April 20th marks the start of National Infertility Awareness Week.
Infertility is the place where you cry behind closed doors. You feel like that singular flame burning long and flickering in sadness, alone. It is a whisper that shouts. It is the pain that bleeds. It is a race that you are trying to run but you have metal plates in your shoes; slow, wide, winded steps. Each step takes years. Each year floats by like a drifting ship at sea; one with no destination. You wake up empty handed again and again. But you will not stop…ever. I know. I’ve been there. People who I love have been there. Yes they have.
That’s right. We are owning our journeys and we aren’t hiding behind any stigmas! As you now know, I am not fertile Myrtle. Well actually, I could get pregnant, I just couldn’t hold it. There was a time when I didn’t think I could have a baby. Infertility rang my bell and knocked at my door. Thankfully, I opened it and shut it quick. But, for a period of over 3 years, I questioned it often. One thing I learned through those years is that it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is nothing to look down upon. And there is nothing wrong with a little help.
Resolve to know more. This is the theme of 2014. Know your options. Be aware and do not be ashamed. I don’t want to sit here and talk about adoption, egg donors, and embryo donation. I honestly do not know a lot about it all. But, I am here to encourage you to seek the next step; to tell you that you aren’t alone and to tell a story of hope. After all, when I was going through it, I had people to lean on and people were able to lean on me in return. In the end, I was one of the lucky ones. But, I am well-aware that there are women out there who aren’t as lucky. I pray and hope for all of them.
When I was struggling, I worked with someone who was struggling as well. When I got pregnant, she was so supportive and happy for me, even as she was going through round after round of IVF. She started to give up having her own baby around the time I was due. She started collecting information on adoption, etc. It was a long struggle for her. (6 IUI’s, 3 Rounds of IVF, 1 miscarriage) I’ll never forget going back to work 3 weeks post-partum and sitting in her office begging her not to give up. It was honestly the only reason why I worked that day. I went there to convince her to give it one more try. “Please,” I said, “I just know that you will get your baby. One more round. I will do anything to help” (It must have been the hormones talking for me to be so bold). Our boss, who happens to be her husband, let me skip my session the next hour so I could sit with her a little longer. I convinced her to try again, to have hope. She did. Her limits were stretched but she stretched them longer. Her ship was drifting but she saw the lighthouse in the distance. She.Tried.Again. She.Got.Her.Wish. She.Never.Gave.Up!
Her twins are 3 years old.
Our struggles united our souls. Only a few times in life will you meet someone who speaks to your soul. She does. Meet Daryl Martin. She is not ashamed to say who she is. She is proud of her journey. She is proud of her struggles and she is proud of her persistence.
I asked her, “What helped you through it? What would you say to someone struggling?”She responded, “There’s nothing I can say. It’s just so hard!!! Nothing made me feel better except you. Because you knew. My advice then is to find someone who can hold your hand, hug you, listen to you and can say, ‘I know.”
She went on to say, “The only other thing that kept me going to get what I wanted was thinking to let my dreams be bigger than my fears.”
She finished by stating, “Infertility tests the limits of yourself and all the relationships you’re in.”
It does. It hurts. It is all-encompassing. But, but, but…
Your destination becomes clear. And for everyone, that destination is different. Maybe it is IUI, IVF, adoption, or surrogacy. Maybe it is finally making a decision to be happy no matter what happens. Perhaps it is deciding that you cannot do another thing/round/try. Or maybe, like Daryl, it is giving yourself one more try. Or possibly like another fellow struggler Michelle Landsberger, it is never giving up. She says, “You have to find the strength to never let your dream die.”
Your heart will tell you. It will never lead you astray. Trust it.
But, whatever it is and wherever you are going, there will be a moment when everything finally clicks together. The stars align. The light gets brighter. The weights are out and you can run fast. Home is on the horizon. You will end up where you were meant to be.
Best of luck to everyone out there who is struggling. Remember you are not alone.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson
~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies