Every April we participate in National infertility Awareness Week. Up until about four years ago, I didn't know that such a thing existed. Oh how my life has changed since then!
As a young newly-wed attending BYU with my husband back in 2006, I heard stories from women around me about the sorrows and heartaches of infertility. I had a sister going through it to. I felt sorry and had empathy for these women, especially my sister, but I had no idea just how much infertility could change your life. How it could cause gut-wrenching heartache every time you see a pregnant mother or new born baby. I had no idea how isolating and lonely it could be. I thought I was one of the lucky ones that would escape that challenge. I was just trying to figure out how to be married and finish up my Art Ed degree.
Our son was born in 2008 and, even though our baby was not one of those babies who slept very much at all, I loved being a mother! I was overcome with an intense love for a little blonde-haired boy with a mind of his own. I loved nurturing that little soul and experienced a whole new side of life. A self-less, sometimes sleepless, but wonderful side of life. Since this baby came naturally, right when we wanted him and with no complications, I assumed that we'd end up with 3-4 more little ones in the years to come. I was ready for that adventure and I counted on it! This was the life I was meant for, surely.
After a few years of working though a back injury and migraines we decided we were finally ready for baby #2, but baby #2 did not come and my monthly pain increased- a lot. I saw doctors who told me that my pain was normal and that nothing was wrong. I tried to ignore it and hope for a pregnancy. Then one night I felt a sharp pelvic pain like I had never felt before. I almost checked myself into the emergency room because the pain was so intense. I found a doctor to see me that same day and low and behold, he found something. Cysts on my ovaries filled with blood- Endometriosis.
I tried to hope that the disease wasn't so bad, but test after test showed worse and worse results. The growths had taken over my reproductive organs and blocked everything. I understood why I wasn't getting pregnant and my heart felt like it was getting sent through the shredder with every appointment. At last I was told that my only options were In-vitro fertilization or surgery. We seriously looked into IVF but in the end, did not feel right about it. When I finally did have a surgery to remove the growths we discovered just how bad the disease was. It had spread to my diaphragm, my appendix, just about everywhere. The surgery was brutal but it gave us hope of conceiving again.
We were given a six-month pregnancy trial period. During that time the pain returned and nothing changed. At the end of the trial, I knew in my gut what had to be done to get me healthy again, but I desperately wanted more children. Choosing to have a hysterectomy at age 31 was the hardest decision of my life. I thought the sorrow of losing my children would crush my very soul. I couldn't see how I could bear it. After some time and help from family, friends, and the most patient husband in the world, I began to grieve and eventually heal from that loss. I leaned on my faith and Eric. It was the hardest thing we have ever been through.
I don't think that sorrow from that loss will ever completely leave even though we've found ways to be happy again. It comes and goes. It gets triggered at random times. The grief will always be a part of us. It's like a scar on our hearts that has healed, but our hearts will never be the same. At least, along with the scar, I think our hearts have grown. We feel more for the sorrow of others and love more intensely.
Throughout all of this process I have felt guilt. Guilt that infertility effected my family so much. Guilt that I couldn't give my son a brother or a sister. Guilt that I couldn't be the person I wanted to be. So yes, infertility has affected our family in some hard ways, but it is not all terrible and over time, I am learning to let go of the guilt and just be happy.
Infertility has lead our family to adoption! This path is not the one I saw us taking, but I'm proud of us for taking it. It's not for the faint of heart. We've experienced loss and in so doing, became open to new possibilities. We are excited for where we are now and have hope for our future whether we end up raising one kid or five. Infertility made us better people. Infertility changed the course of our lives and we are excited to see where we end up!