Surviving through infertility changes us forever.
Choosing to thrive thereafter simply means we figure out how to live the rest of our lives with our forever scarred soul, and yet do the work of healing every day.
A couple of weeks ago I participated in a faith testimony at my church. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We each walked out on stage, in front of thousands, holding a piece of cardboard; one side stating our struggle and then flipping to the other side of how our faith has changed us.
My faith has been a significant part of my healing from infertility. Three years ago, I would have literally told you to fuck off had you told me that. There is not much like being a mental health therapist, who hears terrible things in my office every day, who struggled with infertility without the desired outcome, to make one really angry with God.
But here I am, attending services every single weekend, serving once a month and looking to start a faith-based infertility support group.
Here I am choosing to heal and making my faith a part of that.
As an advocate for infertility, I also knew I had to take part in the faith testimony. That is until, they wanted me to walk out on stage with the words "at peace" on my piece of cardboard.
Not a chance.
At peace, will never describe my lifelong recovery from infertility. And, I felt like I would abandon every single person in that congregation who was struggling or had struggled with the infertility journey.
Sure I have moments of peace. But part of my forever healing is living in the constant tension of accepting what is, practicing that active acceptance, balanced with the forever longing that I want to be a mother.
You can argue that we chose to stop treatments, that we are choosing to not adopt and that this means my longing has melted away with this acceptance. But our choice to not give up on ourselves, to know when enough was enough and to let go of a dream that was not meant to be ours was a choice between two not so great choices.
I am not sure any survivor of the battle with infertility would ever use the words "at peace" to describe their journey, their healing or their recovery.
I have two people in my life, who through a lot of work chose to also not give up on themselves. They decided to stop treatments and figure out what life could be for them living a childfree not by choice life.
And then they got pregnant. They will forever live in the tension of getting the happy ending balanced with the sense that they had finally let go of that dream balanced with the sense of whether or not to try for more.
This is the complicated gray of the joy of motherhood after being forever changed by the infertility journey.
I have people in my life who are struggling with secondary infertility. Who never had to think of ovulation kits or treatments for their first but now have had to go to all lengths to add to their family.
They feel so grateful for their child or children, but have always dreamed of having more. They will forever live in the tension of being grateful for what they have balanced with the guilt of wanting more balanced with the anger that it is just not fair.
This is the complicated gray of the joy of being a mother after being forever changed that they may be a mother to only one and not many.
I have many in my life who infertility treatments worked for. They got the 'successful', paid for and happy ending.
And yet, even they will have to figure out life with these lifelong scars that their family was not built in the easiest or normal way. They will feel grateful balanced with anger that it took what did to get their family balanced with the fears and worries that infertility settles into your soul and mind forever.
This is the complicated gray of becoming a mother through the soul crushing war of infertility.
And then there is me. I've defined my happy ending, I live as a childfull parent.
And, I am happy, honestly happier than I have ever been.
But, I am not sure I will ever be able to use the words "at peace" when it comes to my life without children. Infertility simply steals this from us. It changes everything, forever. The only way to have those moments of peace, the moments of clarity and truth that we are okay is through shifting our perspective and doing the work. The work of breaking the silence, sharing our story and finding the new version of who we are and who we want to be with these forever scars.
Simply, the work of choosing to rise ever upward.