Note: This article originally appeared on mom.me on September 30, 2014. Read the original article here.
I’ve never considered my infertility a blessing. No, there has been too much loss, too much heartache, too much unfairness to even begin to say infertility has been a good thing for me.
But just because I don’t consider it a blessing, doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed me for the better. I’ve always thought my highest quality was my ability to empathize with other people. Not to feel sorry for others or to pity, but to put me in someone else’s shoes and really feel what it’s like for them. This quality makes me a good nurse, a good friend, and a good wife. It was only after experiencing infertility, however, that I started seeing the relationships I had with people in a new and different way.
Prior to infertility, I had no concept that the question, “When are you going to have kids?” may be heartbreaking for some couples to hear. Prior to infertility, exclaiming, “Maybe you’re pregnant!” to a friend’s nausea, food cravings and late period wouldn’t have made me bat an eye.
But that was before five years of trying to get pregnant. Before three failed IVFs, before tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, before I lost my baby. It was before I met a community of women just like me, who have been through the same unspeakable hurt as I have.
Now I don’t say the above statements anymore. I pride myself on that, and I’ve become very careful in my conversations with people because I remember how hurt I was when these things were said to me. You will never again catch me asking the newlywed couple when they are going to get on it and have kids. Even though the majority of couples will not have any trouble conceiving, the thought is always in the back of my mind: What if this is not one of those couples?
When I went through my miscarriage, I thought that there was nothing more painful I could have experienced, and I finally felt that I could understand when people would say that they lost a part of themselves. Which in my case, I guess I probably did. I didn’t want people to tell me everything was going to be OK, or that God has something bigger in store. I just wanted someone to sit and cry with me. And in emerging from this place of darkness, I began to understand grief better. That sometimes, many times, there are no words that can be said. I feel like going through the loss of my baby has caused me not to shy from the discomfort that a miscarriage brings to outsiders.
When you experience infertility, the powerlessness can be overwhelming. You watch seemingly everyone around you getting pregnant and having babies and you are left wondering where you fit into it all. In the first few years of trying, I remember being so incredibly angry. “My body is supposed to have children!” I would shout to my husband when the frustration of yet another pregnancy announcement would surface, “People get pregnant after one-night stands, why can’t I?” I was forever apologizing for my barrenness. “Oh, it’ll happen here soon,” I’d say all too cheerfully, “We are just letting nature take its course!” It was only later, in the privacy of my own bedroom that I would sob into my pillow at the unfairness of it all.
Don’t get me wrong. I am still angry at the unfairness. However, there is a certain humility that comes after years of desperately wanting something everyone else seems to have, and not getting it. There is a certain humility that if we have a child, it most certainly won’t be from sex or even IVF with my eggs and his sperm. I will have a child who was half created from someone else, and though it’s a thought that brings up some negative feelings, I have grown in my thinking.
I have accepted the fact that I can’t control any of this and any baby that comes or doesn’t come is out of my hands. I think that brings about a deeper maturity than where I was five years ago when this all began. This unexpected growth towards others is all I have to show besides the mountain of debt we’ve accumulated. The silver lining in all this is that even though infertility has stolen so much from me, I know that I have emerged a stronger person.
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