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Did you know that 1 in 8 American couples will struggle with infertility? That’s over 6 million people in the United States alone. If that’s still a little hard to imagine, try locating eight people the next time you’re out in public (granted that is if you’re going out in public- thanks, COVID). One of those eight people will fulfill the statistic for infertility.
Infertility can be a really intimidating word and diagnosis, especially if it’s something with which you’re not familiar. My husband and I received our diagnosis of infertility in January of 2018. We had been trying to get pregnant naturally for years with no success. The diagnosis crushed us both and I think a large part of that has to deal with the fact that we hadn’t heard about it.
Unfortunately, infertility is something that people don’t talk about very often. I do, however, feel like it’s a topic that is getting more attention, but the lack of knowledge and understanding of infertility in the general public is still very small.
Read More: Tracking and Improving Male Infertility
If I’m being totally honest with you, I would tell you that I didn’t think it would happen to us. My periods were regular and we were both young and healthy- why wouldn’t it work for us? But infertility doesn’t pick and choose, it just happens. We’ve been infertility warriors for almost four whole years. It seems so long ago, yet it doesn’t at the same time. I always swore up and down that I would never be able to adjust to this new life of ours, but now I’m at a place where I can’t picture our life without it.
As we slowly approach the anniversary of our diagnosis, I’ve been thinking about all of those things that I wish I could have told myself at the very beginning. Unfortunately, these were all lessons that I learned over time and it would’ve been impossible to be aware of these things on top of keeping up with the new and intimidating world that is infertility. Half of the journey I feel like you’re just trying to figure out how you feel while the other part of the journey is looking back and learning how you felt days, months, or years ago.
So, instead, I’m choosing to share these lessons with others who may just be at the start of their journey. Use these points as a reference as you begin to navigate this new journey you’re on.
It’s Okay to Be Not Okay
You don’t have to hold it together. It’s okay to cry, scream, and be angry. Now is not the time for pushing down emotions and sweeping things under the rug. This is a massive change in your lifestyle and it’s okay to fall apart when things don’t go the way you hoped they would. You’re simultaneously grieving your plan for conception while also adapting to a whole new way of life. These are uncharted waters and it’s going to be tricky. Have some grace for yourself and don’t expect to have it all together all of the time- or heck!- even most of the time! Your feelings are absolutely, 100% VALID. Embrace them and feel them in full, just make sure you give yourself a positive outlet when you feel comfortable to do so.
Everything Will Change
Your marriage, your friendships, your social life, your finances, your physical, mental, and emotional state of being. It all changes. Not for the worse and not for the better. . .but it’s different. These changes will come and I hate to say it, but it’s inevitable. Infertility treatments take up a large portion of your life and it’s something you may not consider in the beginning stages. The weekly doctor appointments (plural because there are a lot!) will take up a large chunk of your time and your emotional/physical state. Some appointments will go better than others, which means you may or may not feel like getting out like you used to.
Others May Not Understand
Here’s the thing: people won’t know what to say and in their inability to understand, they may say hurtful things. Do NOT take unsolicited advice from someone that has never been in your shoes and do not let their words bring darkness over you. Stand firm in your decisions or feelings when you have a conversation with people that don’t understand your infertility. You don’t have to justify your reasonings or choices to anyone. People won’t understand why you do what you choose to do. People won’t understand why you’re a hormonal mess from the medications. People won’t understand why you don’t have time like you used to. They won’t understand unless they’ve been through it themselves.
You’re Stronger Than You Think
You are so much stronger than you think and you CAN do this. Read that sentence again until you firmly believe it. Infertility is intimidating, there’s no denying that. It has its weird moments and the thought of the unknown can be really scary. But let me tell you this one more time: you can do this! You’re fighting for your children, you’re a warrior in the making. Strength comes in those moments when we think we cannot go on any longer, but we do so anyway. There will be days where you feel like this process is overwhelming and too much to handle. In those moments, press on. Keep fighting and just remember that you’ve got this!
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
I know how you feel. I really and truly do. Sometimes, you feel like the only one in the whole world that is experiencing infertility. It’s easy to feel that way because the world of infertility can be so isolating. When your whole world changes and is uprooted, it makes a huge impact. It feels like your world is standing still in an upheaval mess, but everyone else is moving about their day without a care in the world. Believe me, I know how you feel. You’re not alone.
Unfortunately, infertility is actually very common. It just doesn’t receive as much attention because in the past it’s been laced with a stigma of shame. However, to give you hope- there are many women that are choosing to share their stories of infertility on social media. Follow infertility hashtags, google infertility blogs, etc. there are a lot of different ways that you can you connect with the infertility community for support and to know that you’re not in this battle alone.
I read this quote one time and it really resonated with me, “infertility: the club that no one wants to be part of, but it has the best members.” I have found and connected with so many people in the infertility community. We’ve met some of our closest friends through this life-changing experience and I encourage you to find a community that can support you. There are apps, blogs, articles, and hundreds of other types of resources out there to help you navigate this new journey that you’re on. I hope that these tips were helpful for you as you begin your journey and I hope that your story ends with nothing but happiness and joy!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Pregnant after infertility? Read about Five Unexpected Pregnancy Emotions After Infertility.
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