Infertility Survivor

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At the first moms’ group meeting I attended at the Elizabeth Blackwell Center in February, a t-shirt worn by one of the other moms caught my eye.  It said something along the lines of “I survived infertility” or “infertility survivor.”

As our friends and family know, it took Ryan and I 5 years to have Katherine.  Having her was a pleasant surprise.  We had just started a domestic adoption process when we found out that I was pregnant.  At this time, we are not pursuing the adoption.

I had always wanted to write about our infertility journey, but it was too painful while we were in the midst of it.  Infertility happens to far too many people, and it is more painful than anyone can possibly know unless they go through it themselves.  So now I want to share my experience.

Have you ever noticed how much our society values people who handle adversity with grace and good cheer?  We love hearing about the people who kept a positive mind-set.  In terms of infertility, picture the long-suffering woman who is genuinely happy for her friends who get pregnant and who goes to baby showers with the beautifully wrapped gift and a smile on the outside and inside.  How inspiring and uplifting would that woman’s infertility story be!

Guess what … there was a long period of time when I was not that woman.

Oh, I may have been smiling on the outside and saying all of the right things.  But I was miserable for a couple of years.  I was the person who continually said, “why me,” “it’s not fair,” “when is it going to be our turn?”  I could not stand going into a Babies R Us.  I braced myself whenever I spoke to one of my girlfriends who I knew was also trying to get pregnant, for fear that she was going to tell me her good news.  I admire people who handle infertility with grace.  I wish I could say that I had always done so as well.

I’ll never forget the time we went to visit a good friend in the hospital a day or two after she had her first child.  We walked into her hospital room and saw her sitting up in bed, glowing in her serene happiness.  The baby lay quietly and calmly in the arms of one of her other friends who had come to visit.  The baby was so tiny and perfect.  The father proudly introduced us, and they told us about their labor and delivery experience.  We expressed congratulations, fawned over the baby, and wished them well during her recovery.  The father accompanied us back to the elevator to say goodbye.  As soon as the elevator doors closed and he was no longer in view, I broke down and sobbed.

I am sharing this now for two reasons.  First, I suspect others out there can relate, and I want them to know that they’re not alone.  Second, I want to share how I started to feel more at peace with our situation, even before we began the adoption process.  Rather than trying to put all of my thoughts in one post, I will post more in the coming days about this topic.  In my next post on this subject, I’ll share how the most meaningful advice I received on how to deal with infertility came from Archie Griffin.

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