“Where, when my aching grows … where can I run?”: Living with Infertility

By:  Loralee

Continuing on in our series this week: confronting infertility in marriage.  Here’s a post by my friend Lori.

What do I say about Lori?  Hmmm.  She is my BFF.  I admittedly have a history of being a tad hyperbolic with the term “BFF,” but for real: it’s Lori.  We’re talking bridesmaid, college roommate, joy school (joy school!) level of BFF here.  It’s funny, when we were roommates Lori and I always imagined that I would be the one to struggle with infertility and she would be the one with tons of children (this assumption was based largely on the fact that MY mother struggled with infertility and her mother had lots of children 🙂 ).  Life has this way of rarely turning out the way you think it will.

I love Lori for ten thousand reasons, one of which is her complete inability to be dishonest.  The girl can’t lie.  Even if you don’t know her and ask her how she’s doing, she’ll answer you with complete honesty.  Another reason I love Lori is her unfailing hope and love for life.  It is important you know that she is a very optimistic person because she doesn’t hide how hard infertility is at all in this post (see: she’s incapable of being dishonest).  It’s a very raw and honest description of what can be like to experience infertility.  And I thank her for sharing it.     – Celeste

Our story…

Bronson and I got married and a year later we decided to start ‘trying’. We didn’t know much about how it all worked, just figured we were having unprotected sex and soon we’d be pregnant. After a few months, I started doing more research because I started to wonder why it wasn’t happening – and I realized that the window for ovulation is very small!

That was a turning point, where I took much more of a proactive path towards trying to make it happen. After about eight months we went to a specialist because we were starting to worry. I tried many different solutions and a handful of different specialists. All of them affirmed ‘you’re so healthy, you’ll get pregnant.’ But it never happened.

Month after month my period came. People tell you to stop worrying about it and it will happen, but that is not true and on top of that it’s completely dismissive of the fact that even if you TRIED to stop thinking about it, you’re still going to bleed and be reminded that you cannot have the thing that others get without trying, no matter how badly you want it. Every month the tiny reserve of dreams and hope that you’ve built up over the month and so preciously guarded and so desperately need would be choked by your period – the reminder that you do not get to have what seems like a right for every one else. It has been taken from you and no one can explain it and no one can tell you how to fix it.

For us, it was unexplained infertility, and despite everything I tried, there really was nothing I could actually do. The hardest part was that there was just no direction to any of our frustration, our questions, or our loss. There is a song at church “Where can I turn for peace?” that when we sang it, I would just have tears roll down my cheeks. The words so perfectly reflected what I felt:

Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?

The last verse is about Christ being the one that will quench that sorrow, but I was left in the sorrow and never felt like I arrived at the resolution that verse three promised. I’ve always believed that if there’s a will there’s a way, and I can do anything I set my mind to. So the most bitter part of this journey was wanting so badly to do something, I would have done anything, but not having any idea what it was that I could do. I just had to hope but try not to hope.

I mean, I did EVERYTHING: acupuncture, gluten / dairy / sugar free diets (all at once even), exercise, homeopathic drops, specialists, IUI, trigger shots, timing, temperature charting, etc. The greatest sacrifice, the biggest thing taken from me by this experience, was the fiery flame of hope and surety that used to motivate everything I did. I really and finally learned the meaning of doubt and loss. I had no one I could even be angry at – so I tried not to be angry. But when I couldn’t help but be angry it was mostly aimed at God because He’s the only figure that even came close to having control over this.

My question burned of if there even was a God, because I did not feel any relationship with Him. I am very fortunate that Bronson and I were not angry with each other. We were in this struggle together. I hated that I saw his sorrow but there was nothing I could do to fix it. My sorrow only increased his, and vice versa. It’s hard enough to feel your purpose and dreams squashed, but to watch it happen to the person you love most is excruciating.

Bronson always tried to be strong whenever I broke down, and I tried to do the same for him. We needed strength from each other and I know sometimes he was dying inside but he’d say nice things that were supportive, and optimistic, and would always tell me that he loved me anyways. I often felt that I was keeping him from having the life he should – that he would be such a great father and I’d taken that from him.  I felt like I should divorce him so I could free him to have the happiness I wanted for him. I was open with him about this sorrow and he always reiterated that he would want to be married to me even if we could never have children. We made other plans of how to find the joy of blessing and nurturing life: foster care, working in orphanages, etc. We thought very seriously about these plans in an effort to pursue the meaningful life we wanted together. He never let me think that it would be a better option for him to be without me, and I needed that endless confirmation. 

