“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” This quote from Epictetus has been my motto since I started my journey to conceive!
Married on August 8, 2008 and trying to conceive (TTC) for just as long, the infertility journey is a roller coaster, and no, not like the exciting ones you see at the theme park! A roller coaster of emotions, ups and downs, hopefulness then gut punches, excitement then sheer disappointment. Like most couples, we thought that after love and marriage came the baby carriage. We had no idea the journey which lie ahead of us! After dozens of expensive and intrusive tests and after about two years of marriage, we learned that we were 1 in 8. One of eight couples in the US that is affected by infertility!
Infertility is one of those things that you know others are going through, yet, no one talks about. You sit in a full waiting room at the doctor’s office, avoiding eye contact and conversation. You go on your lunch hour from work for ultrasounds and trigger shots, then return to work and laugh with your coworkers as if nothing happened. That’s how I spent the majority of my journey – isolated. Listening to others ask the dreaded question, “When are you going to have a baby?” and instead of using a few choice words, you remember that you’re saved, smile, and respond, “One day!” Although that question seems innocent, it stung a bit more when someone asked me the same day we found out that our 2nd intrauterine insemination (IUI) was unsuccessful. Thank you kind stranger for kicking me while I was already down!
After two failed IUI’s, surgeries, and a failed IVF cycle, I am currently in my second IVF cycle and hoping that one of our three embryos will be our miracle baby (or babies!) Nothing can prepare you for infertility. It is literally like going through the entire grief process every single month. You wonder when it will be your turn – IF it will ever be your turn. Meanwhile, it seems like other couples can just look at each other and get pregnant! On top of the emotional and physical difficulties, you have to deal with others’ insensitive comments! If I hear “relax” one more time, I’m going to lose it! Soon, TTC begins to affect your whole life, and if you aren’t careful, it can affect your mental health, your physical health, and your relationships. Infertility can begin to consume you! You avoid going to the local farmers market at 10am on a weekday because you know it will be filled with pregnant women pushing strollers and driving minivans. You smile through clenched teeth as women complain about their pregnancy symptoms and say “Oh, just wait until you get pregnant!” “(Insert choice word here,) all I do is wait!” You watch as yet another woman who lives an “alternative” lifestyle is pregnant with her 47th baby (okay, I am exaggerating, but you get the point.) You go through all of this while praying for the chance to have just one baby.
On my ten year journey I have experienced disappointment, delays, and loss, but through it all, my faith in God is what has kept me going for 116 failed cycles of TTC (but, who’s counting :)) It’s funny how life has a strange way of teaching you lessons! Here I was just hoping to get pregnant and give birth, but instead, I birthed a vlog – Fruitful. It’s almost like battling infertility showed me my purpose – encouraging other couples in the wait and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. I began my YouTube channel just one year ago because I did not see enough brown couples talking about infertility. When we were told IVF could be our only chance to conceive, I searched the internet for more information (why do we always trust Google more than our doctor?) I quickly noticed there was a lack of representation in the minority community. I thought to myself, “surely there are minorities being affected by this, why aren’t they talking about it.” Sharing my journey was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was able to connect with so many others on a similar journey and receive advice and encouragement from others who “get it!” I refused to suffer in silence anymore and now I feel that I have gained hundreds of new sisters cheering me on!
So even though infertility has happened to me, I chose to react by using my journey to encourage others and let them know they are not alone. National Infertility Awareness week is amazing because it gives us all a dedicated time to bring awareness, but, how about we talk about infertility more than just one week in a year? Let’s show other’s its okay to discuss miscarriage, adoption, and surrogacy. Let’s break the stigma of IVF, endometriosis, secondary infertility and PCOS! We can use our experiences to show others that it’s not okay to question when someone is having a baby, or make insensitive jokes about one’s fertility. You can either let infertility break you or use it to show others just how much of a warrior you are. Infertility ain’t for the weak! So life is going to happen to you, the real question is, how will you choose to react to it?
A blog post written in collaboration with Simply Tanika.