Here we are in April. Spring is in full effect and with it, change is in the air. Something about warmer weather, April showers and longer days makes me feel like all things are possible. Many exciting things are happening this month; Game of Thrones, Easter and I’m getting in with a new specialist to determine if surgery number 9 will be necessary. One of the biggest things, for me, in April is the week of the 21st-27th.
The week of the 21st-27th is National Infertility Awareness Week. World infertility awareness is in June, but I wanted to address it this month instead. Infertility affects men and women. 1 in 8 people suffer from infertility of some sort and only 15 out of the 50 states have insurance coverage for it.
If you’ve followed my blog posts, or know me personally, you know that I suffer from infertility. I suffer from ovarian failure and wrote about it back in September because one of my dear friends, who had a VERY hard time conceiving, was finally about to give birth and my sister had just told me she was expecting. The harsh reality of never being able to have my own children hit me hard that week. I was definitely caught up in my feelings, so I wrote about it to help sort things out. That was the most personal post I had written at the time and I found it to be insanely rewarding to share. That blog post got some serious recognition and reached TONS of people. I am still getting messages from strangers about it. So, I thought why not raise some more awareness?
When my sister and her husband told me they were pregnant I was so happy I wanted to cry. I actually did cry tears of joy when I got in my car. Now, I knew this news would be coming because they were wanting to get pregnant, but I was still so surprised and excited. Why did I choose to cry in my car rather than share my emotions with my sister? I chose to cry in my car because I knew after the tears of joy the tears of sadness would come rolling down. Once I was home I ugly cried where no one could see me. I’m not telling everyone this because I want your pity. I want people to understand what living with infertility is like. I could NOT be happier and more excited that my sister is having a baby. Y’all, I can NOT wait to hold my niece in my arms and tell her how much I love her already, but at the same time, I am sad.
I’m sad for myself and for women all over who understand this sadness. I don’t want friends or family to feel weird telling me when they’re expecting. I don’t want them to think that they have to deliver the news delicately. I’m not going to break down crying in front of you and curse the universe. I’m going to celebrate with you and be there supporting you throughout it all. I am going to love your child unconditionally. I will, however, in private, process my emotions of envy.
I will never experience that first time the baby moves in the womb or has hiccups. I won’t understand what it’s like to not be able to breathe because everything has shifted internally and my belly is expanding (right now I only feel that when I eat too many tacos). I won’t experience the pain of childbirth or breastfeeding. I will be envious of your journey throughout all of it. At times I may be jealous, but I never want someone to feel they can’t share their experience with me because I can’t have kids.
As a woman being told you can not have your own kids is soul crushing. You can not do the one thing you are biologically meant to do. Being told bluntly at 20 years young is harder than you could ever realize. I was at the age where I was still starry-eyed and naive. I had all of these plans for my life that I was going to accomplish and had yet to discover life had different plans. This was my first wake up call in that department. My biggest dream for myself was to be a mother. I wanted to be a mother like my own. One that encouraged me to be myself no matter what anyone else thought. One that would go without just so I could have what I wanted or needed. One who wasn’t perfect and showed me that it was okay to not be perfect. I wanted to raise children with my sisters and share stories and experiences about motherhood with them. The sense of utter failure I developed after being diagnosed was something I can not accurately describe. It’s been just shy of 9 years since being diagnosed and I still struggle to be okay with it to this day.
There is a sense of obligation to immediately tell anyone whom you are seeing and see a potential future with, “Hey just so you know my womb is barren!” Dating in your late twenties/early thirties is hard enough. Everyone has baggage at this point they’re bringing to the table and when you bring a bag full of bricks like infertility to the table, well it can be a deal breaker. This makes it discouraging to date. You hope and pray that you eventually find someone who will think life with just you is enough because sometimes IVF or adoption is too expensive or isn’t an option. Infertility is draining.
The depression that comes with your diagnosis…Lord. My doctor recommended therapy after I found out. At the time I thought I would just process this on my own. It wasn’t as big of a deal until I got older. Once your friends start having children and you experience that first breakdown because it hits you that that will never be you. I felt guilty for feeling sad for myself. I’ve since gone to therapy to try to process it, to become content with it. Most days I am fine. I know I will be fun Aunt Madelyn and I am totally okay with that role. It wasn’t until I found out my sister was pregnant that I started to feel sad again.
