I started talking about my fertility and subsequent INfertility journey right here on this blog about ten years ago – before I even knew I was actually talking about it.
It began with what I thought was going to be a routine checkup by a new doctor back in April 2007 (4 months before I started blogging), whom I chose because she was minutes from my house and fell under my insurance plan. She was a fertility specialist, which meant nothing to me at the time, but by the end of the appointment I was in tears at the front desk scheduling my upcoming laparoscopic surgery to remove cysts from my ovaries.
The doctor also diagnosed me with endometriosis and mentioned that I was probably going to have a difficult time getting pregnant because of it.
I had just turned 31 years old, had been married less than a year, had never even questioned my fertility, and in a short 45 minute appointment with a doctor I’d never met, I learned that everything I had thought about my body was wrong. I thought I was healthy and strong and would have NO problem getting pregnant. The shock of finding out that instead my body was in turmoil and my reproductive organs weren’t in proper working order sent me into a panic and anxiety spiral that ultimately left me in complete denial as my only means of coping.
I had to believe that I could still get pregnant and fulfill one of the only real lifelong dreams I had for myself and my future; to become a mom and raise a family with my husband.
About 4 months after the surgery when I had fully recovered and emerged from the fog, I thought that I might be pregnant. We hadn’t really begun trying but something inside me “felt off” and I was quick to jump on the possibility and hope that I may be pregnant. I was so excited I couldn’t contain myself thinking it just might be IT. When I finally got my period that month, tears fell, but it was just the beginning and we finally had a real discussion about it being “time” to start trying for a baby and building a family together.
I started my blog that same month. Before “…love Maegan” it was called “Baby Baby”, and it was simply a way to document my pregnancy and everything that followed in hopes to create enough income from it so that I could be a work at home mom with my kids.
A year after my surgery, I shared the story about it here and didn’t know it was the beginning of what would ultimately be the next ten years of my life struggling with infertility.
I’m a pretty open book, so I never thought twice about sharing my story and journey here or with my family and friends. It was still early in the process and I was still hopeful and very naive but I do remember also being very sensitive about the subject and getting slightly defensive when people brought it up. I had a friend who continually referred to me as “infertile” and it INFURIATED ME. That word felt so negative and FINAL. Why did I need that label? Why did she think it was okay to say that to me?
The years that followed would get more and more difficult as I watched all of my friends and family get pregnant so easily. Baby announcements and shower invites were coming more frequently in the mail and Facebook had become the place to share all those perfectly monument life moments – the ones I wanted to be able to share but never got to.
And with each new baby bump or sonogram photo announcement, I’d find myself in tears, having mini-to-major breakdowns about it. Those dark moments were only shared with my husband. No-one else really knew the pain I was in over it, and as much as I was talking about it, no one could grasp the severity of the struggle unless they had been through it as well. But I didn’t know anyone at the time who had been through it or who was going through it, so it felt even more extreme.
When you want something so badly -that you feel is not only your right as a human, but a natural thing your body is “supposed to be able to do” and you can’t make it happen – your desire for it strengthens yet you feel completely out of control, having no real path to take to make it happen. When each month becomes a hope/disappointment roller coaster you can never seem to get off of, it’s confusing and heartbreaking and nausea-inducing all at once. The longing and desire to create a family makes it hard to be around other families without hurting inside. Even just seeing photos of families together feels like a knife is cutting into your soul. Sometimes your only defense is to hide because the pain of wanting and not getting something that seems so natural is too hard to bear.
I talked to people about it, but I had no one to really talk to about it. No one knew what to say and everyone said the absolute WRONG things. I was constantly holding back tears in almost every social situation. The sadness was enveloping and all-consuming.
I wish it had been easier to talk about. I wish I had found a support group or even just had one person who was going through it too, who understood what it felt like month after month after month.
I talked about it and wrote about it here as a way to process it…
And because I talked about it here for so long, hundreds of women have reached out to me over the years, privately via email and social media as well. They’ve thanked me for sharing because it helped them feel less alone. And because of them, I felt less alone too. Many have said my words could have been their own, that they didn’t have anyone to talk to or that they felt so shameful about it, they wouldn’t dare talk to anyone about it. Some have even kept it from their husbands.
I can’t imagine having to go through all of this without anyone to talk to about it, even if no one understood, I had to talk about it. If I have helped even just ONE woman in her struggle and journey, then sharing my story has even more purpose and meaning and fills my heart with love and gratitude.
There should be no shame in talking about this, but I understand why there is. Fertility and infertility aren’t bad words but create a very isolating and lonely existence where no one really knows what to say or how to respond. It doesn’t make us any less female, it doesn’t mean we’re broken, or that there’s anything wrong with us. What we need to learn is how to support each other and figure out how to talk about it to each other and how to relate to women who have struggled with it in any form.
So many infertility stories end in a happily ever after and a baby. My story does not. I will be 42 this year so the chances are slim to none… and I am divorced now. It’s weird that I still have hope that it will someday happen for me. That’s the denial talking, I’m sure… because even now, it’s the only way to cope.
I’m proud and excited to be part of the #SaytheFword campaign launched by Celmatix to inspire women to make 2018 the year we break fertility taboos! The campaign aims to shatter stigmas, start conversations, and empower women to plan for the future of their reproductive health by encouraging them to take a pledge to #SaytheFword.
It’s time to break the silence
* Two thirds of millennial women worry about their ability to have children, but most keep those concerns to themselves.
* While miscarriage is common, almost half of women who experience them never tell their friends, and one in five don’t even tell their partners.
* One in eight women have difficulty getting pregnant, but three quarters of those who seek treatment don’t tell those closest to them.
* The result? No matter what choice a woman makes, she’s likely to feel alone. When we #SaytheFword together, we can empower an entire generation to pursue the futures they deserve, on their own terms.
Take the Pledge at WeSayTheFword.com
For every pledge to #SaytheFword, Celmatix will donate $1 to nonprofits supporting women’s health, up to $25,000! Take the pledge here!
When the personal remains private, we give power to the shame that’s kept women silent about their bodies for way too long.
* This post is brought to you by Celmatix. I am proud to be part of the #SayTheFWord movement!