Lately the scarlet letter I has been weighing heavily on my chest. Infertility. That dark cloud hanging over my thoughts and emotions. That ticking clock in my chest reminding me of every unsuccessful month that goes by. The piece of my heart that remains empty and longing.
This month my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. It’s been three years since we got married outdoors on the hottest Ohio day of that summer. Three years since we carelessly danced surrounded by everyone we love. Three years since we vowed to love each other endlessly, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.
I never would have predicted that we would walk this path. When we were first married people asked us about having children and we would just smile. We agreed that we wanted to start our family right away. And after being married for 6 months, we had a secret. The best kind of secret. We were going to have a baby. We bought our first home with plans of a growing family. I started reading pregnancy books and we talked about possible names. We dreamed and planned our lives with this child.
But our plans disappeared when we lost our baby.
Now we had the worst kind of secret. Everyone around us was congratulating us on owning our first home, but my husband and I were mourning what could have been. We didn’t tell anyone. I was ashamed that my body couldn’t provide for our growing child. I blamed myself. I didn’t understand why it happened. I still don’t. I was completely heartbroken.
After celebrating our first wedding anniversary, many couples begin trying for a child. So we started trying again. But it didn’t happen. It still isn’t happening two years later. Instead of questions about children, we get looks of pity. We stand out among our married friends as “that couple.” That couple who’s having difficulties. That couple that can’t have children. That couple no one knows how to be around or what to say when the topic of children comes up.
Not only do I feel the heartbreak of losing a child, I also feel the ache for a child that may never arrive. I feel the isolating sting of being left behind. We are bystanders as we watch people around us move forward into the next phase of life that is parenthood. I am doing anything I can to be there too.
I’m learning that as much as I don’t know how to navigate this uncertain, challenging time in our lives, neither do the people around us. I’ve slowly started to open up more about our experiences. I’m just tired of feeling so alone.
Of course, fertility treatments come with a wide range of physical side effects. But that is nothing compared to the emotional roller coaster of infertility. There is a constant monologue in my mind that ranges from self pity to self empowerment to self deprecating. I feel absolutely insane most days!
But worst of all, I feel so much shame in not being able to conceive a child. What’s wrong with me? Why did I lose my child? What am I doing wrong? Why is it so easy for everyone around me? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?! It’s a unique pain of being diagnosed with unexplained infertility. There is no reason behind my nonstop wondering of why.
This is just a snapshot into our life right now. Of course, I have my amazing husband, our dog, our home, our careers, etc. But infertility is in the forefront right now. It’s consuming me. And I’m terrified. I want to leave this awful place but then I’m right back where we started. Incomplete and wishing for more. Left behind. Broken. I’m learning that the process of conceiving and being a parent is an amazing, wonderful privilege. Not a certainty.