Five years ago, I was carrying a secret. About to burst at the seams with the excitement that was growing within me. Terrified to let myself actually believe it was real. After countless tears, an absurd amount of poking and prodding, and years of clinging to any shred of hope we could find, Hubster and I were in the first couple weeks of absorbing the reality that a baby was on the way. I spent the better part of 2009 living in suspense, in awe of the life that was growing inside of me. Nearly three years after we first set out in search of parenthood, my husband placed our dream come true in my arms.
Infertility touches more lives than many might think. It’s said that 1 in 8 couples struggles to become pregnant. And yet when you’re in the thick of it, it can be easy to feel like you must be the only two people in the world who are hurting so badly. In the midst of the sorrow and confusion, it’s incredibly difficult to reach a space where you feel comfortable sharing what you’re going through with others. Many of us don’t. We lock the pain behind closed doors, shed our tears silently, and do everything we have to not to expose the turmoil that’s building inside of us. It’s isolating and lonely. When we recently started exploring the idea of trying to have another child, I quickly realized that pieces of that journey still haunt me far more deeply than I wanted to believe. But a bit of distance from the intensity and depth of the pain has allowed me to gain a new perspective on the way those years touched my life.
Hubster and I had been married for less than a year when we first decided to “throw caution to the wind” and embrace the idea of parenthood. I’d been head over heels in love with the man for two years by that time. The idea of a future without him by my side was simply unfathomable. Still, though, I carried a lot of emotional baggage with me, and our relationship wasn’t always spared from the turmoil of my past. While he’d broken through a lot of my walls, I was still guarded.
The afternoon we left our first appointment with our Reproductive Endocrinologist, I was shattered. As we climbed into the car, I dug deep, trying to pull up my inner “tough girl,” certain that I was going to need her to get through all of this unscathed. But this time I couldn’t find her. We rode home in silence, each trying to absorb and process, both fighting the tears that threatened to spill from us. That night, as we lay in bed together, in the safety of the dark I started to talk. For the first time in my life, I let someone in on my deepest inner thoughts, every fear that I carried within me, the true depth of just how badly I was hurting. Wrapped in my husband’s arms, I didn’t try to fight the tears, allowed myself permission to let the heartache of the past few months to finally come pouring out of me. And when he promised through tears of his own that we were going to get through this somehow, some way and be better for it in the end, I realized that I believed him completely.
My guard came down after that night, as I learned how freeing it could be to give yourself permission to be completely exposed to someone. With every doctor appointment after that day, I dove further into allowing myself to share my vulnerabilities with my husband. Along the way, I learned how glorious it was to know that you were loved and accepted unconditionally. And several months later, as we stood staring at one another in disbelief, squealing with excitement over the latest call from our RE’s office, I felt the first twinges of understanding that something greater had been happening through this journey.
Infertility changed the very core of who I am. Buried deep underneath the layers of pain and anguish was a woman in transformation. It made me a more compassionate friend, a better mother than I would have been otherwise. In facing the wounds left behind by years of feeling betrayed by my own body, I somehow came out the other side more accepting and loving of myself. It tested my understanding of our vows of “for better or worse,” taught me to be a better wife, and gave me a rock solid faith in my marriage. When I look back on it all now, I know without a shred of doubt that I would do it all over again.