I felt my stomach turn and my chest tighten a bit.
Reading the headline, "It Happened to Me: I Was Infertile for 7 Years and Now I Have 3 Kids Under 3," I squirmed with frustration.
I assumed this was another keep trying it will work message. Another, don't stop it will happen message.
Then, I clicked and read Denise Huze's incredibly heartfelt story. A story she told with courage as she shared her difficulties with infertility. And, a story she told with honest vulnerability (and humor) of the amazing, and yet difficult, blessing of having three children under 3.
I was both relieved and left unsettled.
My story: IVF with a gestational surrogate to only fail, three never-to-be babies and the fight to not only survive, but thrive thereafter.
I know many will never understand my story. And yet, it is my story, my light to shine into the world.
To stop infertility treatments before getting the intended, much wanted and overpaid-for result of a healthy baby is foreign to many.
To have the courage to say that adoption isn't right for my family is down right reprehensible to many.
These are the choices we have made after defining what our enough and everything is for my family. These are the choices we have made when we felt like there were no other choices before us. These are the choices of us finding and moving ever upward.
I will be judged. I will be scorned. I will be misunderstood.
And yet, I will be brave and I will speak.
We must give ourselves permission to make our own family, however that may look. And, as a society we must all have more fertility compassion for whatever those means are.
Because, the truth is that sometimes fertility treatments don't work. The truth is that many of us lose before we find our version of our family. The truth is that most struggle. The truth is we all must determine what our happy ending is.
My truth is in telling my story to heal myself through it. My truth is trusting that the connection to my story is the connection back to myself, to embrace all of it. My truth is fighting for and practicing recovery. And, my truth is in owning all the parts of my story, even the scary parts that will make you uncomfortable.
Because in my truth, I find my permission to no longer live in shame but in the light. And, maybe, just maybe, someone else will be able to give themselves this same permission.
As my truth, is our truth.
Defining my motherhood means embracing my child-free, yet childfull, life. It means parenting my never to be babies in a way that doesn't feel fair on this side of eternity. It means being actively engaged in the lives of the children I love. It means being an authentic therapist and helping my clients in ways that I may not have been able to before.
My motherhood looks different, but I know I became a mother the day I dreamed of becoming a mother.
So, not unlike any other mother.
An ever upward mother.
Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life 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.
Ever Upward the book available for purchase now!