My RE recently told me I had a sparkly personality. Since everyone loves a compliment, I blushed a little and laughed it off. I also made a joke about how I was shocked he would think this because I’m usually crying when I see him. But I thought about this passing comment all the way home.
I thought about it because I was surprised — surprised that the part of me that was sparkly was still noticeable to anyone.
Everyone grows and evolves over time and we aim to become better versions of ourselves as we mature. For me though, I’ve spent nine years with babies on my mind. I’m thankful enough that all of the effort paid off six years ago and I have a precious little boy. But I’ve spent the past five years straight trying to give him a sibling. And after so many years of fertility treatments, after disappointments and failures, after all the tears and frustration, I truly feel like I am a shell of myself. I feel like I didn’t get better; I got worse.
There are more grey hairs and more wrinkles, sure. And underneath the surface, there is a person who I recognize even less.
She is anxious. She is full of self-doubt and skepticism. She doesn’t trust herself or her body. She is secretive about her true feelings and about what is really happening in her life. She wonders if she’ll ever be happy, if she’ll ever feel fulfilled. She wants to curl into a ball and be alone instead of going out with friends. She feels like a failure. She feels like no one understands her.
She is embarrassed that she can’t do something so simple.
She asks “why me?” daily. She is broken and heartbroken. She wonders constantly if she is enough — for her husband and for her son. She fears they will resent her for being the limitation, the bottleneck to a bigger, fuller family. She has to fight these feelings, these fears, daily.
Did infertility damage you too? Do you still see yourself when you look in the mirror? Who have you become?
I was pretty convinced that the old me was long gone. But that simple comment from my RE, a man I’ve met in person only a handful of times, gave me some hope that all of me is not lost.
I think the scars from infertility last a lifetime.
They will fade a bit, but I think we will still feel them years down the road. But there is also a light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel. You won’t be in fertility treatments forever.
We change and evolve over time, and I thought that the experience of infertility made me worse — a sub-par version of myself with my worst qualities being heightened. But hearing that the sparkle is still there, I’m able to better see what I’ve gained from all the heartbreak.
Maybe it has made me more empathetic, more altruistic, more aware of how to help others. Maybe it has made me more patient, with myself and with those around me. Maybe it has made me stronger, resilient, and unbreakable.
Maybe it has made me a better friend, a better wife, and a better mother to my little boy.
If you’re feeling like you’re a shell of your former self, like you’re no longer who you used to be, I suggest something very simple: ask someone. Other people see us very differently from how we see ourselves, and you’re probably not as lost as you think you are.
By Vidya Ledsham