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Tales of an Infertility Survivor
A blog by Anonymous*
It’s been nearly three years since my last failed IVF cycle and I still don’t have a baby. You might think that sentence sounds kind of sad, I guess sometimes you would be right. But, oddly, you would also be wrong some of the time too, which is why I included the word ‘survivor’ in the title of my post.
My journey through infertility is not a pretty one. In fact, I think I have the kind of story that makes people whisper quietly behind my back and say things like, “Don’t worry that won’t be me.” The truth is, it most likely won’t be. Advances in reproductive technology are plentiful and I imagine that most people who undergo treatment are successful - but that success rate is not nearly close to 100%. It works for most people, but I am not one of those lucky ones. That last IVF cycle was IVF number 7, proceeded by 1 surgery, 1 second trimester pregnancy loss, 1 frozen transfer, and countless IUI treatments (seriously, I actually have to count them on my fingers to accurately keep track). Enough treatment for me to know that IVF and other forms of ART will not work for me, I am officially really, really infertile.
There are times I look back and see tons of causalities on my infertile battle field. Money gone. Relationships strained. Giant chunks of my life spent in waiting rooms of fertility clinics all over New York City. But, I guess the biggest loss of all was my marriage. Five years into my fertility struggle and six and a half into my marriage, that relationship crumbled. I used to think that my infertility caused my marriage to fail, but in retrospect it seems more that it magnified other problems that already existed and some relationships just don’t survive a perfect storm like that.
But, why I am telling you all these sad things if this is really about surviving. I guess I needed to give you some background is all. You see, I am what they would call one of the ‘worst of the worst’ and yet three years later I am still standing.
Three years after my last IVF cycle, I am in a new relationship. It is different and comforting and fits better on me somehow. It is interesting what happens when you enter into a relationship already knowing that you are infertile. Other kinds of family building options just become part of the fabric of your relationship really early on. I cannot tell you how healing that is for me.
I am presently nearly 39 years old. I never thought I would still not have a baby by this age, but I guess that is ok - most of the time at least. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes get sad or feel the ache of my empty, childless arms, because I do. But, there was a time that I lived and breathed that sadness - inhale... exhale… Every moment of every day it followed me. I couldn’t escape it and, frankly, I didn’t want to. Infertility was the biggest thing in my life and I unhappily let it take center stage. Now, it feels more like fleeting thoughts and moments mostly. It stings a little, but doesn’t linger around so long. In fact, there are even days I don’t even think about it. My former self would have never believed that was even a possibility.
I feel back to myself again. I smile more, I laugh louder, and just feel lighter overall than I did three years ago or even three years before that. And while I am not exactly the same as I was before - I’m more cynical, more jaded, less naive about the world in general - that is ok too. Infertility is part of my story now and what makes me… me. And while, there are certain experiences I could have lived without, I would not change the whole of it. That experience is just too meaningful, so instead I work on ways to incorporate it into my life’s story. Infertility is part of who I am now.
To those of you still in the trenches, I wish there was a way I could get you to believe that you will feel ok again, but I am not sure I have the words to do so and even if I did, I doubt you would believe me. But please hold on, breathe deeply, you will survive this, one way or another, I promise you, you will.
*Ed. Note: Anonymous asks to keep her identity private, for personal and professional reasons.