Fighting infertility: Blessings in the struggle

There’s not a lot I’ve been able to do this past week. I’ve been dozing in and out most days, at the whim of painkillers, heat packs, and Netflix. All three of those *equally* a Godsend. But between naps and monitored walks around my apartment I’ve had lots of time to think about everything that brought me here. And I mean everything. I wanted to write a blog about perseverance or faith. Something inspiring that would reach out to all those women–and even men–who have faced infertility and who needs someone to write them a love letter of encouragement. I’ve been wanting to write something beautiful that would detail my journey thus far and how I made it here at least. But the words wouldn’t come. They won’t come because that isn’t altogether the true story.

I wrote this blog post here one year ago. You’ll notice it reads “Part 1” and weeks and months went by and there was never a part two. It stopped right there at the exam table and I left all of you there with me in that too-white exam room, holding your breath as I froze in time and never got my shoes on to face the reality.

cliff

I left everyone at the diagnosis of endometriosis and failed to tell the story that unfolded even when I was too rigid–too uptight–to write it down. You see, I’ve read a lot about infertility. But I’ve yet to read the bold truth of it all–the ugly, gray, horrible day to day of dealing with it. Feeling it. Dreading it. Even when no one else does.

It took this last surgery to wake me up and remind me that people need to know that side of it all so all of us–all of us who face the trials of temporary or permanent infertility–can somehow latch hands and understand what’s within the circle that only we see. I’m reminded that people won’t survive simply reading about enduring to the end, sucking in the tears with faith, or looking ahead with hope. You survive when someone bleeds with you and shows you you’re not alone. You survive when you face the ugliness and you share the night, regardless of how vulnerable or naked you become. Your eyes must adjust to the darkness before you can take a step forward and find the light.

stars

My diagnosis, like I said, was a year ago. But I had secretly known something was wrong for longer than that. My last blog about it explains it better. But the diagnosis was the point where “trying for a baby” became a nightmare. It’s the kind of thing we don’t talk about when we say to others with a smile, “We’ve been trying to start a family. We’re excited for when that day comes”. My husband and I rehearsed our lines. We prepared for gatherings. We knew what to say in almost every situation and how to not cry when someone with good intentions would pry. We had the script for being out in the world.

But at home–when no one is around to see–there is no script.

When you’re a woman struggling with infertility, you can never brace yourself enough for the blood that comes each month. The blood that reminds you–again–that there is something wrong. That once again, there’s no baby.

negative test

There’s no rehearsed lines when the pain is so bad that you find yourself in the hospital for a fourth time tied up to IV’s and answering “No, it’s just my endometriosis” when a nurse asks you if you might be pregnant.
And no one ever tells you about the fights–the terrible, deadly fights that break out between you and your spouse when the heartache becomes too much and the weight of it all decays passion or even friendship.

You rarely read about those things. That’s because it makes us humans uncomfortable, even if we’re honest with ourselves and realize that yes, we understand because we’ve been there too.

But lying here today–I’m surprised I haven’t drifted off quite yet–I want you to know the most important part of it all. And that is that it’s a gift.

Strange, I know. And probably not something you’d expect after I threw the curtain off of the journey and exposed the ugliness. But it’s something that this past year of struggling has taught me. I’ve been prodded with needles more times than I can count and I’ve spent paychecks on tests and consultations, hospital stays, and at last–this surgery. And all along I was hiding the misery of it all thinking it was misfortune. That for some random reason OUR lives were the ones chosen to deal with something bigger than our understanding. I was selfish in my thinking, I realize, but that’s how it feels at the time.

But my life–your life–is just as great a gift as the life of one who struggles differently. The gift of struggle has allowed me to never take a single breath for granted. It’s allowed me to feel the unparalleled joy and renewed optimism of hearing my masked surgeon FINALLY say four days ago, “We’ve got it all, Kayla. There’s nothing stopping you from having children now that I can see.”

20141009_111708

The gift of struggle has chiseled my arms, my body, my mind, my heart–into a mother that I will be in due time. Just as the gift of struggle has formed athletes, writers, farmers, doctors, and people who refuse to quit along the way. The journey is never glamorous. It’s not Hollywood. It’s not anything easy to tell. But it’s a gift all the same.

