•By Tiffany Johnston, Guest Blogger
I realize that stress will never stop being a part of our lives. Let’s be honest, challenges are a not only a regular part of infertility, but also part of life. My husband and I know first hand the stress and challenge that life can bring. We met 17 years ago right before we started high school, though never dated until we were both well into our 20’s. There was never any rush for us, it was all about our individual journeys and if I am honest we we never imagined that growing a family would be difficult let alone heartbreaking.
Now here we are after five years of marriage with thousands of dollars worth of fertility treatments under our belt, basking in the glow of a few miraculous wins because we not only have a 2.5 year old fertility miracle, but are just 13 weeks into our second pregnancy following another long infertility struggle. Looking back I realized that I have faced some staggering realities that I wanted to share with my fellow infertility families.
I know that challenges in fertility seem to increase with each failed round. The financial black hole continues to expand, the possibility of never having more children increases, and the side effects from the medications and hormones become much harder to handle. It’s not only the physiological to psychological challenges of getting pregnant. For us, it’s been wanting to speak out about the struggle without having people look at you with pity. It’s the challenge of attending baby showers and hearing pregnancy announcements without crying. It’s knowing that for better or worse you need to take high doses of hormones as you watch every part of your body change, as the pharmaceuticals rage through your body month after month.
When is comes to marriages, it’s a challenge to know that the person you love the most in the whole world is also the person at the forefront of the hormonal outbreaks, the frustrations and exhaustion. After a time, the hardship of not being able to bear children or not being able to carry a baby to full term begins to takes a toll on its survivors. This can cause communication issues for the couple. For us, my husband has been my rock. He has stood strong as my legs buckled in sadness, pain, and exhaustion, and held me when it felt as though there was no end in sight.
There’s also nothing fun and playful about infertility. It is serious work. Unfortunately for all parties involved, sex starts to become a second or third job. Sex becomes that task that you have to fit into your life somewhere between oral hygiene, toddler tantrums, and your alarm going off at four o’clock in the morning. It’s difficult to separate the marital part of our relationships that want nothing more than to be intimate with our husbands from the exhausted hormone-raging woman that just wants peace, quiet, and a glass of wine. Though I know it is hard to remember, stand strong and know that you won’t always be stuck in a 28 day cycle of hope, exhaustion, loss, and pain.
In junior high and college I was an avid church-goer and believer whom was connected to Young Life, and went on several mission trips with the young adult group I was involved in during college. It was a time when I needed something to believe in and I did whole heartedly; but over time, that changed and I became someone that was afraid to believe in any higher power, afraid to trust, and terrified that I may not have complete control.
Several months ago a friend shared this excerpt from the bible “You were meant to do more than just survive. You were meant to thrive. You were not meant to struggle to make it through the week. You were not meant to be shackled by anxiety, worry, and fear. No, you were meant for so much more. You were meant to live life and to have it more abundantly. ” In all honesty I didn’t realize it when I first saw this excerpt but I truly believe this with my whole heart. With every infertility procedure I implore you to try not to be shackled by worry, fear and stress. Remember to live life abundantly and with hope for your family’s future. Accept these challenges as moments that will simply make you stronger, and hope that they will help us connect with one another who are also engulfed in moments of challenge and heartache. Together, we can encourage one another to dig deep, and continue fighting to remain hopeful, optimistic and have faith in unexpected miracles. After all, what is life if we have no hope for the future?