20 of those years, I have been a mom.
8 of THOSE years, I have struggled with infertility.
That isn’t something that you just bring up in conversation. Being infertile isn’t something you chat about with the checker lady at Wal Mart, but I’m willing to bet, you all know someone that suffers from it.
I wasn’t always like this. I had 3 children before I turned 24, so I am not what you would call a “typical” infertility patient. I don’t fit in that typical category, so it’s really difficult for people, on either side ,to relate to me – and to know what to say whenever I DO mention my issues.
I’ve come to realize that there really is nothing that can be said. Nothing is going to make me feel better about it, and there are no magic words to transform the hurt I feel from it. However, I do think that those that know and love us “infertiles”, and those who have never had the burden of long term infertility, need to try understand the reasons we hurt so deeply.
The reasons why, instead of running toward our friends and family, we tend to pull away from friendships, and social events. How do you talk about it? How do you not become that “downer” friend when your whole life seems to be revolving around cycles and hormones and what you DON’T have? One thing I can tell all of you absolutely:
Being infertile is NOT like a rollercoaster.
The short lived highs don’t come anywhere close to the nauseating, punch in the gut lows. The small celebrations that come with buying a pregnancy test because you are 1 day late are quickly regretted when good old “Aunt Flow” decides to pay her visit – before you can even open the package.
There is no real description for the pain, but it really is gut wrenching. No way to paint the complete picture of the monthly heartache – but I do have an analogy that, for me, is much better suited than this ‘roller coaster’ nonsense.
I was fishing the other day, on my birthday in fact, and it came to me.
Infertility is like fishing.
Stay with me, I know that sounds ridiculous, but let me explain. Visualize for a moment, that you are… well, fishing.
Are you there yet?
Ok good. So, you are all set up. You bait your hook, and, since you really aren’t expecting it to take much skill, you stick a bobber on that sucker and get comfortable. You are a realist, and fully expect that there will be a wait. Patience is a virtue, and hey, the scenery is beautiful and it is nice to just enjoy “the birds and the bees” wink. Of course, the wait won’t be long, because you know that you were born for this.
Before you know it, you look to see 2 of your friends high fiving because, “fish on”. You are genuinely happy for them. You give them a few thumbs up, and you even take the picture of them both holding up their trophy’s. The excitement only builds and all of your buddies slap you on the back with words of encouragement. You smile at your little cork bouncing on the waves and start to get back settled in, knowing YOU are next.
A few more minutes pass, and that guy – you know the one – he used to stick erasers up his nose in elementary school. This cooyon reels in a keeper and you say quietly to yourself, “Really? Him? He can’t even bait his own hook.” He doesn’t have any of the right tackle, he had to bum a ride here because he never has money for gas, and you are pretty sure he doesn’t even know how to clean a fish! Maybe you are a little jealous, and it’s hard to witness his nonchalant attitude when he throws the fish in his ice chest with the other 5 he’s got, without so much as a second glance. At this point, you have to take a deep breath and just hope that he is a quick learner and realizes how lucky he is to have such an opportunity.
That leaves you. Sitting in the same place you started hours ago with nothing whatsoever to show for it except a bruised ego and a sunburn.
This will not do, so you change what’s on your hook and try a different spot. Bobber is off. Time to get down to business, but before you even get that bait in the water, the guy in the boat with you, that wasn’t really even trying to catch anything, is celebrating the beautiful 7 pounder that’s giving him a good fight. You grab the net and can’t help but smile when you see the joy on his face at such a catch. You pull your line in and decide that it’s high time to change, not only your technique, but your mindset.
Not everyone is going to have a good day, and it looks like you are in this for the long haul. The sun is going down. You have been at this since mid morning (which, now that you think of it, was a pretty crappy time to begin fishing) and everyone – your best friend, your siblings, your co worker, even your worst enemy – have caught their limit and called it quits hours ago. Your once excited, upbeat and positive attitude has turned to disappointment, and even fear, that it won’t happen for you. People left and right are giving you all kinds of what they think is good advice.
“Quit trying so hard and it will happen.” “Just be thankful for the times you came out here and DID catch something.” and the best of all “Maybe God is telling you something.”
Your Knees buckle, you hold your head in your hands and you just ask the good Lord to let you know if it is time to give up. You’ve worked so hard. You bought the best of everything, read all the books, took your vitamins and hydrated like a champ. You were REALLY ready this time. THIS time you were going to do it right and nothing was going to hold you back.
But, then again, maybe this isn’t where he wants you to be at this moment. Maybe God is trying to tell you that he has a different plan for you and it doesn’t include what you wanted for yourself.
This is just what I asked the big guy this morning. I asked God to fill me in. What does he want for me?
I have spent mornings trying to bargain with the man above. If he let me get pregnant, I would go to church at least twice a week, or, if this blood test comes back “good”, I will really start forgiving easier. That doesn’t work, “That’s not how any of this works!”
I come from very faithful people. I told you before, my mom will soon be up for canonization (not really, but in my heart, she will). God is the center of our lives. I believe that, if I continue to pray, God will steer my heart to where he needs it most. I will keep hoping that he needs me to raise another baby. My heart is hurting because my arms are empty, but I must remember to be thankful for all that He has graced me with. I will soldier on because this is one fishing trip that I’m not ready to abandon.
Through all of this, I have not taken for granted all that God has graced me and my family with. I have a husband that is himself, a gift from the good Lord, 3 beautiful and healthy children, a roof over my head, and legs that, most of the time, carry me where I need to go. I am so grateful for every day that I am able to wake up to see and hear the beautiful birds (that like to dookey on everything) in the back yard. Nothing is overlooked, I swear…. But my heart longs to hear a tiny voice look into my Bear’s eyes and say, “Daddy”. That is when my life will be complete.
To all my sisters and brothers in the struggle, you aren’t alone and the scars that we have may or may not be obvious to those around us, but they are scars just the same. We understand the struggles and if it wasn’t worth the wait, no one would.
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