When you see this picture, what comes to mind? Happy couple? Cute dog? Probably not infertility. But in fact this picture was taken circa 2011, right in the midst of our struggle to conceive. We had been married for three years and the questions were starting to come like rapid fire from every direction. "When are you guys going to have kids?" "You guys want kids, right?" "What are you waiting for?" I had a well-practiced answer for each of these questions, but every time it was like a knife. A knife I saw coming a mile away.
Nobody knew that we were trying and had been trying for more than a year at that point. I was already scheduled for a laparoscopy to confirm, diagnose, and remove suspected endometriosis. It felt like infertility was starting to take over our lives. It began to affect every aspect of our lives and honestly, the hardest part was keeping the "secret" and hiding our pain from friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and family.
Fast forward to June, 2013 when my sister (and hero) was 3 months pregnant with our child... Only then did we finally realize that it was time to face the music. We had to open up about our struggle because there was no explaining away the fact that my sister was pregnant with our baby. I dreaded it and agonized over it. It was the most vulnerable I've ever felt in my life, especially because it was my "fault." I was the problem. My body simply could not carry a child. I felt...somehow inferior. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Like less of a woman. I dreaded telling my husband's parents because I actually thought they would feel sorry for their son for ending up with such a defective woman. I cried so many tears y'all, I could have cried Justin Timberlake his river.
I focused on the good, which was the fact that our child was in fact on her way and healthy- FINALLY. But still, I considered deleting my Facebook and Instagram account, changing my name (kidding). I would have preferred anything to "going public." But then it kind of hit me. 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility and why not be a voice? Why not be a face? Why not let one more couple know they are not alone-like we felt for years? Why did I care so much what others thought of me? The bottom line was that if I could help even one person. One couple. To navigate through the mess of infertility, I could honestly say, it would be worth it.
At this time, one of my most favorite quotes was this one.
So, I let go and I let it fly. At first, I was so timid. I gave very little information and I prepared for backlash and strong opinions from uniformed naysayers that have never walked a mile. But, I was ready for that and I decided that I would just do my best to not surround myself with people like that. This is my life and I'm the one who has to live with it.
Much to my surprise, people were loving, accepting, kind, and supportive of our journey. They embraced us with open arms and while sometimes they asked funny questions or were curious about specifics, it never bothered us. We were just so thrilled to be accepted. It was honestly like a ton of bricks had been taken off my back. I wished I hadn't waited so long to finally open up.
Of course, not everyone was 100% supportive of our choices. I did have a few people question our choice and suggest that we should have adopted. That it was perhaps a more "moral" way of handling our "situation." But, I tried not to let those judgments eat away at me. I reminded myself that until you walk a mile, you just do not get it. I knew I had to give them a break, but that didn't mean I needed to spend my time with people like that,
Suffice it to say, that I never thought I would have a blog and I never ever thought I would be blogging about my infertility. But life is funny sometimes and I would not have it any other way.
I have shared my story several times on my blog, but I thought it was important to do it again in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week. It's time for couples to #startasking. When 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility, why do most companies not offer insurance coverage for treatment? Why does the media still shy away from covering topics dealing with infertility? And why haven't legislators worked to update laws on surrogacy (did you know that in many states, the woman carrying the child is defined as the "mother" by law- so, families working with a surrogate have to have their child declared to be their own before a judge)? It's time to make some changes out there and I'm glad I can be a voice in the silent struggle. Join me and let's #startasking.
As for me, the birth of my daughter via gestational carrier was simply the greatest gift I have ever experienced. There are. no. words. None.
Our longing to expand our family continues and we recently attempted two more rounds of ivf with me- just to try some new protocols. Unfortunately, neither were successful. IVF and infertility are not pretty and not fun to talk about (warning, images are graphic-taken during a second round of ivf) , but they are real and real people experience this every day.
The bottom line is that we have to start somewhere. I didn't want to be a "face" of infertility, But here I am. It's raw and it's real. I'm not ashamed of my journey and I will continue speaking out and speaking up for those whom have not yet found their voice.
As always, if you are struggling to conceive please consider joining me on the first Sunday of each month at 5pm for a peer support group at Kingswood United Methodist Church in Dunwoody, GA or join our private Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1707417859495046/ or website at https://www.facebook.com/infertilityatlanta/