Infertility and IVF are finally beginning to gain some attention in the media; as more and more celebrities own their stories of conceiving their families through IVF and/or surrogacy, The Today Show portraying a couple throughout the entire process of consultation, injections and pregnancy and the incredible story of Ashley and Tyson and their four miracles.
I am encouraged and proud that the veil of silenced shame is beginning to lift. Especially in the stories that tell more than the traditional stories of infertility. Like the story of just keeping trying, as if we all have endless resources, thank you Bobbie Thomas for breaking this silence. And, like the story of the only happy ending being with children, thank you Aisha Tyler for breaking this silence.
We must continue to break this silence. It is only through talking about our stories that we will be able to embrace it all. Through this embracing we will be able to practice our recovery no matter what our version of the happy ending is. This is how we own all the parts of our story. This is ever upward.
So here they are, the parts of our infertility stories that are often silenced and left out.
- It only works about 30 percent of the time.
It's expensive, very expensive. And most insurance policies do not cover it. It's painful; injections, vaginal ultrasounds with stimulated ovaries and swollen follicles, hot flashes, weight gain. It's a great way to make sex the least romantic and most planned out part of your relationship. Guys, get ready to go in a cup in a cold, sterile room all alone and possibly without any reading material and all the good sites blocked by hospital. A baby isn't the only way to find wholeness and happiness. You can meet some amazing women through the online or in person support groups, message boards and blogs. It ONLY works about 30 percent of the time. It doesn't always end with a baby. Sometimes it ends with two. There are couples it is never going to work for. It's painful; the Clomid crazy train and it's beyond up and down roller coaster mood swings. It's even okay to stop before you get the baby. It's healthy and healing to talk about it; to talk about all sides of it and all the possibilities and outcomes. You may feel the time crunch pressure to start the next round as "your eggs are dying by the second." The message of "just keep trying, it will work" feels invalidating, unrealistic, shaming and denying to many of our realities. You may have to make emotional and financial life altering decisions immediately after you just lost a dream (embryo, baby) and are actively grieving. You or your partner may discover you have a phobia to needles and are quite the fainter. You may never feel panic quite like the panic you feel when you realize that your last chance didn't work.* You will feel that breath stealing, throw up panic and sadness. And yet, it can also come with a sense of bittersweet freedom of at least knowing something and having an answer. Even though it was not the something we so wished and hoped for. You will wait, a lot. In waiting rooms for procedures, for appointments and consults, and therefore find the funniest and weirdest things on YouTube to help pass the time and lighten the suffocating pressure of the process. You will endure the wait of the tortuous and infamous two-week wait, probably several times. You will experience moments of unadulterated belly laughter. You will experience moments of sheer terror. You may have moments of gut wrenching breath stealing loss. And you will have moments of jubilant soul completion joy... You will eventually find and conceive your chosen family. Every family looks different, and yet, is complete just the same. Either way you'll need to choose change and recovery, and do the work to be okay. Because, it is worth it, baby or not. And, because you can find your own ever upward within the journey and in owning your story. In this journey we will find and grow more love, acceptance and understanding, more fertility compassion, for the many ways a family is made.
What would you add to the list?
*Thank you to Valerie for her addition of #24*
Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life available now here or Amazon in April!
Ever Upward is the hopeful story of what one woman did to change her life for the better after the heartbreaking, devastating and life-long losses of infertility. Ever Upward begins with Justine's incredible story of surviving life through two back surgeries, a year in a body cast and two rounds of IVF with a gestational surrogate. Justine guides the reader through the strategies she used to overcome the loss of her dream of motherhood and chose to thrive thereafter to ownership and acceptance of her childfree life. Ever Upward is more than a story about infertility, it is a story of recovery. It is our story, the story of life.