I’ve written about my experience with secondary infertility before. While I don’t think I painted a pretty picture of it, I certainly know that the ending to my story is NOT the one that many people have. Heck, it’s not the type of STORY that many people have, but it’s the truth.
You see, after two years of experiencing secondary infertility, I found out that I was pregnant, while vacationing in Australia, with Oprah Winfrey. It’s insane and it’s true; I was part of the audience she took there for 11 days and, halfway into the trip, I took a test, and wouldn’t ya know it? Pregnant.
Except I didn’t know it. Because after two years of trying to conceive, using all types of interventions, plus having a miscarriage that just about ripped my heart out, I was sure I was never going to get pregnant again. What’s worse, I had spent those two years so enveloped in my infertility struggle that I hadn’t been fully present in my already existing daughter’s life. I didn’t realize this then, but I see it now and I feel ashamed. I was so wrapped up in what I wanted that I didn’t appreciate what I had.
Infertility brought out the worst in me. In part because of the medications I tried for many months - but also because the whole experience tapped into some deep, dark place in me that I’m not sure I ever knew existed. It made me feel unworthy, unfeminine, and unlovable. I was angry and resentful a lot of the time - not only at myself and my body which I felt was failing me, but at other people I knew who had not or would not go through this monthly cycle of pain and loss I was feeling each time I wasn’t pregnant. I used to joke that because my older sister had 9 (yes, 9!) kids, that all the babies allotted to our family were used up and I was shit out of luck.
I laughed when I would say it, but there was part of me that meant it and that part of me hated her for it. I would constantly compare myself to her. Why was she “allowed” to have all those kids when I couldn’t even have two! And it wasn’t just my sister that would trigger that inner “ARE YOU KIDDING ME” voice deep in my gut. Every time someone I knew told me they were pregnant, I would smile on the outside and rage on the inside like a tantruming child screaming about how unfair life is.
That’s the thing though – life is unfair. Always has been and always will be. We humans tend to know that, so we talk about it, try to make sense of it, and bond over it. Except when you’re experiencing infertility, for some reason, you don’t talk about it. It took me over a year to tell anyone other than my doctor that I was struggling to have another child. I think I told approximately five people that I had a miscarriage. Why? Because I felt broken. I was embarrassed and I didn’t even know why. All I knew was that I couldn’t conceive again and I was sure that no one would understand. I was wrong.
Once I started talking about my struggles, a whole host of people opened up to me about theirs. Since writing my first article about secondary infertility, strangers have contacted me to share their stories, and what I constantly realize is that not only was I not alone in the struggle itself, but I wasn’t alone in my feelings about it either.
As women, I think it’s ingrained in us that so much of who we are is wrapped up in being able to have a baby, multiple babies, even NINE babies if we want to! So, if we can’t, we feel we are “less than.” I hate that, but it’s true and I don’t really know how to change that other than to tell anyone who is going through it that regardless of what your procreation situation ends up being, it has nothing to do with being unworthy, unlovable, or broken. I know that’s hard to believe when you’re in it, and I know that I say this as one of the lucky ones having come out the other side, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.
The bottom line: Infertility sucks. There’s no way around that truth... but it shouldn't be something we feel is a shameful little secret. We as women can share our struggles, support each other in our triumphs and losses -and not let the child-bearing status of our uteri define who we are. So, no matter what the ending of your fertility story is, don’t let it be your only story, and don’t stay silent.
Celia is one half of Lil' Mamas, the no holds-barred, judgement free, hilarious mom site where no topic is off limits. She writes and reviews #lilmamaapproved products, events and venues for the site. Follow on Facebook and Twitter for more!