Here goes another attempt at addressing a whole new topic, an important one, so hopefully I don’t muck it up. Infertility is such a sensitive issue, something that so many women experience and so few talk about. Thank goodness that awareness seems to be increasing, but we still have so far to go in terms of supporting couples experiencing infertility. I have wanted to share my thoughts on this topic for a while, but have hesitated because it is such a difficult and painful issue and I don’t want to offend. It seems hard to say anything about infertility without hurting feelings or worrying that the message may be misinterpreted in some way. Thus, I will preface this post by saying that I am speaking only of my personal experience. I am not claiming that this is the right way to think or feel about infertility. I would never want to diminish what other women have gone through, or how other couples cope. We all experience infertility differently, but we can still support each other. I also want to point out that I am writing about infertility specifically. I have never experienced pregnancy or infant loss and don’t claim to have any idea what that must be like. I recognize that the lasting wounds from the loss of a child are different from those of never having conceived, and that the pain of pregnancy and infant loss can never be erased. What follows is simply my take on my specific experience, in hopes that it might foster understanding and bring hope.
Okay, so enough with the disclaimers.
For those of you who do not know this part of my story, let me start with a brief history. My husband and I began trying to start a family in 2009. I had a hunch that we were going to have difficulty because of my own pre-existing health issues, but our doctor was very hopeful and we were told that we had a high chance of conceiving with little intervention. That hopeful beginning led to about two years of pills, injections, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), hundreds of ultrasounds, thousands of dollars and too many tears to count. In September of 2011, emotionally exhausted and physically worn down from all of the treatment, I told my husband that I needed to start looking into other options. We knew that we weren’t going to go as far as IVF and I needed to know that there was hope for us becoming parents eventually. He was not quite ready to let go of the pregnancy dream, but gave me permission to start looking into adoption. Perhaps I will share the details of what happened in those next wild weeks another time. For now I will just tell you that less than three months after that initial conversation about adoption, we received a life changing phone call. Two days later we brought our squishy newborn son home (it still blows my mind). Fast-forward two and a half years and a few piles of paperwork later, smiley little Sawyer became a Freitas and blew our lives up with even more joy. Now we are talking about baby number three (someday), and it is funny to me now how normal it is that talk of another child means calling adoption agencies, saving funds and starting paperwork. That is our norm and we love it.
Since Dawson’s birth we have never even talked about trying to get pregnant again. We don’t “try” to get pregnant anymore, but we have not prevented pregnancy for five years now and have never conceived. Medically there is no explanation for our infertility. If we were to try treatment again, we might have a chance at pregnancy, but I know in my heart that my body was not meant to be pregnant. The doctors can’t explain why I don’t conceive, but I can. There are two reasons that my womb just won’t grow babies: One has blue eyes and one has brown, and they are both little pieces of heaven.
Infertility was part of my destiny.
I could not be a woman who gets pregnant and gives birth and breastfeeds. Life required differently of me. The family I have now required that I be ready and waiting and desperate for motherhood when Dawson was born. God knew, when I was praying for two pink lines on a pregnancy test, that he had already been conceived, and that when he was born he would fill up every single little place inside of me that had longed for a child. Two years later, a pregnancy would’ve gotten in the way of us bringing home the divine fourth piece to our family puzzle, our sweet, silly little lamb of a son, Sawyer.
God knew that every unique thing about both of my boys would be a perfect match for their daddy and I. We needed each other, the boys, their birth parents and us. I needed to be part of this story, and being a woman who can get pregnant at the drop of a hat would have changed all of it.
What I want people to know, and (most importantly) what I want my kids to know, is that our journey to parenthood isn’t second best. This life isn’t a consolation prize for our initial plans for a family. This is the dream. This is the best outcome, one better than we could have ever imagined. I would never wish for anything different now, because any reality where my two boys aren’t my boys just isn’t worth considering. For me infertility isn’t something that got in the way of my dreams, it was simply God’s way of changing my perspective and pointing me in the right direction, toward the children I was meant to raise.
I remember the pain of infertility now, as if I am watching myself in a movie, crying at the sight of any pregnant woman (and when you can’t conceive, EVERYONE you see is pregnant!). I remember avoiding baby showers because they are a cruel and unique kind of torture for someone hyped up on fertility drugs with no baby of her own in sight. I remember sobbing in my car at work, watching the parents dropping their kids off on the first day of Kindergarten, thinking that would never be me. I remember it enough to empathize with those going through it, but I can’t actually recall the feelings any longer. Pregnancy announcements don’t hurt anymore, I am not jealous of baby bumps, and I am no longer ashamed that my body has never done what it was seemingly designed for. I refuse to live with the lie that I am any less of a woman or mother because my body has never created new life. Screw that. I have let infertility go. I refuse to live with sadness and emptiness, especially when my life is so full of love and life. I am too busy being a mom to be anything less than whole.
I pray fervently that everyone hoping for a child will conceive. I know that for some, even with rainbow babies, surrogacy, or adoption, the pain can remain raw and unpredictable. There is beauty in that pain, and some of the strongest women I have ever met are those with harrowing infertility stories. Let’s all respect each other’s stories and share our experiences, in hopes that we will bring comfort and optimism to those don’t yet know when or how their precious littles will come to them.
There is always hope. Hang in there my waiting mama friends, you are so strong and you are not alone. No matter which road ends up leading you to your babies, it will be so worth the wait. There are so many ways to become a parent, none better than another. As for me, I would not change a thing. Let us not forget that infertility stories don’t have to end in pregnancy in order to end in total healing and mind-blowing happiness.