Ahh it’s been a long long road, this infertile business. I’ve met many people along the way, had fun times, challenging times as well, but I honestly wouldn’t change any of it. Married for over 15 years and I’m certain I’ve changed considerably as a person over that time. A girl can hope! I mean gosh how depressing would that be if I was the same person all these years later right?! The core of me is the same but over time I’ve had new branches growing with leaves sprouting from them. I’m a terrible gardener but I like the imagery so stay with me. In the Spring, the natural world comes alive again and experiences regrowth. This beautiful dynamic encapsulates the never ending possibility to shed our old skin and grow into better versions of ourselves.
There are many things I’ve learnt during our infertility struggles, but the ones that stood out for me are:
Trust – to trust myself and what my body was trying to tell me. In the early days, I felt something was wrong despite being told by a doctor I was still young and that it was normal 2 years in that I hadn’t yet become pregnant and not to worry. Thankfully, I listened to my inner voice and went to a Reproductive Specialist anyway who found there was an issue after all. Trusting myself when I finally felt I was done with the treatments, even though I didn’t know what my next steps would be. And most importantly, surrendering and trusting that God not only knew what was best for me, but out of everyone and everything in this universe, He wanted the best for me and would guide me towards a brighter future.
PATIENCE, plenty of it – with the inane crazy comments from well meaning people I seemed to constantly come into contact with, patience while undergoing multiple cycles of IVF and all.the.waiting; for the next appointment, the next lab results, the next jab and so on. And then there was the dreadful 2 week wait otherwise known as the “2ww” in the infertility community – trying to stay calm/sane while waiting to know if our lives would be forever changed after that phone call from the clinic. Patience with life, while hoping and praying for our desired outcome of a healthy baby. Patience with each period, telling myself that next time spotting would mean something different.
Compassion – for myself and others. Along the way, I’ve come to realize we all want the best in our lives and that it’s hard when our life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would. Everyone reacts differently to life’s disappointments, and hurtful things that are said and done usually come from a place of pain. This ties in with the patience, as it’s taught me to empathize more with others and see through behavior that could be difficult to understand otherwise. I’m by no means a saint, and this has been an ongoing difficult but important lesson for me. I’m also not one for sharing my emotions and fears with others, it takes a lot for me to show vulnerability. I’ve learnt that it’s ok to let the walls down sometimes with those who deserve it, those who will honor and protect your confidences, and that I can encourage others to do the same with me. To beat myself up less when I feel I’ve made a mistake, and to instead come from a more loving place in my self-talk.
Flexibility – Thankfully, I have always been a “go with the flow” kind of person. However, at the start of our fertility journey I never imagined just how different my life would be from the one I had envisioned. After doing everything from our end, including taking vitamins, eating better (oh how I despise the taste of Brazil nuts) and exercising, fertility treatments in different countries, cupping, acupuncture and prayers, I finally came to the realization that our life may never include biological children of our own. This was not in our hands. So instead of continuing to hold fast to this notion of my life, I chose to slowly let go and see possibilities of a different future. Although it was a long and at times heart-wrenching journey, I am so grateful I could let go of what was to make way for what could be. Without this, I truly believe I would have become bitter and miserable and missed out on all the wonderful moments that followed.
My worth – in most cultures, the idea of motherhood is a sacred one. A little girl is expected to grow up, get married and have children. When one child comes, there is an automatic expectation that the next one will follow. I remember when we were first married and people would ask “Do you have children?” When I replied no, their automatic next question would then be “So how long have you been married for?” as if trying to do the math. I would let them know we were newlyweds and a look of understanding would come across their faces as they reassured me children were in my husband and I’s future. The longer we had been married for, those looks would turn increasingly pitying with some people even asking whether I liked children! All of this to say that this experience has reinforced the value in just being myself, and that that is good enough, regardless of what society believes. I do not believe I was created to be a baby making machine, an employee, a home owner etc. I was created first and foremost as an individual with value by the Most Merciful. The nouns after that are just a plus.
Gratefulness – I know this buzzword has been thrown around a lot but I really believe being grateful is the essence of a content life. I know this because one minute I’d be crying myself to sleep over our childless state, the next I would be savoring a delicious cup of hot chocolate with a friend and laughing over past shenanigans. As humans, we tend to look at what we don’t have and ignore the countless things we have been blessed with. There were times in the depth of despair where I couldn’t see the light. I now understand that everything in life is temporary, and that thoughts and feelings are fleeting. Each time we choose (and yes it is a conscious choice) to acknowledge the small and larger joys in life, the more we are naturally attracted towards finding more things to be grateful for. Today, I am grateful for my family and friends who have supported me through tough times, for my silly sense of humor and my relaxing diffuser spreading lavender joy throughout my home.
For me, success wasn’t a baby at the end of the road. It was learning that I always had everything I ever needed within me. I plan on carrying these lessons into the next chapters of my life and continuing to look forward to the beautiful spring time after a dark cold winter.