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Infertility Awareness Week: “One day this will all be behind you.”

I remember a few months ago sitting with a friend out at dinner, telling her about how weary I was about all this.  Chris and I had just found out about another negative pregnancy test and I was almost in tears from all the failure.  My friend, in all her well-meaning intent, leaned over the table and said confidently, “Don’t worry, one day this will all be behind you when you are holding your baby.  You won’t even remember all you went through.”

It wasn’t until I was home lying in bed when the true power of her words hit me.  My hand absently ran over my stomach, to where I had given myself an hCG injection two weeks ago.  Would it be true?  Would this all be some distant memory someday?  Will I forget what it feels like to be infertile?

My fellow blogger friend, Emily, puts it simply. “Infertility left me bruised and scarred, both emotionally and physically.”  I have permanent scars in both crooks of my arm, from the constant needle pokes.  I can see the dots on my stomach from the injections.  My body was violated several times a month for testing and procedures.  I took endless hormones.  In fact, I was taking hormones three out of the four weeks in a cycle.  I fought with my husband.  I sobbed on the floor, the couch, the bed more times than I can count.  I have missed a ton of work.  There are many days, when I simply don’t think I am ever going to have a child.  There are many days when the thought of IVF looms as a very real possibility.  Will we be able to afford it?  What if the first cycle doesn’t work?  What if it does, and I experience a miscarriage?  Do I really trust Chris to give me an IM shot in the butt?  Will I someday forget all of this in a bliss-filled amnesia?

When I was going through nursing school, both in my Associate Degree as well as my Bachelor’s, I always had people tell me, “This will be over soon.  It’s all going to be worth it in the end.”  I enthusiastically agreed.  It would be worth it. There was a set date that this would all be over.

Not so with infertility.  Three years ago, I was convinced, I would be pregnant after a year of trying.  Two years ago, I was convinced that the three cycles of Clomid would work.  Last year, I just knew I would be pregnant after another six months of Clomid, carefully timed baby-dancing, and ovulation kits.  And four months ago, I was feeling pretty confident that injecting sperm into my uterus in a doctor’s office may in fact get us twins.  And each time, every failed cycle, every negative pregnancy test, the despair would sink deeper.  The smile I kept plastered to my face whenever someone would ask when we were planning on having children grew increasingly fake.  I had sex with my husband with reckless abandon, because after all, it just took one sperm…

And now I sit here, still empty, yet feeling intense relief to have some time to myself.   My body is my own again, not being used to poke and prod and inject.  I take this month off, because really, what is a month off when there have been countless other medicated ones?  I sit here on the brink of IVF.  Which may or may not work.  Is it worth it?

Many will tell you, myself included, that we as a community are fiercely determined.  We will stop at nothing to experience a pregnancy.  I will subject my body to whatever it takes if it ends with a child in my arms.  But is it worth it?  Like nursing school was worth it?  Like depriving myself of dessert in order to fit into my wedding dress?  Like facing Black Friday for that TV I got at a steal?  

I’m not so sure sometimes.  Just because I will do whatever it takes for a baby, doesn’t mean I come out the victor.  It doesn’t mean it’s all over and behind me.  

Because imagine for a second I do get pregnant.  My dreams come true: I am now holding my baby.  What happens if a year, two years down the road, we want a sibling for our child?  Do we get to suck down the mojitos and engage in passionate love-making? Sure, but it’s not going to make me bring forth another life.  It means we go back.  To the doctor’s appointments, the shots, the hormones, the fear that it won’t work again.  It means we enter Hell for a second time.

I have heard of marriages crumbling under the strain of infertility.  Of affairs because one of them just can’t cope anymore.  Of couples that grow distant.  Friendships that disintegrate because the isolation of being left out of Mommy play-groups.  Of post-traumatic stress disorder long after a woman finally gives birth: her mind unable to let go of the past failures.  The past that comes back to haunt her.



“One day this will all be behind you.”



But will it?  



Or are we simply surviving in the best way we know how? 

“You won’t even remember all you went through.”

Like scars, this experience has forever marked me.  My husband and I, we are walking through Hell as I write this.  I will remember everything.  

The file folder of every receipt from the fertility clinic.

The pain of my IUIs.  

The hurt in my husband’s eyes when I got angry after a failed TI.

The debilitating depression after that negative beta.

The feeling I had when I first shared my story in the public light.

The overwhelming support I received from friends and family, as well as people I barely knew.

The friendships that were forged in an online blogging community.

The bond that I will forever have with the man that God chose for me.

Infertility has changed who I am.  And I am not so sure I want to forget it all.  I’m not so sure that I want to put it all behind me, if and when I am successful.  It has made me suffer in ways I never thought possible.  It has also led me to some pretty amazing women.  It has made me stronger. 

I need to always remember where I came from.

 

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JenniferDesperately Seeking Stretch MarksHollyArndenJustHeather Recent comment authors
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Impatiently Waiting
Guest

What a lovely post. I dont think I want to forget this hell. It has taught me so much. hugs!

Isabel
Guest

You put into words perfectly the thought process that I go trough day after day.

"One day this will all be behind you."
But will it?

This is a question that I ask myself constantly. Will I be able to put all of this aside and live my life to the fullest? Will I ever be able to feel like myself again? Will I ever have a baby?

I want to answer yes to all of the above in an effort to remain hopeful. But I know deep inside it is so much more complicated than that.

Take care!