It doesn’t become anything until we tell it like it is to help others who walk the same path and who wonder if anyone else out there gets it. Infertility, I’m here to say, hurts so much deeper than the wounds it took to heal me of it. It corrodes marriages and jobs and the fragile minds of those who feel broken. It blinds us of our faith and tells us that we’ll never be normal. It makes us cold and sometimes it stops us in our tracks. And for those who will never be healed from it, it can altogether steal life from you if you don’t adjust your eyes to the dark and keep walking anyway.

xavier and me

I’m only 24. I’m only going on three years of hearing the word no and seeing the negative tests on the counter. But I stand with those who have had to adjust to the dark. The journey is not just about feeling the hope and the faith and the inspiring messages of courage. It’s about feeling the anger, the frustrations, the inadequacy and marching forward anyway without any source of light. That is the true gift. That’s what makes us human.

That is what will make us mothers. Mothers of our own children–or mothers of those who find themselves in the dark beside us.

And I’m here to remind you that both are needed.

 

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21 thoughts on “Fighting infertility: Blessings in the struggle

  1. We went through 3 years of this infertility mess, it was awful. Heartbreaking. I watched friends get pregnant with their first and their second babies all while we tried and had a miscarriage. I now have a 7 month old baby boy who is absolutely perfect, miracles happen every day especially in the infertility world. I agree that everything you’ve been through will make you a BETTER mother and person! You will be more compassionate to others and know exactly the things to say to be there for a friend in need. Hugs to you sweet girl, I pray your prayers to be a mother will be answered soon!

  2. Kayla, I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through this struggle, but I’m also so glad that you’ve been able to see through the trial to the blessings that it can bring. I hope that you get to become a mama soon! You’ll be an amazing mom to any children who come into your life!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this blog post. I have been struggling with infertility for the past 3 years, and it’s been a rough one. I know exactly what you mean about rehearsing lines as shield from well-meaning acquaintances. I really needed to read this. Thank you for being brave, and taking about the pain, and the trials. It means a lot.

  4. Once again, Kayla, you’ve nailed it. Thanks for sharing your feelings. I know it will help others to know that they’re not alone in this struggle. And it can be applied to any struggle we face.

  5. Thank you for writing your story. I too am someone who suffers from endometriosis and most people have no idea. I was lucky enough to have one daughter when I was 21, and she is wonderful. My husband and I tried for 4 years to give her a sibling. She still has a constant ache being an only child, seeing the other children at school and church who have huge families, shying away when given lessons on being kind to brothers and sisters and quietly responding “But I’m an only child.” My doctor has said that he could remove it with surgery but it would give a small window of an opportunity to have another child and it would most likely come back. Now that my daughter is nearly ten and thinking of the time, money, and possible failure it seems like it’s not something we can go through. We are looking into fostering or adopting and are exciting to be able to see that as a possibility to have another family member. But the years of judgments from people wondering why we only have one child, or asking us when we are having more is too much to bare sometimes. And in addition to the emotional pain of no more children comes the physical pain as well. I mostly manage mine with birth control pills but every now and then a sharp pain comes to me and I can do nothing but suck it up and deal with it. And I’m a teacher of elementary and high school so sometimes hiding the pain is extremely hard, but I deal. And no one knows it. It is comforting to know that other women go through this too and I hope with every ounce of sincerity I have that you can have a little one soon. Your wait and pain will all be worth it.

  6. Such an eloquent description of the ways we all must face loss or potential loss and how that affects our faith and relationships. Though i am not in that circle, my loss in another circle helps me to bleed with you. Who knew life would be THIS hard?!

  7. Kayla, once again, all I can say is, I just love you.
    I’ve had plenty of trials in my life, and looking back on the ones I’ve survived, I’m grateful because it helps me relate to others of God’s precious children.
    Having said this, I’ve never struggled with infertility. I feel almost guilty because I know I can’t relate- even though I am still no stranger to pain, I can’t feel the pain you’re feeling, and that kills me. I know someone who is permanently infertile because of endometriosis, and I want to reach out to her and tell her she isn’t alone, but I don’t have a right to because I haven’t felt it.
    I guess that’s why people like you are in the world– to reach out where people like me can’t– and may the Lord bless you for it.
    Here’s to praying for you! 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I have been trying for a year and I have just now opened up about it on my blog and find so much comfort in words from those who to some extent understand. It is unimaginable. The guilt, the eagerness, the sheer heartbreak. But, you are right. It is a blessing because it has made me who I am today. It has showed me that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. And it has showed me that though we all struggle differently, we all struggle, and that’s okay. I will be praying for you!

  9. I understand. Our journey to parenthood took 7 years of battling infertility. I’m am blessed to say that I have an amazing 7 year old daughter. She is without a doubt worth the wait. I could write a novel on those 7 years. Throughout the ride, I questioned it all..why was God not giving us a child and so on..and on.. I will say that now I feel like my husband and I know that children are a gift and are true miracles. Sometimes, it’s a hard task to just be patient and wait on God’s timing. But, God’s timing is the best. And, I’m even more thankful than I could ever imagine. I will keep you in my prayers.

