I spoke with a friend the other day who admitted to me that she and her husband were in the beginning stages of the struggle to start their family. I had long suspected this was the case, but it was the first time we spoke at length about the topic. I struggled to find the words to help or reassure. Honestly, it was hard to hear her words without letting the memories of our not-so-distant past come flooding back.
It was just over three years ago I found out I had a unicornuate uterus byway of laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis. It was just under three years ago we started the IVF process. And, it was shortly thereafter we were surprised with a pregnancy prior to beginning our first round of IVF. But, the memories, they seem like a lifetime ago.
Life after infertility looks different than I thought it would. I thought I would be immersed in the gratitude toward these little surprises after so many months of heartache. But the truth is, the gratitude comes in waves. Because, motherhood – it’s hard.
I have come to regard our long journey to parenthood as a gift. We were granted the opportunity to ask ourselves what we wanted out of our lives. We didn't go from marriage to parenthood because it was what we were supposed to do. When it didn't come easy, we asked ourselves if we would be ok with our lives if they looked different than what we had always imagined. We explored our feelings toward adoption and fertility treatments. Ultimately, we put in place how far we were willing to go to complete our family.
Today, when we don't sleep or when we hear "no" for the one thousandth time, we know that we chose this life – this family! And although the gratitude comes in waves, the waves are big and can be momentarily debilitating.
I wish I could gift the after to my friends who are currently swimming through the storm that is infertility. But, unfortunately, experience isn't something you can wrap-up with a bow. Instead I can gift them this... the dark moments will eventually give way to sunshine. With or without a little one, your life will end up looking different than what you expected – the sunshine might be a different hue than you knew existed – but I promise your journey will help you. And, the journey will be what gives you the strength for the hardest of days to come.