Almost to a fault, once a current plan or goal has been completed, I scheme up the next big thing in my life. I like to know what’s on the horizon, what’s coming next, what I want to tackle.
I’m not a fan of staying stagnant.
Expanding our family was supposed to be one of my greatest accomplishments. After finding stable footing in my career, successfully levering my unique abilities to not only bring home more bacon, but ultimately find myself in the so-called breadwinner role. The next, most logical avenue to me, was children.
So we got to work, navigating, learning, exploring and climbing our way up the mountain of infertility.
Low and behold, the mountain never did have a visible summit for us. I never quite saw up and over the top.
What ended up happening was, much to my initial dismay, instead of up and over, we found our way around the middle and out the other side, essentially in the same place with the same human family members as we started with.
While that may be the cliff notes to a six-year infertility journey that rendered us childless, what most didn’t see was an overwhelming sense of societal guilt I carried after giving up.
As someone who sets goals… lofty goals, nearly impossible goals at times, I do whatever it takes to reach them, conquer them, own them.
Producing biological children? I could not conquer it.
Society was quick to label me as the one who gave up.
And I was quick to label myself as someone whose heart wasn’t in it enough, didn’t want it enough, didn’t desire to be a mom enough, didn’t try hard enough. I figured if I gave myself those labels first, it would shield me from the naysayers.
That’s why those that walk away childless after struggling with infertility don’t come into the light that often.
We are swept under the rug if we allow it, and quite frankly, its simply easier to give into societal expectations, sometimes, than to keep fighting.
Because, to put it frankly, we fought our reproductive system and lost.
How can we possibly fight MORE with outsiders that haven’t walked the same path as us?
Secrecy becomes an ally, when you’re striving for perfection in an arena you can’t control. I believe a lot of families struggling to find success with pregnancy and beyond tend to withdraw from others until there is “good news” to share because then that news is now perfect enough for others. It’s easy to digest with a pretty photo-shoot, staged baby bump, perfectly coifed announcement. Outsiders wait with baited breathe for this sort of reveal, and who are WE to give others anything less than our perfectly-perfect selves?
I spout these words because I walked them.
When I found (temporary) success carrying my son, the very first thing I did was plan how to tell everyone around me. LOOK! SEE? I’M A NORMAL PREGGO JUST LIKE YOU! CAN I BE IN THE CLUB NOW?
Isn’t my announcement so perfect? With all those perfectly placed needles in a big heart around my ultrasound and embryo photos, with perfect lighting and perfectly written, heartfelt words. Do I stack up yet?
Then I miscarried and all my perfectly planned work for my perfectly planned future vanished in an instant.
As the years ticked by and each IVF cycle ramped up and failed, what started as a platform of open-arms, started to dwindle and close up because I had grown weary of fighting. My story wasn’t one I felt proud of because I was failing.
I was ashamed for wanting to give up but I simply had no fight left in me.
At the time, I couldn’t bear the thought of not finding success in something I worked so hard for. Wallowing in shame and depression, it took quite a lot of time to realize this time was purposeful. I was in a valley of my own emotions, and while I didn’t quite know how to get out, I knew I had been out before, so started to trust I would start feeling something, ANYTHING again.
In the future, I would feel better. I just had to make space for this weird, soulless time I had fallen into now.
The excruciating lessons I learned with infertility gave me much needed perspective with life and my own personal expectations of success, failure and perfection. My life with children did not fall in line in the perfectly planned vision I had for it, and it was a hard pill to swallow knowing I had to come up with something ELSE that felt worthy enough to fill that void I longed for.
It has been a long, twisting mental road to get to a point where I don’t feel pressured by outside expectations and societal perfectionism to create a world I thought I needed to fit into.
Instead, I now know I belong all the same.