While everyone around us began to have babies of their own, we tried to conceal our pain. The few people we told didn’t know what to say. Most of the time they gave us advice that was more hurtful than helpful, like “you just need to relax.” We felt utterly alone in our struggles.
I cried. Oh, how I would cry. I would cry as baby announcements filled our mailbox, I would cry as I walked by the empty room in our home we had hoped to turn into a nursery, and I would cry as another Christmas would go by without toys under the tree.
As months of drug treatments passed without success, I began to research alternative methods. We took a momentary “break” to detox my body. I started seeing a nutritionist. I visited herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopathic doctors and chiropractors. I took yoga classes, began to meditate, saw an energy healer, upped my exercise regime, journaled, drank red raspberry leaf tea, cut out caffeine and alcohol, cut out dairy and grains, spent obscene amounts of money on supplements, removed all plastics from my house, switched my beauty products and food over to organic, filtered our water — and did everything short of human sacrifice to will myself pregnant. Nothing worked.
How could I be doing everything “right” and still not get, or stay, pregnant? It was then that the extreme self-loathing took over. My infertility had become the focus of my life — and I kept failing at it.
It wasn’t until miscarriage number-two that I finally hit rock bottom. To cope, I began to drink. Heavily. I withdrew, and couldn’t find much to live for anymore. I hid my hopelessness from everyone, even my husband.
Then one night, after a few stiff drinks, my husband and I began to fight. I became so enraged I ripped a light fixture out of the wall and hurled it down the hallway. I sobbed as I sat on my hands and knees picking shards of glass up off the floor, and was finally able to recognize what my perpetual pain was doing to me, my husband and my marriage.
It was time for a radical change. If my husband and I were going to make it as a couple, we needed to turn our focus back onto us.
Then and there, we started the slow process of letting go. I packed up all of the random baby stuff I had picked up along the way, said good-bye to the life we thought we were going to have, and began to dream of a new one.
We sought counseling, tried to grieve our loss, worked on our spiritual growth, started traveling again, and began to tell everyone our story so we would no longer have to bear the burden alone.
Telling people of our struggles with infertility was one of the most terrifying and empowering experiences of my life. We felt the collective weight lift from our shoulders as people conveyed to us of their own troubles (or that of a close friend or family member’s) to have a child.
In those moments, we began to see how sadly common infertility really is. Our story is not unique and we are not special. There are thousands of couples just like us who struggle with infertility and have to learn to live with it. It is a quiet, solitary burden to bear.
There is no happy ending here. Our nursery sits empty and we are still struggling to rebuild our life together. We are trying to redefine who we are in the face of failed dreams, trying to heal and trying to recover the love and hopefulness that once defined our marriage.
But we try. Every day we try. Try to be thankful. Try to spoil the children in our lives every chance we get. Try to accept our scars. Try to move forward. Try to understand that deep within us is a wound we will always carry. Try to be sensitive to each other’s pain. We try. We get up each day and we try.