5 Things Infertility Taught Me

Young woman standing by window
Young woman standing by window

When faced with infertility, you have two choices: You can dwell on the heartbreak, the unfairness, the frustration, the anger, or you can take what's happening to you and choose to learn from it. You can choose to grow into a better person than you were when your journey began.

Struggling with infertility for four years, I have learned that every day is a battle. Sure, a battle against a world where infertility is still taboo, but more importantly, a battle against yourself. A silent struggle to stay positive when every day you're reminded of what you don't have. But, instead of letting the anger and sadness consume me, I have chosen to focus on all that infertility has taught me-and how I am a better person because of it.

I have learned to look in the mirror and see someone with tenacity and courage instead of someone who is inadequate.

1. I am capable of so much more than I ever thought.

I don't know how many times over the past four years I have said, "I can't do this anymore."...and then, I do. The constant doctor's appointments, the financial stress of repeated IVF attempts, the gut-wrenching feeling I get every time I see a new pregnancy announcement or a diaper commercial on TV. There have been so many times I could have given up. So many times I could have said, "that's it, no more needles, no more medication, no more rearranging my whole life to get pregnant." Our journey to become parents isn't over yet, but I have learned to look in the mirror and see someone with tenacity and courage instead of someone who is inadequate. Infertility has taught me there's nothing I can't do.

2. Patience.

I used to not be able to go to bed with dirty dishes still in the sink. I used to get annoyed when someone would use the "express lane" at the grocery store with more than the mandated 14 items. I used to mutter, "come on" to myself when someone ahead of me didn't go the minute the light turned green. I have always lived my life according to a schedule and had no time to waste. I got married at 25. Strategically, we moved in with family to pay off student loans and save money for a down payment on our dream home. Everything was going according to plan -- just like my whole life before this had. When I didn't get pregnant right away, I didn't understand why. I had done everything the way I was supposed to. I have had to learn that life doesn't happen according to some predetermined plan we set up for ourselves at age 20. For the first time, I have had to learn that I have no control, and I have to be okay with it. Infertility has taught me to live spontaneously and cherish the day to day. There's no telling what will happen tomorrow.

3. I know no one's story.

Just like no one knows mine. We are so quick to judge in this world and infertility has taught me that there's always something more to the story. It has opened me up in a way that I never would have dreamed possible and has taught me to look deeper into those around me instead of being so quick to make unwarranted assumptions. We are all walking through this life carrying some sort of burden or heartache. How beautiful this world could be if only we could all recognize that.

For the first time, I have had to learn that I have no control, and I have to be okay with it.

4. The whole "TTC (Trying To Conceive) sisterhood" thing is real.

When we first opened up to people about our struggles with infertility, we were greeted by so much love and support I thought my heart would burst. There was still a part of me that felt like I wasn't understood, though. All of our friends and family had been able to conceive naturally and, try as they might, they would never be able to really understand the struggle and the turmoil of it all. After going public (Facebook, obviously), I had a few acquaintances reach out to me with their stories of infertility. We began talking more and sharing our journeys, and I have never had friendships grow so quickly. These are the people I could trust with my secrets without the fear of being judged-they knew me, because, in a sense, they were me. Then I started searching for infertility hashtags and the results were overwhelming. I would log on to Instagram daily just to follow the journeys of countless women I didn't even know...only, I did. After many of these women got pregnant, they would continue to post pictures of their pregnancies and babies to remind the rest of us that miracles happen just as you're ready to give up. I hope to be one of those women, someday.

5. I am thankful for what I do have.

The turbulence that is infertility can knock you down over and over again. It is so easy to hide away in shame, anger and fear and let your whole life pass you by. Just minutes after I found out our second round of IVF had failed, I came to learn that a very close friend from high school had passed after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He had just turned 30. As I sat there in the midst of sobs, writhing from our second IVF failure, I thought, "How selfish am I?". I'm here. I'm here waking up to my husband who's still sleeping peacefully next to me. What others wouldn't give to have what I have in this very moment. That's not to say I didn't allow myself to feel sorry; i's part of the process. But what it does mean is that I'm not allowed to give up on the rest of my day to day life because having a baby isn't happening according to plan. I have so much to be thankful for and I am going to live every day acting like it.