National Infertility Awareness week just ended and I thought about posting all week, but the truth is, I wasn't sure what I wanted to say. So here I am, word-vomiting it now that the week is over because I realized there isn't a right way to say all of these things...
Infertility- 9 Years Later- My Story- National Infertility Awareness Week
Of all my childhood friends, I was the first one to get married (at 19) and to try to have a baby. I am now the only one of that group who doesn't have children (at 28.)
The closer I get to 30, the more permanent my infertility feels.
I'll turn 29 this year. I've been with my current partner 5 years but we don't plan or talk much about marriage/kids, we are not TCC or preventing. Its a weird middle ground to be on. Because I haven't made plans like marriage/kids in the last 7 or so years, I've learned how to live with my infertility instead of fighting it. I've found other things that make me excited about life, I've worked towards other goals, found hobbies, and become ambitious about other things. There was a time when my biggest goal in life was to be a good mother and wife and have a happy family. Now I've created my own sense of self outside of that dream. Sometimes I want to adopt so badly and I just imagine how great I would be as a mum. But most of the time, I'm thinking about other versions of myself I've become in the 9 years of infertility. I dream about travel, helping other women life their best lives, being totally amazing at yoga, having a kitten and a bunny, getting my masters degree, all these other goals and ideas I've created since my diagnosis.
But I don't want to discount the unbearable emotional pain I went through for years during/after my diagnosis process. (You can still read old blog posts from when I was going through that time and some of them hurt me to read, knowing just how deep in all the sadness and despair I was back then.) It took years, so much self-development, meditation, self-love, and therapy to get here. I was clinically depressed for years and I fought so hard to get out of that.
The childhood friends I once had have come and gone. Most of the ones from my teen years have as well. I ended relationships with people from my past who didn't align with the new person I became or if their presence in my life made me feel worse because they were irresponsible or ungrateful parents (ie things that made me feel worse about the fact that I couldn't have a baby yet some how they could.)
Since my diagnosis, I've surrounded myself with life-giving people. People who are incredible humans doing awesome things, who I think deserve everything in the world they could ever desire. Now so many people in my close personal life are having babies and I am overwhelmed with pure joy for them and for me; for all the baby cuddles my life will soon include.
Yet, when I look at people I don't know having children, (or those people from my youth who I am no longer close to because we have totally different lifestyles and personalities now,) I can still find myself still being very judgmental and emotionally charged about how they get to have babies and I don't.
This life is so messy. I am a human full of contradictions and plans and nothing makes sense or happens the way I planned it to. In fact I still can't figure out why I keep making plans when nothing works out the way I intend lol.
"I am a human full of contradictions and plans and nothing makes sense or happens the way I planned it to."
I was going to get married at 24. I was going to have my first baby that year too. I was going to be an amazing work-from-home mama who some how also home schooled and hand made her baby's organic food at home. I was going to have my degree and some how also being a successful career women while all this was going on. I was going to be happy. I was going to have an amazing marriage and feel so in love with my husband and my babies and my life.
Well none of that happened. And when none of those things happened, I made other plans and worked really hard to make those new dreams come true. Many of those new dreams and ideas also didn't happen.
What did happen, was I changed. I became kinder. I became more ambitious and saw my potential for positive impact on the world grow. I became a much better friend. I went to college, dropped out of college, went back to college, and will be graduating in just a week and a half. I started scrapbooking and art journaling and meeting amazing women online who were also kind and had the same hobbies as me. I became closer with a couple of in real life friends and learned how to be truly vulnerable with them, and how to be a really good friend to others (which I wasn't in my youth.) I learned how to be the kind of woman I want to be (though I am always a work in progress.)
My whole life changed when I spent years not being able to get pregnant. And my whole life changed again when I started accepting that instead of fighting it and hating it.
Some of my adventures from the last couple years
Now back to to the bit about contradictions because it's a key part of why I didn't know what to write about last week for National Infertility Awareness... I am mostly happy with my life now. I have goals I want to reach, things I want to do, and so many dreams for who I want to be and places I want to see in the future. I know now that I have a high propensity for heightened emotions which means I am very easily happy (very happy,) and also very easily sad (and prone to bouts of depression if I don't actively work against it all the time.) I am so joyous about the new babies in my life and at the same time, I also want to cry when people I don't love or don't know have babies. I am blessed, I have found things to appreciate about my infertility and my childless life, and I am also sometimes heartbroken that this is my story.
