Last week a very good friend who has been struggling with infertility got the most shocking and amazing news of her life… she and her hubby are expecting!
I felt especially happy for her as this friend’s journey to become a mom, although different, reminded me of my own and struck a deep chord in my soul.
I have written before of how the unrelenting sting of infertility feels much further away these days, in this messy house that booms of giggles and shrieks and tantrums and cries. It is easy to push out of sight and out of mind the fact that we once wanted more than anything to be parents, and yet it seemed that it would never, EVER, happen. Never.
Fast forward seven years and we have two little hot mess blessings that have completed our lives and made us what we never thought we would get the chance to be, their parents.
Not everyone is so lucky. Many of you are still in the throes of anger, sadness, despair, and teetering on the brink of giving up hope. Maybe it is just not in your cards, or impossible due to health issues, or financial woes. Some people do not get the happy ending that others do, and that is just unfair at best.
Whatever infertility looks like to you, I can relate to some of the feelings that go along with the great unknowns surrounding your experience. Jealousy and shame when you can’t make it through one more baby shower for a friend, even though you are happy for them. Frustration as you confront the circumstances and hurdles you must deal with and overcome for even a chance. The feeling like you might slap the next relative that asks when you will be next, or tells you “It will happen when you least expect it.”
Perhaps you want a second child and cannot see how that will happen, as you are struggling with secondary infertility. The guilt that you have one healthy, happy child and how could you selfishly want another and be sad when you are so lucky to have your child now. Others cannot even have one child?! Maybe like myself, you got to experience the ‘joys’ of both of these types. Perhaps you dealt with miscarriages, infant loss, or failed adoptions. I cannot even pretend to imagine the infinite loss and pain that go along with those situations.
If you can identify with any of these things, I know that my words won’t mean much when you are going through these situations. I will not vomit positive fluff on this topic. Infertility sucks and like depression, it lies. However, after hearing the amazing news from my friend this past week, I was reminded of something. And that is, you really just never know. While this can be an anxiety producing, stressful thing, it is also a wonderful thing. Hear me out.
I was so sure seven years ago that we would not be able to have kids. I adopted a dog and several cats and was functioning okay on the outside, but on the inside I had resigned myself to a life that did not include me being a mother. Steve would not be a father. It broke my heart, but I channeled my energy and goals into other endeavors (nursing school, rescuing animals, beer and live bands – ha!) and kept moving through life the best I could. I ran the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago, my first (and only) 8K and could not figure out why I was so tired a week later. Laughingly I drove to the store to get a pregnancy test. I scoffed and scolded myself for even having hope as I peed on that stick, and when it showed “positive” I think I stared at it for a full five minutes not moving, for fear it would change. More tests and a doc visit confirmed what I thought to be impossible… I was pregnant. All this after being told by our male fertility doctor a year earlier that we had a slightly higher chance than he did of conceiving on our own. You just never know.
A few years later, we wanted to give our son a sibling. I actually changed jobs, leaving a nursing position with good friends that I loved, in order to obtain better infertility insurance. There were no guarantees, of course, but we pushed through the stress that is IVF in order to try again. We were so lucky to experience success and have a second child, even through an extremely high risk pregnancy and emergency delivery a month early. The NICU stay that followed was thankfully short and uneventful, compared to others’ stories. The debt we incurred was eventually paid off. We talked about wanting more children, but at this point in our lives, we were older and worn thin with this infertility business. Now we are sure that our biological family is complete. Fostering in the future is a dream that I hope we can pursue. This is why when you are struggling, I urge you to hold onto the fact that you just never know.
As we oohed and ahhed over my friend’s beautiful ultrasound pictures via text this week, it stirred up these emotions that I felt not so long ago. We laughed and cried and shared this beautiful moment together. I have not been this happy for someone in a long while.
I remembered the fear, excitement, and disbelief. I remembered the moment when the shift between “this will never happen” and “this is freaking happening” forever changed the course of my own life. While I cannot say what will happen for everyone, because of my own experiences I can confidently say that no matter the circumstances, you just never know. No matter the odds stacked against you or in what route your family comes to you, you just never know. And thank goodness for that. There is always hope. I am living proof. And now, so is my beautiful, sweet momma-to-be friend. In that moment of time, all was right in the world.
There is strength and wisdom that comes in getting through the scary and the unknown. Tonight, I feel unbridled joy and peace knowing that for all of you out there, you just never know.