My husband and I perused the Fringe guidebook, like we do every August, trying to find a few plays to check out over the next week. Suddenly my eyes flitted across one play called Mike and Chantelle: Baby Maybe.
“Hey! There’s a play about infertility. We’ve gotta go!” I exclaimed to my husband. Later that night we found ourselves listening to a familiar story. We felt camaraderie as they described the emotional rollercoaster of one negative pregnancy test after another. We laughed as the leading man described learning about egg white cervical mucus and its all-important role in conception. We compared notes as they shared tales of the often unhelpful and awkward sex advice given by everyone they came in contact with. We cried as the leading lady described the moment that years of struggling to conceive, mixed with a dose of destabilizing fertility meds, left her contemplating suicide.
We left feeling a little less alone.
I remember the first time I saw our struggle represented in creative media. It was just a few weeks after we were diagnosed with infertility and told we would have to go through IVF. A new friend who I had connected with through a support group messaged me.
“Girl, you have to watch How to Buy a Baby. It’s so normalizing of the process and really helped me feel less alone.” Within minutes my husband and I sat down, devouring the whole series in one go.
We saw ourselves in that couple. We were that couple. We weren’t alone.
After that I became obsessed with consuming anything created by couples struggling with infertility. Soon my podcasts were full of humorous and moving accounts of couples trying to have a baby. My Instagram became a haven of hilarious memes about the realities of conceiving as an infertile and the inspirational stories of parents to be. I started following several blogs, finding myself as invested in their journeys as I was my own. My husband (a musician) even recommended an album, based on one couple coming to terms with the fact that they would not have a child. Even though every story was different and every couple unique, I felt so connected to all of them and their struggles.
So infertility warriors, please never stop sharing your stories.
Your authenticity, your pain, your joy, your humour, your information, has meant so much to me and so many others like me. When I didn’t know what to expect next, I could always find a story to learn from. When I felt utterly alone, I could always find a story that reminded me that what I am going through is normal and okay. When I wanted to give up, I could always find a story to give me hope that things would work out. As I think back over the past year, I realize how much seeing myself in the creative media around me has kept me afloat. Never underestimate the healing power of your story.
By Catherine Forth