Some days I am really happy I never got pregnant back when I was trying. Other days, I really wish I could get pregnant if I wanted to (and occasionally, I do want to in the present moment.) Some days I think about how I have come to appreciate childlessness and all the free time and money I have to pursue travel and my hobbies. Other days I am really sad that I have all those all other hobbies and dreams because I couldn't have what I wanted most/first.
9 years of infertility has taught me that the human experience isn't tidy. We aren't symmetrical shapes with straight lines and logical feelings. Our lives aren't perfect or happy all the time, regardless of what image some people portray online, never sharing the real shit in life. Things don't always work out. We don't always make sense. And sometimes there aren't adequate words for our complex feelings.
9 years of infertility has taught me heartbreak- how to heal it and how to live with it (because not all heartbreaks fully heal.) 9 years of infertility has taught me that disappointment and sadness are going to happen in life. And sometimes they will happen often, in overwhelming amounts. 9 years of infertility has taught me that being childless isn't the end of the world, it's just the end of the one I had planned. But life does go on, and eventually, so did I.
9 years of infertility has taught me that I can be whoever I want to be and even though I can't do whatever I want to do all the time (having a baby being one of those things,) I can change course and pursue new adventures and totally crush those. It has taught me how to fall in love with the life I have now, after teaching me how to create the life I have now.
It's also taught me that I inevitably always return to feelings of desire for motherhood and sadness about my situation. Sometimes just for a moment among all the joy and gratitude I have for the way my life is right now or could be in 6 months from now or 3 years from now. Sometimes it returns for months on end and I have to work really hard to get out of bed and participate in life.
It's all complicated and it doesn't fit into a neat package with a bow tied around it. There are so many feelings, thoughts, and experiences that I have surrounding my infertility. They don't all make sense. Some of them are totally opposite from one another. And that's just who I am and how I feel.
I wish there were a more eloquent way to write about living with infertility now days. In the beginning, I could do it so well because I knew exactly what I felt and the emotions all made sense with one another (sadness, disappointment, heartbreak, despair, etc.) But 9 years of infertility has given me time to be grateful for this experience and to still resent it. It's given me time to create new dreams and to realize that sometimes, I still really want the old one. It's given me time to learn that there is no easy or right way to talk about my infertility journey. It's a hard thing to live with and it totally changed my life and continues to impact my life and my decisions.
The most important thing to know is that infertility looks different on everyone. Every person who lives with infertility has a different journey. Sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are sad. Sometimes we are grateful, other times we are devastated. Some of us eventually have success stories and miracle babies, and some of us don't. Each of our lives look different. We all experience different emotions at different times in reaction to different things. Each of our lives has been changed by our infertility. And most of our stories and experiences don't fit into neat, little packages.
And if there's one thing I can always say for National Infertility Awareness, it's this:
Infertility is challenging and if you experience it, you are not alone. I love you and I hope and pray that whatever dreams you have, they come true. I think about you all the time and I hope that you're able to find moments of pure joy and happiness in between the less stellar moments of infertility and life in general. Your story matters and your feelings matter. If you ever need someone to talk to, or cry to, or celebrate with, you can always leave me a comment here or email me (laura.rahel.crosby (at) hotmail.com). I will email/comment/dm you back. Sharing our stories and finding community with one another is sometimes the best way we can unburden ourselves.
And if you are a loved one or friend of someone with infertility, the best thing you can do for them is to love them through all of it. Even the parts that you don't understand. Reading stories like this is a great start to listening and understanding a little more about life with infertility. Thank you for showing up and caring. It really does mean everything.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far. It was a messy post with contradictory words and I'm so grateful for you taking the time to care. Wishing you all heaps of love and joy. Leave a comment down below if you wish, I like that :) You can find all my past infertility blog posts here in case you want to read or know more.