I have hesitated in writing this post for quite a long time. I didn’t want to sound like a downer, I feared others may think I have not experienced significant healing in my journey through infertility, and the list of reasons goes on. But I have finally decided that none of those reasons matter. The truth is that as a woman in her fertile years with friends and family in their fertile years who are having babies, I cannot escape the frequent, sometimes daily reminders of my barren womb. Cried over our loss for biological children? Yes, I have. Experienced healing and peace over this loss? Yes, most definitely. But it is still a journey for me. I’m not sure when that day will come that I do not feel even the smallest sense of sadness for our infertility, and it may never come. But as much as I have healed, I still deal with the daily reality of living with a barren womb.
So what is it like to live with infertility?
- It’s having the occasional month where, for a day or two, you think you may be pregnant (even though the doctor has told you it is impossible for you to be pregnant) because you are even the slightest bit late. And then just when you have yourself convinced you might be pregnant, because after all God did give children to many women in the Bible when they were well past their childbearing years, you discover it was a false hope. You then realize how silly you were for even allowing yourself to think you may be pregnant.
- It’s living with the plumbing and all of the problems that can come with that plumbing and wondering, for what? Why do I have to deal with this plumbing when it not going to be used?
- It’s realizing that you are staring at your pregnant friend’s (or stranger!) tummy and hoping your face doesn’t show the sadness, disappointment, or even the jealousy you feel for wishing it was you.
- It’s the fear of not being able to share with your future pregnant daughter or daughter-in-law about pregnancy or being able to coach her with advice because you really don’t know what she is going through.
- It’s wanting to scream at the next person who tells you their story of someone they know who finally got pregnant right after they adopted and they give you a glowing smile as if to say, “Just wait, you adopt and then you will get pregnant.” The funny thing is that these people with their “encouraging” stories don’t even know the facts of your infertility. They don’t know that you really can’t get pregnant.
- It’s having the occasional dream that you are pregnant, and it’s so real because in the dream you feel the baby . . . only to wake up and realize it is bladder pain and you really have to pee.
- It’s that awkwardness you feel when everyone around you is talking about pregnancy and you really can’t relate but you wish more than anything that you can.
- It’s sometimes feeling that you are in the club of motherhood by proxy and not because you earned your way in through pregnancy, labor and delivery. And you are reminded of this often because women love to share their stories of heroism in childbirth. (And rightfully so! You just wish you could share that same story too.)
- It’s the fear of your childbearing years coming to an end, that “the clock is ticking” even though it doesn’t make a difference if you have 5 years or 15 years left on your biological clock.
- It’s a deep loss, the deepest kind of longing in your soul for a baby in your womb.
- It’s trying not to lose it every time a well-meaning woman gives you advice about how to get pregnant. If only they took a minute to think before speaking they may realize that everyone’s reason for infertility is different. Some have been told that getting pregnant will be very difficult, but possible. Others, it is not possible at all.
- It’s cycling back and forth between resting in peace in God’s sovereignty and your infertility and then questioning God if he made a mistake in your infertility.
- It’s feeling that you somehow have loss some of your womanhood, of what it means to be a woman by not experiencing, or being able to experience pregnancy.
- It’s wanting to scream at the woman complaining of her unplanned pregnancy.
- It’s listening to one more pharmacist or doctor tell you the risks of the antibiotics or medication you are about to take if you are by chance pregnant. Or explaining to another nurse or doctor that even though you are late for your period you are not pregnant and they don’t need to do a pregnancy test.
- It’s feeling joy when your friend tells you she is pregnant and feeling sadness at the same time because you wish it was you.
- It’s dreading that baby shower, not because you don’t want to celebrate your friend’s coming baby, but you fear all of the talk about pregnancy and you wonder if you will be able to “fit in” with the conversations.
- It’s so many experiences and emotions . . .
Everyone’s experience of infertility is different. My experiences come from the perspective of my husband and I being unable to conceive, as in it is impossible for us to conceive. You may have a friend, and whether she is experiencing infertility and trying to conceive or she has been told that she will never conceive, I bet she has experienced a least a few of the things listed above, if not all.
Living with infertility is cyclic. Most days I am ok. I have seasons of feeling very much at peace with the reality of our infertility. But every once in a while, it sneaks up on me and I still experience some of the things I’ve mentioned above.
If you are living with infertility, I hope some of these things you can relate to. And I’d love to add to this list your experiences of living with infertility.
If you have a loved one experiencing infertility, remember that it is a silent grief. You may not see that they are hurting, but they are daily reminded of their infertility.