If you are reading this right now then I know you have thought to yourself, at least once, “I’m not the same person I used to be. I don’t even know who I am anymore.”
I get it, I’ve been there, too. Our four-and-a-half-year quest (so far) to build our family has changed me in measurable ways. It made me into a person I disliked, often. It made me into a scared, shuddering, sobbing mess, often. And it made me grow stronger in ways I wouldn’t have been able to imagine. It has shaped the adult I have become without question.
But does it define me?
It has defined a lot of my decisions and my moods for a real stretch of time. I devoted countless hours to writing about the topic, speaking on it, volunteering my time to organizations that dealt with it. At times these activities even brought me joy. But it also HURT. No one asks to be infertile, OF COURSE it hurt. And so, I struggled with the idea that this was my lot in life. While others had children as easily as misusing a condom, I would have to take drugs and pull my body through the mud to conceive. When friends announced 1st, 2nd, and then 3rd pregnancies, I would muster a smile and save my sobs for my bathroom floor. And I started to worry that it really MIGHT define me—might define my entire adult life.
What if I never ever recognized who I was again?!
I have since had two beautiful children and though the pain has dulled, it is not yet far from my mind. What if our family isn’t complete? What if we need to do IVF again? What about the embryos that we have frozen? What about all the others still in the trenches? How much a part of me will this be next year? The year after? 15 years from now?
Know what I finally realized? It doesn’t really matter. You see, for so long I thought infertility WAS me. I feared it had recreated my person into a mirror of itself. But it hasn’t. I am a bigger, better, more well-rounded person since having to deal with infertility.
But I’m still me.
Like any huge, life-defining event, my grappling with infertility has shaped who I am. It has defined a portion of my life but, eventually, I will move forward to other new parts of life and I will change again.
See that’s the thing that maybe isn’t discussed enough in the infertility community—this is a transient place. Whether you achieve your dreams of parenthood or not, you likely won’t stay here forever. Sure, you might continue to donate money or time to organizations that helped to shape your journey. You may forever change your dialogue and the way you talk about conception and family building… But you won’t stay exactly here, struggling in the trenches.
You are a growing and changing dynamic being.
NOTHING in your life should be something that controls you forever. I’ve dedicated half a decade to my pursuit of children so far. Many of you have dedicated longer, but eventually you gather yourself up and move on. You’ll find other things to occupy that space and infertility will become another piece in the quilt that makes you who you are, but it will no longer be the patch you are actively sewing.
So, wherever you are in your journey know that this infertile path WILL change you, as all important life events do. That it is inevitable that things will shift and morph and no, you won’t ever be the same person again, but would you want to be? Growing and changing is the entire purpose to life, isn’t it?! Infertility will ensure that you grow and change and learn, whether you set out to or not.
So, does infertility define you?
It can. Maybe you like that it is coming to be a part of you. Maybe you are finding passion and drive in supporting others. Maybe you are struggling with the more negative aspects it’s highlighting in yourself. It will shape you, undoubtedly.
So, grow! Change! But remember to be who you want to be!
Keep the stuff infertility taught you that serves you and work hard to throw the rest out. Even if you feel like infertility defines you… YOU are still the star. It’s adding definition TO YOU. It is not overriding you. YOU are still in there. Strong and vibrant as ever.
Kaeleigh AKA: unpregnantchicken.com