We felt a desire to adopt but by the time we realized this was the path for us, my husband only had a couple months left of his PhD work before we knew he’d receive his degree and we’d move. Because the process takes a while, we didn’t think we could get the home study and adoption in on time, and decided to wait until we had moved. This was very trying on my patience!Bronson eventually received his degree and a job offer and within a week of landing in our new neighborhood I had called a couple IVF clinics and scheduled interviews with doctors at their practice. I was also on the phone with various adoption agencies. Starting IVF and the adoption process was top of my list!

It was our first IVF cycle, and, I don’t even know how to say it because it is still so unreal to me, but it took. Now, 10 weeks into pregnancy (so scary and so beautiful because I am always afraid to lose it but also want to be sure to enjoy it!) we are finally finalizing our adoption home study and family profiles as we still feel that adoption is right for our family. I don’t know how this road will continue to turn, but I am trying to set us up for the biggest and happiest family possible, and doing all I can to open doors to make it happen. 🙂

I am very very grateful that Bronson and I had finally arrived at a peaceful place spiritually before our positive pregnancy test. I think if we hadn’t pushed ourselves to try to find peace with this path, we would have always regretted that we were angry or sad our whole way through this trial. It was a deepening, widening, enriching experience, and all the more so to feel that without a positive result we still made the decision to press on and be happy.

To other couples struggling with this …

I’m sorry. It’s important to see that other people having babies doesn’t make a difference in your ability to have your own family. I tried to always keep that in mind and it helped me to be happy for others even if they got pregnant on their first month. I would often say to myself “I’m glad that they’re having a baby because that means there will be more good babies raised in good families for the world my children will be born into.” I also didn’t give up on God even though I wanted to. I don’t have a lot of advice for that because it was just plain hard, but only at the end of this road did it feel like we finally, finally achieved the soft hearts we had hoped to have, and accepted that this was the life we had been given and we could still love God and ask for direction in other ways. The trial made us deeper and we tried to appreciate that. At the end of that road, I finally felt a bit of a relationship and I feel deeper now so I can appreciate my relationship to spirituality and a Heavenly Father more deeply.

Try to recognize what the needs are that you are feeling you can’t meet without children, and then try to plan other ways to fulfill them. And keep being open to the opportunity that it may happen, while focusing on how to make your greatest happiness in other ways. Definitely find a hobby you love that can bring good to the world the way your family would, and invest time and heart in that. You can still make a beautiful difference and bring lots of happiness and influence in so many ways (I studied permaculture). And I accept that it just sucks, and I am sorry for anyone having to experience it. It just sucks, and then I can focus on what comes next instead of just being mad about it in itself.

I know very well that it doesn’t always end as beautifully as having a successful IVF cycle, and I feel so so fortunate for the opportunity to just be 10 weeks pregnant, that I hesitate to write about all of this in a way. It is still very unreal to me (I almost wish for more morning sickness so I could be sure it’s there every day.) I also am sorry because I know there are so many that are still struggling through  additional IVF cycles, who haven’t been able to have it work. I don’t want it to be hard for them to read an infertility post and feel all the lonelier because it didn’t work for them but it worked for me. So I just wanted to write about the trial of it and pulling through that together, and end there – but I don’t think that shows my gratitude for the blessing we are experiencing now. My heart goes out to each family in this situation, and I can just promise that I will try to be as grateful for this gift as I can, and I promise to treasure everything I can think to treasure.

4 thoughts on ““Where, when my aching grows … where can I run?”: Living with Infertility

  1. I like this post. As someone struggling with infertility, sometimes it can be hard even to read about people who have gone through infertility and now have kids. I mean it gives hope, but still just hard because I still feel so far away from that, you know?

  2. Thanks for writing this. I have many friends who are struggling with infertility and this gives me a better idea of how to empathize. Hugs!

  3. Lori! I had no idea you went through all of this, and I LOVE what you have written–it expresses a lot of what I have felt as well. Thank you for your honesty! I also got angry at God during our infertility years. I briefly wrote about it here on my blog: http://fyionrachandry.blogspot.com/2011/01/heartbroken.html
    I am so happy for you that your IVF worked!!!! I also conceived via IVF (after adopting a few years previously). Congratulations!! And I absolutely know what you mean about not wanting others to hurt as a result of your announcement and your joy. I wrote about that here: http://fyionrachandry.blogspot.com/2013/12/ivf-news.html
    (Sorry to refer you to all of my blog posts, but I just want you to know that you aren’t alone in how you are feeling.)
    You are going to be an amazing mother! And I must say, I LOVE your attitude about other women getting pregnant: “I’m glad that they’re having a baby because that means there will be more good babies raised in good families for the world my children will be born into.” Sooooo good.
    I love you! So happy for you!

    1. Rachel – awesome to hear from you! We also still very much want to adopt, and unfortunately, because I am pregnant, many agencies won’t work with us now. But I still feel like we need to adopt and it’s right for our family. Do you have any suggestions? I am going to look you up on facebook to get your email address so this isn’t too public. 🙂

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