If I think of life like a story, I feel like Matt and I have been stuck in the same chapter of trying to grow our family for too long. Months. Years. We read the same sections, pages, and sentences over and over, unable to move forward in our story. Unable to turn the page and start the next chapter. We might inch forward with a new treatment, only then to remain stuck there while we give it “enough” tries. And when it ultimately fails, it feels like we’ve been sent back to the beginning of the section to start over with a new plan… Scratch out that paragraph and try this one instead. Let’s see if it goes somewhere else… We’ve tried so hard to turn the page and continue forward in our story, and it stubbornly remains unwilling to turn over, refusing to budge at all.
The one time we did move forward into the “pregnant” chapter, it was so short and had a tragic ending. Then we found ourselves in what’s probably going to be a lifelong “recovery and healing” chapter, and at the same time back in the familiar old “trying to conceive” chapter. I hated that chapter before, and I hate it now. It’s exhausting and miserable.
While we remain stuck in our “trying to conceive” chapter, most of the couples we know are swiftly moving right through theirs and into their early chapters of parenthood. We know couples who started trying to conceive way after us who already have their babies at home with them. We even know couples who have gotten married, conceived, and given birth to their child in the time we have been trying to build our family. We know couples who have given birth to more than one child (in singles, not multiples) in the time we have been trying. People tell me it’s not a race, and I know that… but when I’m getting lapped on the path to parenthood, I can’t help but to feel like a major loser who’s going nowhere.
We stand still, with our story stuck while the rest of the world moves forward in their stories around us. Sometimes it’s almost easy in our quiet home to forget how much time has passed, but when I see the changes in my loved ones’ families I am reminded that time is moving, children and families are growing, and Matt and I are stuck and alone.
I am trying not to let my infertility keep me stuck here forever. I’ve tried to move forward in other areas of my life — grow my business, explore areas of my creativity, volunteer, travel when we can… I’ve tried to explore some new chapters unrelated to parenthood. But it’s hard to get excited about moving forward anywhere else when the thing that’s most important to me hasn’t been attained yet. These things feel like side stories that give depth to the novel of our lives, but they are not advancing the main plot that I’m most interested in. Additionally it’s hard to even put focus on other things in my life because treating infertility is so physically, emotionally, and financially demanding. I’m stuck in treatment cycles and my schedule is dictated by appointments, medications, and managing side effects. Infertility takes over, despite my best efforts to contain it, and it limits my ability to participate in the other storylines in my life.
The story I most want to experience is being a mom. I’ve wanted to be a mom my whole life. Ask my kindergarten teacher — I went to school that year as a mom with my baby (doll) on “what do you want to be when you grow up day?” My whole life I have assumed I would be able to make that one dream come true. “You can be anything you want,” the world tells us. Unfortunately, that’s just not true for everyone. Conception is something that, for most of the population, requires no education, no money, no doctors, and nothing but getting busy with a partner; but for us, it has turned into an agonizing, multi-year, financial, physical, and emotional stressor filled with doctors and nurses, and way too many needles, exam tables, and tears.. And so far, it has left us empty and heartbroken.
I’m not usually one to skip to the end of the story and read the last page, but this is one story in which I’d love to get a glimpse of the ending. I’d love to know if it’s worth it to keep trying… Will we end up with children? Or are we just wasting time, money, and energy, and delaying the inevitable — having to accept our empty arms, empty home, and broken hearts?
Infertility has made me realize that my story might have a very different ending from what I expected… This part of our story has certainly not met expectations. I’d rate this chapter with zero out of five stars. It has sucked. And I have no idea where our story is going. But I do know that I don’t want to envision a different ending. I want the one I thought I’d have when I was five. I want to get into the chapter of being a mom with living children. I want my last chapter to be growing old with Matt and with our own family. I don’t want an alternate ending. That said, I know that the world isn’t fair and that we can’t always get what we want… I’m going to have to accept where my story goes whether I like it or not. I’m trying *so hard* to keep myself open to adjustments in my expectations, open to alternate endings, but that’s so much easier said than done. I’ve built up my expectations and dreams for my future since I was a very small child, and it has proven extremely difficult to envision something different.
We’re doing everything we can to guide our story in the direction we want, but this chapter we’re stuck in is horrible. I know that the only way out is through, so we keep on trying to move forward. Every month we read the revised paragraphs and then try to turn the page and start the next chapter. I know it will turn at some point, but I have know idea when and I don’t know what the next chapter will hold for us. All I really know is that this part of our story is miserable, and I’m so tired of being stuck here in this never-ending chapter of disappointment after disappointment. I hope we reach the end of this part soon. We are *so ready* to move forward.