You know what…struggling with infertility is depressing AF. I know that you know but I had to say it and I have to get this off my chest because it’s been weighing me down for too long. I’m not really sure how this post is going to go other than it’s an emotional outpouring of some seriously pent-up heartache.
It’s been 7 years since Brandon and I first started trying to have a baby and still, nothing. I work from home and I put off actually decorating my home office forever because I always thought, “What’s the point? I’m only going to have to move everything out when this room becomes a nursery.” Ha! If I’d only known I’d be sitting here today still childless, still aching.
We’ve seen doctors and our infertility is chalked up as “unexplained infertility” which really does nothing more than set me off in a mini-rage. When Brandon was sick during the early years of our marriage we were constantly told he had IBS or that he had an “unexplained abdominal intolerance”. We tried every diet imaginable and changed our entire lifestyle only to find out that he had been suffering from chronic appendicitis. Now, here we are facing a struggle with infertility only to have it be “unexplained” too. It hurts my trust in our medical system to know that we’ve faced two obstacles and both times doctors have shrugged and said, “I don’t know.”
Family and friends are kind and supportive the best they know how but unless you’ve gone through this struggle you can’t relate. I find myself feeling irrationally angry when someone says, “Just be patient. It’ll happen when the time is right” because it’s been seven freaking years! Please, don’t tell me to be patient when I’ve literally watched my body bleed out my hopes and dreams for a child 84+ times in a row. I think my patience has run thin. I also find myself choking down frustration when someone says, “It was a struggle for us too. It took us 6 months to conceive our first.” 6 months? I’m sure that sucked for you but forgive me if I don’t quite share your heartache. If it had taken us 6 months we’d have a first-grader right now which would be a dream come true. I know people mean well but 7 years into our struggle I’m often so blinded by my own depression that all I feel is rage and envy.
I’m sad and I’m tired. I’m so-damn-tired but I hate saying I’m tired because it’s inevitably met with responses claiming that I don’t know tired until I’ve dealt with a newborn that won’t sleep at night. It’s just one more thing that induces a rage I can’t even begin to explain. Please, don’t tell me that the exhaustion I feel due to my overwhelming depression and loss isn’t as bad as the exhaustion you feel because your baby keeps you up all night. I’d happily trade places with you and I doubt you’d say the same. I’m sure you’re tired. I’m sure we’re both tired. Just please stop comparing your exhaustion to mine and saying mine isn’t as bad.
I’ve reached a point where I hate staying at home because I can only focus on how quiet our home is without a child running around but I also hate going out because seeing parents with their children makes me start crying. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve started crying in public over seeing someone with their kid. Restaurants. Coffee shops. Shopping malls. Grocery stores. Pet stores. Doctor’s office. And oh God, don’t even get me started on the overwhelming waterworks that start when I’m sitting in the waiting room for my annual OBGYN appointment and I’m surrounded by pregnant women. It’s pure hell. It’s the worst kind of hell.
Since our infertility struggle is “unexplained” it feels like everyone tries to offer a solution as if they have the magic cure to our unidentified problem. I’ve heard it all…
- Eat more fish. Eat less fish. Eat only red meat. Go vegetarian. Eat more protein (of any kind) and cut out carbs.
- Take these magic vitamins or supplements because my sister/friend/cousin/neighbor/coworker did and she was pregnant the very next month!
- Essential oils! They cure everything.
- Meditate. If you’re less stressed you’ll get pregnant.
- You just need to lose weight. If you lost 10 – 15 pounds you wouldn’t have this problem.
- Start looking into adoption. Once you aren’t focused on getting pregnant, you’ll get pregnant!
- Stop drinking coffee or tea but drink at least 1 glass of red wine every single day.
and so on…
But honestly, there is no magic cure. Eating fish or rubbing essential oils on my stomach isn’t going to get me pregnant and it’s frustrating to feel like 7 years of struggling to conceive could have been avoided if only I’d have thought to eat salmon twice a week. Trust me…if it’s online, in a book, or in any kind of old wives tale about fertility, we’ve tried it.
It’s the depression that’s the worst and it’s triggered by every little thing. I received Christmas cards from family and friends that featured family photos on the front. I didn’t hang them up because they made me cry. I avoided most Christmas movies this year because they focus on families. A couple of days ago I was walking through our home and stepped on a dog toy. I started crying immediately angry that it was dog toys rather than baby toys that were making a mess of our living room. Hell, at this point I’d gladly walk over a pile of Legos every single day if it meant having a child in our lives.
Now, here we are at the start of the new year and while it’s supposed to be a time of hope and renewal I find myself wanting to crawl into bed and hide away from the world forever. I don’t know if I have it in me to hope for another year – to face month after month of hope and ultimate heartache. In years past I’ve embraced January as a new beginning full of encouragement to keep trying and make this year our year. This year I just don’t know that I can do it again. I don’t know that I can face 2018 with hope and dreams of becoming parents this year. I just…I can’t.
I am sure this post comes off as rage-filled, envious, and depressed but I don’t know how to let it out without those emotions bubbling up. I’m in a constant state of conflict because so many of my friends are parents or expecting new babies and I’m happy for them, genuinely. I want them to share their happiness with me and I love watching their little families grow. It means the world to me that I’m not excluded from sharing in their lives but I can’t help the envy that bubbles up and threatens to consume me from time to time.
Post-holidays is just always the worst time of year for me. All of my social media feeds are full of families celebrating holidays, little faces glowing over holiday magic, and family snow days during these weeks of winter. It’s hard. It’s just so hard. I’m doing my best but some days all I want to do is hide away from the world and pretend it doesn’t exist. I can’t and I won’t, but I want to.
I’m trying to live our word of the year – Cherish – and focus on the things and the people I do have in my life. I’m trying to count my blessings, be grateful for the community of people I do have, and open my heart to the love and support people try to share. I’m trying to control my envy and my anger, to accept love and encouragement when it’s offered, and to show love in return. It’s a struggle and it’s hard but I’m trying which I suppose is the best I can do.
It’s just so hard.