To those struggling with infertility. I see you.
Searching through files on my computer looking for some old tax information, I came across a folder tucked several folders deep that I hadn’t seen in nearly five years.
I didn’t have to go into that folder to know what was in there. Referral letters, test results, word documents full of notes about supplements, and recommendations for fertility yoga.
There would be pages and pages of information telling us that there was nothing wrong with us, that maybe it was bad luck. Maybe it would happen next time. I really hated that folder.
The other reason I didn’t want to go into that folder. Guilt.
Guilt that maybe I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have that folder hidden away on a computer hard drive. It’s been almost five years, since I last went in there.
That’s five years and two babies who are now preschoolers.
Five years and no more miscarriages, no more pregnancy tests, no more ovulation kits. I can say that I understand the pain that comes with the infertility waiting, the pain that comes from grieving a life that was cut far too short, but do I still fully remember?
I write about parenthood all the time now.
I make jokes about kids taking eleven years to put on their shoes and the elusive dream of an uninterrupted night’s sleep. All my life I’ve turned to humor to get me through rough patches or times of insecurity, and I know that sharing humor is helpful to other parents in the trenches.
But there is that little nagging feeling that sometimes gives me pause before a tweet or a meme. Do I remember what it’s like to desperately want everything I have right now? To not be able to laugh through the pain yet?
Several of my close friends became pregnant and birthed wonderful babies into the world while I was sinking into a pit of infertility despair.
Now that I see that folder on my computer screen, I vividly remember hanging up the phone and scream crying for an hour after a friend told me she was pregnant. The pain of my most recent miscarriage was too raw, my ability to be happy for others had been seemingly pulverized. My world that had been so full of color for so long was gray, and it was scary.
Over the years I’ve been open about our struggle trying to start a family and that openness has allowed others to know who to call when a miscarriage tore the heart out of their chests. Or where to turn to get the details on what fertility acupuncture was really like.
I’ve cried with friends and coworkers, offered a listening ear, or sat in knowing silence when words weren’t necessary. But those calls have become less frequent these days. Which may of course be preferable, because perhaps it means that those I love aren’t suffering. But maybe it means that it appears I’m too far removed now.
That I’m immersed in the mom life, and through all the jokes, those around me aren’t sure if I still understand their pain.
It’s been five years since I’ve opened that Infertility folder. I don’t want to open it. But maybe I should.
Maybe I need to open the folder to remind myself that while posting pictures of my kids or making jokes about parenthood is completely fine and a part of how I live my life, it wasn’t always this way.
In the grand scheme of life, it wasn’t that long ago when I turned off social media so that I wouldn’t see any pregnancy announcements. At one point not that long ago, I yearned desperately not to sleep through the night. I yearned to know that there was even a chance that someday in the foreseeable future I wouldn’t sleep through the night.
This is all to say that to anyone out there not knowing what your future may hold, but wanting more than anything for that future to include parenting a child, I do see you. I really do.
And underneath the humor, I’m still here. Always.