  10. After my parents desperately tried to have children for 10 years, they applied for adoption. I’m so blessed and lucky to call my Mum and Dad my parents, and they are so lucky to have adopted two baby girls. I think this week was actually ‘adoption week’ which is a little concerning because I have not heard a single word about it, and if it werent for adoption, who knows where I’d be today.
    Such a heartfelt article. Thank you for sharing your struggles and journey with us all.
    Milly xx

  11. Wow! This hits home for me. I have suffered from Endometriosis and PCOS for 20 years, 15 of which were undiagnosed. For my husband and I, so much of the past decade has been spent battling infertility. I understand the full range of emotions and just how heart-wrenching it can be. I still haven’t found it in my heart to move past the hurt but I’m trying to come to terms with it because I am 37 now and my hubby is 44 so our time is almost up. That fact is bringing about many new feelings and perhaps a new stage of grief for the loss of what we never had. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post.

  12. Although I don’t have endo, so much of what you said resonated with me, particularly how much you come to resent your monthly period and how broken you feel, even though our diagnosis couldn’t technically find anything to explain our condition. But I’m so happy you were able to get diagnosed and did what you could to fix it at your age rather than waiting until you were 30 like me. If I’d had endo, 30 might have been too late for me. The comments people make such as “just wait, relax, and it will happen in the Lord’s time,” though well intended, often do more harm than good because they convince many couples to simply “keep trying” rather than getting professional help for their condition. If people wait too long when they would require serious operations in order to conceive, at best someone like me loses out on using assistant reproductive techniques during my 20’s when I was most fertile, and at worst someone like a dear friend of mine with severe endometriosis has so much damage occur to her body that it becomes too great to fix and would require a complete hysterectomy to take away her pain. I’m so glad you were able to get in to a clinic quickly and thrilled that the surgery was a success. Good luck! And yes, when that baby finally comes, all the pain you’ve suffered will feel like a small moment compared with the joy they’ll bring.

  13. Wow, you expressed this perfectly! My thoughts and prayers are with you for a speedy recovery and success sooner rather than later! I’ve suffered from endo for 12 years with 5 lap surgeries, YOU can do this! I soo believe in you! (Hi 🙂 new follower here)

  14. “You survive when someone bleeds with you and shows you you’re not alone.” I love that!!!!! That is why Jesus not only suffered our sins He also bore our pains. He is the ONLY person that knows exactly what our pain feels like. Each person’s experience is so different and unique. I had one child at 19 then fixed my life and got married at 21 to an AMAZING man who adopted my daughter and we had to try for 7 years to get pregnant. Long story short I understand the pain and jealousy of seeing woman get pregnant so easy BUT with my second child when she cried in the night I did not complain. I was SOOOO grateful that she was alive and well, and I remembered how much I wanted her and all the other wonderful women that want a baby so bad so I could not complain. This will make you a better mother it helped me. God is truly a God of miracles and He knows when is best for each of us. I would NOT want to hear that when I wanted a baby but now that I am out of that painful world I can see His ways a little better. I know it made me a better kinder person. I have an idea of how your heart aches and the jealously of seeing pregnant woman but I do not know your pain exactly only Christ knows. I am so grateful to know this truth because without Him I think I would not of made it through the pain.

    I do not know you but my thoughts and love are with you as you go through this. I hope your blog will soon be full of belly photos and baby first, then I can rejoice with you!

  15. Pingback: Marriage took everything out of me | all our lemmony things

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this. It hits so close to home. People don’t understand the stress that it does put on your marriage as much as you try to avoid it, it happens. Infertility is the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life so far and I do not wish it on my worse enemy. My husband and I have been going through it for 4 years now. But to know that I’m not the only one who knows the heartache, the anger, and not only the emotional but the physical stress our bodies go through, it helps. Why us? Why do we have to be the ones to go through this!? It drains everything out of you and makes you a different person. It hurts so bad each time I find out a friend is pregnant. I try hard to be happy for them but inside I’m angry. And on top of all that, I myself am an ultrasound technologist and have to deal with seeing pregnancies that’s not even wanted all the time. Until you have to face the journey of infertility you will never understand. I know that God has a plan for making us wait and with time we will all be better mothers through all this.

    Here’s a few versus that have helped me get through. I hope they help any who are facing infertility.

    The pain that your feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming – Romans 8:18

    Jesus replied. You don’t understand what I’m doing but someday you will. – John 13.7

    When I wait you strengthen my heart. – psalms 27:16

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