Dear (in)Fertile Sister,
In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week…
It’s a huge, silent sorority that none of us ever wanted to be part of; one in which many never publicly claim membership. Despite the unfortunate commonality of infertility (affecting an estimated 1 in 8 couples of childbearing age), there remains a heavy, dark cloud of shame, feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, and of being a social pariah among those of us who are afflicted.
To you, who is still trying for a baby after so many years, please know that I see you.
You, who cries yourself to sleep at night, aching for your arms to be filled with a child of your own.
You, who has endured more than most people can imagine, having spent your entire life savings on fertility treatments, with seemingly nothing to show for it all but the black and blue belly bruises from months or years of injections.
You, who – in the words of soulful singer-songwriter Sunny Sweeney’s new song, Bottle By My Bed – has “an empty room at the top of the stairs”, having just given away all of the baby items you’ve collected all this time, because the doctor said it’s time to stop treatments.
You, who just heard the doctor’s regretful and agonizing words, “I’m so sorry; there’s no heartbeat…”, and are suddenly tasked with planning your baby’s final resting details instead of their coming home outfit.
You, who dreads every Mother’s Day and its seemingly cruel, hyper-commercialized reminders year after year of what’s missing.
You, who begs for time to stop before the heartbreaking impending anniversaries of missed due dates and the date your baby(ies) grew angel wings, having been too beautiful to remain in this life.
You, who opens your social media and is bombarded with a half-dozen pregnancy announcements from friends and family who either don’t know of your struggles or who were too afraid to tell you their news before announcing to everyone else.
You, who no longer feels sexy, because of being endlessly poked and prodded by so many doctors, the strain of being bloated and bruised from stim meds, and scheduled intercourse having replaced your formerly fun, passionate, and spontaneous love life.
You, who is finally pregnant but feeling like you can’t or shouldn’t fully enjoy every minute of your hard-earned bliss because of some kind of misplaced “infertility survivor’s guilt”.
Please know that I see you, even when the rest of the world doesn’t. My heart aches for you.
And I think you’re truly amazing.
Infertility is one of the most painful, frustrating, devastating, financially challenging, life-changing human experiences… and it can be one of the most powerful teachers if you allow it to be.
Some of the strongest and most beautifully inspiring women I’ve ever met have been (in)fertility warriors. They know a pain that most aren’t lucky enough to endure. Women who have been dragged through the trenches of this journey and come out triumphant (one way or another) on the other side are often some of the most loving, patient, and tender parents and role models to the littles in their lives, and that’s something to be proud of.
You are not forgotten.
You are not broken.
You are not alone.
Sweet (in)Fertile Sister, know that we’re in this together. Know that I’m behind you every step of the way, cheering you on through every triumph, big or small. I’m also grieving with you through every struggle, every BFN, and every heartache that’s often inherent on this ride. Know that no matter your outcome, no matter if or when or how you become a mom, or even if you decide that enough is enough and that your journey is coming to a close without kiddos, it is okay.
Infertility doesn’t define who you are. It doesn’t make you any less of a woman, and doesn’t make you a failure.
You are stronger than you know.
You are worthy.
You are beautiful.
You are a fierce warrior who deserves the best, and it’s up to you to find your happy, no matter what this life throws at you.
Miracles take time…some just take longer than others. Give yourself some credit, and please stop beating yourself up. Use the extra time you’ve been given to learn to love and truly care for yourself, to reconnect with your partner, and do things you won’t be able to do as easily once your parental status changes…sleep in, enjoy that glass (or two…) of wine, travel, go on lots of spontaneous date nights. Be your own best advocate, and become friends with that beautiful soul standing in front of you in the mirror; I promise you she’s worth it!
Your Fellow (in)Fertile Sister ❤️