Did you know that it’s National Infertility Awareness Week? Perhaps you haven’t heard…because infertility is one of those things that most people don’t like to talk about. But for one week every April, women are encouraged to step out of the shadows and share their stories. So here I am, stepping out and sharing mine. Because infertility is all around us. It’s the woman who works in the cubicle next to you, it’s the man who stood behind you in the checkout line, it’s the friend who hides her secret and suffers in silence. And it’s me…I am infertility. Secondary infertility if you want to get technical. We easily had our first daughter then struggled for years to have another. Infertility does not discriminate. It knows no gender, it affects men and women alike…all childbearing ages, all ethnicities, all social classes. 1 in 8 couples will suffer from some form of infertility. Ours was unexplained, as it often is.
When we eventually got pregnant I waited until I was 7 months along to announce the news publicly. The following is the story I shared with our friends and family. Infertility is a heartbreaking journey, one that should not be kept silent or swept under the rug.
This is my story.
“I have a confession to make…I am 31 weeks pregnant. For a long time I’ve struggled with the idea of publicly sharing this information. This baby comes after a long battle with secondary infertility and every step of the way has felt like a major hurdle.
We had easily gotten pregnant the first time around and I mistakenly thought I was a ‘fertile murtile.’ So, we waited until we were good and ready to have another. And then we kept waiting…
For three years I struggled in silence, occasionally letting a few close friends in on my secret. Mostly keeping it to myself. Putting on a happy façade at every new pregnancy announcement. Avoiding Facebook so I wouldn’t have to see everyone else’s adorable babies. Sinking further into a sadness that is impossible to put to words.
For three years we tried to have another baby. I went to two Naturopathic Doctors, tried acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Two fertility clinics, three IUI’s and one round of IVF and here we are, 31 weeks. I thought that once we were pregnant I would be able to relax and enjoy it. Unfortunately that has not been the case. I’ve had an extremely rough pregnancy and more scares than I care to recount. So I didn’t let anyone know. Then it started to become obvious and people started to notice. Eventually we told our daughter that she was going to be a big sister. Something she’d been asking about for years. I kept telling myself that after the next hurdle I would announce it, then another month would pass and another. Now our due date is just 2 months away…
So in the spirit of transparency, I’m coming clean. We struggled with secondary infertility for a long time and while I was in the thick of it I was desperate for just one person to relate to, one friend who could empathize. Little did I know, I was surrounded by a handful of ladies who had walked down the same dark path. I just didn’t know it, because nobody was talking about it. So I’m coming clean. I have been through secondary infertility and I am not ashamed of it. I spent a small fortune on IVF and I don’t have to make any excuses for it. Being a mother is one of the greatest things that I have done with my life and my heart ached to share that with another child. If you are struggling with any form of infertility, I want you to know that you are not alone. I am quite aware of how incredibly fortunate I am to be on this side of the bridge, but I will never forget the path that led me there or what it took to cross it. If you ever need an ear to listen or shoulder to lean on, I am here for you.”
It’s been nearly three years since I wrote this and my eyes still swell with tears when I read it. It’s difficult to put myself back in that place of pain, loneliness and grief. But I know that it’s important to share my story because some of you may be walking a similar path and I want you to know that you are not alone in your struggle. So many of us have walked in those shoes before. Know that I am here for you if you ever need someone to listen. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.