After Devon and Kyle told me the exciting news and I ugly cried on my stairs for a solid 45 minutes. I confused the hell out of my dogs sitting there sobbing, those poor babies, I felt immense guilt. I shouldn’t be feeling sorry for myself, I should be celebrating. I let it all go, or so I thought. Months went by and I went to the first appointment with them, I felt my niece kick, and I started planning my sister’s baby shower. A little backstory here, my sister is AMAZING, y’all. I’m sure everyone thinks that about their sister, but it is more than that when it comes to Devon. She still scares the hell out of me. One of my biggest fears in life is that I will disappoint her or let her down. She has the biggest heart and always goes above and beyond for others. She is the hardest worker I know and she loves even harder. Devon has hosted many a baby shower for her friends and poured herself into making sure everything was just right. Therefore, I knew this had to be perfect for her. I spent 3 months planning, coordinating and crafting. I was putting myself under an extreme amount of pressure and stressing myself out beyond belief.
Two days before the shower I was agitated with myself, so much so, that I cried the whole way home from buying succulents for centerpieces. I essentially put myself in timeout. I avoided the rest of the tasks I planned to tackle that night, took a shower and went to bed. The next day while reprimanding myself for being so damn emotional it hit me. Why was I making such a big deal out of this? Why did it have to be perfect? Well you see, this is the closest thing I’ll ever get to having a baby shower. It is the only one that my mom will be the Nana-to-be at. It is the only time Devon and I will share this experience. It was such a big deal to me because of my infertility. Once the shower was over I felt relieved and then the guilt crept in. I felt guilty because once again I found myself jealous of Devon. I could not have done this without the help of the lovely ladies below and I am sorry if I was annoying or overbearing when it came to planning. Hopefully, now you guys understand why I got a little OCD about the shower.
Infertility doesn’t come with a handbook. It comes with feeling distraught and depressed. It comes with hormone treatments and a price tag. It comes with a sense of failure and pangs of guilt. It comes in waves. Some days, weeks, or months you’re content and others you feel like you’re the only one missing out on the joy of motherhood. So the week of April 21st-27th is a big deal to me. It means more to me than it does to most. I will, personally, never go through IVF treatment and have repeated negative pregnancy tests, because I know I have infertility due to ovarian failure. So, to those women who put their bodies through hell and have yet to get pregnant…keep your faith. Stay positive and remember that even if you never get pregnant it will be okay. It seems like the end of the world, but I can promise you it isn’t. Remember, adoption is a beautiful thing and doesn’t make someone less of a mother. To those of you going through the adoption process, I have the utmost respect for you. Adoption may never be an option for me either because adoption agencies aren’t too keen on giving a baby to someone with heart failure and I am okay with that. But, those of you waiting and getting discouraged, be patient. Your child is out there and you will get a chance to be a parent. And to those of you who know you may never be a parent…YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I may only be a dog mom and in the end, that is okay. Ladies, when you find yourself sad, feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling guilty, FEEL IT! It is okay to feel those things. It is normal and we are only human. Don’t let anyone let you feel bad about not being a mom. Don’t feel ashamed if you have to take antidepressants, go to therapy or if you decide you need to change your whole life because of your diagnosis. No one completely understands what it feels like until it is them and you don’t have to explain yourself. Hold your head high the week of April 21st-27th and know that other women are in the same boat as you, a boat that no one wants to be in but one in which you are not alone.
My friends and family that have been patient and supportive, THANK YOU. Thank you for considering my feelings when you got exciting news and when you were sharing it, but next time don’t worry about me. I will be just fine. And Devon, thank you for going to my appointments with me, thank you for verbally assaulting the doctor that basically told me I was being a hypochondriac, thank you for letting me be so involved in this pregnancy. I love you more than I’ll ever be able to express. I couldn’t be more thankful for you understanding that this is as close as I will get to having my own child and for you to understand what that means to me. The kind of sister, daughter, and friend you are is why I know you are going to be the BEST mother to Cadence.