A Letter to My Husband: Flawed Fertility

To my husband:

I wanted to write an open letter of gratitude. I am flawed. We couldn’t get pregnant because of me. When we were going through fertility treatments, i was thankful that you already had a daughter of your own. I was already a failure, i couldn’t imagine failing someone who was childless. You did everything I asked of you, and you did it all out of love. I couldn’t ask for a better husband.

The physical, emotional and financial stress of infertility can ruin a marriage. We stayed the course the entire journey. We did everything we could do and made all of these choices together. I know if we would have wanted to adopt or to do IVF, we would have found a way to raise the money. You would have found a way for us to do it.

I was terrified that I would resent you for what you have–a biological child. Infertile couples are 3 times more likely to divorce. Unresolved grief can destroy a relationship. You came to therapy with me, prayed with me, came with me to my appointments, and held me as I cried. Typically, women are more upset about infertility than men. I was upset, and you stayed by my side. You were there through my insecurities, depression and stress.

My flawed fertility made us stronger. When we started dating, we had a plan for our life together; nothing has gone according to plan. I feel very honored and blessed to call you my husband. The morning of my hysterectomy, we prayed together. We said a prayer out loud, as we held hands. That day was my last pregnancy test. My last negative pregnancy test. I know the journey will be long, we will always have hard days, but it will be okay. I love you even more. I believe you came into my life to help me get through this loss.

We may not have a baby together, but we have been blessed. Thank you for sharing your life, your patience, your support, and your love. Thank you for sharing your daughter with me. Thank you for the five dogs we have. Thank you for building this life with me. Thank you for asking me to marry you.

Love Always,

Your Flawed Wife.

You’re not alone.

Infertility affects roughly 12 percent of people of reproductive age in the united states. 7.3 million in one area of the globe struggle to have a baby. The burden of infertility is regional, national and global. Both male and female factors can complicate conception. Infertility or loss can bring up emotions of profound grief.

the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The three steps in conception are ovulation, fertilization and implantation. I was only focused on those three steps, I didn’t know I was headed to those five stages. Grief is a noun that can be defined as deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. Nobody died, but it felt like it. I was overwhelmed with anguish that I couldn’t get pregnant.

I was in denial for a long time, it took me 3 years to see a doctor who specialized in fertility. I was a young woman, I didn’t believe I would have problems getting pregnant. I had high hopes that I would get my two pink lines. The anger started when I was on fertility medication. I was so incredibly frustrated. I did everything I was supposed to do, I did it all right, and I would still fail. I guess I could compare it to studying your ass off for a final exam and getting every single question wrong. I am a woman who cannot reproduce. I was created and given a reproductive system to have children, and I couldn’t do it. what is there to be happy about?

The last three stages were not in the correct order. I was depressed from start to finish. I tried to stay positive and happy, but when your period comes, or you get that negative test every single month, it’s like someone dies every single month. You start to heal your wounds and then they are cut open again. When I would cry in my failure, I would tell my husband it feels like someone has died a tragic death every 3-4 weeks. Who can live like that? After I had my first surgery and was diagnosed with endometriosis, uterine fibroids and I already was treating my low progesterone levels, I started to bargain. I kept begging god to help me. I knew deep down that it wasn’t going to happen, but I had to try to beg and plead. I started to beg even more when I had a date for my hysterectomy. I cannot tell you when the acceptance part happens. It may still be happening. How do you accept this? How does a woman accept childlessness?

I look back on it now, and I am not even sure how I have survived. I know one thing for sure, I was never alone. I had amazing support from my husband and good friends, I have an amazing support group, I have a therapist, I have five dogs, and I have a motherly role in helping raise my stepdaughter. I was once told by a therapist that I had all the correct outlets and interventions to cope with my grief. Did she not see how tired I looked? Did she not see my eyes filling up with tears? Did she not see my heart breaking? I am a smart woman, but I am barely holding it together.

Your heart cannot physically break. I would need at least 10 new ones by now. Infertility and loss can feel like you are drowning and nobody will save you. You are tired, weak, and feel like you can’t breathe. Here is one secret to this healing process, you’re not alone. Find your support system and use it. Your support system is there for you in all your success and all your failures.

” I am half agony, half hope.” ~ Jane Austen

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring motherhood and the influence of mothers in society. For women suffering from infertility or loss, mother’s day can be a heart-breaking holiday. I dislike mother’s day. I wanted to write my first blog post on this day because I felt like it was an important way to share my journey. As infertile women, how are we supposed to cope on this holiday celebrating women who are successful in having children?

I have my own mother to honor on this day. When I found out I was never going to have children and my hysterectomy sealed the deal, I refused to celebrate this day. I explained to my mom that I would show my love for her on any other day and we can create a different tradition. As the loving mother she is, she agreed. My husband supports my choice; we treat the day as if it were any other Sunday. My stepdaughter goes and spends the day with her mother. Last year, my nephew was born. That is the only mother’s day I have cherished since my journey began. I believe God did that one on purpose.

Mom’s Day can either be a great day or a curse. There’s so many different ways to celebrate; brunches, breakfast in bed, church services dedicated to mothers, spring flowers, hallmark cards, handmade gifts, love and appreciation. I hear being a mommy is the best job in the world. Your body does what it was made to do, have children. For this, you are honored and praised. I hear it is also a hard job; you should be appreciated every day. I don’t want to spread the hate, I want to spread awareness. I am happy for all those couples who can have babies, I am just sad for myself. I would love to be in your place and be a mother. I never thought of mother’s day any differently until I was diagnosed with infertility. 

In my opinion, mothers come in all forms. I wish we were all celebrated on this one day. I believe some families do, but most don’t. I will never forget the year we were at a family gathering at my grandma’s house and all the moms in the room received a gift,I am a stepmom, but I still did not get one. Those little suggestions matter. Our hearts are already broken; please don’t make it worse. We are living with infertility and involuntary childlessness, be sensitive to this day and what it represents for us. Some of us are still raising children, even if we didn’t give birth to them. 

For all 6 million of you trying to cope with this day, you are either trying to get pregnant, trying to stay pregnant or waiting to adopt, I send my love and support to you. The lack of acknowledgement from society is at a huge loss. There are commercials, advertisements and social media posting all around us and there is no traditional way to handle this grief. 

My suggestion is to make this day about you and get through the day the best way you know how. Skip the activities like I do, contact a support group, stay busy, increase all the positives in your life, and share the day with other women who have the same struggles. Happy Mother’s Day to biological moms, adoptive moms, foster moms, stepmoms and pet moms. I hope you all find something special about this day where a lot of us can’t and I hope you are celebrated every day. 

If you would like, please share how you cope with this holiday. The isolation is real, and the grief can be a heavy burden. Please do not think you are alone.