Infertility is constant disappointment… to the point where you’d think I’d have so much practice being disappointed that it wouldn’t hurt anymore, but it does. As it turns out, no amount of practice makes a failed treatment easier to accept; no amount of living with infertility makes the disappointment of being infertile easier to live with; no amount of time passing makes it okay that I lost a pregnancy or that I don’t have children.

My infertility is repeated disappointment. It’s the disappointment every day that we don’t have a child yet; it’s the disappointment every month when I fail to become pregnant; it’s the disappointment every year when we make the same goal as the last year: have a baby. We’ve been trying to conceive for nearly three years now, and in that time I have been disappointed month after month after month; over and over. I have tried unsuccessfully for years to achieve one, seemingly simple goal.

My infertility is the disappointment and heartache of losing a pregnancy. It’s the overwhelming disappointment of not being able to carry my pregnancy to term, to meet my child, and to watch her grow up. It’s the disappointment of having the innocence and miracle of pregnancy taken away from me with the awful diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy.

My infertility is disappointment in never having a satisfying explanation for our infertility. There are some suspicions about what might be causing us to be infertile, but overall there are no good answers for what is happening. We’ve endured all kinds of testing and tried all kinds of treatments, yet we still don’t know. An explanation certainly doesn’t make infertility okay, but not knowing what is causing our infertility is very frustrating and disappointing.

My infertility is disappointment in natural conception and multiple treatments. I have been let down by natural conception, by ovulation medications, by intrauterine insemination (IUI), by in-vitro fertilization (IVF). I’ve nearly collected them all at this point, and I can say that the disappointment never gets easier… if anything, as the stakes get higher with each treatment, the disappointment, disillusionment, and despair grow more and more.

Our disappointing, unsuccessful transfer after IVF has been very painful. I hear in my mind all the “you can always do IVF” comments I’ve heard in the past, and those words sting — they did then, and they do now. IVF is commonly thought to be a grand cure-all for infertility, and it’s just not. It provides some couples with a wonderful chance to have a baby, but it’s not a guarantee. Sometimes IVF is a disappointment too, just like everything else that’s been tried. And even though I knew going into IVF that it wasn’t a sure thing, it didn’t stop our failure from disappointing us and hurting immensely.

Remember my post on the roller coaster of infertility? I wrote about how I try to stay cautiously optimistic in an attempt to guard my heart a bit. It’s important for me to be optimistic and have hope for any particular treatment, but I also try to stay realistic in the event of another failure. This is a tough balance to maintain though… and even though I have tried to guard my heart, in the end I have been let down after every single treatment and each time I end up crushed and heartbroken. Infertility is disappointing, even when I try to prepare myself for it… there just seems to be no way to prevent it.

Infertility has also made me feel very disappointed in and betrayed by my body. For most of my life I’ve had a good relationship with my body… Aside from a ski injury that has screwed up my knee a bit, my body has been strong, dependable, and trustworthy. But infertility has disrupted this good relationship with my body… instead of doing what it is “supposed to” do, my body has disappointed me — it has failed me in making babies. It is terrible to feel like my own body is letting me down month after month. And it has been a work in progress to restore and maintain a good relationship with my body despite constant disappointment.

It has been, and continues to be, very heartbreaking and disappointing to realize that my hopes, dreams, and expectations regarding becoming a mother are so very, very different from my reality. Like most people, I think, I spent my whole life assuming I’d be able to conceive naturally, without delay, treatment, or expense — I never expected to struggle with infertility. So this whole experience of infertility is a giant disappointment on every level. From the let down each month to treatment failures and my body’s limitations, to our pregnancy loss and the the overall situation: infertility is constant disappointment.

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Infertility is…

It was hard to first admit to myself that we were experiencing infertility… By the time I did, we’d already found out I wasn’t ovulating on my own, and as a result I’d been through three cycles of clomid. Even though I had already started fertility treatments, I didn’t consider myself “infertile” because we hadn’t been trying for a whole year yet. Sure, my first diagnosis and those first few treatments were hard, but I told myself that we were just delayed, that everything was going to be fine because they had found a correctable problem.

But when those treatments failed and we hit our year mark of trying, it was time to admit that we were struggling with infertility. At that time we took a few months off treatments to give my body a rest and to give ourselves a break, and I started researching infertility — some things about treatments, of course, but mostly I researched coping with infertility. Because with infertility (at least for me!) there’s a lot more to consider than just the physical problems preventing a healthy pregnancy… Admitting to myself that I was experiencing infertility meant that I was struggling with not only my body and its inability to conceive, but also all of the ways infertility impacted my well being.

The technical description of infertility might only include the failure to conceive or carry a baby to term in a 12 month period, but “infertility” means so much more than that to me. The one line definition I find in the dictionary doesn’t cut it for me. Infertility has wreaked havoc all over my life, and as the months go by, my experience with infertility has packed more and more meaning into the word “infertility”. It has become so compounded in my mind, it means so many things, that I’ve decided to write a series of posts on what my infertility is, what it is like, and what it feels like for me. My posts will by no means be a complete list of what infertility is, nor will they be representative of all infertility experiences; rather, my posts will be about my own experience with infertility. I’m just hoping to shed some light on what my infertility is to help my loved ones understand and to help others who are experiencing infertility feel understood.

So if infertility is more than the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term, what is it? What is my infertility like?

Infertility is living with constant disappointment and uncertainty, in a surreal world where I constantly can’t believe what’s happening to me. It is having to face my own anger and jealousy, and feeling isolated. Infertility is waiting. It is grieving. It is trying to remain hopeful despite months and months of heartache and disappointment. Infertility is being brave enough to face my reality, one day at a time, and decide what to do with this unexpected and unwanted direction.

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