I can’t believe it’s been two and a half years since I was officially diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve. 30 months of living with it. When I think back to that time in October of 2013, sometimes I just laugh and miss how innocent I was. Like I said in my last post, I didn’t know anything about infertility. I was like the people who drive me crazy today – optimistic, ignorant, diminishing, naive. National Infertility Awareness Week is an awesome platform because in this community that is exactly what we are missing the most – Awareness.
I can go on Social Media and find out what people are eating for breakfast, or what products they use to clean their bathrooms, or what deodorant they are currently sampling (true story.). We are living in a society that overshares, I get it. Heck, obviously I even participate in it (sans deodorant stories). However, when it comes to infertility, I have come to realize it makes some people very uncomfortable. It’s still some sort of taboo to talk about, and it’s absurd. Maybe it’s because people feel badly and don’t know what to say. Maybe it’s because they have popped out four kids in as many years and this is a problem that never even crossed their minds. But maybe they are just like I was – blissfully ignorant. I think my false sense of security stemmed from seeing so many older people having children and all the success stories I heard. I never gave it a second thought that maybe these women getting pregnant at 47 were using donor eggs, or maybe they had frozen their eggs 10 years ago and were finally experiencing a successful transfer. Maybe they had spent thousands of dollars and suffered terrible losses. We don’t see that side of things. We only see the successes. And the blissful ignorance for me came from not yet knowing that behind all those amazing successes were many, many heartbreaking failures. This is the reality we don’t see. This is where we really have the need for awareness. Not pity, not false optimism. Just awareness. From there, maybe some acknowledgement and empathy could emerge.
I know we all have a list for how our lives changed in not so positive ways since infertility. I dedicated an entire post last week on how it turned me into a raging one upping pity monster. On some days, I am still that person and I think that’s perfectly allowed! But today I think I just want to make a brief list of ways infertility has unexpectedly benefited my life. I would like to think I would have been evolved enough to learn these lessons in a less cruel way, but that is out of my control. Anyway, here it is:
- I learned about my infertility in a very random way. I hadn’t even been trying to conceive at that point. I take this as a positive because if I hadn’t found out my diagnosis when I did, when I finally did learn about it two, three years later it would have been after trying (and failing) to conceive naturally and far too late to even have a chance at a biological child. As it is, I have one chance, my little frozen embryo.
- Selfish moments notwithstanding, infertility has made me more compassionate and understanding. It’s made me realize that outwardly a person may look like a million bucks, but no one really knows what is going on in that person’s body, heart, and mind. On the contrary, I’ve found often it’s the people that complain the least that have the most to deal with. We are all fighting our own battles.
- Infertility is such a shit show. Life in general is just so tough. So now, when a moment is good, I try to embrace it and enjoy it. It may not last very long, and it will most certainly change. This is something I struggle with, but I’m working on it.
- I’m mindful. I really try to be self aware and feel whatever I’m feeling, be it good or bad. Sometimes, this had lead to facing some harsh realizations about myself, and others. Sometimes I don’t really know what to do with my feeling or emotions, or I feel ashamed of them. But at least I acknowledge them. That’s a step.
- I’ve become a lot more interested in physical fitness and wellness in general. A recent hobby of mine is “rehabbing” recipes. Instead of just baking cookies I will look for a “healthy” cookie recipe that doesn’t require butter and sugar, or instead of eating pasta I will substitute zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. It’s actually been fun and believe it or not some of my rehabbed recipes are even easier to make than the originals and taste fabulous!
- Probably the best thing that has come out of my infertility diagnosis and the one thing I would never give up is my unbelievably strong bond with M. Since being diagnosed up to now, M and I have officially moved in together, gotten engaged, and are getting married in June. Infertility pretty much took over our lives, but through it all he has been a source of strength, positivity, and light around me. I think about previous relationships I had and what would happen if I had to endure infertility with those partners, and very flatly it wouldn’t have worked out. In the past, my relationships were very adversarial; we always seemed to be on opposing sides for some reason. With M, I truly feel we are a team. We love each other, we respect each other and we are each other’s biggest fan. Our relationship has changed, but it is just as strong as ever.
So yeah. I’m one in eight. This is what infertility looks like. It’s not always pretty, it’s not always good. It’s not for the weak. To all my infertility sisters, all I can say is that you are all bad asses! You are all strong, beautiful women in all your messy, angry, heartbreaking, happy, caring, selfish, INSPIRING glory. I am proud to stand with you. I am proud to fight with you and for you. You all rock!