Jenny
Guest

One day it will be behind you, one way or another, but it's not something that's easily forgotten. You hear stories of women who go on to have children and develop infertility amnesia, but speaking for myself, I can't ever forget it. And I don't want to. As hellish as it all was, it has given me a stronger sense of gratitude and empathy. I wouldn't want to lose that. As for the question of "is it worth it?"…that's a harder one to answer. If one winds up with a child, then yes, all the pain and all the treatments… Read more »

Ann Foster
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Ann Foster
Guest

Well written. I felt such a sense of relief when we got pregnant with our daughter. It was pure bliss! At the time it filled that empty dark hole, but when she turned 2 I felt a twinge of wanting to "try again". When she turned 3 I was certain I wanted a sibling for her. When she turned 4 (1 IVF, 2 FETs and 3 miscarriages later) I was back to square one. But instead of the hell of timed intercourse and IUI, my new reality was of IVF, FETs, follicle scans, ICISI, and miscarriages. I thank God every… Read more »

Aubrey
Guest

Another great post. I was thinking about this same thing just this morning. That, if I ever beat IF, will I ever forget it? And then I thought, I don't think I want to forget it – It's become such a huge part of who I am and whether I end up with a baby or not, my experience with IF will always be a part of my life.

Sarah at Midwest Pillowtalk
Guest

i agree with you. after infertility for 2.5 years, i am now pregnant. but infertility is not forgotten about. it is a part of who i am. it shaped me in so many ways. and when trying for a kid again, i may face the same troubles. i wont forget any of it. i am so hoping the best for you. xo

JenS
Guest

I think there are some who can forget and put it behind them once they have a baby, but for the majority of us, it will always be a part of us. I know it will always be a part of me. It changed me. It made me realize I was capable of more than I ever thought and I am stronger than I believed. It won't always be at the front of my mind, but it will always be there. I struggled too hard and too long to pretend like it didn't happen.

Em
Guest

Excellent, excellent post. So well written and articulate. I don't think we forget, but we can heal and those are two totally different things. I hate that this is what you have to heal from though. I wish we were talking about a broken leg or something like that, something less open-ended and scary. As someone who has done IVF, I am so glad that you have that option. Sometimes I get really mad about all of the money we put into it or all that my body went through but I am so grateful for that procedure, for a… Read more »

acoursetothefinishline
Guest

Hi from ICLW

I don't think we ever forget. It may one day be "behind us" but I know I personally, will never forget.

Kate Payne
Guest

Rascal Flatts has a new song called Changed. I feel that really speaks to the person I've become through my IF struggles. I don't want to have to go through it all again but I've come to appreciate a lot more in life and love the person I've become because of it.

Risa
Guest

Well said, Ann. It's exhausting and it doesn't end when you have a child. I still continue to think about you. You have been through so much. <3

Risa
Guest

You're right, Em. It is much higher odds and I have to remain focused on that.

Risa
Guest

That's right, I remember that song now. It is a great song.

Aramis
Guest

My RE said the same to me at our most recent WTF. That was when I started to cry. I will never forget going through this, ever.

Emily
Guest

Well said. This is a journey that I never in a million years would have chosen for myself. Never. Do I wish it didn't happen to me? Everyday. Do I hope that my friendships that have been tarnished by my jealousy will bounce back? Of course. But do I want to forget? Not necessarily. It's a part of me, as much as that horrible haircut I had in fifth grade, the not-so-wonderful boyfriend in high school, and that time I cc'd my entire sorority on a not nice email. As painful and horrible as some experiences are, they're part of… Read more »

justanotherinfertilityblog.com
Guest

Enjoy your break from treatment. I found my recent hiatus very helpful and am now getting ready for IVF #4. It's a daunting physically and emotionally challenging thing to keep trying cycle after cycle (I wish IUI was an option for us) but I don't want to have any regrets down the line. So we try again and while the intensity of emotions and scars (both seen and unseen) may fade, we will never forget. This is a part of who we are now. The before and the after.

Heather S. @ I Should B ...
Guest

Well said. I know I will never forget either.

Catwoman73
Guest

No, we don't ever forget. We move forward, and we heal, but it's virtually impossible to forget something that has such a huge impact on our lives. Great post!

Steph
Guest

You really are an amazing writer Risa. I feel like I should just copy and paste your posts to my own blog to sum up my feelings because you describe them so well. I don't think you ever forget all of this. My husband and I always say we will be happy with one because we are never going to go through this shit again after we get our child…but is that true? The truth is we will probably go through it all again if necessary because as much as it hurts, it doesn't erase your desire for a child.

Amber
Guest

Omgaaarrasshhhhh! I hate it when you have something all typed up, but then can't publish your response!!!!! Well, abbreviated, this is a beautif post. Someday, this will all be behind you, but only because you will be at the next stage in your life. It will NEVER be forgotten. You won't forget all you've been through or learned through this process. Enjoy your break, then when you are ready, we will all be cheering you on as you forge ahead. Hugs, my friend!

JustHeather
Guest

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Jenny.

Arnden
Guest

What a great release of feelings of both doubt and hope. I am/was infertile and now have my 'perfect' family. If I think about it then I remember all the pain and loss, however, it is not on my mind day to day as it was when we were still in the throws of battle. With my children surrounding me there are other thoughts and memories I am working to remember and my infertility days are not a priority anymore. I hope you get to a similar place one day. Enjoy your vacation from treatments.

Holly
Guest

i love this and agree. Especially with the part about how we are "sure" It will happen by____. I was SO sure clomid would do the trick. Then I was pumped to to IUIs. We are still in the battlefield 2 years later. We did IVF with a miscarriage. I pray to God all this is behind me and that it will be a sting in the past the day we concieve but only time will tell. Keep up the fight!

Desperately Seeking Stretch Marks
Guest

I am new to the reproductively challenged world (just received my first negative Beta results and know that this might be the beginning of a very long journey. It is so nice to know that someone has the same thoughts and fears that I do.

Jennifer
Guest

You'll never forget it. But, I managed to get my one child, and even if you are never able to have two kids, and even if you can't forget, that one child will make it all worth it. Hopefully it will happen soon for you.