Two days ago, I found myself navigating the tunnels of the university with my new coworkers in search of coffee. Walking through what seemed like a secret underworld, one of them asked me about the Beats. Smiling, I mumbled a distracted answer about living with 3 year olds, all the while trying to figure out landmarks so as not to get lost on the way back. In that absent-minded state, I asked my coworker if he had children.
"One," he answered. "After 6 failed rounds of IVF, she's our 22 year old miracle."
I almost walked into the wall.
Stumbling over myself, I shared that I had also gone through 4 rounds of IVF, 1 fresh cycle and 3 FETs. After doing a double-take, we began sharing tidbits of our journeys.
Just before we surfaced in the cafeteria, he turned and smiled at me in a way that spoke of memories of pain, uncertainty and deep loss. "It's funny how things like that shape you. How they never really leave you. And how even being on the other side, getting what you broke yourself for, you still find yourself forever changed by the journey."
There's a hope everyone facing infertility/RPL has of one day being on the other side. While in the thick of battling the pain, the grief and the uncertainty of the path towards resolution, promises are made about lessons that will never be unlearned, assumptions that will never be made again and new levels of empathy that will be practiced. Like so many, we vow to never take certain things for granted if, and only if, we can somehow come out the other side.
The truth is, I wondered what the other side would look like. Initially after our diagnosis, I held fast to the hope of quickly resolving so that we could put the whole experience behind us. But as time went on, I found it harder and harder to envious a life where we could so easily forget. As the version we originally planned for family expansion morphed again and again, I found myself wondering not only about whether a happy ending was even possible, but also how I could possibly navigate through life with the scars I now had.
Today marks 4 years since our final round of IVF that lead to me finding our road to resolution. As I type this, the end result of that pregnancy is in the room next to me, using every attempt known to preschoolers to remain awake for the night. Yet, despite the madness echoing throughout the apartment, the knowledge of how close we came to this not being our reality is very clear. I touched that version of life; walked some of that path.
But there's another aspect I hadn't considered all those years ago: the bond that comes with sharing those scars with others. Like a secret handshake, it only takes a sentence to reveal this shared understanding about a community so few would ever want to be a part of. But there's also a calmness that's come from being on the other side of a trauma. Of knowing that even though it did break me in ways I never would have thought someone could survive from, survive I did. Even when it wasn't pretty. Sharing that has allowed me to connect with others in ways I wasn't able to before.
Despite all that, I still am navigating my way through this world of being an infertility survivor and someone who is resolved. The strangeness that comes when people who are clueless about infertility talk about family expansion as if it was a given and all that goes with it. Every year, the pain of the past becomes less sharp and the triggers more defined. But the other truth is that it's also clear my whole being will never forget. That being on the other side doesn't mean you're somehow less broken; you're just better at finding the beauty in the scars.
Listen Up and then BE HEARD!
3 hours ago