I wrote this open letter 2 years ago. In a moment of needed healing, I sat down to write and the words poured out of my heart. I had never written anything like this before and I remember crying after I had finished. An emotional release years in the making. This post won’t have the same Watered Daily format, lessons learned, or strategies going forward. It’s raw, real, and a moment in time. For those that struggle with fertility, know that you are not alone. For those that have never struggled, I hope that this letter will create space for empathy and understanding for those that do.
An open letter to those who struggle with fertility,
Having a baby and starting a family is a magical time. It’s the end game for some and what makes their life feel “complete”. But for many of us, it feels like the never ending story. The unattainable dream. The one thing we don’t have control over.
In general, I’m a very positive, happy person but I have to admit, while trying to get pregnant, I had to fake my that part of myself. The drugs made me depressed. My lack of pregnancy made me sad. Being on beck and call with the fertility doctors made me resentful. I remember one run around the neighborhood where I literally tried to sprint to break free of the depression that was holding me hostage and to release the weight of uncertainty.
I found the biggest issue when you struggle with fertility is dealing with loneliness. That loneliness stemmed from that struggle being something I was going through but didn’t feel comfortable sharing with everyone. Those I shared it with listened but many did not understand. That lack of understanding meant having to lie to maintain positive relationships in all areas of my life.
Starting a family:
Stranger: When are you going to start trying for kids? Me: Hopefully soon, we do want a family! [Insert fake smile here]
Truth: We’d been trying to 2 years with no success…dagger to the heart.
My heart was broken but I didn’t want to make the question asker feel bad. How would it have made them feel if I said, “We’ve actually been trying to 2 years with no success. It’s caused incredible pain in my life and tension at times with my husband. What is supposed to be such an exciting time has turned into something that is very difficult to deal with but thank you for asking.”
I continued to thrive in my career; raising funds to fight cancer, surpassing revenue goals, building relationships, and loving my job.
Truth: While all the above it true, I did this all while balancing fertility appointments, daily hormone shots, oral medications, hormone swings, the devastation of negative pregnancy tests, picking myself up and starting treatments again 1-5 days later. It seemed like a full-time job in itself. I didn’t want people to think I was weak and sadly, didn’t want my team to think their manager was giving up my career, or at the very least distracted, while trying to have a baby.
While I wanted a baby more than anything, I also wanted my career. I dove in deeper as a distraction. What was hard was processing how much I loved my job yet still juggling the depression caused by this other part of my life. You try to run away but that depression is an Olympic sprinter; always one step ahead ready to rain on your parade.
My friends have always been my go-to for support and I shared with them my struggle with fertility.
Truth: While I shared updates, at the same time, I didn’t want to show weakness. My internal pain. My doubt. Sharing part of my journey but not everything. I wasn’t one of those people who hated baby showers or couldn’t pick up prescriptions in the pediatric wing (I was told by my doctor this happens to some couples). I still loved babies and the joy they brought.
In fact, I wanted to be around kids hoping they would make by body kick into mommy gear. Some didn’t feel comfortable telling me they were pregnant and delayed telling me because they didn’t know how. Dagger again. That was the worst of all. It was unconscious pity. They felt bad for me and that hurt my pride. And then like that, I felt alone.
Of the two of us, he was the one who never gave up hope. Always supportive, thinking each time was the time.
Truth: I know he was right. We needed to be positive but it’s hard when each month you are smacked with a big negative. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. My mind trained me to be pessimistic. Not to get my hopes up. I’d say how this is the month while secretly terrified I wasn’t pregnant.
I took my husband’s advice and tried to stay positive hoping that this time was our time.
Truth: I wasn’t really sure. I did everything I could to make the universe believe it was our time. Every day I would talk to my “babies” telling them to latch on. I prayed to God and spoke to the angels I hoped were looking down on me. All the while, carrying the guilt that this was my fault. I’m the one with PCOS while my husband was perfectly healthy and waiting to make a baby. What did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening to us? My internal dialog was deafening and exhausting.
From someone who prides herself on being “real” I was putting a lot of “fake” stuff out there. I spent many lonely nights crying to myself and with my husband, before shaking it off, picking myself out of the emotional gutter, and starting all over again. Another month, another positive start. I’ve become a stronger woman through my struggle with fertility yet nobody knows it. It’s a personal battle. One that makes you reflect on every aspect of your life while still being singularly focused on starting a family.
What makes it tough is that everything in life seems reachable if you have a plan. I want to be a CEO and here’s the path to get there if I work hard. My dream is to buy a home and here’s the path to get there if I just follow this financial plan. I want to have a family…and here’s the…wait. You can’t. Well maybe you can. It’s unknown. We can try these things but nothing is guaranteed. So maybe you can have a family. MAYBE.
For someone who has always felt everything was attainable with a plan, a Type-A control freak, it rocks your world to realize you are not in control. It’s a journey that I just needed to strap on that seatbelt, thank the universe I had the best passenger (my incredible husband), and go for the ride.
And then just like that, we got pregnant. That magical moment we had been dreaming about for so long. And like that, I forgot about all the years trying. Like that, I became a mom of twins. We became parents. We made the family I had always wanted.
I can’t say that it will be that happy ending for everyone but I do want to say that I see you. Hear you. Understand you. I may not know you personally but know that you are not alone. You are strong. You are resilient. Your struggle with fertility is not all you are. It’s not a reflection of your past but may be a glimmer of your future. It’s a journey some of us courageously have to take. I feel for, and am rooting for, anyone that goes for the ride.
Some will end this journey with a family. Some will decide a family isn’t for them but will come up with a new fulfilling future. Whatever path you take, remember that you are not alone.