I’ve been “infertile” so long that it seems I’ve forgotten how to be anything else. I’ve forgotten how to be a good wife, a good daughter, a good big sister. Aunt. Friend. Housekeeper. Baker. Writer. Painter. Manager. Support system. Lately, it seems that I – quite frankly – suck at fulfilling every last one of these roles. Maybe it’s just stress and maybe I’m just completely overwhelmed with all that life has thrown at me over the last year, after losing our IVF twins very early on, and losing a handful of friends and my aunt all within a very short period of time. But “infertile” is the one title I seem to survive and even thrive on; I know how to be a GREAT “infertile”. I’m a champion for the infertility community; I head up the largest local infertility Meetup group in town, I co-admin a large online global infertility group, and maintain membership status in numerous other infertility-related forums. I speak out about what it’s like to be on this side of the fertility fence, harping on how hard it is watching the rest of the world grow in the sunshine of parenthood, griping about being stuck in the seemingly endless overcast and stormy landscape of childlessness without an umbrella to shield me from it all.
I wonder why so many others get to have kids so easily when they either can’t afford or don’t want them. I whine and stomp my feet (usually metaphorically, though sometimes literally) about the utter insanity and unfairness of it all. I have come to loathe baby showers, and seeing pregnancy announcements and round bellies every-flipping-where I go makes me want to scream (and the fact that I’m an intuitive empath with the sometimes eerily uncanny ability to predict/sense pregnancies in many friends and family members doesn’t seem to help calm my envy monster some days either!).
I oscillate between wanting desperately to keep trying, and aching to simply close this very long and painful chapter and move on to figuring out how to have a fulfilled life without kids of our own. Since just about all of our friends have kids (most have had between 1-4 children in the time we’ve been trying for our first), we’re surrounded by dozens of “nieces and nephews”, so we’re “Auntie and Uncle” to bunches of littles, some by blood and others by choice. We have our two furbabies who are spoiled rotten, we’re both gainfully employed, and we own a beautiful home. So why isn’t that enough? Why can’t my life be defined by all of those things, rather than by the one thing that’s missing?
What I wouldn’t give to be “normal”. To just forget about it all and be content with what we have. Much easier said than done. It seems that in the process of all of the painful treatments, miscarriages, and the endless rollercoaster that’s been this journey over the last 7.5 years, I’ve forgotten who I am, and what it’s like to be defined by anything other than my reproductive ability (or lack thereof). I wish I could remember what it’s like to be carefree, to just let go. Intellectually I know that we all have our own burdens to carry, our own issues to deal with. I often get so frustrated with myself for feeling the way that I do, feeling intensely guilty about my anger and sadness, knowing that things could certainly be much worse than they are. Realistically, I’m thankful for what I do have. My husband is an incredible, patient, intelligent, loving man, and most days I don’t feel as though I deserve him. I’m honored to be Aunt Kitty to so many littles, and am comforted daily by the soft, purring balls of fur that rule our roost.
Somehow they each remind me that it is enough. That they are enough. That I am enough. I can choose differently. I may not be able to choose our circumstances, but I can certainly choose how to deal with them. Today, in the here and now, I choose to reclaim my life. I choose to take each day as it comes, reminding myself that no one has a perfect life, and that mine is perfectly imperfect. It is mine to create and mine to live. I will no longer define myself by my disease, nor let it distract from who I am. I may not yet know exactly who I am supposed to be, but I know I’m meant to be and do great things, regardless of my parental status. I will no longer allow infertility to stand in the way of wherever it is that I’m meant to be, and I look forward to finding, redefining, and reinventing myself once again. My best self is waiting to be discovered. It’s time that I find her and bring her out of the shadows of grief and envy and into the light of hope, grace, and new beginnings. Cheers to doing just that!