Yesterday, I shared my story of my journey through infertility . What I failed to share yesterday, however, was the deep agonizing pain that I went through in that journey. I didn’t share about the endless nights when I would cry myself to sleep, or when I would wake up in the morning with tears covering my face from crying in my sleep. I didn’t share about the times when I would have to rush to the bathroom to be sick and then return to a room full of my friends and their young babies with a smile plastered to my face. Or the times when I would hear a song on the radio that triggered deep pain in me, and I would have to pull the car over to the side of the road just so I could scream.
I did share about buying a four-bedroom house after Kenny and I decided to take a break from trying to conceive. What I didn’t share was that I would stand in the spare bedrooms while they were still empty, fearful that I would never quite figure out a purpose for them. I also didn’t share about the time when we decided to buy our dog Abigail and how I sobbed hysterically the first time that I held her, retching in deep agony over the thought that she would be the only living thing I would ever take care of.
I also did not share that in November of this past year, twelve weeks into my most recent pregnancy, I suffered a miscarriage. Or how I cried out to God, desperate to understand why I was walking through such pain and grief again after so many years of it.
If you are on the agonizing journey of infertility, listen to me. Your feelings are valid. Whatever they may be, they are valid. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, betrayed, lost, numb, angry, fearful, or resentful, you are normal. Infertility can be a time of deep suffering. Here are some of the emotions that you may feel along your journey:
- Anger/Resentment: Your best friend is pregnant. The sixteen-year-old who works at the coffee shop is pregnant. Your sister is pregnant. Sometimes, it is too much and life seems just so dang unfair. I was extremely bitter that the one thing I wanted so desperately in life happened so easily for others.
- Loneliness/Isolation: As your friends begin to start families, you wonder where you fit in all of it. While your friends are all discussing the fact that their babies aren’t sleeping through the night or whether or not they will continue to breastfeed, you can’t help but notice that they are trying to avoid eye contact with you the whole time.
- Anxiety: You count every day in your monthly cycle, charting, temping, planning, stressing. You are anxious that you will never conceive. You worry over whether or not you and your husband will make it if you can’t have children. I was always a nervous wreck.
- Depression: You open your eyes some mornings and wonder what’s the point. You’ve lost your love for your job, you dread seeing your friends, and you just want to hide. Your relationships begin to suffer because you feel as though your sadness could never ever go away.
If you are currently experiencing infertility, or if you are going through emotional infertility (in which you may not have a medical problem, but you have not been able to conceive because you are single), there are several things that you can do to help cope with your feelings.
- Let the emotions out safely. Cry, scream, journal, or talk to someone. However, be careful about the way in which you approach this. I have found that it is best to fully express these emotions privately. It is very common for loved ones to feel a sense of blame for the pain a woman endures in her infertility. It is important for you to realize that it is nobody’s fault that you cannot conceive, and it is equally important for you to remember where to direct your emotions. If you are angry over the fact that you have to go to your best friend’s baby shower, remember that your anger is over your situation and not directed toward your friend.
- Discuss your pain openly with your spouse or a close friend. Tell them exactly what you are feeling. Let them know when you are having hard days or when you need someone to come cheer you up. Don’t try to be the strong or brave one who walks through this alone. We are not meant to live our lives in solitude, especially when we are enduring pain or hardship.
- Join a support group. It is so beneficial to discuss your questions, thoughts, and feelings with women who understand fully what you are experiencing. There are several online, but if you would like to attend one in Baton Rouge, Sarah’s Laughter offers support on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month (Contact: Beth Forbus [email protected], 225-678-1051)