case - that our infertility was solely female factor. It was not him, it was ME.
I'd like to believe that infertility has made us stronger as a couple. My husband held my hand through every IUI. He was there during my IVF. My doctor's appointments. He went through with every invasive and embarrassing test the doctors asked him to do. He cried every night when he had to give me a 5 inch injection of progesterone in the hip. I could not ask for a better partner in this diagnosis. He is my best advocate and I know that if we can survive this - we can survive whatever life throws at us.
What if I'm never able to make my husband a father? I look at my husband and I see the great father he could be. It breaks my heart that I cannot give him children - and I take this solely on my shoulders as my responsibility. My fault. As everyone around us, friends and family members, become pregnant and parent their own children, I feel defeated. I cannot give my husband what every woman around me can do freely. There is a million pound weight on my shoulders that I carry everyday because I cannot make my husband a father.
Infertility has robbed me of the ability to make my husband a father. It has also robbed me of friendships with fertile friends and coworkers. Every time another woman is inducted into the "Mother Club", I feel that they can no longer understand who I am. I feel myself pulling away from friends that I've had for years who have become parents and have children of their own. I cannot stand idly by and watch their bellies and their families grow. My heart breaks into a thousand pieces when I watch their husbands playing with their children. When I see their post online of newborn photos. When I watch their husbands hold their infant children for the first time.
I feel infertility has robbed me of having friendships with people who are mother's. They can never understand what I have been through and I find myself resenting their beautiful families created naturally, without cost, without procedure, without intervention. I pull away from them and I quietly slip into the foreground of their lives. We are "that couple" they talk about in hushed conversations. We are "that couple" that everyone feels bad for.
Infertility has broken me in two. One half continues to try for a pregnancy or adoption. It continues to seek new interventions, information, and diagnosis. The other half mourns our losses. It hides under the covers. It wants to give up and surrender. The push and pull of these two halves is exhausting.
I continue to try to make our dream of a family come true. It has been 3 years of waiting. 3 years of exhaustion. 3 years of invasive procedures, embarrassing questions, and heavy guilt. 3 years of lost friendships.
But - in those 3 years I have grown more as a person than I might ever had, had I not experienced infertility. I have loved my husband more. I have worked harder. I have cried more. I have met more people that inspire me. Had we not experienced infertility, we might not have the opportunity to adopt.
I'd like to think that after 3 years, infertility has made us able to appreciate each other and our waiting child more. When the time comes for us to be parents, either through conception or adoption, we won't take one second for granted.