That is my message for those suffering in the darkness. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, in which bloggers and others resolve to talk about infertility. This year's theme is "You Are Not Alone".
I didn't realize it was NIAW until Monday, so I feel a little behind. At first, I worried that I should be writing something new and earth-shattering, but then I realized that sameness, routine, cycles are what infertility is all about for me. One of the hardest things about infertility is the sense that I'm not going anywhere, not moving forward, just kind of stuck here. Life has changed in some ways. I've gone back to school. I cut my hair. I made a few new friends. Life has changed, but I am still infertile, and if I'm honest, that defines me in ways that nothing else does.
After a while, infertility starts to feel like that movie Groundhog Day. It's just the same crazy cycle again and again. Each month (or so), you might allow a little hope to start developing, then get disappointed all over again and ashamed of yourself for hoping. Once you've been in the game for over a year, that adds another level of sameness. As we go into May, it's hard for me to hope that we'll have a babe in arms by next year's Mother's Day when I realize that I had the same optimistic thought last year, and the one before. All of those thoughts of, "If I got pregnant now, I'd be in my last months in the hottest time of the year," and "Hmmm, would my kid resent me if I had a Christmas baby?", I've had them all year after year. And like Bill Murray, I just keep thinking that if I figure out that ONE thing I need to do differently, maybe I'll get out of this crazy game.
The sense that my life is stagnant contributes to the sense of aloneness. It feels like everyone else is moving forward, and I don't relate any more. In the time span since we have been trying, I have friends that have decided to try for a baby, gotten pregnant, dealt with the ups and downs of that, had a newborn, and have now seen the light of the tunnel of the newborn haze. Meanwhile, I'm still here in the same dark tunnel, and I can't even remember what the light looks like after all this time. After a while, it feels like you have nothing to share, nothing going on that is worth talking about, and after initial compassion and sympathy, people just stop asking. They forget. They go on with their lives of jobs and babies and parenting and getting pregnant again, and assume you are moving forward or getting over your infertility. The truth is, I don't think you ever get over it.
So if you're reading this and feeling alone, please know that you're not. Know that someone somewhere does truly care that you're in a dark tunnel, and there are others who know this journey all too well.
If you're reading this and you have an infertile friend, give them a call, or an email, or a hug. Let them know you are still thinking of them. It doesn't get easier, and you don't get past it. It is a struggle that defines you, and largely does so in isolation.
Check out these links to learn more about infertility:
- What is Infertility: http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility/
- About NIAW: http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html