Infertility is a strange thing.
You spend so many years working, advocating, hoping and dreaming of a positive outcome, of a baby, and then the time comes and while you should be ecstatic you instead have a hard time processing your feelings. Of relaxing. Of letting yourself believe that you are finally getting what you dreamed of.
Infertility and miscarriage robbed me of my ability to enjoy my pregnancy, any part of it.
I walked in to the hospital for my induction filled with fear & doubts rather than excitement. What if I’m not cut out to be a mother? What if I don’t love him? What if he doesn’t love me? What if something bad happens during delivery? What if, what if, what if?
In the moments after my son’s birth we thought one of those what ifs were actually going to occur. He needed a little help after delivery and both Aaron and I shared the same thought. This is it. This is the other shoe finally ready to drop. For a few tense moments we didn’t know if we’d be taking home our rainbow. But then he was ok and those fears and feelings all melted away, for a little while at least. But infertility itself had truly left its mark.
For a few weeks I just lived in bliss of it all.
Of basking in my reward for the previous 6 years of pain, agony, heartbreak and torture we’d been through between miscarriages, infertility, IVF and all those other cruel little things life throws at you when you’re already down. I finally had this perfect little human I had so longed for, however as time passed I began to feel uneasy. I felt as though I had lost my identity as the person who suffered from infertility. It’s all I knew. I didn’t know how to actually be someone’s mom.
Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom. It’s wonderful and challenging and the best thing I’ve ever done, but for the 5 years leading up to my pregnancy and then his birth I was a fertility warrior. I went to appointments, I joked with my doctors and nurses (most days we had to laugh or we’d just break down and cry from being so overwhelmed by it all) I had a routine of meds, injections, ultrasounds, bloodwork, etc… I had built myself a tribe of others going through the same. People who I relied on, and who relied on me. Was my success letting them down? I had this perfect little human lying on my chest and I felt like something was missing or that I wasn’t deserving of him. Then we started the discussion of baby 2, because we knew we didn’t have another 6 years of trying in us. Would Nathan feel unloved because we wanted a second so soon. Would I still fit in with my tribe while I tried for a second with a baby at home, while some were still working on one?
I truly hope our son never feels as though he isn’t enough, he holds almost every piece of my heart, but when you’ve been through what I have, infertility and advocacy become your identity and you can truly feel lost without it.
I didn’t know where I fit.
Was I still a part of the “badass” group of women I’d fought beside for years? Was I still truly a part of the infertile community? Nathan’s birth hadn’t erased everything it took for him to join us earth side. I still endured years of ups and downs and disappointments and loss. But at the same time I felt like I couldn’t join in conversation because I had had success. I still remember the ache of seeing others positive outcomes. I could feel happy for them but sad for me and there’s nothing wrong with that. I got it. Now, being on the “other side” of our journey to our first child, whenever I go to post on social media I always have that moment of should I even post this. Will my son bring someone else sadness? So, for a while I didn’t take part in the conversations or share my thoughts or feelings because I didn’t know if my experiences were longer relevant or if they’d cause someone pain.
However, I often have to remind myself that in all honesty, Nathan shouldn’t even exist. He is our clinic’s first rescue icsi baby. I’ve shared & continue to share his story as a means to bring hope to others when they feel it’s all but lost. I also fought dang hard for him, so deep down I know I deserve to be happy but it’s often hard to allow yourself that bliss when so many you love are still battling for that same happiness.
But even still, with all of that, I often feel like I don’t know who I am.
I know I’m a mom and a wife and I like to think a pretty all-around good person, but am I still part of the fertility community? I mean I still have PCOS. I still have all the symptoms of my illness. I still deal with infertility. After a lengthy chat with our doctor at the clinic I know I will still likely need IVF for a chance at a sibling for our son. But yet I don’t know exactly where I fit.
I guess that’s just one of the other things that fertility struggles have taken from us, our ability to know who we are outside of it. But as we close of this very important week, CIAW 2021, I guess I’d just say I wouldn’t change it for the world. My story, my journey, my ups and downs have shaped me in to someone who I am proud of. Someone who advocates for others when they aren’t able to do so for themselves. Someone who is empathetic of what others are feeling and will always remind them those feelings are valid. Infertility takes root in your soul, but that’s not always a bad thing. It shapes you in to someone who is stronger than they ever give themselves credit for. Who helps push others to keep going and who even after the outcome so longed for, still wants to continue the fight for those still in the thick of it.
So, let it be known, I know who I am.
My title is “wife, mother, daughter, friend, advocate & infertile” and I’m proud of every single one of them.