This is my second year blogging during NIAW (my 3rd year being an active resident of Infertility Island) and Lord do I feel like a lifetime has passed in the past 3 years. Looking back to this time last year I was only weeks out from our miscarriage (I was still going to our fertility center every 3 days to trend my HCG levels, they wouldn’t say I ‘completed’ my natural miscarriage until my level was back to 0…), and I was a mess. I can remember how I felt this time last year: I was filled with grief over the loss of our Warrior, but also so much anger, resentment and disappointment. It’s not pleasant to remember. Two years ago we were just at the beginning of our infertility journey (I genuinely hate using the term ‘journey’ because it reminds me of every episode of The Bachelor, but work with me here), Dan and I had just met with two different genetic counselors and were fairly confident in our decision to pursue IVF, but we were weeks away from meeting with our fertility specialist and being told IVF wasn’t just ‘one of our options’ it was ‘our only option’. I was overwhelmed, but did not yet grasp what the future had in store for us. Go back even further to April 2014, I was 2 months off birth control and every month held excitement and promise…our conversations about having children were still all rainbows and sunshine. It’s been a long road for us and for some reason this week causes me to reflect on that. But instead of writing a post about infertility, I’ve decided to write a post to infertility instead…
You snuck into my life three years ago like an unwelcomed houseguest who tore through my happy home, uprooting every aspect of my life and refusing to conform to my house rules. You laughed at my dreams, you mocked my hope, you spit on my perfect plans. You were hell-bent on destroying my relationships, my body and my mind. You were like a teenager with their parents ATM card: you kept taking more money and then not holding up your end of the bargain to earn it back. You kept me up at night, you forced me to go to work with tearstained cheeks and bloodshot eyes, and at times you caused such physical pain I questioned my ability to go on. You forced my hand in almost every aspect of life: you dictated my diet, my job, my vacation schedules, where I built a home and how I spent my paycheck. You made promises you couldn’t keep through heartbeats we never heard. You kicked me when I was down, time and time again. You made me bitter and angry and sad. You made me someone I hated.
And then one day I stopped fighting you.
I welcomed you into my home. I acknowledged how you wanted to live and I accepted that I could live with some of your terrible habits. I made a room for you in my new house and in my heart. I realized I quite like the diet you put me on (I was drinking too much caffeine), the yoga you force me to do daily and the mindfulness you strong arm me into practicing was decreasing my stress level. I realized if I shared you with my friends and family, if I talked about you and shared the details of how my life was changing because of you, that they could teach me different ways to accept you. They grabbed hold of some of the luggage you were forcing me to carry around and it became bearable, it (and I) became lighter. You were an uninvited marriage counselor, you forced Dan and I to acknowledge where we fell short as a couple and inspired us to be better in every aspect of our marriage. You were a cruel teacher at times, but I recognize I needed almost every lesson.
And overtime, without really noticing, I stopped seeing you as the enemy.
I stopped seeing you as something destined to destroy me and realized maybe, in your own terrible way, you were saving me. You were forcing me to be kinder, more present in my life and more generous with my love. You taught me to appreciate the little wins in life, because they really do sustain you during the big losses. You taught me to take the time to tell the people I love how much I love them and appreciate them, because nothing is ever promised. You replaced years of seeing myself as someone weak and insignificant with a profound sense of strength and the knowledge that I’m a survivor. You taught me every lesson there is to know about love.
I don’t doubt you have more to teach me. I don’t question that I will still curse you at times. I am confident you will continue to irritate me and make me cry. But I will remember to say thank you. I will remember that even though you came into my home and rearranged every part of my life, I like where you put some things. You’ve been a terrible companion, but you’ve made me a better friend.
I hope someday you leave. I hope someday there isn’t room for you in my house. I pray you get kicked out by 1 (or 3) of these little embryos we fought so hard for. But even after you leave, when every aspect of my life isn’t dictated by you, when you don’t occupy every moment of downtime in my mind, I’ll remember you. I’ll remember how you changed me, by forcing me to change myself.
So, infertility, thank you…thank you for all of it.